Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26: Mr. Baird is outraged....

That's what it says in the Montreal papers. And for good reason. There's a possibility those terrible Syrian government people have used poison gas. Oh, my goodness. It's a war, and they're killing people in a way that's not nice. But, you know, it's different when Syrians do it. Like, when the US smothered the surface of Vietnam with Agent Orange, it was a chemical weapon. It killed huge numbers. It caused starvation by destroyiing crops. It caused a huge rise in the births of hideously deforned babies - Babies with one eye, with no ears, etc. But I didn't hear any words of outrage from us. I can't recall any sermons about it -- and I would bet there were no special prayers at the Irving Chapel. The British and Americans used HE shells made of depleted uranium to plaster whole cities in Iraq. It still is radioactive - and will be for more than four billion years. As it is, babies are born dead or diseased, and their parents die of cancer in that wretched atmosphere. But, hey! Have you heard of anything that suggests anybody on this side gives a damn? In his final year in office, President Clinton publicly admitted to the killing of some 250,000 innocent and helpless Mayans in Guatemala. It didn't even make the news. Obama daily kills people, guilty and innocent alike, children and adults with drones and bombings. But Mr. Baird is not upset by that. Americans, British and Canadians combined to kill in Libya for reasons that are still not clear. Nor has it done Libya any good as it has lived ever since in chaos and violence. But we don't pay any attention to that as long as we get the oil. Harper distributes racist literature attacking native people on largely invented reasons. So who gives a damn? Harper is cracking down on those lowlifes who commit crime - longer sentences, tougher. But a prime minister who accepted bribes, then lied to avoid income tax, got a quick questioning, then was allowed to keep his loot and go back to his mansion so long as he paid the income tax. Where's the outrage? The owner of a pet shop has two snakes escape. It's headliing news for weeks - including a headline that says the owner's hands are soaked in blood. A prominent member of a prominent new Brunswick family has some association with a train wreck that kills 47 people. That story lasted for two days; the possible connection with the NB family was never mentioned - and they certainly were not accused of having blood on their hands. Nor have I seen any outrage from Mr Baird or anybody else in our government. 3,000 get killed in a suicide attack in New York. There's a rush to sympathy, and we all buy memorial souvenirs, and our churches have special services. Millions are killed in Vietnam. Over a million in Iraq. \over a half million in Cambodia. Nobody knows how many in Afghanistan, \Pakistan, Somalia, \yemen. Most were civilians. But they don't matter. Thay wasn't white folks, not really, and they didn't have our profound religious values. I mean. They were different. So we don't get mad over killing them, and how they get killed. Certainly, mr. Baird doesn't. Indeed, hypocrites like Mr. Baird will speak on \nov. 11 on how our soldiers died in Afghanistan to save our democracy. \And million of us will nod our heads - though we surely all know this is bullshit. Our democracy was never threatened byn Afghanistan. Nor was the US threatened. our soldiers died in Afghanistan because it seemed like good politics at the time. It'a a repeat of what happened over a century ago in South Africa when Canadians died to make very rich Englishmen even richer. I read that Pamela Wallin spent much of her Senate money to speak in support of our troops. She must be remarkably stupid (if she really believes that.). If she and those other politicians really supported our troops, they would have refused to send them in the first place. No, Mr. Baird is very selective in his outrage. Even sadder, we are, too. That just seems to be the human condition.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

August 24: Where we are; and where we are going

The popular myth is that we are in a democracy in which all are born equal - which suggests that we all have an equal voice in government. That is obvious nonsense. With very few exceptions, the children of the very rich are the ones who grow up to become very rich, themselves. The children of the very rich, no matter of how low intelligence, are sent to expensive schools with lots and lots and extra help. The children of the rest of us go to public schools which are, for the most part, very good. But, partly because the rich don't like paying taxes, they really never have enough money and, when times are bad, face cuts that don't ever happen in the schools of the children of the rich. But that's not the only difference in opportunity. Children of the very rich are raised in a world in which getting higher education is accepted as a natural part of life. They aren't necessarily bright. But they further in school than most children because it's as natural as learning how to brush one's teeth. As you go down the social scale, that naturalness disappears. I began grade one in a school for which the highest expectations were that a child might complete high school. But that was at the edge of phantasyland. Most parents couldn't afford to even think of university. Not one of those kids in my grade one class ever finished high school. They weren't stupid. They were certainly as bright (brighter) as some of the super-rich kids I would later meet and teach. But university was a concept simply foreign to their world. To this day, it is true that school grades are profoundly affected by social and economic background In the latter respect, Chinese children often do well in school - despite economic origins. That has much to do with the influence of Confucianism in exalting the importance of respect for parents, and of maintaining the honour of the family. (When I taught in China, no student ever missed a class. No paper was ever late.) Jewish children are raised in an atmosphere of respect for discussion, for opinion, for knowledge. I was frequently (perhaps 30 times a year) invited to speak in synagogues - and they expected a serious speech. But, in a period of 35 years, I can remember being invited to speak in Christian churches on no more than four or give occasions. Jewish kids often do better in school. They aren't more intelligent. They simply come from a culture which respects intellectual activity. Synagogues invite speakers to discuss current events, books, art.... Christian churches have pancake suppers. Being born into a certain social class, like being born into a certain religion means that the working class, native peoples, lower middle class (in short, most of us) are not created equal. From the starting gun,the race is a very uneven one. Nor does it end there. The rich child grows up with an assumption that he has a right to rule. No matter how intellectually vapid the person may be, there is that sense of a right to rule others. The British monarchy and its aristocracy produced some stunning morons. But they never doubted their right to rule. Big business is much like that. Would you call a meeting of people from across the province, including university presidents, to plan the economic future of the province? (And if you did, would it raise more than a giggle?) Would you then announce to the government and the public that you were now a member of the government? And that you were going to appoint your own advisors to tell the minister of finance how to plan the economy? If you did, you would have them rolling in the aisles. and the premier, if he was feeling polite, would tell you to get lost. Irving did it. He did all that. The university presidents, who should have told him he was being a pompous ass as well as being highly improper in all this, couldn't scamper fast enough to turn out. The premier accepted Irving's aristocratic right to be a member of the government without being asked or even being elected. People in big business openly claim the right to be partners with government in this province. They have no such right - any more than you or I have it. Any such claim is pompous, arrogant, and unconstitutional. But they did it. And they continue to do it. We now have a self-appointed business council horning in on civic affairs - and the mayor and councillors reacting as gutlessly as the premier, his party and the Liberals did to Mr.Irving. It's accepted that if you are rich enough, you have a right to govern. No. Nobody has any such right. In a democracy, we all have the same right - one vote. When any group claims a right, as a group, to be directly involved in government decision making, this is not democracy. In older days, it would have been called government by aristocracy. In Mussolini's Italy, it was called fascism. And the people of New Brunswick have accepted these arrogances and outrages like a herd of sheep. There is virtually no public debate, no protest. We have allowed our basic rights to be tossed aside, and our lives poisoned, by a small group of arrogant twits. Certainly, if there is a brain operating up there, I have yet to see any evidence. This is,by far, the biggest problem facing this province. It is far the biggest problem in the next election. There is no point discussing anything until those buzzards are taught that their right to influence government is the same as ours - one vote. If this is not done, and done very soon, this province has no future whatever- and not a thousand casinos and 'event centres" and tidal bores will change that. New Brunswickers have to show some courage and have to break away from mindless babbling about Liberals and Conservatives when these are simply cartoon figures. There are no Liberals and Conservatives. They are just puppets of big business. Finally, try to get people to understand that business methods have no place in government. Business is not about people. It's about profits. Going to business for advice on government is like going to a barber for treatment of a heart attack. Government is not about profits and charts and graphs. It's about people. It's about us. And, oh, I wish New Brunswickers would realize - it's about them. It's time New Brunswickers stopped acting like a herd of sheep baaing for the shepherd to get a wolf to protect them.

Friday, August 23, 2013

August 23:apologies...

