Friday, May 9, 2014

May 9: Mike's Bike Shop facelift nearly complete

As soon as I saw that as the big story (half page with photo) on the front page, I knew there wasn't going to be much to  say about today's TandT. I was right. I'll talk briefly about the paper - then go on to some outrageous truths that didn't make the TandT.
NewsToday has the story that East Ukraine is going to vote on joining Russia, despite Putin having asked them not to until things settle down. I think Putin is quite right, and the pro-Russians who seem in control of East Ukraine  are wrong. First, it's a foolish move because if the pro-Russian group loses the referendum, it will create chaos. If they win,  nobody will believe (probably correctly so) that it was a fair vote. Either way, we get a dangerous mess..

The last page of NewsToday has five, formally posed photos of five completely unrelated events. I have no idea why.________________________________________________________________________

Norbert has yet another column on balancing the budget, each of them sillier than the one before it. Look, Norbert....
1. About three years ago, Mr. Irving declared himself a member of the government.He did it in your wretched paper.
2. He had just presented the government with the report of a very phony council he had set up to plan the future of the province, and make it clear this was his report for the economic future of the province.
3. We were then told - in your paper - that Mr. Irving had appointed the official advisors to the minister of finance.

How can you assign blame to the politicians for our indebtedness when so much of our economic planning has been laid down by Mr. Irving?

Your closing quotation from Franklin Roosevelt  about how the president and congress don't rule the country; the people do; is pure hokum. Roosevelt knew that very well. Quoting something doesn't make it true.

Alec Bruce has a biting column on the silliness of the Alward government's latest scheme to control government spending by fining cabinet ministers who go over budget. It's a scheme that shows no understanding of provincial economics at all, and no sense of a solution to our economic situation.

The TandT seems to be in a process of changing its op ed page columnists - for the worse. Today's offerings are, to say the least, trivial.

Now, let's look at three items that aren't in the paper.

1. When are we going to learn the platforms of the candidates for a city council seat? Isn't that kind of basic to a democracy?

2. The US has agreed to allow the International Criminal court to investigate war crimes in Syria. But it specified it could not investigate any war crimes committed by Israel in that region - or by Britain and the US.

3. Imagine that I have tapped into Mr. Irving's computer. I have also had people following him to record his every move. I investigate his family life, his friends. I get copies of his tax records and his bank accounts. I learned those many secrets that all of us have about our personal lives.

Then I hand over a  thousand of pages of material to people who want to damage Mr. Irving.

How long would it be before I found myself in court and, likely, in jail?

That sort of thing happens every day in Canada. But not to Mr Irving. In fact, he is almost certainly on the receiving end of personal information, often illegally gathered, about us and our wives or  husbands and our children and our friends.

Few Canadian have ever heard of Commnications Security Establishment Canada, a vast 'intelligence' operation that snoops into every corner of our lives, often quite illegally. It gathers everything - fingerprints, childhood information, where you car is spotted so it can look for reason why you are there, how you vote, your presonal mail, your TV viewing habits.

It claims to be protecting us from our enemies. In fact, it is our enemy.

And all of that information about you and me is passed on to big business, so if big business wants to crucify you,, they have all the data they need.

All of that personal information about you and me also gets passed on to its American counterpart, the NSA. Indeed the NSA and th CSEC are really the same organization. Don't kid yourself that American spy agencies aren't looking at you. They are; and it's not even a secret.

And you are suspect if, for example, you are an environmentalist. That automatically makes you a potential terrorist. You are suspicious  if you don't like Harper. You are suspicious if you don't like your boss at work.
And all he power to make you pay for that is simply handed over to big business.

To put it gently this is incompatible with democracy, freedom, right to privacy , all those good things we say we believe in. It given government a power it should not have to control us. It gives big business a power it should now have to control us. It gives big business a place in politics which it should not have.

In a democracy, we have the power and we have the right to use it. But this isn't democracy. A spy system like this kills democracy. And allowing big business to share in this highly improper form of government is not democracy. It is what is called fascism.

And that's where we are. We live in a police state. I don't say that for drama. I say it because that is what we live in.

This system is vicious, anti-democratic, anti personal freedom. It is hateful. Is outrageous. We have been betrayed by by the Harpers of this world who owed us for our trust. We have been betrayed by our economic leaders  whose greed has led them to intrude on our government and on our private lives in ways that severely  damage us.


