JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: THE CHANCE FOR GREATNESS, BUT IT IS SO EASILY LOST   Leave a comment

 

THE CHANCE FOR GREATNESS, BUT IT IS SO EASILY LOST

John Chuckman

 

The chance for greatness is not something offered every leader.

The opportunity requires both a set of extremely adverse circumstances and an exceptional person in power who overcomes them.

All too briefly, Obama seemed to have the chance in 2008, but he very quickly proved himself incapable of rising to the challenge.

So, Obama goes down in history, despite his remarkable achievement of becoming the first black President, as an extremely mediocre leader who was bent by the very forces he should have controlled. He almost melted away before our eyes, proving definitively that there is a great difference between the talents required for political campaigning and those required for success in office.

Trump now has an opportunity for greatness, more so than any politician I can recall. He is faced with huge problems, many of the them the work of the failed Obama, and they are more than just any set of problems, for they involve the deaths and misery of millions and the risks of an international nuclear holocaust.

It is already clear that Trump has the strengths required – immensely energetic and hard-working, absolutely not intimidated by a powerful and pervasive establishment, and a surprisingly resourceful mind.

But there are clouds on the horizon. Trump is one of those people whose mind seems to crackle with ideas and notions, and, just as is the case with others of this type, including many famous scientists and creative talents, a fair number of the ideas and notions are not worth pursuing and some are complete rubbish. I put into this category notions like a national Muslim registry or the round-up and deportation of millions of Mexican illegals or crippling the United Nations.

I would certainly add Trump’s words around the utterly repulsive subject of torture, but here we find an example of Trump being really clever, showing the kind of skill a statesman must possess. With his words on torture, Trump got to tell the belly-over-belt segment of his followers that he will do literally anything for dear old America, but he then played the game of deferring to the wisdom of one of his most intelligent appointments, General James Mattis, who opposes torture. Who can argue with a “Marine’s Marine” on such topics? The Iron Chancellor himself would be proud of the whole performance.

Trump’s wall with Mexico for me is neither here nor there. Lots of countries build walls, and while I am opposed to them in general, I recognize the arguments for them, and of course every country has the right to protect its borders.

But you cannot round up and deport millions, even if they are illegals, without great adverse consequences. It is a non-starter as an idea. What we have is a situation created by the ineffectiveness of past governments over many years. That is a reality you must accept unless you want to create, to put it mildly, one of the worst public relations fiascos of the century. Remember, we live in the age of cell phone videos and the Internet, an entirely different situation than what prevailed the last time America did the very thing Trump is proposing, roughly ninety years ago.

Not many Americans likely realize that there was a precedent. Starting in 1929 and for some years after, huge numbers of Mexicans – estimated to have been between half a million and two million – living in America were deported summarily. It is not a precedent to copy, smelling as it does of activities we associate with the fascist governments of that same dark period. It is something that cannot even be done without many extremely unhappy scenes.

Trump should build his wall and keep strict compliance with law afterwards, but mass deportations will not go down well anywhere and will only create big and ugly barriers in many of America’s relationships, and not just those with Mexico.

Trump needs a filtering mechanism for his bubbling, teeming thoughts because his better ideas and notions are the ones that promise to mark him for greatness. I include here the end of America’s interfering and overthrowing foreign governments, the end of the terrible Bush-Obama Neocon Wars that have killed a couple of million and created millions of desperate refugees, and his bold efforts to bring jobs to millions of Americans living in what can only be called squalor. Those are the goals of a great leader.

And if he can succeed, I believe it is possible for Trump to build a new coalition for his party. This kind of thing has happened before, and if he could succeed at it, it would be yet another great achievement. The Republican Party, before Trump hi-jacked it and gave new purpose, was moribund, lacking any clear purpose beyond trying to achieve power and divvy up the spoils of periodic victory.

The interesting thing is that the Democratic Party Trump defeated has been in a somewhat similar state. Perhaps that fact is part of why it morphed into the War Party. That party’s de facto leadership since the 1990s has been the Clintons with their bounteous, mafia-like money connections. But the Clintons were not only defeated by Trump (literally, both of them), but their defeat was accompanied by shocking revelations about them and their party’s inner workings which I do not believe can be easily lived down, and there remains a substantial probability that one or both of them is going to be prosecuted, either for the frauds of the Clinton Foundation or for the flagrantly illegal behavior of Hillary as Secretary of State.

Those facts make Trump’s opportunity even greater. He can rise to it, or he can fall over his worst ideas and become just one more failed American President.

Posted January 28, 2017 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: OF WIZARDS AND WASHINGTON AND THE DREARY, UNRELENTING REALITY OF AMERICAN POLITICS… A raw and sometimes darkly comic survey of America’s treacherous political terrain   1 comment

 

OF WIZARDS AND WASHINGTON AND THE DREARY, UNRELENTING REALITY OF AMERICAN POLITICS

A raw and sometimes darkly comic survey of America’s treacherous political terrain

 

John Chuckman

The books about The Wizard of Oz were written as satire on American politics, but Hollywood, in its inimitable way, turned them into a song-and-dance picture for children. Still, one scene in the film has a sense of the author’s intent. That scene is when Dorothy, in Emerald City, approaches a closet-like structure, which, as it happens, is the Wizard’s control booth for sounds and smoke and lights, his special effects for intimidating visitors and impressing them with non-existent power.

The entrance curtain happens to be open, so Dorothy sees a modest man busily pulling levers and pushing buttons and speaking into a microphone which alters his voice into a great booming one, echoing like a great organ in a cathedral. When the man realizes that he is being watched, he makes a last effort and booms out words along the lines of “Pay no attention to the man in the booth.” Of course, the jig is up, and we all understand there is no wizard.

What better allegory for events in Washington today could there be? We have booming noises and smoke and glaring lights, and it all comes from a rather sad little – little in the sense of failed – man with about two weeks left to sit at his big desk and pretend that he is great and powerful wizard. Except, when you are President, as this man is, you can never be observed in your control booth and you have your stunts and booming claims seconded by a chorus of flacks, hangers-on, and political appointees, presumably lending a semblance of authenticity and substance.

What the controversy engendered by “the Russians did it” has achieved is almost the opposite to what was intended. Dubious claims and pretend evidence have caused lights to shine brightly over what is a blanketing fabric of dishonesty in America’s establishment. The fabric covers everything from foreign affairs and the military to the details of domestic affairs. It is immense, complex, and carefully constructed covering, and those who created it have very little tolerance for any of it being scrutinized under spotlights. Achieving this scrutiny may be regarded as Obama’s final act of failure.

Whether it is “the Russians hacked the DNC” or “America has been bombing ISIS in Syria” or “the Russians threaten Eastern Europe” or “the Russians committed atrocities in Aleppo” or “Russia shot down Flight MH-17,” the same tiresome actors making the same unsupported claims have for eight years expected that just their inflated job titles should intimidate us into believing them. Proof? Who needs that? Would I lie to you about such matters? Once you start something foolish as Obama has done, and it is widely understood as being foolish, you only weaken your authority over all the other less-obviously dubious claims you have been making. The fabric of lies becomes weakened, and that is one of Obama’s small, but unintended, achievements now.

Even as I write these words, the first big wave of the Obama-Clinton unsupported claims, unsupported, that is, except by hack appointees like James Clapper, is receding. The world quickly reached a verdict of “nonsense.” But a second wave now laps up with an equally unsupported claim that the Russians have a compromising dossier on Donald Trump, an attempt to plant the idea that Russia will have direct influence over Trump’s policies. This malicious effort at “poisoning the well” for a political successor, brings to mind the time, some years back, when the ugliest of clutch of Israeli settlers, those who swaggered around Gaza behind barbed wire enclosed-compounds, full of attitude and always toting light machine guns while under the malevolent guard of Israeli soldiers, decided to leave their hopeless situation. They quite literally poisoned the water wells they had used before strutting away. I cannot imagine a much shabbier act. But here is Obama and his appointees doing much the same thing, effectively hacking away at what little democracy America has left out of sheer maliciousness.

I don’t mean to say that such gross lying began with Obama. The wizard’s control booth for smoke and lights and thundering sounds was not invented by him. There was nothing but eight years of lies from the weird triumvirate presidency of Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush and from the corrupt and often-inept Clinton government. Lies are what big countries or organizations do when their activities will not stand up to public scrutiny. When countries secretly play dirty tricks, when they kill, and when they apply mafia-like pressure on allies and international organizations to do as they are told, they simply lie about all of it, always. Such activity has characterized America for a very long time. How can it be otherwise when you try to control the planet?

It’s just that eight years ago, we had some reason to believe Obama would be different, at least a little different, but he is not. He is just as shabby, murderous, and deceitful as his immediate predecessors, sometimes even more so. He has been at war somewhere every single day of his eight years. He has bombed seven countries. In his last year alone, he is said to have dropped over 26,000 bombs. Literally hundreds of thousands have died at the hands of the Peace Prize winner with the big boyish smile. I’ve often asked myself what it is that motivates Obama, and I don’t know. Sometimes he seems to fit the well-known pattern of the charming, smiling psychopath who secretly likes to kill.

