Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sept. 10: The invisible story

It's not in the Moncton Times and Transcript, though one would think it kind of important, as important, say, as a big, section A story that Riverview Council has set its priorities for roadwork. I learned of it only through friends at La Presse Libre de Moncton Free Press. (You should read it. Just go to Google, and type in either the French or the English part of the title.)

The auditor-general is our (yours and mine) watchdog on federal government spending. It's had a wild time with the government's determination to buy the F-35 fighter from a US company, a fighter which will almost certainly be an antique before it ever gets into service. Nor is it at all clear how it would be of any use in defending Canada.

The bigger problem is that the government made a royal mess out of negotiating for it. The cost, always vague, has run out of control - and it still hasn't peaked. Defence Minister Peter MacKay, GHU (God Help Us) sets the price at 9 billion. His own department sets it at twelve to 13 billion. The auditor-general, using the government's own figures, comes to a total of at least 25 billion. Oh, and its performance so far is quite disappointing.

The auditor-general, who is OUR watchdog, wants to release the figures to the public. He asked for them under the freedom of information act - but they won't let even him see them. And they're going to court  to stop him from making public what he has.

Hey. That's  OUR watchdog; but apparently he's not allowed to bark.

The government reason? O-o-o-h. It would help the enemy - whoever that might be by the time that mess gets into the air. What enemy? Well, in Harper's book, anybody who's not in the cabinet it the enemy.

It's our money. But we're not allowed to know how it's spent. I've never even heard of an auditor-general being muzzled like that. (Must make us all proud to know that Harper's parent's were from Moncton/Port Elgin. Stephen was born shortly after they moved to Toronto.)

(George Bush, by the way, let out the word that a certain American ambassador's wife was a CIA agent. He did it because the ambassador was a political enemy. In doing so, he put in danger not only his own CIA agent, but all those in the network she had set up. That betrayal of national interest is exactly what Assange is being charged with. But there was no charge for George.)

Harper is not just petty and annoying. He's a dedicated threat to democracy - and I don't exaggerate. He's threat to democracy at a time when democracy has all but disappeared in the US, and when Canada is being economically and militarily subordinated to the US to a degree it was never subordinated even to Britain.

This is no small matter. It's one hell of a serious one. Harper is telling us we have no right to know how he spends money. As to military secrets, the performance so far of the F35 is no secret. It's a standing joke all over the world.

But it's not important enough to make the TandT.

There's a bizarre story on p. 1 of News Today. People in the diplomatic world are wondering why Harper cut off diplomatic relations with Iran. So Harper has come up with a new reason. He wanted to speak against human rights abuse by Iran; and he feared that if Canadian diplomats were there when he said it, they would be in danger.

Well, duh, yeah..I guess...maybe... But if that's the case, why did he make the speech about human rights while the diplomats were still  in Iran?

And if his pants were so on fire about defending human rights, why has he never mentioned American torture? The illegal invasion of Iraq with its murder of a million people? The massacre of a quarter million Maya in Guatemala? The illegal use of drones which seems to being killing mostly civilians, anyway? The turning over of prisoners from Canada to the US for torture? The use of special ops to carry out illegal murders (which, I believe, is called terrorism)..... While chatting with the Queen, did he mention to her Britain's use of torture?

John Mundy, a former Canadian ambassador to Iran, wrote in The Globe, that in a time of crisis, diplomats should be the last to leave a country, not the first. A Harper hack replied that the veteran diplomat really didn't understand these diplomatic matters.

It says something when a newspaper becomes simply a list of things we are not allowed to know about. This is not a small matter. It is not even just the arrogant and dictatorial streak in Harper. This is all part of a direction we're going in. And the TandT is doing its share, keeping us amused and ignorant of our national purpose - to change the ending or O Canada to "O Canada, yum tiddy dee. O Canada, we stand on guard for whatever, O Canada we stand on guard for whatever." Freedom in both Canada and the US - and in Britain - is dying fast.

Today's editorial is another appeal to spend big bucks on another scheme that will without doubt produce a gee-whiz profit from tourism. You know, like the proposed hockey rink. And, also like the latter, it will produce an even more sure-thing bonanza for some contractor friend of the government.

Norbert's column is harmless. Alec Bruce's column looks light. It really isn't.

Gwynne Dyer I found a little odd. I know I've read that column before. Could it be a repeat? In any case, it's good column.

And - bless his little heart, staff writer Alan Cochrane wrote a column that is actually about something. That's a rarity for that staff writer space. It could be harder edged - but it's a good starting point for a serious examination.

There's a letter to the editor about hospital food. It is, indeed, vile. I think there's a rule that it has to be. Long ago, I was deeply in love with a hospital dietician. But love fled like a snow drop in hell when she cooked a lunch for me. As well, on a recent visit to a hospital to say goodbye to an old friend, my appendix,I learned something even more sinister about hospital food.

I ate, as you will understand, as little as possible of each meal. As well, a part of me had been cut out and sent to appendix heaven. After five days, I rushed home to see how much weight I had lost.

I hadn't lost. I had bloody gained - seven pounds.

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