No people who claim to be free can tolerate this police state - and it is a police state. That's not just a dirty word. That's the reality of what we live in. And it only gets worse.

Inevitably this will lead to serious violence as the masters of the wage gap drive us into deep poverty. But violence and rebellion seldom solve problems because of greedy and unprincipled people who get control of the rebellion.

No, if we are going to solve this, we have to make this an issue on the political stage.

But first, we have to wake up, develop a little bit of courage, let it sink in just how dangerous and outrageous this is - and make it THE political issue.

The alternative? To face more generations of being victims of greed and arrogance and stupidity.


  1. If its a police state its a pretty benign one. Think the government is spying on you? Are you kidding? Why in heavens name would they want to? Do you think they care about people who don't like their bosses? NOBODY likes their boss!
    However, there's no doubt about it if you are an agitator, but those are pretty few and far between in Canada, which makes people not too anxious to get anxious. They can spy on me all they want, look at me writing critical things about them! Boy thats invaluable information.

    As for blame, we have political powers that our parents and grandparents and great ones could only dream of. The TFW program was pretty much halted in the service sector based on one news story and media attention.

    So its hardly the case that the government is 'taking over'. I wouldn't suggest that people get the government they deserve, however, protests are pretty few and far between. WE deserve at least a fair slice of that blame.

  2. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

    There's a conference at U. de Ottawa this weekend on the subjiect - and people who have studied this don't agree with you.

    But I'm sure you're right. If I tapped the Irvings' phone lines, checked their mail, bank accounts etc, and then gave the information to their competitors, I'm sure they'd just laugh it off.

    Do you know what an agitator is? It's someone who irritates people in power. A native person opposed to shale gas on t he reserve is an agitator. A person who wants medicare in a country that doesn't have it is an agitator. A person who votes for the wrong party is an agitator. A person who want to earn more that $10 an hour is an agitator.

    Our agency is interlocked with NSA in the US. NSA is proven to spy on people by the millions. Yes, even nonentities like you and me.

    And most of it is illegal under the law. Much of it requires warrants which they don't bother getting.

    The next, natural step is putting people in prison and holding them without charge or trial. The US is already in that stage. The pressure is already on us to conform. And all our info is handed over to the US. Tough on you if you're an "agitator" who decides to take a trip across the border.

    We have more rights than our parents, etc. did? I don't think so. Our parents - to return to an old topic - had the right to decide on war. We don't.
    Spies have been given the right to spy on us without warrant - and then to give the information away.

    In practical terms, we have less rights. Mr. Irving, for example, was able to declare himself a member of the government, got away with it, and got the right to pick advisors for the minister of finance. Do you have that right? Just try it.

    Eighty years ago, you would have said, as many Canadians did, that Hitler was just a guy who looked like Charlie Chaplain.

    When I wrote that piece, I knew that many people would just dismiss it. People will not see what they don't want to see. And they don't want to see the decay in democracy all over the western world - the control of information by news media owned by a handful of billionaires; the intrusion of big business into public affairs.

    Yes, I know some of that has always happened. But it's getting much, much worse. The pressure is on for control by government - with government controlled by big business.

    But I know none of this will convince you - or most people. We're programme to avoid problems, not to face them. That's why whole societies periodically collapse. We prefer not to see what is there.

  3. I have no idea who or what this conference is, but I suspect they know all this full well as its hardly news.

    As for 'agitators', you are partly correct. A native at a protest is certainly an agitator, a person who votes for a different party is certainly not.

    If you ARE an agitator, I agree with what you are saying, its been common knowledge for years. There are numerous agitators both in New Brunswick and Canada who essentially were themselves 'agitated' out of business by the police. The G20 protests were rife with police obstructions, and information was shared and it was well known by protestors south of the border that there was no point in even trying to CROSS the border. Many protestors in Canada were visited by the police, onstensibly to 'check for violent intentions' but we all know what it really was about.

    As for rights, our parents hardly had the choice to go to war, that wasn't even remotely in the cards. In Korea they certainly had no choice. As we discussed not long ago, there was certainly no referendum in Canada on joining world war 2. And as for protest, the G20 protest was a picnic compared to government reaction to protest back in the 'bad old days'.