Sometimes he just seems weak and, yes, cowardly, someone who has allowed the brass and big suits around those conference tables to run roughshod over him, leaving him with nothing but the pretense of authority. This could explain what is a remarkable sense of arrogance observed at times when he is around outsiders as a kind of psychological reflex to his living in his job under constant bullying. After all, Bush’s whole presidency was a pretense: he pretended to be president, and Cheney and Rumsfeld – the precise quality of men who, had they lived in 1930s’ Germany would have been seen happily “working towards the Führer” as they used to say – deferentially allowed him to do so as they ran everything. Bush was the first president to prove America doesn’t even need a president except to sign documents, much like the formal requirement for a witness’s signature on a legal document.

We know, too, that Bush was as close to a moron as ever held the office, because we watched his insipid face and listened to his inability to articulate a clear sentence for eight years. Sometimes, we do see glimmers of something similar from Obama, statements and behaviors that would not be expected from someone of forceful intelligence – the unsupported Russian hacking accusations being one, but also such matters as his foolish public dismissal of Russia, the only country which can literally obliterate the United States, as a great power – only with Obama we don’t see Bush’s Alfred E. Neuman look, we see a serious, stiff mien and a tone and posture of arrogance. A well-practiced cover-up behavior for inadequacies?

I don’t know, and it really does not matter. He has been a terrible president in every important respect, but he maintains a fair number of supporters who I guess are impressed with the big boyish smile, although that is seen far less often now, the baritone voice, and perhaps the sheer, unprecedented fact of a black man standing in his position. There’s no accounting for taste or popularity, as we see in every corner of contemporary celebrity culture, and American politics absolutely has an important element of celebrity culture, just as it loves to use celebrities as endorsements. Think of the last days of Hillary Clinton’s tired campaign when she had, yes, Beyoncé and Jay Z appearing in Ohio. It is hard to imagine what political or economic or social information that pair of pop celebrities had to offer voters, and it was reported by some that they were quietly paid millions for some minutes of effort to help swing the state with razzle-dazzle. After all, this was the Hillary Campaign, a glorious travelling circus that is estimated to have burned through $1.2 billion.

Many do expect something different from Trump, and we can hope their expectations are well-founded. His entire path to the presidency does show some unorthodox attitudes and methods – unorthodox, that is, by the claustrophobic standards and practices of that center of world empire, Washington, not unorthodox in some wider sense – and they show a very tough and driven man. It is simply a fact that anyone missing the last quality cannot function effectively as President in 21st-century America. The general environment in Washington, without the least exaggeration, may be compared to the proverbial snake pit or to scenes from the last days of Roman Empire.

That is why, for example, Bernie Sanders is such a hopeless hope. The man conducted an impressive crusade, displaying considerable skills, yet he just folded in the end, leaving his enthusiastic followers in limbo and giving up to Hillary Clinton who represented almost everything he opposed and who stood before him as someone who had just clearly cheated him out of the nomination through a whole range of cheats, ploys and gimmicks. Yet, he just accepted her and even did some campaigning for her.

Such a personality offers zero promise in face-to-faces with Pentagon generals, CIA Big Suits, mega-corporation presidents, and some foreign leaders who are closer to Mafiosi than politicians. What do you expect out of a little place like Vermont? It’s lovely. I’ve spent time there. But it resembles a great deal something from a backlot set for “Lassie Come Home” or “Anne of Green Gables.” I know, I know, Bernie originally came from hard-bitten New York, but the operative word there is “came.” Whatever his reasons for seeking bucolic, low-stress bliss, they do not make him material for presiding over Washington’s Chamber of Horrors.

Many Americans themselves, including both liberals and conservatives, are well aware of the dishonesty of their government, if only in a vague sense, but they know the task of doing anything about it is just too overwhelming and difficult to consider. After all, peasants on a 17th century estate hardly dared dream of changing the “natural order” in which they lived. And ordinary Americans work extremely hard to raise their families, and a great many of them do not work at all. They do not command great resources for all the costs and activities of a crusade. The general human condition in Western countries has not changed quite so much as some like to imagine over a few centuries of enlightenment and progress. A huge number of Americans count only for brief moments when their ballots are sought with sound-bites and vacuous ads. Afterwards, the establishment goes on just as before, ignoring them and getting back to the business of lying.

The papers people read – and, thanks to the spreading, corrosive effects of American imperialism, I include other Western countries, not just the United States – and the broadcasts to which they listen are uniform in discouraging any truly fresh way of looking at things and in suppressing the hope that arrangements can be much different. They universally avoid telling the truth where government prefers that they don’t. The idea of independent and principled journalism is something you only find in brochures for journalism schools or in Hollywood films.

The two major American political parties – together forming a duopoly of political power little different in overall its effect from the kind of monopoly power American authorities like to disparage in other, “less free” places – certainly do not provide much room for fresh voices or new initiatives. Over long periods, they can actually be quite stifling, much like high officials in a church concerning accepted truth and doctrine. The parties are totally dominated by money – money that can only come in the volumes required for marketing, advertising, polls, make-up artists, wardrobe consultants, facilities of every kind, publicity, and travel expenses from extremely wealthy people and special interests who are not the least interested in any significant change to a very cozy and comfortable situation.

The dominance of the Clintons in the Democratic Party through their money connections has been an arrangement to defend the status quo. It was a clever construction. The Clintons got to be center stage, play-acting as liberals and agents of change, in exchange for the kind of money which absolutely guaranteed that they never for a moment could forgot that they were just playing parts, not really doing anything of consequence. Bill Clinton’s record as President is interchangeable, remarkably so, with what might have been expected from a traditional Republican. Hillary’s record as Secretary of State made her promise for the future, if anything, far more extreme in the same direction, and especially when it came to serving special interests and waging bloody war. The woman wore $11,000 Armani suits regularly and commanded $300,000 a pop plus expenses and comforts (right down to a standard demand for a certain bottled water to be supplied) for a long series of tedious speeches on America’s military given to investment bankers, and she made private jokes about people dying, as we know she said of Julian Assange, “Couldn’t we just drone him or something?” Or there was her appalling joke about the murder of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, a man who had been a good leader to his people, “We came, we saw, he died! Ha, ha, ha!”

The Democratic Party, given its distant past, especially the now all-but-forgotten legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, is the one from which an outsider viewing America, with no close knowledge of it, might reasonably have expected to find some prospect for change. But that seems a naïve hope if you understand who are the interests keeping the wheels of the organization turning.

The Democratic Party has become completely an establishment party, and one that literally morphed into the War Party along the way. Today, it offers a menu of the lightest possible offerings of social interest – the political equivalent of a platter of Ladies’ Tearoom sandwiches and dainties served by waiters in white gloves – just to differentiate itself from the Republicans and to make Americans of any degree of genuine liberal sentiment feel a little more comfortable. Since there aren’t a great number of the latter left in America by all appearances, the offerings can indeed be extremely modest.

Of course, these menu offerings consist of suggestions, attitudes, and slogans, not hard proposals for change, real change, in anything. The Democrats’ recent history of political behavior much resembles what mega-corporations do when they stick an image of a pink bow on their product packaging for a while and run a few, likely tax-deductible, ads promising purchasers that they will be helping in the fight against breast cancer by buying the brand. Imagine a package of Marlboros with a pink bow printed on it, and you get the picture.

Nothing better represents this modern Democratic leitmotif than Hillary Clinton’s long record of sound-bite concerns on many topics accompanied by a record of no actual effort spent on doing anything beyond getting elected. She started her last campaign saying every woman who is a rape victim deserved to be believed – something surely many young women and sympathetic men found re-assuring – yet she herself had dismissed privately, out-of-hand, for years a platoon of women pointing to her own predatory husband with the same charge.

Again, her displeasure with the Electoral College – echoed recently after her defeat – was first declared back in 2000, when George Bush won with a popular minority, but there is no record of her doing any work towards amending that outdated and anti-democratic provision of the Constitution, as during her eight years as a Senator. No, that would be a huge task to undertake, and political rewards are greater for sound-bites than they are for actual slogging hard work on anything most people do not even understand. Captains on the bridge with their gold braid and brass buttons on immaculate uniforms get noticed, not the sweating engineers actually running the ship down in the boiler room.

Make no mistake, the Democrats are bedrock establishment today, a party defending mostly backward views of the world and of American society. They are nothing more than the political Coke to the Republican’s Pepsi, or vice versa. And all the endorsements and advertising in the world do not change the reality of two sugary, dyed, fizzy drinks, indistinguishable in taste to many. Eight years of Obama – a man whose first campaign saw him sometimes wearing sandals and eschewing a totemic, imperialistic American flag pin on his lapel and intoning to cheering crowds, “Yes, we can” – proved that beyond all doubt.

Political figures like Ralph Nader or Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein are pretty close to irrelevant in the steaming boiler room of real American politics. Ideas are virtually never an issue in American elections. Neither is improving government’s service to citizens, from education to healthcare. Neither is the proper financing and budgeting of government. Neither is a reduction to insane military and security spending. How can it be otherwise in this “pounding fist” of an imperial society? All such American politicians tend to remind one of some naïve political science professor lecturing a rapt first-year audience of undergraduates excited about being out of high school and entering “the real world.”

This is the center of a world empire. It maintains a gigantic military which virtually never stops fighting wars, none of them having anything to do with defense. It has created an intelligence monstrosity which makes old outfits like Stazi seem almost quaint, and it spies on everyone. Indeed, it maintains seventeen national security establishments, as though you can never have too much of a good thing. And some of these guys, too, are engaged full-time in forms of covert war, from fomenting trouble in other lands and interfering in elections to overthrowing governments.