In the chaotic soap opera that is my life, |have suddently been called to Montreal and Ottawa. So, rather than talk about the Times and Transcript each day (which gets pretty repetitious because the Times has the same failings and idiocies every day), I think it better to talk about more general issues. One example is the eternal debate over which "ism" - capitalism, socialism, or communism - is best. In fact, none of them is. Theoretically, they all could be. But economic systems are not run by theories. They are run by people, and usually, as in our case, by a small number of people perverting whatever system it is in their own interests. Of course, capitalism can work. But it needs regulation. Without that, pure greed and self interest take over - with the result that the system destroys itself and us with it. Yes, capitalism can work. But only if it has an informed public taking part in open discussion and exercising real control over the government. In turn, it requires that government to exercise regulation of business, especially big business, so that it serves the interests of the whole society. We don't have those essential components of a successful capitalism. And without those components we don't have capitalism at all. This preversion of capitalism has led us into economic decline, international financial instability, and unsustainable wars. Socialism can work. Indeed, socialism has been a component of just about every government that ever existed. And, in conjunction with a real capitalism has been very successful. Canada's economy of World War Two was extraordinarily succcessful - because it combined socialism, government regulation, and sometbing resembling a real capitalism. Communism, despte the rhetoric, has never existed. Marx's concept of it was so highly idealistic that | doubt it could ever be achieved. The Soviet system was really just an old fashioned dictatorship. Don't be afraid of government regulation. Every society needs some regulation to survive. This venom for regulation and big government which one reads in the TandT is just brainless propaganda. So long as there is an organized society there will have to be a form of government which will have to exercise some regulation. The question is who will control that government and that regulation. It can be a Stalin, or a small group of billionaires, or it can be us. The Stalin system destroyed itself. \our billionaire system is destroying itself. The only way out is for us to return to a real democracy in which the real power is exercised not by a dictator or a consortium of billionaires, but by us. Without that, we face the same sort of looting by billionaires that has plagued Africa, South America and the Middle East. (Indeed most of the world.It's also what caused the War of 1812 - though I saw no mention of that in the "celebrations") We now face endless war and, eventually, the high probability of nuclear war. The presnt system has already run into some very serious failures. For example: 1. The US military, for all its size, sophistication and destructiveness, has been ineffective, even against small and poor countries ever since 1945. (The Korean War was NOT a victory. The Western countries were fought to a draw by a China that was then a third-world country. EVen the so-called victories like Iraq and Libya haven't won anything but very temporary victories for western oil companies. And all the military power of NATO, made up of nations that once ruled the world,cannnot defeat tiny, backward, and primitively armed Afghanistan that has no air force, no navy, and no regular army. In the last seventy years the world has turned upside down as the nations which once built empires with tiny armies now have only one source of supremacy. 2. That source is the nuclear missile, coupled with powerful anti-missile defences. Would they use them? According to a respected foreign policy journal, serious plans for such a strike on China are already being advanced. (Most of the sources for this are at home. I'll send that info along with I get back. Oh - and also the info on how big business manipulation of aluminum prices has cost us all billions of dollars in just recent years. So much for jabber that "capitalism" produces the best goods at the cheapest prices. Think about this the next time you buy some food in its aluminum can.) 3. Then there's the question of what New Brunswick has to do to save itslf. I don't see any provincial party coming up with a definition of the problem, much less of the answer. Certainly, the Liberals and the Conservative never will because they are a major part of the problem. The fundamental issue is that New Brunswick has to kick big business out of the government. It has no business being there. Democracy has to be restored. Failing that as a starting point, New Brunswick can only go further downhill. 4. And, without getting religious on you, there may be a few lines on the utter collapse of morality in the western world. That has been closely tied to the rise of our perverse version of capitalism which which depends on immorality and matherialism to sustain it. Morality is an essential basis for the survival of any society. It doesn't have have to be the morality of any one religion. It may be a moraltiy not based on any religion at all. But there must be shared concepts of right and wrong. But the form of capitalism we have developed is based on amorality. Tha's why I find the Faith page of the TandT so annoying. in a world in which he murder, torture and impoverish people by the hundreds of millions, we get sermonettes on trivia like how we shouldn't gossip. That's why I find it so objectionable that any clergy or any Christian (or any person of any morality) should participate in the Irving Chapel. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August 21: Exciting development for future of downtown...

....small house in downtown is moved to lot next door. "House move is seen as good for downtown." The word 'trivia' hardly seems adequate for this sort of mindless bilge.

And the police have seized evidence in the deaths of two boys in Campbellton. Have they seized evidence in the Megantic disaster that killed 47? Who knows?  Who cares?

But the Campbellton case was, at worst, an accident. The 47 killed in Megantic were quite likely more than that. They were quite likely victims of a risk taken quite deliberately to raise profits - and 47 people paid the price of that risk.. But ain't nobody in our news media going to ask that question.

Apart from several good letters, today's TandT is the usual bilge, trivia, half-truths and propaganda it always is. Let's talk about that. Let's talk about how most newspapers in Canada - and in the world - hide more news than they publish.

For example, I believe it was yesterday's editorial that babbled about how the capitalist system is based on competition which then produces the best goods at the cheapest price. Right. What you didn't get to read was how Barclay's bank and J.P. Morgan Chase have recently been find a total of a billion dollars for cheating customers by manipulating power charges. How's that for competition producing the best goods at the cheapest price?

Goldman Sachs is currently under investigation for manipulating aluminum prices.

Major banks in the US, Britain, and Europe have been caught laundering money for the criminal gangs that control Mexico's largest export - drugs. At most, they got slap on the wrist fines.

How many reports on that have you read in any newspaper - or heard on any private radio station?

In Guatemala, the army supplied, trained and led byCIA officers, and supported by US special ops, murdered some 250,000 native peoples - men, women, children, elderly.They wiped out whole villages, then bulldozed the bodies into mass graves.

Priests who supported the Mayans were tortured and murdered. Nuns were raped, tortured and murdered. Why? The native Mayans objected to mining companies kicking them off their farms and out of their homes. They objected the these mining companies using thugs to beat them or kill them if they complained about the abuses and starvation wages they were paid. (Prominent among those mining companies were Canadian ones led by people whose names you might well recognize.) And when it got so bad the company thugs couldn't handle it, that is when the mass slaughter began. It was led for a time  by George Bush I in his days as head of the CIA. A real sweetheart.

In 1998, President Clinton publicly apologized for what had been done. It appeared in the New York Times. It appeared ONLY in the New York Times. No other paper mentioned it. One of the victims was a young Acadian, a lay missionary who now lies buried near Moncton. The Irving Press has never mentioned him. There wasn't even a twitch of Norbert's hideous moustache.
There is probably no country in Latin American which the US has not invaded (many of them several times) so that North American billionaires can make huge profits out of their mineral and agricultural wealth. (Think of the Dole company which played a major role in the Guatemala horror.)

The US has, for 54 years, supported government forces against rebels in a civil war in Colombia which has lasted for 54 years, and killed at least 220,000 people -most of them, by far, civilians. Who is on the side of the US besides the Colombia government? There are two groups that stand out. The very big ranchers who want cheap labour, and the cocaine dealers. They're on our side. Read much about that in any newspaper?
Just weeks ago, former president Jimmy Carter said that democracy in the US was dead. Okay. You don't like him. That's still a pretty startling statement to come from a former president. Did you read about it in the Irving press? Did Rod Allean write a column about it? (Well, in fairness, Rod Allen probably doesn't know who Jimmy Carter is.)

Carter made his statement because of the effective destruction of the fourth amendment to the US constitution. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probably cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized."

The Fourth Amendment goes to the heart of the meaning of democracy. And Bush and Obama have utterly destroyed it. Any American can now be seized and imprisoned with no charge or trial - ever. Obama has publicly announced his right to order the assassination of Americans (and anybody else) with no due process at all. An army of government spies with the world biggest information storage freely examines private mail, phone calls, computer use, etc. of every American and most of the rest of us. So much for the constitution.

And if you   seriously believe that Harper is not doing at least some of this to us, you are in la-la land. Environment movements, for example, are routinely spied on by the RCMP as "terrorists". and reports on them are delivered twice a  year to representatives of the very, very rich. The RCMP has also spied for decades on amybody that the very rich don't like. A prime example was Tommy Douglas, the Baptist clergyman who introduced medicare. (Dangerous radicalism, that. Probably took orders from Stalin.)

Ever read anythinig about any of the above in the Irving press or any other paper?)
Lots about Iran in the news. But never any mention of why Iran seems to dislike the West.  Well...

Britain got control of Iran in World War I. It promptly gave monopolgy control over Iranian oilfields to British capitalists. (You know. The sort of people who create wealth and who compete to bring us the best at the cheapest price.) They also forced Iran to supply the Royal Navy with fuel oil - free - in a deal that outlasted World War II. Ever wonder what it cost to tank up a 40,000 ton battleship?

The oil capitalists looted Iran pretty thoroughly, giving back virtually nothing. But after 1945, the dying British Empire had to accept a demand from Iran for democracy. And so Iran elected a man named Mossadegh whose first move was to take over control of the oil fields for Iranians. Britain was too weak to respond. So if made a deal with the US to use the CIA to help overthrow Mossadegh, and to establish a dictator in the person of the Shah. In return, the US would get a cut of the Iranian oil fields.

There followed 25 years of extraordinarily brutal rule with big money for every body except the people of Iran. That's why Iran turned ultra Moslem and anti-American.

I mention this because on Monday, the CIA was forced through the freedom of information act to open its files on this affair; and for the first time it admitted what it had done. That information was released on Monday, August 19, 1013. Today is Wednesday, August 21, 1913. Noticed any big story on it in the Irving press? Or any other paper?

Virtually all of the North American (and world) press hides information. The little it prints is heavily shaped by a bias that comes close to lying. The only real distinction of the Irving press is that it appears to be more brainless than any other in Canada. Often, they don't have to hide news because none of their editors know it's there in the first place.
Let's hope that tomorrow this wretched paper will have something worth talking about in it.
If not, there are a couple of things they haven't covered that are worth taking a look at.
One is an article in Yale Journal of International Affairs on US plans for a nuclear attack on China. (yes, it's quite likely).

The other looks at the question of why the US is supporting a Syrian "rebellion" which is dominated by groups that the US itself has branded as terrorist. And the question of why the whole middle east and much of Africa is in chaos.

The chaos might be a deliberate policy - a result of the fact that for the last seventy years the US military has shown itself to be incapable even against very small and poor countries. (A rare exception was Grenada with its tiny army of some hundreds of reservists with virtually no equipment and no air force. They US was victorious, with a huge aircraft carrier and some ten thousand troops. With that triumph of the world's leading power over a tiny, tourist island, Ronald Reagan made his fatuous statement, "America walks tall again". And Clint Eastwood starred in an even more fatuous movie about it.
The general rule is that news is never to be trusted. Journalists have always been biased. Journalists have always hidden information. And that has always been true of even the best news services like BBC, CBC, New York Times, The Guardian... But even on their really, really, bad days the best services tower over all the rest. And all the rest, even on their relatively bad days, tower over the Irving press.

