Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 27:Harper plays the dangerous fool....

Page 1 of NewsToday has an article on Harper warning Germany about Russia. He spoke of bigger military powers who are prepared to invade their neighbours and carve off pieces. Germans, he said, know this better than anyone.

Unless Harper is even dumber than I thought: his reference is to Russia's taking of East Germany in 1945. In one sentence, he showed that he had forgotten the whole Second World War. In fact, if there are any Harpers reading this column, it was the Germans that began the war by carving off pieces of neighbours.  And while I don't criticize today's Germans for that, I also don't plead sympathy for those who did the carving.

He also forgets that in the course of their carving, the Germans killed some 25,000,000 Russians.

But we don't want to go into that because the point of Harper's message is that Russians are by nature lying and cruel Whereas Germans and Americans and British and Canadians aren't.

Then he goes on to say the world doesn't operate that way any more. Obviously, this is a world class diplomat who doesn't know about the US invasions of Vietnam, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and many others. He doesn't know that the US has a centuries-long history of invading other people's territory with the intention of carving it up, beginning with the native peoples, the attempt on Canada, and the war with Mexico to steal Texas. (You would think he'd remember at least the 1812 invasion of Canada.)

Then, of course, there were the decades of war to get control Central America, and reduce the people to poverty. And the invasion of The Phillipines which killed over half the population and life under an American dictator for forty years.

It was a speech that assumed his audience was made up of stunningly ignorant people who haven't noticed the US enthusiasm for war throughout American history. But it's even worse than that.

This is a speech designed to generate hatred. And hatred is the last thing any good diplomat wants to see. Hatred sets up barriers, creates crises - and then justifies all the murders and brutalities that come out of these.

If Harper is the sort of creature we are going to send to international meetings, we should send the front end of the horse, too.

The report (Canadian Press) supports the tone of Harper's speech. It questions nothing that Harper says, and even quotes some anonymous person about how Harper is right, thus giving the impression Europeans in general agree with him.

Harper's boot-licking may put us in a tough spot within weeks or a few months. There are some parties and groups in Ukraine who are REALLY extreme - fascists, ultranationalists, far, far, far right. They have grown a good deal in recent years, a period corresponding to the time the US has been pumping in money to encourage them.

A civil war is quite possible. And what do we and Russia do then? This is one hell of a time to encourage unthinking hatred.

Or, a related possibility, the US tries to destabilize Russia as it did Syria and Libya, to generate a crisis that will starve, kill, orphan, mutilate millions as it has done to hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria.

No. The world doesn't do thinks like that any more.  So says Harper who, I guess, never reads the news. It's become a national embarassment to let that man out of the country.

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There's another gem from The Associated Press on B3.

Obama gave another "Harper speech" to a press conference in Belgium. Visiting an American  military cemetery of World War 1, he said, "...this hallowed ground reminds us.....We must commit perenially to peace..."

This comes from the president whose military budget is the biggest in the world, the president whose country has been invading other countries almost constantly since 1945, the country that a recent world poll rated the biggest threat to peace. (Russia was way lower in the poll.)

Obama also lied. He criticized Syria for using chemical weapons. Repeated studies by the UN have shown that Syria did not use chemical weapons - though the US-supported rebels may have.

In any case, the biggest user of chemical weapons in the world is the US, with Agent Orange and depleted uranium having killed uncounted millions in the form of illness, stillborn babies, and babies born with horrible mutilations from which they usually die within a few years.

Oh, he also quotes from a Canadian poem - Flanders Fields. But he obviously didn't understand the last lines. They are not an appeal for peace. They are an appeal for more war.

I watched a video of this press conference. As it ended, nobody clapped. I have never seen that before. Obama was obviously uncomfortable as he parted in the silence.
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The Egyptian court that condemned 528 people to death in two, short hearings is now trying 919 more for quick justice. The court was appointed by military leaders who also run the country.

But wasn't there a recent time when Egypt had an elected, civilian government? Yes. It was called the arab spring, the coming of democracy.  But Egyptians chose the wrong party. So the US manoeuvered the army into power. But the North American press doesn't want to talk about it any more.
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Section A, as always, has nothing of much significance. Greater minds than ours have decreed the events centre must be "iconic" (look good). Gee! who would ever have thought of it"?

There seems to have been no discussion of what we would do with it if the recession were to continue and even worsen - though that is quite possible. You cannot possibly build up the economy by giving the rich a larger share so they get richer every year, and everybody else gets poorer. We could be headed for one hell of a crash. And what do we do with our icon then?

It's probably going to cost 150 million. Could city council tell us about other projects it studied to see if we need them more than an events centre? Of course not. The hokum of New Brunswick is that anything that is done is something you can fool people into believing it will make money. (Most of which money goes to a small, select crowd.)

Eveything that any government does is sold on the basis that it will make money. Governments have no idea they are elected serve people. In their view, they are elected to serve profit margins. And they are really not at all the same.

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The editor writes the usual editorial about what his bosses want him to say.

I can't find any substance to Norbert's column at all. As usual, he blames politicians for our problems. Come off it, Norbert. You know as well as I do that politicians don't decide anything in this province. You know that they listen to the same voice of the gods you listen to.

I couldn't make sense of Alec Bruce's column, either. To say that democracy in Canada is healthy is absurd. To say that the new elections act doesn't change that is absurd. The act weakens democracy even more. Stephen Harper is a believer in many things. But democracy is not one of them. His act deliberately gives more power to big money, and makes it almost impossible to charge or even investigate those who break election laws. (as the Conservatives did on such a large scale in the last election.)

Rod Allen is still obsessed with the idea 1. that an opinion column is supposed to be a pointless story about himself and 2. he is funny.

Beth Lyons has a useful column on blog sites that focus on gender. I don't know why she takes so long to get to the point. (She could have used the wasted space to tell us more about the blogs.)  But it's the only column on editorial or op ed pages that actually has something clear to say.
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There was an item I should have included yesterday on racism.

I once knew a woman of Nova Scotia's elite - you know, the better sort than we are. She was very upset and angry when Pierre Trudeau beat Robert Stanfield to become pm.

"He had no right to. It was Bob's turn."

Of course. Bob had the right to be pm because he had money. He was one of the better sort.

The wealthy commonly feel that they have rights that others do not. (and don't even ask what it's like to date a rich girl who talks about what losers people like us are.)

The children of the rich are raised to believe they are genetically better than us, and therefore entitled to whatever they get. The implication is that they are born with higher qualities that we lack. And that is a pretty good definition of what racism is.

It's the same kind of racism that drove the British and other European aristocracies to believe they had the right to govern the country, to invade much of the world, to murder, to torture, to steal, to enslave.

What drives the very rich of this province to believe they have the right to interfere in government, to dictate economic policies, to intervene in education and health care? Are they people of distinguished education and training, or wide-ranging intellectual interests?

I've never seen any evidence of it. Indeed, most have pretty mediocre educations considering the kind of money they had for expensive education with lots of individual help.

Yet they set up grand, economic summits on topics of which they know nothing.  It looks like arrogance. But that may not be fair.

I've known quite a few of them, and they all had that air of privilege, of what was due to them, just like the old aristocracy. In Britain, the slow sons of the aristocracy were put into the army where they began as officers - purely because of their birth. And they were promoted, purely because of birth. That's why the British army produced so many incompetent generals up to and including World War One.

And so it is with the slower children of the very rich. Slow as they might be, they will find safe and well-paying jobs somewhere in the family business. They have a right to the best jobs. They have inherited qualities that make them the natural rulers of others.

That's a form of racism.

So show a little respect.


















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