Barack Obama is not one of those marginal American politicians, having gained the leadership of one of the two great parties, and yet in eight years he changed almost nothing worth changing. Whether the plight of whistleblowers in America or the third-world conditions prevailing in American cities where many of his fellow black people survive in squalor. He did nothing to reform a financial system that gave the world a collapse from which it still has not recovered. He did virtually nothing about the nation’s rotting schools or rotting infrastructure. He whined about guns but never acted in a serious way on the huge problem of police who shoot people dead on the nation’s streets, more than 1,100 of them last year alone

Yet he signed, time after time, record legislation for squandering money on the military and Big Intelligence.  Under his command, the Pentagon literally burned pallet-load shipments of cash on bad programs such as the failed F-35 fighter, a new super-aircraft carrier that doesn’t work, a new type of littoral combat ship that doesn’t work, and a new Zumwalt-class destroyer that has proven an embarrassment. And there are the hugely expensive and highly intrusive NSA Supercomputer Data Centers. This is not a record of which to be proud, and it is about as far from liberal or progressive as you can go.

And, of course, this “liberal,” as so many insist still on calling him, ended by killing more people than any dictator or demagogue of this generation on earth you care to name, several hundred thousand of them in his eight years. And he found new ways to kill, too, as by creating the world’s first industrial-scale extrajudicial killing operation. Here he signs off on “kill lists,” placed in his Oval Office in-box, to murder people he has never seen, people who enjoy no legal rights or protections. His signed orders are carried out by uniformed thugs working at computer screens in secure basements where they proceed to play computer games with real live humans as their targets, again killing or maiming people they have never seen.

If you ever have wondered where all the enabling workers came from in places like Stalin’s Gulag or Hitler’s concentration camps, well, here is your answer. American itself produces platoons of such people. You could find them working at Guantanamo and in the far-flung string of secret torture facilities the CIA ran for years, and you could find them in places like Fallujah or Samarra or Abu Ghraib, at the CIA’s basement game arcade killing centers, and even all over the streets of America dressed as police who shoot unarmed people every day, sometimes in the back.

Obama has told more lies than anyone could possibly count while conducting so much killing and destruction, and he has done so unblinkingly. If you have ever noticed, government officials doing shameful and illegal things do tend to lie about what it is they are doing. And when Obama wasn’t telling lies, he made secrecy and lack of transparency hallmarks of his administration. He is said to feel very harshly towards whistle-blowers and leakers. He ends his grubby term of office with baseless, self-serving public accusations comparable in every way to those of Senator Joe McCarthy of the early 1950s.

McCarthy, a Republican, was also someone the establishment quietly supported for a time. He served their purposes, until he started weaving dangerously on the road, much like a drunken driver. He departed from the accepted script and began hurling accusations everywhere, and not just accusations about “commies” in the State Department, a place the establishment of the time hated. He came to relish accusing some targets of being sexual perverts, and he attacked new target after new target, threatening the ability of government even to function. For those who don’t know, J. Edgar Hoover, perpetual director of the FBI and an early supporter of McCarthy, was gay and a cross-dresser in private.

Of course, the establishment doesn’t have to worry about the embarrassing excesses of Obama and pompous appointees like James Clapper, as they finally did about those of McCarthy, because this pair of vicious clowns faithfully did just as they were supposed to do, and they are now headed for the exit doors. But they do have to worry about Trump, a man who already has expressed intelligent skepticism over the offerings of Big Intelligence as well as intelligent skepticism about the shameful and immense waste of the Pentagon. Importantly, he has asked why the entire Mideast is on fire and why Russia should be viewed as an enemy. And that is why the likes of Obama and Clapper have taken on a last-minute, rearguard destructive operation on behalf of those fearful of change.

It is certain that Joseph McCarthy’s rise to power could not have happened without important silent support, and his fall, after pretty much disgracing himself, allowed members of the establishment to congratulate themselves in public over protecting America from such demagoguery. All of this, from beginning to end, was complete hypocrisy, the very kind of hypocrisy we have screaming at us today from Washington. A similar claque of powerful people today congratulates themselves on efforts to interfere with the proper and peaceful transition of power to a man they’ve arbitrarily labelled a demagogue.

America’s mainline press has supported the claque by painting Trump as a dangerous demagogue, and I think it is largely over their resentment for his literally hi-jacking a very tired, almost worn-out, Republican Party – which resembled a becalmed antique sailing ship going nowhere – and promising to power it off in new directions. Of course, those loyal to the Clinton-Obama War Party greedily join in the accusations against Trump, seemingly completely innocent or even unaware of behavior ranging from insider plots to steal Hillary’s nomination from a contender to killing a third of a million people in Syria and who knows how many in Libya.

Also, they literally hate the prospect that the War Party, which they have faithfully supported for years, may be crumbling. And, who knows, even the possible further prospect of its demise after recent events revealed it to the public as a mafia-like operation with little respect for democratic process or principles of any kind? Stranger things in politics have happened, and political parties are no more guaranteed eternal life than the crowds at American revival meetings who raise their arms in child-like fantasy towards some huckster-preacher banging the Bible at the podium.

You must always remember, America’s press, which loves to congratulate itself regularly on its journalistic principles, is a mature and in some ways declining industry which is owned, through consolidations, by a very small number of corporate interests who completely support the Neocon Wars and a highly aggressive American foreign policy which puts American corporate interests first, everywhere, and reduces foreign governments, such as those in Europe or Japan, to American satrapies. The dominant views of America’s establishment are not enlightened, not democratic, not open-minded. They are “me-first” and keep competitors abroad under your thumb.

The subject of the Neocon Wars raises the related issue of the Israel Lobby’s influence in American politics. These destructive wars and an associated hyper-aggressive American foreign policy reflect this influence. The term “Neocon” refers to a coterie of influential people in Washington over the last fifteen years or so, people who have openly advocated for a highly aggressive policy of asserting American global dominance, always including a subsidiary aim, expressed with the euphemism, “the birth of a new Middle East.” Eliminating any independent-mindedness in the countries of the Mideast and assuring Israel’s complete imperialistic dominance over the region are the primary goals of the wars and interventions which have cost about two million lives and immense destruction over the Bush-Obama era. The extent of much of this holocaust is allowed to remain hidden from the public by our obliging corporate press, and efforts at explaining the causes has been a great throbbing engine for the production of lies.

But what is the long-term sense of assuring total dominance by eight million people, many of them immigrants, over hundreds of millions of others with centuries of history in the region? Eight million people who have no relationship or common history or culture and views with the great masses over which they are to dominate? An essentially European, urban people who share only a religion – and many of them not even that since Israel has a high proportion of non-believers – with the ancient Hebrews who once lived there? Even that number of eight million is deceptive since it includes over a million Arabs who are accidentally, and not with full equality, technical citizens of Israel.

These terrible Neocon Wars are, in addition, largely responsible for two devastating developments in our time. The first is huge movements of terrified refugees into Europe, millions of them, causing immense difficulties and putting great stress on the very foundations of the EU.

The second is the phenomenon we call international terror, which in fact is a side effect of the Neocon Wars. A huge amount of weaponry has been scattered around in the region by supporters of the American policy. Then, large numbers of mercenaries and rootless, violent people have been deliberately recruited, paid, and supplied to assist in carrying out America’s policy, as in Libya and Syria. Finally, there are large numbers of angry young men now who seek revenge for what has been done to their homes and families. It is a witches’ brew our press deliberately confuses by calling it international terror while constantly promoting the idea of Arabs and Muslims being undependable, unstable, and backward people, a concept welcomed and supported by the residents of the American crusader fortress we call Israel. The entire effort has been a guaranteed formula for instability and human misery.

In reality, what we call international terror is largely the “blowback” of American policies which themselves amount to state terror. Israel, of course, finds comfort in headlines in the West about “international terror” since the fear of that notion helps Americans and Europeans feel a bit more bonded to the fears Israel has always felt in its position as a colony planted by violence in an alien region. Many Israelis undoubtedly feel about their millions of neighbors much the way the Old South’s planters used to feel about the large number of inhabitants in the slave quarters as they went to bed each night with pistols and daggers kept under their pillows. Fear of rebellion was constant and worked like a poisonous substance in the Old South society, even though there was only one rebellion, a small one too, that ever happened. That endless unease explains why Old South society was well known for its inclination to violence, as in the infamous “code of the Old South.” Doesn’t Israel have much the same reputation?

America’s assistance and policies keep a garrison state not only going but growing, growing through the regular seizure of their neighbors’ property, a terrible practice which successive American governments fear addressing. Why? I think the Israel Lobby’s extremely well-organized efforts in American politics explain that. Support Israel, almost unconditionally, and you will receive large campaign donations and positive press coverage (remembering, it is a much-consolidated American press owned by quite a small number of companies). Criticize Israel and your opponents will get the donations and you will get negative press coverage. This has been an on-going pattern since the days when Harry Truman first agreed to recognize Israel, against his private best judgment, at a time when he felt vulnerable because his own re-election was quite uncertain.

While in the short term this massive bloodshed and destruction may be reassuring for Israel, having pretty much everything around it flattened, over the long term I do not see how this can be anything but destabilizing.