    As for Irving, actually, the reverse is true. If you knew KC at all then you knew that he was pretty much Premier. His sons actually have to make the trip up to Fredericton. KC always said the only time he lost was when Robichaud got one term, and that was because Robichaud awarded the mining contracts to Noranda instead of Irving, who wanted a stranglehold on mining as well. And he made sure that Robichaud only had one term after that. Irving never PICKED the economic advisors to the minister of finance because HE was the advisor to the minister of finance.

    Thats not to minimize the influence of the rich now, but the fact is they ALWAYS have. Now they actually have to publish a crappy newspaper in order to control the population, back in KC's day it made no difference what the media said-KC knew he had the last word regardless of what people knew.

    If the people of New Brunswick really wanted to change that horrible forestry policy, all they have to do is show up en masse in front of the legislature and stay there every single day. Irving was a big supporter of the sale of NBPower as well, but the constant protest shut it down. There is an election coming up, meaning that if people got organized, it could get thrown out 'relatively' easily or else Alward knows he goes down in flames. Gallant would be even easier because its clear he doesn't even have the balls that Alward does, who at least goes out to meet protestors.

    Government has ALWAYS been controlled by big business in Canada. There is hardly a case where its been any different. Big business was ecstatic about universal health care because it was a cost that was totally socialized that they didn't have to cover.

    So I could say the same about you, big business has ALWAYS run the government, but some people prefer not to see it. Some people don't see problems now, other people think 'back in the good old days' things were so much better. Both are wrong, but its important to note that WE ALL avoid problems and prefer not to face them. There are rare strong individuals who do, and we benefit from them. I wasn't at the shale gas protest getting shot at by police, I suspect you weren't either. Most agitators haven't got time to sit and write, because they are busy agitating, and raising money to cover lawyer fees for trumped up charges,

  4. > When are we going to learn the platforms of the candidates for a city council seat? Isn't that kind of basic to a democracy?

    The 'platforms' (if you can call them that) are available on front and centre - they are (so far as we know) the only public statements by either candidate.

    If there's any update offered, we'll update them there.

  5. This is a reply to Mikel - two posts above.

    I find it difficult to follow your post. The first sentence makes no sense at all. Other points were never in dispute - so why act as if you're presenting an argument? And, as always, you use words very----flexibly.

    If, as you say, we all knew about police picking on agitators a long time ago - why are you presenting this as it it were an argument?

    And why do you seem to argue that I am not an agitator because I write? Writing is agitating, always has been. Speaking is agitating. What is the point of all this?

    Then you say Canada never had a referendum on war in 1939. I never said it did. That had nothing to do with my point. My point was that in 1939, the House of Commons had to vote on war. That's the way democratic governments work. It's the same in the US according to the constitution. But Presidents haven't bothered much with the constitution since 1841.

    In 1939, the declaration of war was made a full week after the British declared. That was deliberate. Mackenzie King was making the point that Canadians, through their elected representatives would decide. And I greatly regret that is no longer true.
    As for big business running government, I'm quite well aware of that. What you don't seem to understand is how the pace of business takeover of government has increased since the Reagan years. Regulation of business has all but disappeared. Free trade enables business to ignore borders and, to a large degree, ignore governments and people.

    It has also hugely concentrated media control over the last fifty years - controlling the flow of information, and turning it into propaganda.

    It has become far more aggressive in its destruction of environments. It has almost eliminated taxation for the very weatlhy. Many of the largest corporations in the world now pay no taxes at all. They have used free trade to create poverty, diverting the nation's wealth to the very wealthy, and lowering the standard of living for everyone else. That's what Alward's balancing the budget fit is all about.

    Yes, I know business has always run government. But - its power is now running quite wild through low taxes, free trade, control of news media. Yes, such things have always happened. But now they're happening at an unprecedented pace - and taking us into eternal war, widespread poverty, a breakdown of our social systems, and a brutality in war that exceeds anything the world has ever seen.

    Yes, big business has always interfered in government. But the extent and power and destructiveness of that interference is something we have never seen before. And it's very, very dangerous. And perhaps suicidal is a better word.

    That's as well as I can answer your comment because, frankly, it is almost impossible to understand what your point is.

    Oh - yeah - domestic spying on the scale we're seeing which, despite your (naive) view of it is on a far more massive scale than you seem to realize. It affects everybody, even the most insignificant of us. And it is intended to be used against us.

    And it is our personal information freely given to big business. You may not see any problem in that. Others would see an advanced stage of fascism, and a very serious assault on democracy.

    They also share it with the US which is a step ahead of us. The President has the power now to imprison and even assassinate people without any process of law. And he has used it.

    That's what is called a police state. If you want to live in such a state, be my guest. But not here. Go to the US.

  6. Oh, yeah. Being a member of the UN does NOT mean we are obliged to fight UN wars. Nobody can be forced to fight a war for anybody. The rules for going to war are set by international law. If the UN were to tell us to fight in, say, Afghanistan, we could say no. In fact, under international law, we would be obliged to say no. Most American wars of the past 60 years or so are almost certainly illegal under international law.
    Oh - in my previous post, I wrote 1841---should have been 1941.

  7. My first two paragraphs were pretty self explanatory. You wrote "There's a conference at U. de Ottawa". My first paragraph said I have no idea what the conference is or what it has to do with anything I wrote.

    My second paragraph was in reply to your contention about what an agitator was. I'm not sure whats confusing about that. Some of your notions of an agitator seem pretty wrong. Wanting medicare doesn't make you an agitator. It may spur somebody on to become one though.

    World War 2 we were over before. I posted long ago that the debates of that week were NOT about whether to go to war. That was then, just as it is now, a decision for cabinet-I even posted the links. Like I said, a week later they announced the war with Japan-with no debate, at 2 o'clock in the morning. There was no 'vote' by parliament on whether to go to war. There was a bureaucratic vote on the 'addresses to the throne speech', which have zero effect on government policy.

    Even if that were true, if Harper said we were going to war, and all his minions voted saying we're going to war with Russia, would you then be arguing that we canadians CHOSE to go to war with Russia because 'thats how our government works'? I doubt it very much, and if so, then I'd argue that that is also wrong. Even if all the tory members in the house voted for it.

    My point was pretty self explanatory, you rebutted it fairly well so it must have been fairly clear. I'm not discounting the gains corporations have made, I'm simply disputing some of your claims, like that our private information is being given to big business. Actually the reverse of THAT is true as well. Its pretty easy for an internet provider to even get your passwords as you set them. Bell Canada has far more of my information than the government of Canada has EVER had. And they are a private corporation.

    I agree somewhat that in many areas things are worse than the Reagan years, but in other ways they are far better. In the seventies there was never any notion of forest replanting. There was no recycling, and companies never gave a second thought to dumping pollutants into waterways or wherever the heck they wanted. Most cities in the province would be uninhabitable by today's standards. Just fifteen years ago you couldn't even walk outside in Miramichi because of the stench. Fracking companies wouldn't even be TALKING about protecting water sources, they'd be ripping out trees all over the place.

    New Brunswick is far more of a 'company town' than most provinces, but if you look at how Irving operates now, its head and shoulders above the way they USED to operate, which was not to give a flirking schnitt about the environment whatsoever.

    As for taxes, thats a tough call because Irving is a private company so we've NEVER known what they contribute in taxes. So while lots of things are worse than they were before, lots of things, even MORE things I'd argue, are better. But my main point is that WE have much more power than previously-if we choose to use it. Writing is certainly agitation, but isn't nearly as agitating as going to a protest. I doubt government or even Irving could care less about your blog, because not nearly enough people see it, and I doubt it spurs anybody to action. And for people like me its not agitating AT ALL because it pretty much jives with most of the things I believe.

    I have NO idea what the UN stuff in your next post refers to, I certainly never wrote that being in the UN meant we had to fight if the UN said so. For the US though, since they are not a member of the International criminal court, they haven't ratified Sections 1 and 2 of the Geneva conventions. So they aren't 'illegal' as part of a treaty they never signed. Most of them are illegal by their own constitution however.

  8. 1. You obviously don't know what the word 'agitator' means. It does not mean a demonstrator necessarily at all. An person who tries to stir people into action is an agitator. Jesus was an agitator. That's why h is enemies insisted he be executed..
    Of course spurring people on to demand medicare is being an agitator. I never said otherwise. I never said that just wanting something makes anybody an agitator.

    The conference, as I told you in my original post, is about secret police surveillance in Canada. And you had written it was not big deal.

    On World war 2 and the declaration of war, you are simply wrong. There was a debate. There was a vote. Only one mp voted against the war. But there was a vote and a debate. And the vote was delayed for a week deliberately to make the point that parliament would decided.

    Somehow, you had confused that vote with a referendum. But I never said there was a referendum. I have read MacKenzie King's diaries. he was quite clear there was a vote, and quite clear that he had delayed it to make the point that parliament would decide. Any general text book of Canadian history will tell you that.

    The report that is being discussed at the Ottawa conference is BECAUSE our information is being given to big business. It's in the report that is the basis of the conference.

    For that matter, it's official. Meetings between secret police and major corporations happen twice a year at which information about us is given to the corporations. It's been going on for years.

    You did say we were obliged to fight in Korea. We were not.

    The Geneva conventions were not signed by Iraq, either. Hussein still got hanged by the US as a war criminal. And they were talking of the same thing for Assad. Libya's Ghaddaffi would certainly have been hanged if he hadn't been killed first.

    The US doesn't give a damn about the Geneva Conventions or its own constitution.

    "We have much more power...if we choose to use it."
    Quite so. And here you said the opposite of what you meant to say. "if we choose to use it" means that we aren't using it. Well, if we aren't using it, how do you know we have it?

    The government and Irving care about a lot of things, in fact, everything. That's why we spend billions on domestic spying on just about everybody. It has nothing to do with anybody's influence. It has to do with controlling us. That's what a police state does.

  9. Uh, yeah you did:

    "A person who wants medicare in a country that doesn't have it is an agitator. A person who votes for the wrong party is an agitator. A person who want to earn more that $10 an hour is an agitator."

    Again, NOT if they don't agitate.

    I reread your original post, there is no mention at all about this conference. In your reply to me you mention the conference. I certainly didn't say its no big deal, I don't even know anything about it. I never said surveillance was no big deal, but simply that its always gone on. Tommy Douglas was the leader of a province and he was under RCMP surveillance. The difference is that now they have new tools, and I've certainly never said they should be accepted.

    As for World War 2, again, repeating something doesn't make it right, and people write all kinds of things in diaries-especially politicians, so here it is again, in brief. The declaration was made in the Speech from the Throne:

    "The adoption of the address in reply to the speech from the throne will be considered as approving not only the speech from the throne but approving the government’s policy which I set out yesterday of immediate participation in the war."

    So MP's did NOT have the choice on whether or not to go to war, they had the choice on whether or not TO BRING DOWN THEIR GOVERNMENT, which, I think you'll agree, but maybe not, but its a much different thing. King's party only 'represented' 44% of the electorate. So to say that CITIZENS had a choice or are adequately 'represented' is a mistake.

    You misunderstand about Korea, I said OUR PARENTS had no choice, not that our government didn't. As we've discussed, WE have no choice whatsoever in whether to go to war or not, our government-or PM, certainly does.

    Actually, Hussein was charged by an Iraq court, the US doesn't allow hanging. My point is simply that conventions a country doesn't sign are hardly expected to be obligatory. In Canada the situation is FAR worse, as Canada DID sign onto the International Court, which meant that by International Law when that story broke that soldiers knew, or should have known that captured combatants were being handed over to torture, that those soldiers could have been tried as international war criminals. This was also rarely discussed in the press but it makes Canada even more culpable than the US who at least said outrightly that they weren't going to participate in the criminal court (not that that is 'good' mind you).

    As for power, I gave examples of where it HAS been used, which is how I know we have it. That doesn't mean its ALWAYS used, or that its used for the most important things. Abortion has been ignored for years because there has always been a very active lobby. Now there is finally an active lobby on the other side and we are starting to see changes. Abortion is an important issue, but I wouldn't argue that its THE most important issue. If people got active in some of the other areas, we could see progress as well. Internet surveillance is a good example, because active lobbying has been going on for years that has made it far less aggregious than certainly Harper wanted it.

    The government and Irving certainly don't care about 'everything'. And 'spying' is certainly not done on 'everybody', thats simply impossible. I agree about the control aspect, because just the IDEA of spying has that effect, which makes it pretty unnecessary to actually spy on everybody. A good percentage of the population would be quite happy to see a completely fascist state, and polls show that the younger generation doesn't even CARE if other people, government or not, can see even their most intimate details (their like people from New York that way:)

    But the hyperbole doesn't help sell it. Metadata is NOT 'spying'. That doesn't mean I think its good or should be allowed.