Monday, July 18, 2011

July 18: Bland, irrelevant, trivial.

Today, almost all of the Moncton Times&Transcript emulated its laughable business page - sparse and uninformative on world economics, completely vacant on local business.

There are only two things worth reading or talking about today, both of them opinion columns.
One, on the editorial page, is by Alec Bruce.  Allen Abel is on the op ed page.

I've often wondered why the Allen Abel column is in the papter at all. Supposedly, it is to provide some insight into the workings of Washington, D.C.   But, usually, the insights are so trivial they really don't matter.Today's is a little bit different. It's about the stunning levels of corruption in Washington City Council.

He has stories of a former mayor and present councillor who didn't pay taxes for at least six years, and has a long history of drunk driving. There is another councillor who diverted $300,000 (of 400,000) meant for youth programmes into his own pocket.

Well, yes. The city government of Washington is all that. New York, Chicago and many other cities are least as bad; and almost all have high levels of mob control. But all of those put together are small time compared to the federal government in Washington.  So why stop at Washington City Council? Or at any City Council?

A typical congressman in the U.S. federal government is a millionaire with a stock portfolio heavily weighted with shares in the defence industry - for which he votes the highest military spending in the world. Few congressman and no president of the past 60 years has been able to win an election without being a millionaire supplied with election funds from billionaires. No candidate can run for any office and hope for fair news coverage without the support of the corporations that own almost all of US news media.

The US is currupt from bottom to top. That's why it has only two political parties with only minor differences betwen them. That's why peace nobelist Obama is now fighting more wars than Bush did. American democracy, which always fell short of its popular image, has entirely ceased to exist. People who used their "freedom" to criticize government policies get their phones and emails hacked by government spies. The president can and does imprison people with no charge, no trial, no legal advice. Foreign aid, if it comes at all, usually comes in the form of highly profitable contracts to favoured coroporations - with very little of it ever reaching those who need it. Copngress now is fighting a battle to put the whole burden of suffering and paying for the recession onto the shoulders of the 99 plus percent who didn't cause it.

Washington City Council sleaze is pretty tame stuff in comparison.

Then, there's disappointment in what is usually the best column in the paper. Alec Bruce talks about how the Alward government, unlike Shawn Graham's, has been up front about their plans and priorities for the shale gas projects.


It's been going on for ten years. If Alward had something to say about it, why didn't he campaign on it?

In fact, the open and honest Alward government didn't mention it until a few weeks ago, and not until a group of "firebrands" forced his hand/ When it was  forced, ti was obvious his "environment is our first priority" cabinet minister had not yet prepared regulations - or even done the preliminary studies. Indeed, the Alward government could have nothing to be open and honest about since it handed over the planning for New Brunswick's economic future some months ago to a selp-appointed committee of big business.

Speaking of honesty and transparency, the newpaper that Alec Bruce's column appears in has told us clost to nothing about what is going on - and even that close to nothing was highly biased.  And, again, we got that little bit only because of "firebrands"'

I see no evidence here or a government approach than can be called either "balanced" or "prudent" - or even an approach. What I see is the traditional New Brunswick gift of its power, its resources, its people and their children as sacrifices  to power and wealth..

Oh, when reading a newspaper, always watch out for loaded words. A moslem who kills people in order to terrorise is routinely called a terrorist. An American Christian who does so is call a militia member in the press.  When General Crutis Lemay vowed to bomb Cambodia into the stone age, and then killed half a million civilians, he was called a hero. When Bush killed over a million Iraqi civilians, he was called a strong president. When his father, as head of the CIA, directed the genocide of 200,00 of the Maya of Guatemala - it wasn't even mentioned.

"Firebrand", like terrorist, militia member, hero is a loaded word. Use firebrand if you like. But  use it consistently. Use it to refer to Bush and Blair, both of whom lied to justify wars. Use it to refer to Harper, who committed us to bombing civilians in Libya in a war for which we still don't have any credible reason. Use it  to refer to newspapers that  lie to us so that corporations can rip us off. (Use to refer to newspapers that stir up controversy over bicycle lanes to get people's attention off shale gas.)

The whole column is very unlike Bruce - particularly in the last sentence in which he throws up his hands and says, in effect, "what can ya do, eh?"

By the way, has anybody noticed the similarity between theh shale gas scheme and Shawn Graham's proposed sale of NB Energy? Both are based on a geographical and marketing unit of the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, and New England. It's the unit referred to by Atlantic Institute of Market Studies as Altantica.

What a conincidence!

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