Destabilizing just as is the $38 billion, ten-year military-assistance agreement Obama just extended to Israel, a country perfectly able to pay for its own defense. This amount vastly exceeds what the United States gives any other country, even far larger ones in far greater economic need. The amount represents an increase of more than a quarter over the previous decade’s assistance agreement. And Obama gave it without a single condition imposed on Israel at a time when Israel’s government is constantly violating laws, rights, and international norms and agreements. I can’t think of any other place on earth where it is regarded as just fine suddenly to march out and seize someone else’s farms or homes. You cannot not build a sound future society for yourself that way, quite apart from the injustice and misery inflicted on others.

Yet, the press often gives the impression that Obama is no friend to Israel. It is well-known that Obama and Netanyahu personally dislike each other intensely, and Netanyahu has gone out of his way to demean or embarrass Obama several times. So, does the immense size of this military-assistance agreement reflect the influence of the Israel Lobby? I think it does, and it all points again to Obama’s total inability in office to fight for anything worth fighting for, such as conditions at least placed on a criminal government being handed a vast fortune, something approaching $500 each year for each citizen of Israel, almost a national basic personal income, if you will, supplied by America.

It is often asserted that the term “Israel Lobby” indicates prejudice, but saying that is just a form of reverse-prejudice, another version of the worn-threadbare accusation that if you criticize Israel, you are, ipso-facto, anti-Semitic. Indeed, this false idea has become as common as rain, and Israel has made considerable diplomatic efforts through the years, with some success, in Europe and in North America to have criticism of Israel criminalized in one fashion or another.

Two distinguished American scholars – John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government – wrote a serious book on the subject of the Israel Lobby, establishing the fact and of its existence beyond question. Others, too, have contributed to understanding the phenomenon.

And we also see, from time to time, events which bring the reality forcefully home. Israeli diplomats in London were just caught on video discussing bringing down British MPs regarded as unfriendly to Israel. Well, talk about direct interference in the internal affairs and elections of others! Newt Gingrich, when last running for his party’s presidential nomination, went around making speeches about how there really was no such thing as a Palestinian after receiving the best part of $20 million dollars in campaign donations from a very wealthy and avid supporter of Israel. Freshmen American Congressmen after an election are routinely “offered” – I put that in quotes because it is not an offer to be declined without political consequences – paid holidays to Israel for indoctrination. Recently, the New York Times confirmed the discovery that all of its stories concerning Israel are routinely passed by the official Israeli Censor before being published. Hillary’s most massive contributors over the years are members in good standing of the Lobby.

One of the most predictable and bordering-on-absurd regular happenings in Washington around this subject is Senator Lindsey Graham suddenly leaping to his feet at any mention of Israel which has even a hint of less-than-fulsome praise or at any proposal to give a less-than-lordly hand-out and going into paroxysms. I’ve asked myself why that would be. Why should Senator Graham, who represents Baptists in South Carolina, choose the role of political pit bull on guard for Israel? Why should he care so intensely and constantly about Israel? Well, I spent a short time reading about him and looking at photos, and I couldn’t help being struck by the distinct possibility of Senator Graham’s being gay.

Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being gay, unless you happen to represent South Carolina, surely one of the more backward and least tolerant states in the Union. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that Senator Graham was caught, years ago, in a “honey trap” by Mossad, and he has been given to understand that compromising photos exist. Today, he is a tireless defender of all things Israeli. It is hard to explain such sustained motivation otherwise. Exactly the same kind of thing happened to the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover early in his career. The Mafia is said to have had compromising photos of him and a male lover, and that old bull dog-faced lawman eventually became notorious for not pursuing the Mafia, allowing it decades of comfortable growth after the repeal of Prohibition.

He always chased instead almost non-existent Communists, keeping the Communist party of America’s ranks packed with undercover FBI Agents and its coffers filled with their expensed donations so that it kept the appearance of something formidable when it wasn’t and served to justify constant FBI budget increases. It might be called the “self-fulfilling prophecy” approach to spying, much like the CIA’s approach to its annual Soviet estimates during the Cold War. The estimates were always wildly inflated, and the CIA always got the budget increases it sought. Security service empires have a way of growing exponentially regardless of the threat level. They share with the military the almost magical ability to be always discovering dire new needs for their services.

The whole set of matters concerning Israel forms a huge indigestible mass at the very center of American politics. Clearly, it is better in every way to halt the Neocon wars. Clearly, also, it is better to force Israel to make peace and define its still undefined borders by accepting the status quo of 1967. Clearly, it is better to have a stable, peaceful region with good long-term relations with the United states. But, these things are easier said than done, and precisely because of the Israel Lobby which always defends Israel, even when it pursues destructive policies and goals, as it so frequently does.

A lot of people hope Trump will halt the stupid wars, and a lot of people, recognizing his political history of being an upstart without a lifetime’s obligations to the usual political crowd, think he may be in a good position to do something important in the Mideast. There is ambiguity here though, owing to some references about moving America’s embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a non-starter for peace, if ever there was one, but the references are also quite possibly a deal-maker lure, for there can be little doubt that Jerusalem will be the capital of both Israel and Palestine in the end.

At least, ending the wars is the sine qua non of anything to be called progress. It is also part of a needed de-escalation in America’s current hyper-aggressive global posture. If you want a better domestic economy, there are few better places to start than paring back the unbelievable waste of great masses of ships and planes and tanks rumbling around everywhere and creating nothing of economic value. Nothing is more wasteful and destructive than maintaining such a military establishment. No one better knows how to waste money than the military with its every movement of a truck or plane costing immensely more than the same act in the civilian economy and none of the movements producing any worthwhile good or service. And the nonsense of keeping Europe and Russia as near-enemies rather than flourishing economic partners only impoverishes everyone.

But it is not sound economic thinking or a sensible approach to world affairs which has governed America’s use of its military for years. It is indulgent, uncaring pride, the arrogance of a wealthy establishment which does what it does simply because it can. It is a formidable barrier against progress which is not going to just fade away. And Trump’s political base, while clearly excluding Neocons, does include the belly-over-the-belt types who, perhaps unthinkingly, like to see Old Glory waving everywhere. So, there is a big set of difficulties for him to work through, and it is not at all clear how he can do so.

The establishment’s waste and arrogance and paying-no-attention to ordinary people really are what motivated a lot of Americans to vote for Trump, especially when the other choice was the very embodiment of those arrogant qualities, annoyingly and patronizingly taking a moment, here and there, to nibble a piece of fried chicken with the folks in some obscure diner. Good photo-op. Americans very much feel they have a national government which behaves more as an occupying power than as a legitimate institution to serve them. And the fact that it spends so much time and money and credibility on trying to control the planet does have a tendency to influence its resources and its very attitudes at home. After all, they are occupied with earth-shattering matters abroad, and you, well, you just don’t count in the scheme of things.

But politics never provides complete change, as some naïve political thinkers like to believe. America remains a huge imperial power essentially run by wealthy people for the interests of wealthy people, and that is not going to change any time soon, but that does not preclude some changes in the way things have been conducted because not all wealthy people see their interests as being identical, and wealthy people making decisions do sometimes make very bad ones. Never mind how the Pentagon and CIA, under Obama and Bush, have stomped their heels into the necks of countless thousands of innocents and wrecked whole societies, just look on the home front at the shabby way corporate giants can behave.

We have Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post and turning it into a more complete propaganda factory than ever, publishing, for example, a scurrilous, libelous list of Internet sites said to be under Russian influence, a list obtained from an “anonymous source” which almost certainly just happen to reside in Langley, Virginia. We have Facebook’s shuffling, t-shirted multi-billionaire appointing himself American Guru of Truth and Fakery in the News. This from the founder of one of the most fake-filled sites on the Internet, notorious previously for fake reader “likes” which affect advertising rates, but, more importantly, an outfit which ceaselessly censors and spies on its users, sucking information from them like a Dyson whirlwind vacuum cleaner to sell to marketers and send along to the security services. Recently, when I use my Google bookmark link for Russia’s Sputnik (formerly, RIA Novosti, The Voice of Russia), an informative and entertaining site I have checked for years, Google frequently inserts a warning page telling me that it is dangerous to proceed, a page which includes a button marked “Back to Safety,” as though I were approaching a phishing or pornographic site. This from the company that started years ago with a motto, “Do no harm,” but, of course, today Google is a vest-pocket affiliate of CIA, an outfit which does almost nothing but harm. And look at the way Microsoft introduced Windows 10, including violations of fundamental conventions on the Internet such as a pop-up “install” box whose “dismiss command” did precisely the opposite when the “x” was selected, or the way another giant, Apple, has treated some of its customers, including things like “bricking” their costly phones if any effort is made to change or repair anything.

It is simply about the arrogance of power, a phrase the late Senator Fulbright wrote years ago to describe America’s murderous and pointless crusade in Vietnam.

Politics can shake-up a few institutions which need shaking-up, expose a few rotten actors and send them packing, turn around a few dangerous policy paths, and it can grant the people at large a sense of some new possibilities. Sometimes, and this may be one of those times. But the fanatical wing of Trump supporters, especially those on the “alt-right” are almost certain to be disappointed when he does not re-create America the way “accepting Christ” is supposed to re-create a sinner.