Tell us more, Mr. Editor, about how capitalism exists to compete and how, in doing so, it gives us the best product at the cheapest price. Use the Irving press as your example.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 20: Well....

...I am still not using my own computer. Things were looking up as Bell installed the connection after only three weeks. But they did it wrong - and who can tell when they'll get it right? I have to call them again and again and listen to recorded voices saying "for instttkkent, press one"  And when I do that I get another recorded voice. It was faster when we communicated with smoke signals.

For pure gush, read today's lead story. It's all about how the whole world is watching Moncton. Well, the surfers are. So that's close enough. And this PHENOMENON will be marked in a coming issue of theWORLD-RENOWNED SURFING MAGAZINE - The Surfer's Journal. You've heard of it, of course. Everybody in China and Pakistan and Congo reads it, just everybody. It's the MOST PRESTIGIOUS AND RESPECTED (SURFING) JOURNAL IN THE WORLD.

It goes on and on with this pre-adolescent gush for a full half page.

Look, if you have tell people a journal is famous, then it's not. If it were, they'd know it without being told. and to say it's world-renowned? Hey, take a deep breath and cool it. An editor should have cleaned this up, cut it by two-thirds and then, puh-lease, should have put it in a trivia section, not at the top of the front page.

Yesterday, one of the paper's columnists bragged about how may journalism students have got their first, practical experience at the Irving press. So they have. And that may explain why there are so many bad journalists in this world.

Then there's a big story about local people who dress up in their idea of how cowboys dressed up a century and more ago. Then they shoot the guns that, according to movies, the old cowboys used. Whoo-ee. Some people really know how to have fun.

Actually, this is neither cowboy nor Canadian. This is pure Hollywood. The American cowboy clothing and words like riata were borrowed from the Mexicans who taught Americans how to be cowboys. The quick draw and the duel on Main St. never existed until the early movies. Anybody who got killed most likely got shot in the back, and often by a mentally disturbed moron like Billy the Kid.
A large number of cowboys, incidentally, were African-Americans. Of course. A cowboy was cheap labour, bottom of the ladder, and Texas had a long history of racism and slavery.

Why on earth is grown up people dressing as what they thought cowboys looked like to shoot old guns a front-page news story?

None of the Hollywood versions of cowboying existed in Canada until the early days of the Calgary Stampede. (Well, there was a fascinating guy from England who became a gambler in BC, then a general in the Chinese army of Sun Yat-Sen, imprisoned by the Japanese during World War Two, then settled in Montreal where he became brother-in-law to a journalist I knew.) His name was Two-Gun Cohen. Now, that's a story.

Then there's a big story on A5. A private clinic offering pain-killing guarantees you a cure or your money back. What the hell is this doing here? This isn't a news story. This is an ad. And a pretty trivial one at that.

And that sums up a Section A that's as trivial as they get.

There are only two items in NewsToday worth reading. One is a slightly overripe story that a Toronto police officer has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of a teen-ager. I thought it rather strange at the time that it should have taken nine shots to stop a kid at very short range. Six of the shots were fired after he was down. He was also tasered.

This is bizarre. He was alone in a stopped streetcar. He had a knife. There was no way out. Nine shots at close range and a taser with six of the shots coming after he was down suggest either very, very bad training on the Toronto force - or an officer emotionally unsuited to the job.

Norbert won't comment on this until after the trial. That's because the court will almost certainly acquit the officer as it always has in such cases - and then Norbert can use that to prove he was right.

There is a stunning story on C4. Our provincial government is in the last stages of a sixteen million dollar project to beautify the grounds of the legislative buildings. Over the last nine years, it has been spending an average of 1.6 million each year.

We live in a province that has cut funding for family services. We have a very large population that depends on food banks that are running out of food. We have one hell of a need for spending on social projects. And they've spent sixteen million of our tax money to make the grass look nice? A government with any brains would have kept that a secret.
The editorial is yet another pitch for the incredibly distinguished prof Lapierre, and for going ahead on tracking. You've read it all before. Many times.

The editorial is quite right, though, about the limp fish response of the Liberals. I've never seen a new party leader make so little impact. I've rarely seen a party that seems to stand for nothing whatever. Of course, they're in a spot.

If they oppose shale gas, they won't get any nice money to run an election campaign. And the Liberal leader could kiss goodbye any dreams he had of being PM, kissing up to the big boys and then becoming a multimillionaire like another former premier.

But if he supports fracking, he could lose the election. It's so hard to stand for something when you really don't stand for anything at all.

The Liberals in power would be exactly the same as the Conservatives in power. We all know that. The trick is to try to look different. But Irving and friends won't allow that this time. They're determined to go ahead. No matter what.
Norbert's column is quite a decent one - but strange. He argues, among other things, for a rejuvenation of our railway system. Very reasonable. But he does so on the argument that this would reduce the use of fossil fuels and, therefore, reduce the catastrophe of climate change.

Norbert, isn't your paper the one that frequently pooh-poohs climate change? And hasn't it and you consistently demanded fuller use of fossil fuels? Did you clear this column with Mr. Irving?

Still, it's a good column.

Alan Cochrane has nothing in particular to say. I guess that's why he's an editor.

Louise Gilbert (Seniority Rules) writes a simple and sentimental column on the Petitcodiac River and the tidal bore. And that simplicity and sentimentality is quite irresistable.
And now back to life with Bell-Aliant that takes three weeks and more to install a connection.
'Press one for French" - "entrez deux pour anglais". "If you are waiting for service, first listen to a half hour of beautiful music by the Bell Orchestra humming on combs covered with tissue paper."

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19: Damn, damn, damn....

I wrote a long blog this morning on my own system that it took Bell only two weeks to install. When I pushed publish, nothing happened. spent over an hour on the phone with Bell and, following instruction, lost the whole blog. I now have to wait until tomorrow because they said they need time.
Anyway - here's a quickie on what I wrote.

The lead story is one Robert Goguen who orates on a genuine problem - but really has nothing to say. Then there's another biggie on how we in Moncton will soon be able to order meals in a few restaurants using the computer. It's a full life.

Then there is yet another picture of a kite, followed by two more pages of pictures of kites and a photo of a stranger sitting on a tractor. A great thrill for people who get excited by pictures of kites and strangers sitting on tractors.

The only, real news story in section A is buried on A7 because it's so much less important than kites. A New Brunswick biologist has warned that herbicides used by our forest industry in this province are causing enormous damage to our wildlife, including deer who have fallen victim by over a hundred thousand. But what does he know? He's only a biologist, and has only 20 years on the job of studying the situation.

So the TandT includes a statement by a real authority, somebody impartial, the President and CEO of the New Brunswick Forest Products Association.  He says there's  no problem. There are places that ban such herbicides: but any real authority knows there's no problem in spraying the landscape with chemicals designed to kill living organisms.

That's it for section A.
The NewsToday has one page of news.  The lead story is one that actually should be read. The national ombudsman for prison conditions has said there is no reason to keep Omar Khadr in maximum security.  Even the American authorities consider him to be no threat. So why is he there?

Because Harper plays to self-righteous bigots who make up a substantial part of his voters. Remember that racist questionnaire he circulated about native chiefs? That's Harper's style.

You think Khadr should be in prison and in maximum security? Okay. How about the American presidents who have now killed over two million people in Guatemala, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan with millions more to come - and all to please oil and mining billionaires?

How about the American soldier who killed a family, raped the surviving thirteen years old daughter, then killed her. American soldiers wouldn't rape? Hell, it's on record that they rape American women soldiers at the rate of tens of thousands a year. What do you think they do to Moslem women in the middle of a war?

If you were a fifteen year old boy in Afghanistan and those people were rushing toward you screaming and shooting, what would you do? Stand up and sing God Bless America?

He killed a medic? Who do you think the US has been killing - medics, civilians, women, children, elderly by the hundreds of thousands at least.

Khadr was arrested as a prisoner of war. That is illegal under international law. As a minor, that is illegal.

He was held in a detention centre for years. That is illegal under international law.

He was tortured. That is illegal.

In a real court, testimony based on torture is illegal. Four crimes, all committed by the US government.

Ever heard of any charges for the crimes above? Did you ever hear Harper say a peep about them? Khadr is a Canadian citizen with a right to expect Canadian help. Harper didn't lift a finger.

You still hate Khadr. okay. you can kiss ass on  facebook for your real buddies, the politicians and soldiers who have murdered, raped and looted. I'd prefer Khadr any day.

The editorial is half-witted, as usual.  We are told that private business demands competition. What a twit! He works for a private business that insists on having a monopoly of the printed news. Do you ever think, Mr. editorial writer, before you write?

He says that capitalism produces the best goods at the cheapest prices. Sure. Tell that to all those happy people who work under capitalism in Haiti, Guatemala, and other parts of central America. Tell it to the  millions who work under brutal conditions in Congo, who are tortured and murdered to please billionaires. Tell it to the millions of Americans who lost their homes to crooked banks, and now have to pay heavy taxes to reward the banks for their criminal behaviour.

We should have a small government says the editorialist. That's exactly what we do have. Our government is one man.  Mr. Irving tells those politicians in Moncton what to do, and they jump. Business should be completely free? It is. That's why we're in a recession.

I don't know where the TandT finds these clowns.

Remember how, about a month ago, he talked about how people who questioned the Toronto police about shooting a teenager in a streetcar were stupid and, he implied, were all dumber than him (Norbert), and probably anti-shale gas protestors? Well, one of those policemen has just been charged with second-degrree murder. Funny Norbert didn't mention it.

