Monday, September 17, 2012

Sept. 17: Wow! Did the TandT ever blow it!

Section A is pretty much a wipe-out unless you just live for pictures of kids playing ball hockey and for a picture of a man with his mouth open. The one story worth reading is on Battle of Britain anniversary. Few readers survive who know much about the tremendous tensions of the German aerial assault on Britain, and the heavy casualties suffered by air crew, and by civilians. That's at the bottom of p. 1.

As I wrote last night, I didn't expect the TandT to have the wit to carry a report on Netanyahu's bizarre speech on US television yesterday. This may be the biggest story of many decades - depending on how much goes wrong over the next few weeks. But the TandT limited itself to just four stories in foreign and Canadian news, three of them pretty minor stuff. The only one of importance is about correctional officers protesting overcrowding in our prisons. (Harper, the great advocate of returning to the middle ages to deal with crime, has created a mess that will cause more crime, and take many years to straighten out.)
But a Netanyahu speaking on US television, accusing the Obama of lying, demanding the US declare war for no very clear reason, and clearly interfering with an American election just wasn't worth mentioning - not even when Harper has effectively committed us to take part in such a war  (and without consulting parliament).

The editorial is the usual juvenilia about how the whole world is watching New Brunswick. "New Brunswick has made an international name for itself....." Yeah. Right. That's all they're talking about in Beijing and Rio de Janeiro and California.

Norbert has a column which seems to confirm that he has only a shaky idea of what a newspaper is supposed to do. His theme is that pundits and commentators usually don't know what they're talking about when they comment on political matters - like Harper's closing of diplomatic links with Iran. The don't have all the facts. Often, politicians don't give full reasons for what they do...."And there may be a good reason for government witholdng information", says Norbert.

Yes. And there may be a bad reason. That's why we need commentaries to stiumlate our thinking.

Norbert, my child:

1. In a democracy people need information because they have to come to a decision on voting day - whether they have full information or not. We never in our lives have "full information" on anything, not on who we marry, how to raise children, what the wisest investment would be.... But we still have to make decisions - so we make them. We can't just stand around with our faces hanging out and  sayin', "duh, I dunno. The government must have had a good reason but just couldn't tell us...duh..."
And, like, Mao-Tse-tung who killed tens of millions of Chinese...maybe he had a good reason - but couldn't tell us, duh... Stalin and Hitler, too. So let's not rush into judging them.

2. Norbert, you have spent most of your life writing commentaries. But by your own definition you must be engaged in "pure speculation" because you don't have 'full information." And,  in your case, it's even worse. You not only and frequently don't have any information, but are heavily biased. I have rarely seen a columnist who could produce so much rant of no intellectual value whatever.

3. There are people who, though they may not have full information, are extremely well informed, are not biased, and can  produce a suggestion a whole lot better than "nothing on which to reach a reasonable conclusion." Gwynne Dyer is a good example - a scholar in foreign and military affairs, a well connected man, and a highly intelligent one and an honest one, he can reach some very reasonable conclusions.

4. The job of a newspaper is to give us what information is available, and to get informed commentary from honest commentators. That is the very foundation of democracy. You and The Moncton Times and Transcript don't do that. Not at all.

5. Reread your concluding paragraph. It is unintelligible. Then, reread your final quotation. It has nothing to do with your topic.

Alec Bruce shows an understandable impatience about the failure of the Atlantic provinces to work together. What irks him today is their failure to cooperate in electricity, a move that could save a billion dollars. But it's always been this way.

That Charlottetown Conference that turned out to be the beginning of confederation was actually called to discuss maritime union or, at least, cooperation. But it  couldn't even start on that topic because all the capital cities were afraid of losing that capital status, and all the local timber barons were afraid of losing the local power that provided them with cheap timber and cheap labour.  (That's right. New Brunswick has a long history of monopolies and political influence that goes way back before the current barons.)

The failure of the Atlantic provinces to get together at that conference is what gave the Canadians their opening - and left the Atlantic region weak and divided within Canada.

Cut out the op ed page. Mount it in a frame. Then give it as a birthday present to someone you really don't like.

And we won't worry at all about the catastrophe that hangs over our heads. Norbet's right. Just    concentrate on those things we have all the facts on. Check out page D1. There's a big story on how an Actress named Jennifer Lawrence says she can't dance very well.

Think about it.


  1. Obviously for reasons you mentioned in the past, Norbert is a plant.

    No, that is not to say he's a complete vegetable, though there may be some distinct DNA lineage particular to Norbert; rather he's simply a tool of the owners of the newspaper designed to confuse and distract the reading public with his continual nonsense.