Trump seems a man of enough independent-mindedness and independent wealth and seasoned toughness of personality to withstand the assaults he will face from the establishment in Washington. Actually, I shouldn’t say “will” because he is facing waves of them before he even takes the oath, and he is doing admirably well at handling them. There is a claque of very rich and influential people who are not going to disappear into the woodwork despite losing control now. However, he is himself a rich man with a rich man’s interests, and he is not likely to lose his sense of direction in a wave of patriotic fervor which some Americans confuse with religion. He will have done as much as any candidate could if he ends the killing and the mindless interference in the affairs of others and creates some programs which bring jobs to large numbers of now-hopeless Americans. He actually does have a chance at genuine political greatness, but I would not bet the farm on it.

 

 

Posted January 12, 2017 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: THE INSANE CIRCUS NOW GOING ON IN WASHINGTON – A SAD PARODY OF JOSEPH MCCARTHY WAVING FISTFULS OF BLANK PAPER IN THE EARLY 1950s, INSISTING THEY WERE LISTS OF RUSSIAN SPIES   Leave a comment

 

THE INSANE CIRCUS NOW GOING ON IN WASHINGTON – A SAD PARODY OF JOSEPH MCCARTHY WAVING FISTFULS OF BLANK PAPER IN THE EARLY 1950s, INSISTING THEY WERE LISTS OF RUSSIAN SPIES

John Chuckman

 

The single most important point to keep in mind about the “Russians did it” three-ring circus underway in Washington – after the essential fact that still no proof has been provided to support accusations coming from the highest level – is that there is no issue around the contrived notion of interfering in an American election or endangering American security. None.

What essentially happened in this leak of private information – yes, I think it was leak, not a case of hacking – was that personal conversations of a highly embarrassing nature were released to the public.

That is not a crime against the state. That is not a matter of national security. And that is not interference in a country’s election. Those are all stupidly false issues even to raise here.

This is the sort of information that gossip columnists or investigative reporters or authors of tell-all books have always been ready to provide the public.

No such reporter or writer is regarded as a spy. None of them is viewed as an agent of a foreign power. But, of course, they are very much resented by the people hurt or embarrassed by the information they provide.

So, we have a double fraud here being perpetrated, right before our eyes, at the highest level in America.

The first fraud is the deliberately dishonest notion that the release of private gossip in any way represented interference in an election.

The second fraud is the unproven assertion that Russia was somehow responsible for obtaining the information.

My mind is not closed to any possible truth here, I do not pre-judge and assert that we are being showered with falsehoods by Obama and his servants, although I do believe that is what is close to certain.

And I believe that it is close to certain because my instincts tell me strongly that when someone makes strong accusations and provides no believable proof, the accusations are almost certainly false, and, as a matter of principle, they should be regarded as false.

This goes double when the accusations are dressed up in strikingly dishonest language – the kind of language beloved by a lowlife politician like John McCain or a demonstrated reckless-tongued and prejudiced anti-Russian bureaucrat such as James Clapper – language, delivered with theatrically somber tones and faces, about interfering in America’s democracy. Incidentally, intelligence staff’s disgraceful characterization of Assange as a pedophile exactly mimics the empty accusations of sexual perversion old Joseph McCarthy used to level at some of his targets.

Gossip is not interfering in democracy. It is just information people may weigh when they vote, just as valid or not as any other information available. Indeed, its information value to each voter is privately weighed against empty campaign slogans and an avalanche of truly false news provided by an utterly-biased corporate press in the last election. Voters were arguably better informed than in a long time.

What a tiresome circus Washington has become with this matter. All these well-paid officials asserting this or that, carrying on with speeches and committees, and concocting completely unconvincing proof. Meanwhile the nation is absolutely jammed with serious problems receiving no attention. That fact alone tells you more than you may want to know about America’s political establishment.

And all of the circus is because the insanely ambitious Hillary Clinton cannot accept that she is not widely liked and was defeated for that simple reason.

And all because the Democratic Party, married tightly and corruptly to the Clintons as its biggest source of money for years, cannot accept that it ran the wrong candidate.

And all because the Chairman of Hillary’s disastrous campaign, John Podesta, cannot face the embarrassingly stupid fact of his own utter carelessness, his computer password having been “password.”

As Julian Assange has said, a 14-year old could have hacked Podesta’s computer easily. And may we not ask, if what the password guarded was indeed so precious, why wouldn’t this man be considered the chief guilty party for his negligence?

And also, finally, because one of the most disappointing presidents in American history, a man who has failed at most of what he has attempted except at mass killing and displaying extreme arrogance, Obama, viscerally dislikes Vladimir Putin for besting him in Ukraine and in Syria.

He is also miffed and embarrassed that his ridiculous crisscrossing of the country in Air Force One, at public expense for a private purpose, failed to elect Hillary.

He is even further resentful at the lost prospect of being appointed to the Supreme Court by Hillary, something there is every reason to believe she promised him.

As for pretentious appointed hacks like James Clapper, well, the entire history of what I like to call Big Intelligence is littered with their fraudulent claims and failed projects.

There hasn’t been a significant American war in which Big Intelligence didn’t play a role of first concocting “evidence,” the kind of stuff that would be thrown out of any court of law but which serves just fine to assist politicians in temporarily bamboozling the public.

Readers may be interested in the fact of Obama’s unusually cozy relationship with the Pentagon – yes, the Obama of the Peace Prize and people’s 2008 hopes and the big smile and the baritone voice, but also the Obama of all the killing and arrogance and abject failure:

http://chuckmangrotesques.blogspot.ca/2017/01/john-chuckman-grotesques-obama-barack.html

He is their man.

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY (REPOSTED): AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT…A CONTEMPORARY CHRISTMAS TALE   Leave a comment

Reposted for the holiday season…

 

AND TO ALL, A GOOD NIGHT

A Contemporary Christmas Tale

 

John Chuckman

It was only a matter of time before Santa Claus himself came under the Neanderthal-eyed scrutiny of American intelligence. After all, Santa’s citizenship is unknown, and he crosses borders with no passport or other form of identification. No one knows whether he even has a valid pilot’s license.

Although his image is well known, there is no official photograph on file with American border control, and he has never been fingerprinted or body-searched. Most disconcerting of all, he delivers parcels to children all over the world, including the children living in the Axis of Evil. His intentions with this activity are not understood beyond some fuzzy generalization about kindness and generosity to all. Clearly, here was the world’s largest unplugged pipeline to potential terrorists.

It was only after receiving no response to several urgent letters from the State Department requesting an immediate meeting in Washington that a decision was made to approach Santa’s North Pole solitude. As usual in such matters with the people now running America, a wing of America’s most lethal killing machines was employed for the purpose. You never know what you might encounter in such a forbidding place.

As the planes first zoomed over the icy silence of the North Pole workshop, one of the pilots decided to swoop down for a closer look. He was one of those daring fly-boys, and his tail struck the only wire for thousands of miles around, the North Pole Telegraph, sending his plane hurling into the workshop in a ball of flames with tons of ammunition and missiles exploding.

Santa and Mrs. Claus rushed out of their snow-blanketed gingerbread house to see what was happening, trying to calm the terrified reindeer running from their stable at one end of the house. The elves, too, scurried towards the stable, trying to stop the reindeer from running or flying off.

Above, in the dark vault of sky, the other pilots observed the explosion and saw missile trails smoking into the air. They also saw the frantic activity below and quickly concluded their comrade had come under anti-aircraft attack. So they swooped down in attack formation, rapid-fire canon tearing into everything ahead of them.

Most of the reindeer fell in the snow, spurting warm blood across the bluish-white surface. Most of the elves, too, fell gasping for life. Mrs. Claus received a wound in the head and instantly fell limp. Santa tried heroically to reach his wife but realized the situation was hopeless and turned, running into the darkness accompanied by Prancer, the only surviving reindeer.

The only witness to the massacre is one surviving elf now living somewhere in Canada under an assumed identity, fearful for his life. It is only from his testimony that we know anything about Santa’s fate.

Realizing the horrific mistake they had made, the pilots dropped white phosphorus bombs with the intention of incinerating all evidence. The entire North Pole lit up and Santa and Prancer could be seen in the distance on a huge block of ice drifting off into the dark sea, the ice everywhere cracked and weakened by the combined effects of white phosphorus and years of global warming.

Within in a few hours, the beating sound of a black helicopter approached Santa and Prancer. The elf, from his hiding place in a snowdrift, could only make out intermittent sounds across the howling coldness, but it seems armed men emerged from the helicopter, shot Prancer and shackled Santa, shoving him into the dark, beating machine. The elf heard a word that sounded like Guantanamo and Santa has not been heard from since. Reports of his fate reached the International Red Cross and organizations like Amnesty International, leading to inquiries, but these have been met only with silence from American authorities.

Posted December 24, 2016 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: THE PROFOUND DISAPPOINTMENT OF ANGELA MERKEL   2 comments

 

THE PROFOUND DISAPPOINTMENT OF ANGELA MERKEL

John Chuckman

 

Anyone who says she admires Hillary Clinton, as Angela Merkel has said, plainly invites revulsion if not contempt. The lack of judgment broadcast by such words strikes the mind like a grating noise. Clinton’s record of behavior literally stinks to high heaven, much as a pile of corpses left to rot in the hot sun, and, as it happens, there are a great many rotting corpses in Clinton’s history.

What an immense disappointment Merkel is. Intelligent and well educated with an appealing, fairly benign face, but, wait, am I describing Merkel or, in fact, Obama? It turns out not to matter. They are a pair of malignant soul mates born thousands of miles apart who conspired later in life to bring the world a great deal of unhappiness.

