Monday, April 21, 2014

April 21: Spreading ignorance - deliberately

(In advance, I have an apology. I have printed all comments that were sent to me but, for some reason, several from yesterday disappeared. I discovered that when I tried to write replies. I can now remember only two of the points.
1. Six jets are not many. But they're enough to put us in a war. One would do it. The Canadian jets have been sent in case a war breaks out. Ergo, they will necessarily be in the fighting from the start. And we will be at war without declaring it. Very hard to back out after the fact.
2. Canada does legally require parliamentary consent to go to war. It cannot be declared simply by the PM and cabinet. You will find that in any standard history of Canada written since 1939. King also recorded it in his diary - which you should find in any university library. That's why he delayed declaring war for a week in 1939.

Of course, if your jets, say, get involved in fighting before a declaration, it's awfully hard to pull out. And some half-wits are bound to shout we are required to support NATO.  (We aren't.)

3. The US president does NOT have the power to declare war. Only Congress can approve going to war. However, Bush ignored all that. And Congress abandoned its constitutional obligations and, without declaring war, gave him full war powers.

In fact, the US has not declared war since 1941 (and it has fought wars since then.) It's just part of the general collapse of the US constitution.

In this day of tension and danger, the banner headline is "Province's maple season has late start, early finish"

Wow! I needed to know that.

On A3 we learn that "A lot of cases of stolen bicycles go unsolved..." And not only that. "Most stolen
bicycles were left unattended" That drivel is a  half-page story.

Big story on A9 is essentially a free ad for shale gas.

The only story worth reading in section A is about the need to provide food for people in this city who are hungry. (God bless the volunteers. But there's something wrong in a city in which food for the starving is the responsibility of volunteers. Volunteering is not just a sign of community spirit by the people who do it. It's a disgraceful sign of the indifference of our elected officials. (Hey! We need more seats for the events centre.)

So I turned to NewsToday. The banner headline is "Air Canada draws fire for video of baggage being dropped" It seems an employee was dropping luggage six metres into a bin.

Now, that story happened well back into last week. That's not news. It's history.

Syria is where people are being slaughtered in order the destroy the nation which has done nothing wrong. The slaughter is being supplied, paid for, and "rebels"  (really hired mercenaries from other countries) are being trained by the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates....  But the word Syria does not appear in today's paper.

Ukraine? Not a word. The last time they had any must have been five days ago.They carried news of Jim Flaherty's death and funeral daily for at least a week. I don't know how many days we had big stories on how there was no news about a Malaysian jet.

This isn't just a juvenile and incompetent newspaper. This is an insult to readers.

It may be partly stupidity on the part of the editors. But I think it's more than  that. This is a newspaper, like all the Irving press, deliberately keeping people ignorant and trivial so they have no idea how they are being abused by government and business.  This is a paper designed to make New Brunswick the Canadian equivalent of the American deep south.

Alec Bruce is amusing but very, very light. Craig Babstock continues his geegollywhiz version of commentary. I couldn't even agree with Steve Malloy who thinks it's worth arguing about how many seats we need in the events centre.

The star player in today's opinion columns is Norbert. He has a strong case in criticizing the politicians for their inaction on making abortion available. I'm not sure I'd say they need backbone. They need brains. They need a good deal of mental scrubbing to get the simplistic thinking of deep south preachers out of their heads. They need to think less of their own virtue, and more of the needs of others.

They have every right to hold their views and to argue them in public.  (Though it would be nice if those views were consistent. I can't help noticing that the same people who say it's a sin to kill babies have no trouble with killing innocent people all over the world by the millions. And even in letting people in our own province go in hunger. Self-righteous hypocrites.

On education, Norbert should learn to separate the boards and the education department from the teachers. It's not the teachers who have created the problems.  It's the ministry of education. It's interfering big business.

That's particularly obvious with the introduction of courses in entrepreneurship. I quite agree with Norbert on the silliness of such courses. Now, let's just take it a step further. Who do you think has been pushing for courses on entrepreneurship?

There's a good letter to the editor "Politicians don't have enough power"

And that's it, folks, Three items worth reading (food banks, Norbert, and a letter to the editor) in our paper just given away to us by our Phil-an-trough-ic Hall of Fame newspaper owner.


  1. "As in 1914, the Governor General read a Speech from the Throne and an ADDRESS IN REPLY to the Speech from the Throne was debated. Prime Minister Mackenzie King explained how Parliament’s approval of the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne would pave the way for a formal declaration of war".

