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.


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