Merkel has been de facto leader of Europe during an extremely challenging period, one demanding real statesmanship. Instead, she has provided attitudes and short-term fixes married to complete acceptance of the most destructive American policies possible. Her policies have alienated large numbers of her own people and, almost more importantly, contributed mightily to the weakening of loyalties in Europe – not a record of which to be proud.

Unfortunately, during the period of her Chancellorship, there have been no other European leaders of stature and ability to balance or oppose her. Absolutely none. Britain had the flabby joke of David Cameron who collapsed his own house of cards through sheer political incompetence. France had the absurd Francois Hollande, an impossibly pompous man with not a single achievement to his credit, a parody of a French President, certainly the worst leader in modern French history.

So, Europe at a time when America put great new stresses and demands upon it for its own selfish reasons had no leadership worth mentioning. All the major figures were content with accommodating America’s harsh and destructive initiatives. Well, I do think there is something to be said for the dictum that history is biography.

Everyone involved has suffered for Merkel’s attitudes and whims. Europe simply could not have done much worse. The press so glibly speaks of the rise of the political Right in Europe and in America, but what we really see on both continents is public reaction to years of blundering policies causing vast misery in many places.

You cannot support America’s destruction of the Middle East without accepting its direct consequences both in massive migrations of terrified people and in the rise of terror by relatively powerless young men wanting revenge for what has been done to them, their families and homes. Yet this is precisely what Angela Merkel has tried to do, trying to avoid inevitable, destructive consequences of stupid acts she has supported. Having never raised her voice against what America was doing, Merkel decided to deal with some of the consequences by playing the grandmotherly figure who welcomes an avalanche of refugees, seemingly not appreciating for a second what that means on the streets of her own country.

No decent person is against organized, peaceful immigration or against giving assistance to desperate refugees. There is an ethical obligation for both as well as some sound economic reasons. But if a truck, set to deliver two hundred gallons of fuel oil to your home’s heating system, pumps instead two thousand gallons, you suddenly have a disturbing, costly, and dangerous situation. The analogy is actually quite inadequate for what has happened in some places with armies of terrified people fleeing America’s imposed-horrors.

Merkel, realizing what her support of America’s destruction in Libya, Syria, and other places has wrought, tried setting the example of a benign figure ready to help everyone, a kind of bonhomie approach to what was a totally-avoidable catastrophe. The impossibility of this should have been seen, but it was not. Too many extremely-different refugees – different in language, customs, religion, wealth, and politics – cannot be absorbed quickly or peacefully by any country, and perhaps that is even more true of relatively old and homogeneous societies such as Germany.

We like to speak of xenophobia with contempt, but in the gritty real lives of vast populations everywhere on the planet, it is a reality just as much as backward religious practices, which cannot be wished away. True xenophobia, indeed, much resembles fundamentalist religion in that it is an expression of superstitious instincts, deeply-rooted instincts whose origins go beyond mere learned behaviors. Just try asking highly religious people to set aside their feelings for completely different newcomers, the example coming to mind of the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel and their “take” on others. It is possible only in the imagination.

But xenophobia is only part of the mix, despite the claims of a superficial mainstream press, and I am not just speaking of it. We promote nationalism and national unity in every Western country with flags, anthems, pledges, holiday customs, uniforms, speeches, parades, even laws, and then some leaders seem to expect their people, almost on command, to turn their backs on all the lifelong indoctrination and embrace sudden, great change? It simply cannot be done.

As with anything else you may care to discuss, the time to act is before a great problem or crisis has been created. Preventative health care is no less valuable for nations than it is for individuals. The leaders of Europe should have seen what America’s fanatical crusade was going to do and opposed it, forcefully, before it was started. In doing so, Europe would have been strengthened instead of diminished as it has been., to say nothing of preventing the death and maiming of millions in the Middle East. Instead they quietly supported it and even donated resources to the insane efforts of America’s Grande Armée in the Middle East.

Merkel’s contribution to disaster goes further, to her relations with one of the planet’s genuine madman-leaders, Netanyahu. She has been selling him sophisticated submarines at knock-down prices for years. Only recently they agreed to three more of them in a deal which has Netanyahu being examined in Israel for criminal activity. I think it fair to ask, too, why a sardine-sized country needs a fleet of sophisticated submarines, some or all of which are widely rumored to be outfitted with nuclear-armed cruise missiles? Does that make sense to anyone other than Merkel, Netanyahu, Clinton, and Obama?  Does that contribute to stability in the Middle East? And why doesn’t the excruciating injustice of Israel’s occupation and regular theft of land enter into considerations?

Germany’s taking a million refugees is roughly equivalent to America’s taking four million. It does not take a great imagination to see what the results of such a massive, short-term influx would be. Moreover, never mind Donald Trump, there has been no American government, ever, willing to accept such numbers at one time. Indeed, had America’s recent governments demonstrated the slightest sense of responsibility for what they had caused, they would have taken extraordinary steps for the refugees, but they did not. Instead, they encouraged measures like Merkel’s response, which, in terms of total numbers involved in the human catastrophe, is necessarily pathetic.

But, if you read enough history, you will know it has always been part of the American government’s character to do what as it pleases in the world with little or no regard for the consequences, so long as those consequences are on foreign shores. It is an attitude bred in a people who too often feel they can have it all and have it now and a people who have the illusion, generated both in commercial advertising and in fundamentalist Christianity, of endless youth with all its happy irresponsibility. It is something which actually marks America as especially unsuitable for enlightened world leadership, while it is the very quality demonic figures such as Kissinger or Brzezinski regarded as useful to their twisted international purposes.

Merkel quickly learned what she had done was a terrible political mistake. Consequences were quick, so she backtracked, never a dignified behavior for a national leader. But more than that, Merkel, realizing what the consequences might be of a few million more refugees temporarily encamped in Turkey continuing on into Europe, was quick to strike a deal with another of our planet’s most unscrupulous and dangerous leaders, the madman who rules Turkey, Erdogan. She agreed to pay him several billion Euros to keep the refugees in their massive Turkish camps.

This was not just a highly unethical deal, it should have been seen for the ongoing danger it represented, especially in view of Europe’s general relations with Erdogan and its confused efforts to deal with his many demands, ranging from visa-free travel in Europe for Turks to full membership in the EU. Again, American policy had created a huge problem by treating Turkey, an undemocratic country with limited respect for human rights and one for some years ruled by a madman, as an indispensable ally against Russia, so the EU to this day feels it must accommodate that ugly reality in all its policies.

Obviously, a country in the state we see in Turkey – constant war and terror against the Kurds, serious government suppression of free speech and activities, assassinations, widespread Muslim fundamentalism, and now new waves of repression following a failed coup – is in no shape to qualify for EU membership under the EU’s own requirements, which at least struggle to be faithful to Enlightenment principles.

Erdogan, never one to be shy about what he wants, has already threatened publicly to “open the gates” if the EU does not proceed in treating his demands appropriately. So, Merkel’s dirty deal with the devil is seriously threatened and becomes just one more source of uncertainty and instability. It is not a promising situation.

I believe Merkel was permanently scarred by growing up in East Germany and likely harbors both inordinate fear of Russia and slavish admiration for America, neither attitude being warranted in the least today. Her mental landscape possibly includes images of Andropov versus Jimmy Stewart, but policy built on fantasy and fears is bad policy, always.

The Bush-Obama years have been, in so far as foreign policy goes, about as stupidly and blunderingly destructive as Lyndon Johnson’s bull-headed insistence on fighting a major war in Vietnam. Johnson ended by killing about 3 million people, generating instability and misery, dividing America itself, and achieving nothing worth achieving. Bush-Obama have killed at least a couple of million, generated instability and misery, divided the countries of Europe, also achieving nothing worth achieving. There is not one part of the vast sphere America has arrogantly viewed as its area of influence that has not been made worse by Bush-Obama policies.

Mass killing, mass destruction of old societies and cities, induced-coups, threats, fears, torture, the creation of huge and desperate human movements, promotion and reward of terror as a covert policy tool, the decline everywhere in the rule of law, extra-judicial killing on an organized scale, a huge erosion in respect for international institutions like the now much-debased UN, an endless and confusing patchwork of lies told about terrible events – all while ignoring genuinely terrible situations like those in Palestine or in Saudi Arabia or in Turkey.

Apart from the horrors Merkel has implicitly or explicitly embraced and apart from the anger and disruptions and economic hardship her embrace has meant for Europe – America’s arbitrary and unwarranted sanctions against Russia have cost the German and French economies literally billions which America smilingly allows them to pay –  one look at a map of Europe tells you just part of the reason why her views are so utterly counter-productive.

For scores of reasons, the future of Europe is in a cooperative and close relationship with Russia. It just cannot be otherwise, although, if you are determined to waste enough resources, impoverishing to some degree your own people through decreased trade and increased military waste, you can hold the inevitable off for quite a while. Look at America’s ten years of sheer insanity in Vietnam if you doubt for a moment that it is possible for a great country to do absolutely pointless and insanely costly things. Well, another insane and costly crusade is exactly the course America has been on in recent years, and leaders like Merkel have served as the most willing helpers in the task.