He also raves about how an inquiry is a must after the Campbellton tragedy. In fact, there is a very vigorous inquiry. I've seen no sign of anybody hiding anything.

But Norbert never mentions the need of a public inquiry over the killing or 47 people in Lac Megantic The TandT scarcely reports on it. And Harper is showing no special interest.

But if Norbert dared to mention that, he'd get his little bottom spanked.

What a self-righteous and ignorant creep!
Alec Bruce is light, but very sensible and amusing at the same time.

Craig Babstock appears to be still recycling his old essays from grade nine. Read it only if you give a damn that he's been cleaning his basement.

Pat Malloy is missing today. Too bad. What they have is a Pat Murphy who has made (her?) living as a writer for big business. It shows. This one is a standard Tand T defence of fracking. And Pat Murphy obviously knows nothing about it.

She? signs herself off as having a degree in history and economics. (I can see Brent Mazerolle now writing a column about this brilliant columnists known around the world for having a degree in history and economics.) Actually, it means nothing. This person has a BA with a very superficial knowledge of anything, especially history and economics. If she had more - a major or honours in them, it would mean a little more - but not that much.

Hell, I have a degree in history - no major, no honours. That's because I seldom went to class, never studied, and knew damn little about history at the time. Murphy has written a highly prejudiced piece on a subject of which she knows nothing, and her sources are highly questionable ones.

Well, that's the kind of person who writes for the TandT.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 14: Sleaze

The pages upon pages of pictures of kites were bad enough. Obviously, the Irvings must think we have no brains at all. (Well, of course they do. Who else would put up with their half-wit newspapers.). Most of the TandT  for Friday and Saturday was unpeakably childish, even moronic.
But the pure sleaze was Brent Mazerolle's story on Page A 1, (energy institute starts work.).

Obviously,  Irving and friends intend to steamroller this through - no matter what. Yessir, the Energy Institute is poised to give respectability - like putting a Sunday go to church hat on a hooker.
I'll just hit on a couple of points of this delberately slobbering, ignorant and misleading "Story"/

1. We read it constantly underlined that a "foreigner" going to such a conference  (by the way, Brent, was it a conference or a workshop? - there's a  difference_  - amyway that a foreigner getting invited to a conference is a big deal.
Brent, academic conferences commonly, even normally, have have foreigners at them. It's no big deal. It's not as if prof Lapierre were invited to the become chamberlain of the court of Genbhis Khan. You keep hammering that point as though it were a big deal. Brent - it means buggar all. And I don't think you're stupid. It think that was deliberately misleading writing.

He reports that the debate now has gone beyond whether there should be fracking. The issue is to ensure it's safe. Prof. Lapierre, what possibly qualification to you have to make such a statement? All the evidence I have seen suggests there is one hell of a debate over whether there should be fracking at all. . It's raging in the US and Canada. There's a debate in Europe. Some areas, like Quebec, have forbidden it - case closed.

Prof. Lapierre, are you really so stupid as to make such a statement in public? Is Brent Mazerolle really so stupid as to believe it? Be assured that I shall defend both of you against any charges of stupidity. Manipulative? Misleading? Unethical? Oh, yes. All of those in spades But not stupid.

The story includes an account of the setting up of the Energy Institute - an "independent" gathering of scientists and "fellows" What he's talking about is the typical structure of a "think tank" - of a propaganda institute like Atlantic Insitute of Market Studies or the CD Howe Insistute or the Fraser Institute - all of them claiiming to be independent, all of them with a sprinkling of respectable names, and with "fellows" who are given fancy titles to spin lies.

Around the world, scientists are very worried about the impact of processes like fracking. The Energy Institute will  pick out the ones who can be trusted to see things the right way. Get used to it. Our universities are owned by big business. Lots of professors are honest. But the pressure is on them to keep their mouths shut. And if they do say something, the Irving Press won't report it.

University administrators have been playing the game for a long time. Expect nothing useful or honest from them.

This is the big push. Exploration is going ahead no matter what. Discontented peasants will be ignored, if possible, by the Irving Press. And if they can't be ignored, the Irving press will support the severest measures.

These people are thorough bastards.


Notice how Lac Megantic has disappeared from the news? We get lots of stuff on the Senate, lots on the investigation of pet shops in Campbellton.  Not a word about how 47 people were killed in Megantic. Not a word about whether oil is still being shipped to St. John and, if so, how.

Has Mr. Irving decided to forego his profits? That sounds unlikely, but possibly the result of a stroll through the beautiful gardens of the Irving Chapel among God's wonderful flowers, a sermon by a reverend doctor, and coffee and fellowship with other, ardent Christians in "The Barn".

Will Mr. "get tough on crime" Harper insist on a full and transparent investigation? Not bloody likely. Remember how Brian Mulroney accepted a bribe (crime one), then hid the money from taxation (crime two)? And his punishment? He had to pay the taxes. He would have been given worse for smoking in a restaurtant.

Will Mr. Alward, who assured us all our railways tracks were in great shape be taking a look at a small private line that runs from Maine into St. John? Well, it wouldn't matter if he did - would it" He'd just see whatever his boss told him to see

The Faith page has its usual "safe" sermon. This one is we shouldn't gossip. Way to tell 'em baby. Gossping is wrong. forget the liars whose  stories and columns appear in our press every day. Forget the 47 dead that we're not going to do anythinig about. The world's no. 1 problem is gossip. After all, telling stories about people could be bearing false witness (though it often isn't). Funny Jesus hardly mentioned gossip at all. Good thing we have Reverend Hawksworth to take up the slack.
There's a new face on Friday for the op ed slot, a reporter named Cole Hobson. I read it with, at first, some hope. He writes decently. He dances to the edge in his comment. But he just dances, and is very careful never to step over the line. We'll see.
And now, quite unintentionally, to annoy some people.

As we close the annual celebration of the Acadian people - and I quite agrree that there should be such a celebration - but we humans are very choosy about what we care to remember and celebrate.

I'm a mix of French and Scottish. But my French ancestors like most French, didn't originally come from France Some were a Hunnish people from the East. Some as in Normandy, were the Normn Vikings The latter would later conquer English.

Scots like to kid themselves that Scotland was never conquered. In fact, it was. The Romans took the southern half, and pulled out because it wasn't worth the cost. then the Vikings conquered most of it. And there was a good deal of to and froing with the Irish. So, I guess I'm really French, Scot, Hun, Roman, Viking - and a whole lot of ancestors who pushed each other out of the way to grab land.

Now, the expulsion of the Acadians was certainly and act of cruelty and greed. The main force behind it was not "the English" - who were certainly capable of unlimited greed. It was in the people of the English colonies who wanted more land - the same force that would drive them to invade Canada in 1812 (a point not much covered in the 1823 "celebrations". Indeed, the US freqnently for a century after 1812 spoke of either invading or annexing Canada, so they could grab our minerals, lands, etc.. (So much for our history of friendship).

But how did the Acadians get this land? Weren't there people already here? And didn't they suffer from the Acadians just as the Acdians would suffer from the English?

We celebtrate the survival of the Acadians as a people - as well we should. I thought of that as I  saw the celebration cartoon in Friday's paper. But history is an eternal process of some people pushing others aside. We should certainly celebrate those who are determined enough to retain the contact with their past.

So how come we don't do it for native peoples?


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 14: Yesterday, two pigeons sat on my windowsill...

They sat there, unmoving, for five or six hours, eyes open, unblinking. They were more interesting than the Moncton TandT. They certainly beat the big, front page, read-it-now story about a leaky toilet. And for those who haven't noticed, the big, front picture and a big story are all about how we get mosquitoes in summer.  (Hint for the TandT - if we get mosquitoes in January, that's front page news. If we get them in August, it isn't.)

All news media put pressure on their editors and reporters to avoid certain stories. On CBC in Montreal, we were cautioned to avoid being critical about separatism. Generally, I had freedom - but not on that issue. And when I broke the rule, I got fired.

The Moncton TandT, along with the whole, Irving press, has rules, too.
1. Fill people's minds with trivia. Like leaky toilets. Or mosquitoes. Or two, whole pages on a kite festival.
2. Mention the Irvings only when they look good. This time, it's a big story about them giving thirty thousand dollars for a charity bicycle ride. Wow! Phil-an-thro- py. So there's a big photo of people holding up a giant cheque. (What a brilliant photographic innovation!)  And there's a big story.
This comes to us from a paper that never even mentioned Dr. Cleary getting a national award for her warnings about shale gas. But that takes us to rule three.
3. Never publish anything that even hints at criticism of the Irvings. Think hard. Have you ever seen a word of criticism of the Irvings in any edition of the Irving press?  Notice the continuing lack of any questions about the Megantic disaster.  - even though that  train was bound for a New Brunswick city.
4, NewsToday is mostly meaningless trivia, selected , seemingly, by throws of the dice from a few news agencies.  Anyone who reads this will be left almost entirely ignorant of what is happening anywhere in the world - including Canada. Whoever chooses these items is either under orders to keep readers ignorant or is hopelessly incompetent to be an editor of any sort.
5. And, in general, it's understood that the newspaper either lies or hides information whenever Mr. Irving wants it to. This is an extraordinary arrogance - and an anti-democratic one. Mr. Irving has, in effect, become the dictator of New Brunswick. Sieg Heil.