    Parliament has no actual power over the Executive or the Crown-the purpose of the debate was not to decide whether to go to war or not. That was NOT the last time Canada declared war, it declared war again in 1941 against Japan:

    "In the late evening of December 7, 1941, the Canadian Prime Minister, W. L. Mackenzie King, announced the Cabinet's decision to declare war on Japan. The King approved Canada's declaration of war in the following proclamation issued on December 8, 1941"

    Thats the CABINET (and the King-not THAT king, the royal king), and the cabinet has no power to refuse the Prime Minister or else the government is automatically dissolved.

    Even in Afghanistan there was no actual parliamentary decision to send forces. Under NATO, 'an attack against one is an attack against all'-although, again, a country can back out and face the consequences.

    AFTER troops had been sent, a 'take note debate' was held in parliament. A take note debate essentially lets elected officials say what they want, but the Cabinet and PM are under no obligation to listen to them (the decision had already been made and the action begun). Sort of like making public comment necessary for public works projects, but not putting any onus on government to actually pay attention to them.

    Thats the only point I'd disagree with, no matter what textbooks say, textbooks usually say LOTS of nice things that usually aren't true.

    As for the planes, I really don't understand your point. Sending jets doesn't mean a declaration of war, its just chest thumping. Obviously if there is war they would take part, but one doesnt mean the other. The bay of pigs had the world closer to nuclear annihilation, with lots of military action, but no war.

  2. To send aircraft in an attack on a country is an act of war. The American drone raids are acts of war. If war breaks out, then withdrawing those jets would be political suicide. Harper has taken the risk of committing us to a war that is not ours.

    As to The King (via the governor general), he does have power to refuse the prime minister on just about anything.


    That's all unclear. Byng, for example, did rule against King. It was legal. But he lost the gamble in public reaction. Most political scientists and historians now hold that settled the issue of who had what power. I'm not at all sure it does.
    Anyway, King certainly said publicly in 1939 that parliament had to decide on war. I know that was a political decision. But that whole area is still very unclearly defined in law.

  3. I think we're talking about two different things. After the 'King Byng Thing', the Statute of Westminster which King brought in (and was recognized by Britain) pretty much solidified the Governor General as the PM's personal latch boy, that was in 1931.

    My point was that PARLIAMENT and our elected officials had (have) nothing to do with it-'technically' unlike the US, where as you say, only congress can go to war. However, technically only congress is in charge of international trade, and the white house has negotiated numerous trade agreements, often without congress even knowing about it.

    Anybody who has ever dealt with government knows that in the end, even with all the pomp and circumstance, whoever has the guns makes the rules.

    I certainly haven't read anything stating that Canada is sending aircraft 'to attack'. The media says they are sending them to Poland for exercises and 'contingency planning', which, Iike I said, is chest thumping along russia's borders, but when I hear SOMEWHERE that they are bombing or shooting at russians then I'll agree with you, but I haven't heard anything like that ANYWHERE.

    Drone attacks are different, now you are getting subjective. The Pakistan government gave approval of drone attacks, so it certainly wasn't 'war'-but I certainly agree that its pretty nasty and unjustifiable.

    But you are right about media, in The National Post the article isn't about whether we should be sending aircraft at all, but the headline is "Ukraine crisis shows need for larger Canadian military".

    What is MOST dangerous is the fact that there is an election next year, and no doubt Harper wants to use this as an event to show just how his 'experience' is so much better than Trudeau's youth.

    Russia is no Iraq though, and in battling NATO, Russia may notice that obvious-that if they ARE going to get involved in an international skirmish, then Canada is much weaker than the US. Unlike Iraq I doubt Russia would be content to just fighting the war locally. So I agree with you-to an extent, but certainly at this point Harper hasn't gotten us into a war.

  4. Let's be clear, the jets were sent to Poland, not Ukraine. Rocky and chest-thumping, yes. But not as scary as oy could be.

  5. I wouldn't worry about always replying, I don't think its necessary if you want to make things easier. I don't want to rankle you again, but I just want to quickly repeat that all the anti american stuff really isn't necessary. I suspect the people who read your stuff regularly already know it, and those on the far right just write it off as propaganda. Although I wouldn't write off the US just yet, Rome never actually fell for centuries after the 'barbarians' stormed the gates.