Obama and his political associate, Hillary Clinton, are total failures as figures of principle and as leaders, and Merkel very much resembles them, even down to the pathetic recent appeal she is using with German voters in anticipation of 2017 elections. She has imported wholesale Hillary’s squalid, 1950s-style claim that Russia threatens the integrity of elections, her empty claims being just an effort to stoke-up fears to get what she wants.

And then there are the remarkably empty and pretentious words she wrote in her official letter to President-elect Trump:

“Germany and America are united by shared values: through democracy, freedom, respect for the right and dignity of every individual, irrespective of origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation or political attitude. On the basis of these values, I would like to offer you a close cooperation between the governments of our countries.”

No clear-thinking person can accept such words as anything but hypocritical establishment claptrap – the kind of phony stuff just rejected by the American people. There is not a sincere phrase contained in the paragraph, just an arrogant assumption of moral loftiness and a presumption of setting standards for future relations. Can any thoughtful reader not sense almost an insult in the words? Insufferable stuff coming, as it does, from someone who never lifted a finger, except to assist, in the killing of tens of thousands of women and their families in half a dozen lands.

Trump will not do everything right, I know, but Merkel has done almost nothing right, much as her admired friends, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

 

 

Posted December 5, 2016 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS ELECTION?   Leave a comment

 

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS ELECTION?

John Chuckman

 

Brushing away the extreme claims and rhetoric of much election analysis, there are some observations which deserve attention. These unfortunately mostly provide hard lessons and not a lot of encouragement for people who hold to principles of democracy, enlightenment, and progressivity.

The election demonstrated perhaps better than ever, and better than has been generally recognized, that America is, indeed, a plutocracy. It took a genuine American Oligarch, a multi-billionaire, a man with a lifetime’s economic empire-building, to defeat a family which could provide the very definition of being politically well-connected, a family which had laboriously constructed and carefully maintained a kind of deep well ever-flowing with money for their ambitions.

It was the ever-flowing well of money, drilled by Bill Clinton with help from some extremely shady friends, such as Jeffrey Epstein, that made the Clintons keystone establishment figures in the Democratic Party. It was not personal charm or exceptional political generalship – although Bill, in his heyday, displayed some of both of those – that earned the Clintons their place, it was the money, the “mother’s milk of politics.” In what is euphemistically called “fund raising,” many hundreds of millions of dollars were provided for the party over the last couple of decades by Bill Clinton’s efforts.

Hillary fully appreciated the fact that money buys power and influence. She lacked Bill’s superficial charm, but she certainly more than shared his ambition.  On the charm front, when she was ready to move into running for office, she adopted, perhaps under Bill’s tutelage, a kind of forced clown face with arched eyebrows, bugged-out eyes, and a smile as big as her lips would allow, and these expressions were accompanied by little gestures such as briefly pointing to various on-lookers or waving helter-skelter whenever she campaigned.

Her gestures reminded me of something you might see atop a float in a Christmas Parade or of the late Harpo Marx at his most exuberant. These were not natural for her. They were never in evidence years ago when she spent years as a kind of bizarre executive housewife, both in a governor’s mansion and later in the White House, bizarre because she indulged her husband’s non-stop predatory sexual behavior in exchange for the immense power it conferred on her behind the scenes over her far more out-going and successful politician-husband.

Anyway, Hillary knew that gestures and simulated charm do not get you far in American politics. She determined to build a political war chest long ago, and there are many indications over the years of her working towards this end of making this or that change in expressed view, as when running for the Senate, when sources of big money suggested another view would more acceptable. She was anything but constant in the views she embraced because when she ran for the Senate she spent record amounts of money, embarrassingly large amounts.

In her years of speaking engagements, she aimed at special interests who could supply potentially far more money than just exorbitant speaking fees. Later, in the influential, appointed post of Secretary of State – coming, as it does, into personal contact with every head of government or moneyed, big-time international schemer – she unquestionably played an aggressive “pay for play” with them all. Covering up that embarrassing and illegal fact is what the private servers and unauthorized smart phones were all about.

A second big fact of the election is that both major American political parties are rather sick and fading. The Republican Party has been broken for a very long time. It hobbled along for some decades with the help of various gimmicks, hoping to expand its constituency with rubbish like “family values,” public prayer and catering to the Christian Right, and anti-flag burning Constitutional amendments, and now it is truly out of gas. That is precisely why a political outsider like Oligarch Trump could manage to hi-jack the party.

He was opposed by tired, boring men like Jeb Bush, seeking to secure an almost inherited presidency, and a dark, intensely unlikable, phony Christian fundamentalist like Ted Cruz, and it proved to be no contest. It was a remarkable political achievement, but I think it was only possible given the sorry state of the party.

The Republican Party had been given a breather, some new life, by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. He had an extremely mixed record as President, but he was popular, held in some affection, and did have a clear vision, but his effect on the party was not lasting. Trump could be seen as another Reagan, but I think the comparison is superficial. Trump literally hi-jacked the party, and he was not deliriously crowned by its establishment.

The Republican Party itself was formed not long before Abraham Lincoln’s candidacy out of the remains of worn out and collapsed predecessors, including the Whigs and Free-Soil Democrats. Parties do not last forever, and here was Trump creating something of a minor political revolution inside a tired and fairly directionless old party, a phenomenon which I do not think was sufficiently noticed.

The press was too busy attacking him from the start to take notice or do any intelligent analysis, and he was attacked precisely for the potential damage to the establishment he represented. His most promising quality is his potential for creating a new coalition of interests and one excluding the continuation of the Neocon Wars Hillary vigorously embraced and would expand.

But the Democratic Party is in serious trouble, too. It has a great deal of internal rot, as the Wiki-Leaks material from the DNC clearly shows us. Arrogance, lack of direction, ignorance of the people it has always claimed to serve, bad decision-making, and the absolute prostrate worship of money are the major symptoms.

It would have been impossible for the party to have so made up its mind and committed its resources to Hillary Clinton without serious rot. She has always had strong negatives in polling, always been (rightly) suspected concerning her honesty.

The Wiki-Leaks material tells us about many internal conflicts, including harsh high-level judgments of Hillary’s decision-making, resentment over the back-stabbing character of daughter Chelsea who is said to resemble Hillary in her behavior and attitudes, and the belief of some that Hillary just should not have run. And, frankly, she had become for many a rather tiresome, used-up figure from whom absolutely nothing spectacular in politics or policy could possibly be expected. But they not only blindly supported her, they broke all their own party rules by internally and secretly working to defeat a legitimate and viable contender, Bernie Sanders.

Sanders might well have been able to win the election for the Democrats, but their establishment was blind to the possibility and rejected his candidacy out-of-hand. After all, there were Bill and Hillary beckoning to their running well of money. In hindsight, it might be just as well that Sanders was cheated out of the nomination. He proved a weak individual in the end, giving in to just the forces he had claimed to oppose and leaving his enthusiastic followers completely let down. He may well even have been secretly bribed by money from the Clintons since he bought a fairly expensive property not long afterward. But, in any event, there he was, out on the hustings, supporting everything he ever opposed personified in Hillary Clinton. Men of that nature do not stand up well to Generals and Admirals and the heads of massive corporations, a quality which I do think we have some right to expect Trump to display.

Another important fact about the election is that it was less the triumph of Trump than the avoidance of Hillary that caused the defeat. The numbers are unmistakable. Yes, Trump did well for a political newcomer and a very controversial figure, but Hillary simply did badly, not approaching the support Obama achieved in key states, again something reflecting the documented fact that she is not a well-liked figure and the Party blundered badly in running her. But again, money talks, and the Clintons, particularly Bill, are the biggest fundraisers they have had in our lifetime. No one was ready to say no to the source of all that money.

Now, to many Americans, the election result must seem a bit like having experienced something of a revolution, although a revolution conducted through ballots, any other kind being literally impossible by design in this massive military-security state.  In a way, it does represent something of a revolutionary event, owing to the fact that Trump the Oligarch is in his political views a bit of a revolutionary or at least a dissenter from the prevailing establishment views. And, as in any revolution, even a small one, there are going to be some unpleasant outcomes.

The historical truth of politics is that you never know from just what surprising source change may come. Lyndon Johnson, life-long crooked politician and the main author of the horrifying and pointless Vietnam War, did more for the rights of black Americans than any other modern president. Franklin Roosevelt, son of wealthy establishment figures, provided remarkable leadership in the Great Depression, restoring hopes and dreams for millions. Change, important, change, never comes from establishments or institutions like political parties. It always comes from unusual people who seem to step out of their accustomed roles in life with some good or inspired ideas and have the drive and toughness to make them a reality.

I have some limited but important hopes for Trump. I am not blind or delirious expecting miracles from this unusual person, and after the experience of Obama, who seemed such a promising young figure but fairly quickly proved a crushing, bloody disappointment, I can never build up substantial hopes for any politician. And what was the choice anyway? Hillary Clinton was a bought-and-paid one-way ticket to hell.

Trump offers two areas of some hope, and these both represent real change. The first is in reducing America’s close to out-of-control military aggressiveness abroad. This aggressiveness, reflecting momentum from what can only be called the Cheney-Rumsfeld Presidency, continued and grew under the weak and ineffectual leadership of Obama and was boosted and encouraged by Hillary as Secretary of State. Hillary, the feminists who weep for her should be reminded, did a lot of killing during her tenure. She along with Obama are literally responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of women and their families, many of them literally torn apart by bombs.