Good column by Alec Bruce about Harper and his effective destruction of the census. It is, as Bruce says, directed at maintaining ignorance in order to give Mr. Harper more control. But that's not because he's a conservative. In fact, there's nothing about him of conservatism or any other ideology. Harper is not a thinker of any sort. He's a man obsessed with power and control. And, with his mindless flunkies like Robert Goguen, he is one, very dangerous man for all the people of this country.

Norbert's column is, as usual, designed to impress the gullible with a respect for his scholarship - which appears to amount, mostly, to reading clippings.

Brian Cormier delivers a sermonette just like the ones on the faith page on Saturdays. Only even more boring.

Eric Lewis does his desperate best to write a column that takes a moral stance - and one that won't offend Mr. Irving.  That much succeeds. But I am, day after day, left in wonder at the rage directed at Russia for its anti-gay attitudes. Certainly, I think those attitudes are wrong. But I find it amazing we can work up so much rage about the sort of hatred that was common across Canada just a generation ago. And I am amazed that Eric Lewis et al never wrote a word about similar behaviour by a very local university.  Nor do I understand how we in the western world get the gall to criticize any country for anything.

On the wall of a priest's office in Guatemala are what's left of the priest's brains splattered on that wall. His killer was actively cooperating with American money and leadership in the massacre of a quarter million people. And, no, the TandT never even reported it - though one of the victims was a Catholic layman from a New Brunswick village not at all far from the temple of the Irvings. We in the west have killed or tortured or raped or orphaned millions just in the last dozen years in order to plunder oil and cheap labour and other resources. Who the hell are we to give moral direction to anybody?

Surely, Eric Lewis can find things in our own act we should be cleaning up - starting with the dreadful mistreatment of the people of this province by a handful of corporation bosses who have made themselves rich out of our work and our resources - and who then have the nerve to hand out the occasional cheque for a charity and expect to be praised for it.

Then there's a letter about the courage of Mr. Baird in expressing his outrage at the treatment of gays in Russia. Yes. What wonderful courage. Now, if only he would carry it a step further and express his outrage at the brutalities inflicted by Canadian companies in third world countries, at the mass murder and torture that is now normal for the US, at the treatment by our federal government of charities that doesn't toe the far right political line, and maybe even at a chain of newspapers that is manipulative, lying and demeaning.

Oh, and forget all this chatter about "the olympic way". The whole idea that the Olympics is devoted to anything but making money is pure myth. The Olympic movement has nothing to do with human rights. It never has.

This is, I know, a terribly negative day. There really was almost nothing to say about this paper that could be constructive. No person who works for the paper can have a shred of journalistic integrity.

I am definitely off for a few days of RandR. But be warned. My apartment will be guarded by my son and a trained, killer cat.

I thank Terry Wishart for sending me copies of Media Co-op. I received them by mail so soon after I moved in that he must have known my mailing address before I did. Scary. Good thing he's on our side.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 13: bring a mop....

This is late because I'm still using a borrowed computer. I may miss a couple of days to the 18th  to splash between the sandbars. Not sure.

Why the mop?  You'll need it for the front page story from Brent Mazerolle. He really wets his pants over how UdeM professor LaPierre will be speaking at the "prestigious" US science academy.Professor Lapierre "admits" he is "honoured" to be the "only non-American" invited to the conference.

Go change your pants, Brent.

1. When Dr. Cleary won a national award for her warnings about shale gas, your lying newspaper didn't even mention it.
2. The word "prestigious" doesn't belong in a newspaper. It's an opinion, not a fact.
3. He is the only "non-American" at the conference because it isn't a full conference. It's a workshop. Attendance will, in fact, be quite small.
4. It is the "storied NAS". Hell, Brent, I was in the academic world for some forty years. I never heard a single story about it.
5, For 150 years, it has been providing "independent, objective advice"? Well, if it has, it's the only such group I have ever heard of. Again, I lived with these people. Academics are not particularly independent or objective. And I would be particularly surprised if such a small group was chosen for its objectivity. Like anything else in American government (as in New Brunswick), such groups can be bought - especially if the numbers are kept down.
6. There will be - geegollywhiz - geologists, biologists, public policyists and   political scientists, and others.  Well, gee, Brent, if you have 29 people at this thing and if they represent so many fields, then there must be one hell of thin representation of experts in any field.
7. Mazerolle keeps emphasizing the independence of academics. It that like the independence of Professor Savoie who made public statements on subjects he knows nothing about? Does it include Professor LaPierre who played obvious games to please the shale gas industry in this province?
Is it like the independence of the "prestigious" university presidents of NB who all turned out, and quite improperly so, when Mr. Irving snapped his fingers to tell them they were on his committee to plan the financial future of NB.
8. Professor LaPierre closes with the old line that this sort of meeting is "peer review", and therefore demanding of the truth.
Academics often live in their own world of arrogance, snobbery, pretence, and a hunger for recognition. Peer review is not at all a guarantee of truth. Too often , it is a play for personal fame, for competing egos, for whatever is in style. Not their fault. Academics are not machines. They are people. And they behave remarkably like people.

This is a dreadfully ass-kissing news story, especially coming in a paper that completely ignored Dr. Cleary's award. Any journalist who had anything to do with it should be ashamed.

NewsToday is, as usual, mostly trivia. Someday, it would be nice if they would do a serious story on how the middle east became such a mess. It's a substantial story involving Britain, France, Spain and then, especially after 1945, the US. And perhaps the best starting point for it would be a much over-praised British officer of World War One who became known as "Lawrence of Arabia". There's a movie about him, starring Peter O'Toole. Don't believe a word of it.

The horror of the middle east is entirely of our creation.
Gwynne Dyer is good.

Alan Chochrane's column reminds me of bubble gum.

Alec Bruce's column goes on and on about the Olympics and human rights. In fact, the games have nothing to do with rights of any sort, or any "Olympic ideals" of any sort.

They were begun as sports events for the upper class. That's why, originally, professional athletes were excluded. Anyone who had to accept money in order to play was a lower sort, and not a gentleman. The games were only for the better sort. The idea was that this would produce an upper class better able to lead society - the rather silly theory  being that playing games produces leadership skills.

From their start, the Olympic movement was controlled by a small number of very, very wealthy people.  It exists to make huge profits for them - and they don't give a damn about human rights. That's why Avery Brundage, long the most important figure in the movement, viciously opposed professionals in the Olympics but had no problem with Hitler.

Alec, try this. The US ignores human rights on a massive scale. It invades countries illegally , largely to steal their resources. It kills people by the million. It spies on the whole world, including its own people. Its president has the power to jail and even kill people without charge or trial. And it practices torture on on a huge scale all over the world.

Or this. Canada has dishonoured its pledges to its native peoples. It has placed them under a regime that encourages hopelessness and poverty. It has a prime minister who has recently circulated a political flyer that was openly racist in its treatment of native peoples.

Would you, therefore, join a campaign to ensure than neither Canada nor the US gets an Olympic games in future?

Or is being anti-anti-gay just the flavour of the month?

Norbert gets tough, and asks questions about the tragedy of the two boys in Campbellton who died. And questions should be asked.   But...

Where the hell are the questions about the 47 were were killed in Lac Megantic?

1. Who changed the regulations to permit a lone engineer on that train?
2. Who asked for the change?
3. Who approved it?
4. According the news reports, the rails between Montreal and Campbellton are so bad, the engineer had orders to slow down and be especially careful at some 29 locations. Doesn't that raise questions about rail safety in general? Doesn't it cast doubt on Alward's statement that our rails are in prefect shape?
5. Why did the regulations permit the carriage of crude oil in carriers that were unsafe for it?
6. Why did   Irving Oil use a railway with such a bad safety record as the MMandA rwy?
7. I have no doubt Irving Oil was within the law. That's because people with big money get to have a pretty big influence on what laws are passed. Pet shop owners don't get that same respect from governments.

Irving Oil must have known all the above. It must have know all the risks. It must have been aware of the failings of the MMandA. The two businesses were, after all, closely related. It went ahead anyway with a lone engineer, improper tanker cars, bad track, and a railway with a bad record.  
And forty-seven people died.

Have you any courage or integrity at all, Norbert?

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12: speaking out?

Alec Bruce's column got me thinking - as it usually does. This time, he's defending Baird for criticizing Putin's record on brutal treatment of gays. It's certainly reasonable that he should do so. But - I have trouble praising Baird for this one.

Putin is certainly an unlovable wretch, obsessed with power and control, and with no respect for human rights. How different, how very different, from our own, dear prime minister.

But I have trouble with critics like Baird who are so selective in their targets. The kings of Saudi Arabia have been pretty hard, to say the least, on gays. How come Baird has never mentioned them? Could it have something to do with Saudi Arabia being a key ally in the middle east?

How does Baird feel on the subject of illegal wars that kill people by the million, destroy nations for decades and more, and involve widespread torture - and all to get control of oil for our billionaires? So far, I haven't heard a word of criticism from Baird about Bush or Obama or Tony Blair.

But ain't that the way us people is?

I have right wing friends (yes, I really do) who foam at t he mouth over Mao Tse-Tung as a mass killer. And so he was. There was nothing nice about Mao. But they never criticize our boy in China, Chiang Kai-Shek, who killed, probably, as many as Mao did and, unlike Mao, encouraged opium addiction for his real boss, a big time dealer, and made no attempt to provide medical care or provide organization for the Chinese people. He was paid by western big business to act as he did.

Indeed (and though the movies never show this part), the west has a long history of brutality toward China going back to the early nineteenth century. Our business leaders saw China as a vast market to be looted and abused forever.

First, there were the opium wars to force China to accept the sale of opium. Indeed, the treaties specified a fortune to be paid to western capitalists if China did not buy enough opium in any year. The result was a vast nation of whom at least ten percent were addicted to opium.  (The opium, by the way, came from plantations taken by the British in an India that Britain had conquered precisely to create another country that could be looted.)

The result for China was a crash of a culture and of a form of government which had lasted longer than any other on earth. With that crash came violence, starvation, terror. At the turn of the century, a rebellion against the westerners developed in a desperate attempt to re-establish some functioning society. It was crushed, largely by western troops. The armies then divided Beijing and neighbouring areas into districts, each district being assigned to a squad of soldiers for unlimited looting, rape and killing.

There's an old movie about it, Seventy-Six Days at Peking, starring David Niven. And there's not a word of truth in the whole movie. It's a sort of cinematic version of the TandT.

Because of western greed, China suffered over a century of chaos and horror. But, oh gee, that Mao was a terrible man. Cluck. Cluck.

Any thoughts on that, Mr. Baird? Any thoughts on why Canadians were sent to Afghanistan? Or why Canadian planes bombed Libya? Any thoughts on the morality of drone attacks that kill "suspected" militants in nations we aren't at war with? Any thoughts on torture? On military assassination squads?On the slaughter of native peoples in Guatemala?

No. Of course not.

There is still no follow-up on the Megantic disaster. Well, who gives a damn? It was only 47 people killed. And not a New Brunswicker among them.
What was the most important happening in the world yesterday according to NewsToday? Well, it seems a judge in Tennessee rejected the case of a couple who had named their son Messiah. Yep. The judge ruled that the name had already been used by someone who earned it. Well, that probably makes sense in some of the hillier parts of Tennessee.
Norbert writes a strong column on exotic pets - like pythons. Norbert, why pick on that topic when almost everybody agrees with you? What's the point?

Craig Babstock, who seems to be incapable of dealing with any serious subject, urges once more that we go big time with Magnetic Hill concerts in summer. He cites the example of the Osheaga Festival in Montreal which draws huge crowds.

Well, yeah. That can happen when you have some three million or more people within a subway ride.  Maybe if we built a really, really big subway going all the way to Boston.....think about it, Craig.
Steve Malloy writes his usual, enjoyable column. It seems light - and it is - but it does raise a question about food prices - and about the lack of reality that's often reflected in discussion of them.

Less thoughtful is a letter "Try living without oil". It says we need oil - so we shouldn't criticize the development of it. Well - it's really not up to us. We also need a cleaner atmosphere so the world can grow enough food, and so we can survive and our descendants will live.  At some point, soon, we begin dying with oil. As my mother used to tell me so often, "There are some things we cannot have." Tough.

Then there's "N.B. needs better management". This returns to a theme raised a few days ago - we should organize government like a business, with everything decided by a board of management before going ahead.
1. A government is NOT a business.
2. Big corporations with boards of management are not necessarily efficient at all. In fact, they are so inefficient that they frequently have to call on government help.
3. Big   corporations with boards of management know how to make money. That's all they know. A government has to work in a much larger framework.
4. We already have a board of management. You are on it. So am I. We meet periodically, just as business boards to, to make judgement. We call those meetings elections.
The problem is us.  We chose those clowns who run our "corporation".  And we limit our choice to just two parties, each of which is exactly the same as the other. So, of course, we're going to get one lousy government after another.
5. When you invite businessmen to become members of a board of management for government, what you are doing is what's called fascism. And it really doesn't have a very good record.

Nope. The decisions have to be made by us. So Maybe we should take them more seriously.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

August 10: Letters....

I won't spend much time on the TandT news today because most of it reads like a tabloid, a really, really boring and trivial tabloid. It doesn't even have the story about how Camilla killed Prince Charles a year ago, and sold him for snacks at a church tea.

Section D (p. 1) is interesting because Baird condemns Russia for being anti-gay. Very courageous. I wonder why he and Goguen never spoke of Moncton Baptists in that way. He invokes the memory of Hitler and how he was allowed to stage the Olympics despite his behaviour toward Jews. Well, yeah. Could we have the names of all the Olympic hosts who have not been persecutors and killers of innocent people? The US? Wasn't there something about murdering people by the million in Vietnam? about overthrowing elected governments in Central America and installing dictators? Britain? France? The nations that murdered all over the world for profit?

More revealing is section D5 "Drones taking growing toll on Yemen militants".  These are American, remote-control fighter bombers which have been attacking people in several countries. And, apparently, the US says seven militants have been killed in recent strikes.  Or -----oops---

The story says "suspected" militants. That's not quite the same, is it? In fact, if you read a better range of news sources, the US has been illegally invading many countries with its drones, and killing, perhaps, thousands of people who are "suspected". Many of the suspects have turned out to be quite innocent people, many of them children. For children in some countries, the walk home from school can be a terror. Can you imagine the Christian indignation if   Pakistan drones were to attack the US in that way?

When newspapers present stories in the way this one is presented, it's called propaganda. And when robot bombers attack anybody who is down below, it's properly called terrorism.

Norbert loves to end his columns with a quotation from some notable. Today's is about how fear is a disease and inhuman. I yield to no-one in my respect for Marian Anderson; but she was a singer, not a philosopher. I might well quote something she said about music. But not about human psychology. In fact, fear is very human. It's been a major factor in keeping our species out of trouble and helping it to survive.

Then there's the letters. I was struck by two of them, "Anti-development movement hurts" in the paper for August 9, and "Pipeline will be a game-changer" for August 10. Both are well-written - but just a little bit too well. Both show a considerable skill in using loaded words; and both praise shale gas and the pipeline. Both do it with skilful use of insinuation and suggestive words. They are, in short, written in the style of professional propaganda.

Yesterday's letter, for example, characterizes the critics of shale gas and the pipeline as "anti-development". Isn't that awful? I mean, who could be anti-development? That sets the tone for the letter.

In fact, I don't know of anyone who's anti-development. Certainly, I'm not. But I am anti destruction of the soil, the water and human health through the use of dangerous chemicals. In that sense, I suppose, the whole medical profession in Canada is anti-development. (and I note that neither writer mentions the unanimity of medical opinion. Cute dodge, that.)

As to the pipeline, virtually the whole scientific world has warned us in the strongest possible terms of what will happen - and happen soon - if we continue to rely on fossil fuels for energy. So what will we do? Well, we'll show them. We'll encourage this country and others to burn even more of the stuff. Hell, we ain't scared.

Then the writer turns to the question of the provincial budget, again showing a very clever use of words to make a simple-minded analysis. If we don't accept shale gas and the pipeline, why, we'll have to cut off all social programmes, schools, everything.

Actually, the budgeting process is somewhat more complex than that. You see, part of the reason that our budget is so out of kilter is that we tax the wealthy and corporations so very little. Another reason is that we give lavish gifts of forgivable loans, sweetheart contracts, and tracts of land to those same people who pay so little in taxes.

The solution is to "grow the economy"? You must tell that to the people in Guatemala. Their economy has been growing like crazy thanks to mining companies which pay almost no taxes, and which have poisoned fresh water and land to a degree we can scarcely imagine. But Guatemalans remain among the most poverty-stricken people in the world, and the worst served for education and social programmes.

Congo, again largely with mining, has been growing like crazy for almost a century and a half. Billions have been made by the developers. But the people of Congo remain in poverty, fear and hunger - not to mention slaughter in the tens (at least) of millions. It's still going on today.

No country on earth has been so development happy as the US. And after several centuries of development, poverty is at the worst level it has ever been. Social services are among the worst in the developed world. The budget debt is is a world record. Wealth is so badly distributed that a handful of people at the top have hogged more money than the hundreds of millions below them.

Developers don't come to deliver money. Mr. Irving is not a fairy godmother. Developers come to take money. And they don't give a damn what kind of a mess they leave behind.

Sorry. I can't help it. When I see a letter so well written with loaded words, but also so simple-minded and ignorant of how economies work, well, I just get suspicious. I wonder if SWN and friends intend to treat us to a whole series of these.

The other letter "Pipeline will be a game-changer" is not as skillfully written. So it could be an honest one.  It also shows a considerable ignorance of events.

Detroit, for example, and despite what the writer says, is not dying because of a brain drain. It's dying because the "capitalistic individuals" who controlled the industry moved its work out to cheap labour countries. "Capitalistic individuals" do not get rich by making your rich. They get rich by exploiting the vulnerability of the poor and the weak. That's why jobs have disappeared all over the US and, to a degree, in Canada.

And please don't call them "capitalistic individuals". Either they are capitalist or they aren't. "Capitalistic" implies they look capitalist but really aren't.

Well, okay, we could call them capitalistic. The small players are genuinely capitalist entrepreneurs. They survive by competing; and they survive on their own merits.  The big boys don't. The big boys, like SWN, Irving, etc. survive on special deals with government, on laws tailored for them - like the change that allowed MMandA Rwy. to operate a large, tanker train with only one engineer. The big boys survive on tax gifts, special breaks and favours. They survive on our taxes and, often, our lives that we lay out to kill people for the good capitalistic types like oil companies and mining companies.  That is why a million and a half people were murdered in Iraq, a quarter million in Guatemala. That's why we sent "peacekeepers" to Haiti. They were really there to help US "capitalistic" types to get back control of the government that had been elected. That's why drones are killing "suspects" in Yemen.

The goal, contrary to what the writer says should not simply be growth. Some of the world's most rapidly growing economies are among the world's poorest. The goal is to serve the best interests of the people of New Brunswick.  Poisoning the province and its people is not the best way to do that.  We have very clear warning on that point from the medical profession. And neither writer addresses that.

Of course,  people who think like these two would, if one had a heart attack and the other appendicitis, would promptly go to a "capitalistic individual' for treatment.

I think we're in for a long and sophisticated bout of propaganda.
The sermonette on the faith page, as usually, avoids anything that has to do with real life. What's our problem? Do we join in on the world-wide killing to benefit private business? Is there anything wrong about poisoning the land and, possibly, its people? Is there anything wrong with a very few people stuffing themselves with huge sums of money while others have to work harder for minimum wage at Walmart? Is there anything wrong with drones sent to kill "suspects"?

Hey! Don't worry about it. Just accept Jesus into your heart. Problem solved - and nobody who is anybody is offended. And if that is your path to spiritual peace - avoiding reality and responsibility - then you'll probably just love the Irving Chapel.


Friday, August 9, 2013

August 9: Good news...

...after only a week of requests, Bell-Aliant is at last going to hook up my computer (but it will take another week.) What an age of electronic miracles!

Today's issue of the TandT will be a joy for lovers of pictures of Harper talking about nothing in particular while having one political groupie on each side of him, and four behind him. Could this have been a staged photo? Nah. Harper would never do that.

Below the picture are two stories of Harper saying nothing but blather. He assures us that fossil fuel development will not cause any environmental damage. Just about every scientist in the world would disagree with that. But what do they know?

A3 has the exciting news that our streets will be full of motorcycles for over a weekend, with Moncton's cultural elite gathering on Main St. to see how a motorcycle can be chained in place with its rear wheels resting on some logs, then the engine put in gear and revved up to make black smoke come from the rear tire. Life doesn't get any better than that.

For those less intellectually inclined, there's another "all are welcome" service at the Irving Chapel in Buctouche. Come listen to a reverend doctor who will no doubt preach on the evils of greed and indifference to the condition of others. Then you can go smell God's beautiful flowers. (Thinking it over, I'd choose the tire smoke, instead. The motor cyclists at least don't make the claim that their smoke has anything to do with God.)

On p. C1, read all about how Harper and Alward discussed the rail line that is falling apart in northern New Brunswick.  Neither of them said anything, of course. But, what the hell, it's important to report they discussed it.

The editorial is about, guess what..."Moncton welcomes motorcycle crowd." Yep. That's the most important thing to think about.  Oh, there could be other topics. But they're pretty trivial. For example...
1. The MMandA railway won't be hauling any oil for Irving. It's bankrupt. And the oil pipeline is still some distance off. So - How is St. John going to get oil for its refineries?

Truck? Hardly practical for such quantities and distances. Will Irving Oil generously shut down its refining now that rail transport has proved so risky? Not bloody likely. Indeed, they must have known the risk from the start, and they went ahead anyway. So -  how are they going to ship it?

By rail, of course. So, tell us again, Mr. Alward, how safe our trackage is. And, Mr. Harper, have you taken any steps to ensure that oil carriers of that unsafe design that created disaster in Megantic will be prohibited?

Will anybody at the Irving Press even bother to ask these questions?

2. Or the editorial could have been about the scale of the Senate scandal - and the involvement of the PM's office. The pm's man who gave Mike Duffy a loan has left the employ of the government. Why? Doesn't that usually suggest something improper was done? Was the p.m. involved?

Then there's the case of Mike Duffy's residence. Duffy has been based in Toronto and Ottawa for decades, and that was very public knowledge. Kids watching TV knew it. Didn't the prime minister know that? And Harper surely knows that senators represent provinces. When he appointed Duffy, did it not occur to Harper to ask what his address was? Doesn't the pm know he can get addresses and phone numbers for all across Canada on his computer? Did the pm actually appoint a man as senator for PEI without at least asking a flunky if Duffy lived in PEI? Why didn't the TandT raise that obvious point? Is there nobody at the TandT who knows that senators are supposed to represent provinces? Didn't any ace editor pick up a phone book for PEI to look up M. Duffy?

3. When are we going to get more follow-up on the investigation into why 47 people died in Lac Megantic?  They died under highly suspicious circumstances. There are lots of questions to be asked. Why haven't we heard any questions from the TandT?

4. Why doesn't Irving press have or at least share a reporter in Ottawa, someone who's in touch with the politicians on a daily basis. The whole Irving press represents a substantial reading public. Most papers of that size have somebody in Ottawa. It makes a big difference for readers who want to know what's going on in their country. Instead, we get a paper put together by people with their noses firmly stuck in their own bellybuttons.
I saw only one interesting item in today's paper. It was an opinion column discussing a topic I was already familiar with. What surprised me was the source of it.

"Corporate welfare payments can be traced back to 1962". Well, yes, there was a book on the subject about 1962. It was put together by David Lewis, then of the CCF party. It was called, as I remember,  Corporate Welfare Bums.

So I wasn't surprised at the column's mention of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money given away over the years to private companies, and given away for no good reason. What surprised me was who wrote the column - he is a member of the Fraser Institute.

Now, the Fraser Institute, like our very own Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, is really a front to produce propaganda for big business. So I was surprised to see it report on corporations that sponge off the government. Then I saw the catch.

It far, very far understated the extent of the corporate fraud that goes on. The column mentions just loans and grants - but that's only a tiny fraction. There are much bigger sums in 'sweetheart' contracts that way overstate the costs of private services offered to the government. On one of its bigger government deals of some twenty years ago, Irving Shipyards made a profit huge enough to pay for making its yards among the most modern in the world. The same thing happens with military contracts on a regular basis. (That's what Eisenhower was talking about when he warned of "the military-industrial complex".) Yessir, we're catching up fast to corruption in the US awarding of contracts.

Then there's the cost of absurdly low taxes we let corporations off with. And there is a cost - and we, you and me,  have to pay it. And there are the government creation of tax loopholes so that corporations and wealthy individuals can hide money where governments won't know about it - as in offshore bank accounts and false, offshore "head offices".

As the columnist writes, he examined only one, federal department and that, he says, is only the tip of the iceberg. That's why he finds only $22 billion of graft and fraud in the last fifty years. A more realistic estimate would be, at the least, in the many hundreds of billions. And, believe it or not, this also affects provincial governments which build schools, for example, and may be considering handing over road building and maintenance to private companies.   Then we have municipal governments that are engaged in matters like building events centres.

All of that is a major reason why, in the western world, that very very rich have been getting very, very, very rich in the past 30 years or so while most of the rest of us have been getting poorer.

That last column was a pretty mild statement about how private corporations have grown rich and fat by creating widespread poverty. (And then they have the nerve to demand applause for being "wealth creators".  It's a pretty mild column. But it's probably the only piece worth reading in the whole paper.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

August 8: Still waiting for a computer hookup..

...amazing how we become dependent on these things. I don't know how to pay bills without a computer. I'm out of touch with everybody.  My world has ceased to exist.

Harper is coming to Moncton today. (page A3) He is unlikely the visit Harper Lane, the street named directly after his family. When he comes to NB, neither he nor the news media ever mention that this province is his ancestral home.

There was room in the story to mention he was going to attend a hamburger barbecue. But there was no room to mention that the oil tankers of Irving crude that crashed into Lac Megantic were improperly constructed, and not recommended for carrying crude oil.

It is also mentioned in the Harper story that CN is closing over 200 kilometres of track in northern New Brunswick because it's too dangerous, and not worth repairing.  However, that dangerous track will stay in use for another year. That would be part of the trackage in New Brunswick that Alward assured us was perfectly safe.

Page A 8 has a story about federal Minister of Justice Peter MacKay getting even tougher on crime. (It has no effect on crime. But it does get votes. It always scares the hell out of me to see such a dim bulb getting high office in Ottawa.)

C3 has a highly suspicious story that "Yemen foiled al-Quaida plots". This is part of a story that has been running for days. The US began by dramatically announcing a temporary shutting down of embassies in an unlisted number of cities, claiming it had intelligence of massive terrorist strikes to take place. Now, it seems, the strikes have been foiled. But there is no word of what it is that was foiled - or where. Frankly, this looks like a promo.

The US government has to keep American citizens feeling hatred and fear for Moslems. That hatred and fear is what makes it possible for the US government to get away with illegally invading countries like Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, gutting the protection of rights in the US constitution, spying on everyone, and illegally attacking countries with drones and special ops. And I suspect this "emergency" is part of the official brain washing.

The editorial needs really careful reading. It took me until the final, two paragraphs to catch on to the pitch. The editor, doubtless responding to orders from the boss, wants to introduce private medical clinics for "efficiency".

He makes the pitch that health care is a huge expense for taxpayers, so private clinics would be more "efficient".  Bull, bloodyshit.

Medicare is expensive. Yes. But private medical care is a hell of a lot more expensive - in insurance costs, in treatment, in everything. In fact, in the US, private health care is the major cause of bankruptcy for older people.

This is the thin edge of the wedge. There are people, very rich ones, who would like to see a private health care system so that they can get even richer. The 'efficiency' schtick is nonsense. Private health care is far, far more expensive than medicare. That's why the US has some of the worst health statistics in the developed world.

But, as in public schools, all the very rich can see in this is a chance to get their hands on more of our money - and maybe even to reduce their own taxes - again.

That's a pretty sleazy editorial.

Norbert's view that Via Rail's proposed security system won't work is probably right. This is a system that would operate with luggage searches, etc., just like airlines. But maybe it has nothing to do with security. Maybe, like this week's warnings of massive terrorist attacks, this is designed to keep us scared - and accepting of our drift into a police state.

Good title on Rod Allen's column - 'Pretty vacant....'    Right on, man.
Not really much in the paper - so let's take a look at liberalism.

I said that conservatism sees our society not as a loose collection of individuals, but as an organic whole. Liberalism is simply the opposite.

It sees us all as quite separate individuals.

From conservatism, then, we get medicare in which all members of society work to help each other. From liberalism, we get the concept of individual rights, including the right of individuals to have a voice in choosing who will govern them.

Extreme liberals, like billionaires, use liberalism to promote freedom for themselves to make as much as they like in any way they like without having any of that conservative concern for others. For them, the liberal concepts of small government, low taxes, reduced social services are right thinking. (That means, by the way, that most people who call themselves conservative are actually more liberal.)

Harper is hostile to social services, to higher taxation for the rich, to protection of the environment we all have to survive on. And he has no problem with spying on Canadians illegally (environmentalists, for example), to pass on information to wealthy individuals. Some scholars refer to him as a neo-Liberal. Okay. But he's still more liberal than conservative.

Are you a liberal or a conservative? Don't be in any rush to answer because any sensible person is a mixture of the two. As a liberal, I support the individual right to honest news, and to have a voice in choosing government.

As a conservative, and therefore concerned about the welfare of the whole of our society as well the rights of individuals, I support medicare. As a conservative, I think we need to force the very rich to do more to support the society that has made them rich; and we need to limit the power of the too-powerful.

Both the Conservative and the Liberal parties are essentially liberal to neo-liberal. Both will pass legislation for the benefit of society as a whole only when they are pushed to the wall. In that way, bank-robbers are liberals in much the way that dictators are conservatives. Bank-robbers are concerned with themselves only, and not at all with the needs of the whole society. Dictators are conservatives in the sense that they believe in strong government over the whole society in order to control it.

The NDP is a mixture of liberal respect for the individual combined with a conservative sense of the need to serve the needs of the whole society. In this combination, it was profoundly influenced by the Christian churches. It is no accident that the father of medicare in Canada was a Baptist clergyman, Tommy Douglas.

Much the same is true of the Green Party - though without such a pronounced Christian influence.

And what are socialism and communism? That's for another day. For a hint - the greatest socialist organizations of the western world are the armies.  Communism exists only in theory - and probably cannot ever exist in reality.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August 7: Dumb......

....dumb, dumber...I called a meeting of the current events club for the same night Maude Barlow was speaking at the Capitol Theatre. Moving is so confusing. And I still haven't got a computer hookup with Bell Aliant.  They are S-L-O-W.

I also messed life up by initially posting only a third of my blog. I place all the blame....somewhere else.

The most interesting thing in today's TandT concerns its handling of the terrible deaths of two, young boys in Campbellton. It is covered in four, long stories, an opinion column, and an editorial. That is more coverage in one issue than it ever gave to the Lac-Megantic disaster in which almost 50 were killed.

And, in the case of the boys, the paper calls for an   urgent enquiry into how this happened. There was no such call in the case of Lac-Megantic. Of course, they should get tough on the Campbellton case. We should get to the truth of what happened, and take needed measures. But why wasn't that the case with Lac Megantic?

Well, it could have something to do with the fact that the python wasn't pulling a string of Irving Oil cars.
The report of Maude Barlow's speech (p. C3) has unusual coverage. The report on what she said was brief. It had to be because almost half of the report wasn't about the speech at all. It was about the arguments in favour of shale gas that we've heard a thousand times before.

I was reminded, as I read this, of the report on Dr. Cleary's speech in Moncton. That report, too, spent more time on what pro-shale gas speakers said than on what Dr. Cleary said.

I have never seen that done with a report on a pro shale gas speaker.

For contrast, the story just above the one on Maude Barlow really isn't a story at all. It's really a free ad for a pitch by Frank McKenna (aka everybody's friend). He gushes like a groupie about refinery growth in St. John. And, quite unlike the story on Maude Barlow, there is not a word from anybody opposed to such a project.

There are two stories on "terrorism" on p. C1, both of them examples of news stories as propaganda. Yemen, it seems, is in the forefront of the "war against terror". And a "terrorist" bomb killed 36 people in Baghdad.

Of course, there is such a thing as terrorism. But our news media calls it terrorism only when it's done by the other side. The US and Britain killed one and a half million people in Iraq. The majority, by far, were civilian. Sounds like terror to me. But our news media never call it that. Nor did they call it terrorism when the US killed half a million civilians in Cambodia by bombing - or two  million (probably much more than that) in Vietnam by bombing,napalm and poison chemicals.

They don't call it terror when Obama drones kill innocent people, including children in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They didn't call it terrorism when the Guatemalan army, with training, equipment, leadership, and special ops help from the US slaughtered at least a quarter of a million native peoples. They don't call it terrorism when foreign companies (including Canadian ones) call in troops in Central America and Congo to "make examples" of workers who object to brutal working conditions and salaries of a couple of dollars a day.

No, terrorism is just for the other side. And the "war on terrorism" is a handy excuse for destroying basic freedoms in Canada and the US like spying on personal privacy, imprisonment without charge or trial, and the use of torture.

That's not just ignorance on the part of our news media. That's lying. And it's lying to create a terror on us - who are the least threatened people in the world.
Norbert is disgusting. He refers to politicians in general as snivelling, double-speaking, hypocritical, sycophantic, toady, two-faced prevaricating, spineless sleaze bags. And it goes on and on.
1. A blanket accusation like that is just stupid. There are such politicians, of course. And they are the ones that Norbert usually supports. But I've known a good many politicians who were not like that at all.
2. I have known senior business executives who were like the above. But Norbert is too snivelling, sycophantic, toadying, and spineless ever to say such a thing. Indeed, one could well apply his words of contempt to almost the whole editorial staff of Irving Press.
3. At the end, he quotes John Ralston Saul. That would not please Saul. He intensely dislikes sleaze bags like Norbert.
There is a quite exceptional letter to the editor, "Realistic goals are needed", by Frank P. Belcastro. In my experience as teacher (and as a student) I have found what he writes to be very, very true. It's about the process of learning, and how it can be affected profoundly by income levels, community values... We lose thousands of children every year because of education systems which do not take that into account.

This is also the reason why the evaluation of schools through statistics, as Atlantic Institute of Market Studies does it, is a crock. AIMS is really just the Irvings and friends interfering in our schools (with an eye to privatizing), and doing immeasurable damage.

There's also a good letter, "Drinking water getting scarcer". Let's not kid ourselves it can't happen to us.

Actually, the letters to the editor are the best part of today's paper.

Okay, so I messed up on my current events group. So today, let's talk about what conservative means.

It does not mean respect for tradition, keeping taxes down, and it certainly has nothing to do with either freedom or private business. And the closest it ever came to conserving anything was in its early days when it was devoted to keeping the Church of England as the state church of Britain.

And I'll give a hint. Our first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, never called himself a conservative. His party was the Liberal-Conservative party. What would later become the Liberal party was then called the Reform Party.

The trouble with words is their meanings keep changing. Sometimes, a change is accepted by the public which, in its contrary way, commonly has several, quite different understandings of the same word. So, if  you call yourself a conservative, then the word means intelligent, thoughtful, reasonable, economically sensible.....  But if you call yourself a Liberal, then conservative means old-fashioned, pig-headed, grasping and corrupt.

Centuries ago, there must have been the same confusion over cute when, to some people, it meant attractive. But to others, still using an older meaning, it meant bow-legged. (As in acute). The result is we end up in furious arguments over politics that are, in fact, out of touch with any reality.

So let's settle on a very old and very simple definition of conservative. It refers to the way we see society. To a conservative, we are not just a collection of individuals. We are all bound to each other by obligations and needs. What we do affects not only us - but everyone. And what others do affects us. That goes so far back it is a fundamental principle of major religions.

The message of Jesus that we love one another is a conservative principle. Confucianism in China rested on the same principle.

Obviously, the idea we are all a group, a single thing and not simply a scattering of individuals, means we need some sort of control. The Chinese began that control with respect for one's elders - still an extraordinary force in Chinese life. And it continued with a social structure of respect for one's superiors all the way up to the emperor.

That same worldview is reflected in aristocracy and kingship, in military forces (with their obvious need to operate in close cooperation and obedience). The Roman Catholic church is a highly conservative institution with its emphasis on a hierarchy of authority and on respect for that authority. Public education did NOT originate with Roman Catholicism because there was no need for it. The Roman Catholic was expected to agree with church doctrine, not to debate it. Indeed, for centuries, most church attenders had no idea what the priest was saying in ritual. They couldn't understand what was being said because they didn't know Latin. And it was not considered necessary they should know it. They had only to obey, not to understand.

Dictatorship can reasonably be called a form of conservatism - if an unattractive one. Stalin's view was that all people of the Soviet Union were not really individuals but part of an organic whole.

There is no required economic system for anyone to be a conservative. It has nothing to do with capitalism, socialism, communism... The term has nothing to do with economics at all. It has to do with the way we see our society - whether as individuals - or as an organic whole in which we are all bound together.

And, yes, I know there are lengthy and tangled arguments we can get into about this definition. But we all need to settle on the same definition or discussion becomes meaningless. Defining conservative in this simple (and historically correct) way as a way of looking at society is the only way to bring intelligent discussion back to political matters.

Tomorrow, we'll take a shot at Liberal.