The other area of some hope is for the welfare of ordinary American people themselves who have been completely ignored by national leaders for decades. George Bush’s lame reaction to Hurricane Katrina (before he was internationally shamed into some action) has become the normal pattern for America’s national government when it comes to ordinary Americans.

The truth is that the legacy of FDR has withered to nothing and no longer plays any role in the Democratic Party, and of course never did in the Republican Party. By welfare, I do not mean the kind of state assistance that Bill Clinton himself worked to end. Nothing can impress someone not familiar with America’s dark corners more than a visit to places like Detroit or Gary or Chicago’s South Side, parts of New Orleans, or Newark or dozens of other places where Americans live in conditions in every way comparable to Third World hellholes. No, I mean the people’s general well-being. Trump’s approach will be through jobs and creating incentives for jobs. I don’t know whether he can succeed, but, just as he asked people in some of his speeches, “What do you have to lose?” Just having someone in power who pays any attention to the “deplorables” is a small gain.

People should never think of the Clintons as liberal or progressive, and that was just as much true for Bill as it is for Hillary. His record as President – apart from his embarrassing behavior in the Oval Office with a young female intern and his recruitment of Secret Service guards as procurers for women he found attractive on his morning runs – was actually pretty appalling. He, in his own words, “ended welfare as we know it.” He signed legislation which would send large numbers of young black men to prison. He also signed legislation which contributed to the country’s later financial collapse under George Bush. He often would appoint someone decent and then quickly back off, leaving them dangling, when it looked like approval for the appointment would not be coming. His FBI conducted the assault on Waco, killing about eighty people needlessly. A pharmaceutical plant in Sudan was destroyed by cruise missiles for no good reason. There were a number of scandals, including the suicide of Vince Foster and the so-called Travelgate affair, which were never fully explained to the public. It was his Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who answered, unblinkingly, a television interviewer’s question about tens of thousands of Iraqi children who died owing to America’s embargo, “We think it’s worth it.”  He committed the war crime of bombing Belgrade. When news of the horrors of the Rwanda genocide were first detected by his government, the order secretly went out to shut up about it. No effort was made to intervene.

No, any real change in America could never come from people like the Clintons, either one of them.

Posted November 11, 2016 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: YES, THERE WILL BE ELECTION FRAUD, AND ON A GRAND SCALE   Leave a comment

 

YES, THERE WILL BE ELECTION FRAUD, AND ON A GRAND SCALE

America’s election system is designed only to give the theater of democracy with none of the substance

John Chuckman

 

It is a virtual certainty that the American establishment will resort to election fraud to help Hillary Clinton. They simply do not know what to do about Donald Trump. America’s election system was not designed to handle a phenomenon like him, a non-politician, a man with some genuinely fresh anti-establishment views, who quickly rides a wave of popularity to do a hostile take-over, as it were, of a major old-line party.

America’s election system is designed to give the theater of democracy with virtually none of the substance, but even in the face of that reality, election fraud in America still has a long history. Even though we are usually talking about two establishment candidates representing two establishment parties, the competitive instincts of the two rival gangs, each eagerly seeking power and privileges and appointed offices for themselves and their adherents, have often resulted in vote fraud. How much greater is the impulse now in that direction to defend against a candidate who actually wants to change something?

Despite an unprecedented spectacle of the press acting as a national public disinformation system united in one goal, to discredit Trump, including even polls deliberately engineered with sampling errors to give a false view of what is happening, and a massive effort to build Hillary up into something she is not, a decent human being, the momentum for Trump continues.

Even if you don’t have reliable numbers, you can just feel it from the very desperation of the establishment. The President spends much of his time flying around making insipid speeches for his party, the newspapers leap to publish every unconfirmed negative report about Trump or such absolute trivia as this or that movie star or pop star saying what an awful man Trump is. And you have to ask where all these voices were during decades of business deals in the great cities of America and other places which saw successful projects springing up all over with fanfare and publicity.

No, it is only now that the establishment actually feels of the hot breath of popular revolt against much of what it has done over the last two decades – its uniquely poisonous policy brew of constant war and completely ignoring most Americans – that we get this explosion of rumors, unproved accusations, and Joseph McCarthy-style innuendo. Before that, Trump was a highly productive member of society welcome at public events of every kind. After all, wealth and celebrity are always welcome in America. It is only change that is not.

Critics are right about a lot of unpleasant things in America, and their voices are simply not heard in its tight little press oligopoly. Is America’s establishment right about Syria? About Libya? About Yemen? About Israel? About NATO? About Russia? China? Being right in America today can be quite lonely.

America invented marketing. It is one of its few truly original contributions to culture. And the arts of marketing are intensely at work in politics there, to the extent there is often almost no substance despite all the carefully-packaged words. The immediate period after an American election resembles the experience of a person who has purchased a new product which quickly proves to work nothing like the advertising promises said it would.

American elections closely resemble a marketing battle between two oligopolistic corporations, as between Coke and Pepsi or McDonald’s and Burger King. There are only two parties and that situation is controlled through countless institutional and regulatory gimmicks put into place by the two parties themselves.

America’s campaign financing system is a deliberate and effective method to discourage the birth or growth of any new parties. It is what economists call a barrier to entry into a market, the kind of thing which keeps non-political oligopolistic markets from becoming more competitive. The little ones are allowed to just struggle along on the margins for appearances and owing to the disproportionately high cost of eliminating them too

Most of the noise and intensity of American elections are just hollow, but it is the kind of stuff to which Americans are exposed in their economic life, day-in or day-out, so for ordinary people without the time to be well-informed, nothing could sound more normal.

That is what is so different about Trump. Despite his flaws and distasteful tendency to be a bigmouth, on some really important matters, matters of life and death, he is speaking truth and speaking it plainly. There is a kind of revolutionary quality in parts of his message. Of course, this in part reflects the fact that he has never before been a politician, only a successful, hard-nosed actor in the economic sphere.

That is something new in American elections, and the establishment is rather shaken by it. Therefore, the American press has created and sustained an unparalleled campaign of highly biased and even vicious reporting and commentary.

People abroad do not realize that about 90% of what Americans hear comes from just six big companies, none of whom, you may be sure, is interested in change and especially anything even slightly revolutionary. National broadcasting and national press have been so consolidated through years of massive mergers that there is no real alternative voice reaching most Americans.

And those huge news corporations – intimate members of the establishment, always supporting the government of the day in its imperial wars and projects – have made a concerted effort to diminish and demean Trump. Equally, they have universally praised and supported Clinton, despite her dark record of unethical personal behavior and violent public acts, despite having been responsible for the deaths of thousands of women and their families.

Never mind Trump’s private off-color remarks, here is a woman married for decades to a genuine sexual predator, a man who was having sex with a young intern right in the Oval Office. And she wants to bring him back into affairs in Washington, having promised to give him responsibility for economy?

Why did she tolerate decades of his disgraceful and even criminal behavior? Because it gave her serious leverage over him in office, whether as Governor of Arkansas or President of the United States. We have a hundred voices telling us of her violent temper and demands and the central role she would assume even though elected to no office.

She has always been about one thing only, and that is to enjoy power over others which she has exercised with brutal intensity, all while maintaining a bug-eyed, laughing face in public. She is without question a genuine sociopath.

Even when we see fascinating revelations about her inside political maneuvering and dishonesty from leaks on the Internet, the national press manages largely to ignore them or to diminish them. They do not catch fire. The techniques of public relations and damage control – outgrowths of marketing principles and psychological manipulation techniques – are employed to suffocate any fires.

We do see signs that the Internet is starting to have some real impact with the general population, and to the extent that is true, we also see the establishment working towards suppressing alternate and independent voices on the Internet by a variety of means.

America uses an awkward expression, “controlling the narrative,” to describe what the establishment is quietly undertaking, always trying not to assume the open appearance of old Soviet-style suppression of information or the promotion of heavy-handed disinformation while in fact assuming the substance of their purpose.

In the longer term, I am not convinced they can succeed. The Internet is an almost uncontrollable force, that is unless you actually suppress and control aspects of the Internet itself, something recent remarks by Obama – a man who is a strict disciple of secrecy and inner-sanctum privilege – suggest in vague and politically-correct language, there may well be efforts underway towards that goal.

This fact only adds to the importance of this election. If Trump loses, there can be no doubt, the secretive, manipulative, and ruthless Hillary Clinton will commission whatever efforts are required for information suppression. After all, a person ruthlessly pursuing war and secretive manipulation of world affairs can never be a friend to openness and truth, which are literally enemies of such goals.

The entire business of terror and fighting terror offers a great deal of latitude this way, suppression in the name of fighting terror, the great irony, of course, for America being that it does not consistently fight terror, it frequently employs it as a tool of statecraft. We’ve seen that in my lifetime in everything from the long covert battle against Castro and the hideous, pointless war in Vietnam to the employment of jihadists in Afghanistan, Libya, or Syria.

For some genuine history of American vote fraud, readers should see my lengthy comment on Obama’s recent speech, in which he told Trump to “stop whining”:

https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/john-chuckman-comment-british-papers-try-making-fun-of-trumps-words-about-the-dead-being-raised-to-vote-but-vote-fraud-in-america-is-not-a-laughing-matter-and-names-registered-to-vote-from-cemete/

 

 

 

Posted October 23, 2016 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized