Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29: It's noon - and my morning paper is still not here...

......so let me start with a sermonette on two stories that go back several days, and were quite uncritically reported on.I'm starting it  in a religious context; but don't be alarmed. That's only because religion is really quite secular.

Christians are told "to love thy neighbour". Good idea. But it gets screwed up by being tied to the concept that if you don't "love they neighbour", then you'll  be tortured in horrible pain and go down to the burning flames of hell for ETERNITY, while those who have been saved (which only counts if it's salvation by believing in Jesus) and have loved their neighbours will be allowed to go to heaven and spend eternity clapping hands and shouting Rah! Rah! God. Go, Jesus, go!

The trouble with that theory is that you cannot do good for your neighbour if you are doing it to escape hell, and still be acting out of love for your neighbour. In reality, you're doing it out of love for yourself. That's what makes so many "saved" Christians into self-righteous pains in the ass.

J.D. Irving (who named his church after his family - a bit of belly-button contemplation, there) was recently elevated to a philanthropy hall of fame which was celebrated at an expensive luncheon attended by his wealthy followers.

Well, anyone who makes a donation out of love for his neighbour, and for no other reason, would find such publicity and celebration of his act embarassing and distasteful, This is not love for one's neighbour. This is love for oneself.

In a similar, but worse case, Rob Irving was feted in similar style for his many gifts to the community. This came in the form of a presentation from Rotary. (Rotary is used by business to present an image that it really, really cares about the community. It's also used by big business to convince small business that it and they are the the same, and have the same interests.) In this case, there was at least one, amusing aspect, as Mr. Irving was put into the same category as Mother Theresa. But there was something much worse.

Mr. Irving put the whole affair into a business context, as though this were some sort of buying and selling deal. The theme of  his talk at this ceremony was that you have to put something back to the community. It's as though you've bought something, and you then have to pay for it.

1. If Mr. Irving was paying back, he was doing it at a damned cheap price because all his charities are only a tiny fraction of what he has taken out.

2. Anyway, giving has nothing to do with paying back. Giving is loving your neighbour. That's why it is done. It may be giving to someone who has never given you anything. It's not a payment. It's not a reward. It's love. That's why Mr. Irving should not be confused, not even in a dark room, with Mother Theresa.

What might be a demonstration of love would be for the Irvngs and their kiss-up friends who hold expensive banquets to praise them would be for the Irvings to pay rather more tax than they do.
In Monday's paper, read A1 "Business leaders seek honesty from party leaders". That, if you read the article, is a dishonest headline. It's about the coming budget, and business leaders are NOT seeking honesty. They are speaking of measures beneficial to them which they want to see in the budget.

What they want is higher taxes (for you) and massive cuts in government services (to you). This is a move all over the western world (including Ukraine, incidentally) and which was done in the depression of the 1930s. Make the poor  suffer and even starve for the mess the rich have created.

This didn't work in the 1930s and, despite the babbling of Norbert (who read an Irving-approved book on the subject) it won't work now. As a direct result of these policies, US households now have a net worth that is 36% of what it was a dozen years ago. Of course, the net worth of the U.S. rich has risen spectacularly in that time.

We're not speaking of minor inconveniences here. We're speaking of real suffering in living conditions, education, health care, life expectancy, hopelessness.

The Business Council in this story is not talking about honesty. It's talking about its greed, its cruelty, its indifference to others - and its ignorance of economics.
Also in the Monday edition, Alec Bruce has the only intelligent and informed column on the budget I have ever seen in an Irving paper.
Oh, B3 for Monday has an excellent story on Therese Casgrain. She was a leader in campaigning for women's rights in Quebec before World War 1.  No big deal? In fact, official opposition to women's rights from both church and state was probably stronger at the time in Quebec than anywhere else in Canada. Violence, especially from the authorities, was a constant hazard. It was such a tough fight that women in Quebec did not get the right to vote until 1940.

She remained politicially active all her life, becoming the first woman in Canada to lead a political party - the Quebec wing of the CCF which was then socialist. No big deal? These were the years of Duplessis when the provincial police were used as hired thugs. One could be in for a very severe police beating for criticizing Duplessis.

In short, Mme.  Casgrain was everything Harper is not - courageous, intelligent compassionate, loving...

So Harper has removed her picture from the fifty dollar bill, and from a national volunteer award. Maybe we'll get Rob Irving on the fifty $ bill  wearing his ragged Mother Theresa dress.

Oh, a catchup. Remember that story that a pricey boutique is opening in Moncton? The reason for that was published in the Calgary Herald, but missed by  the eagle eyes of TandT editors.

Across Canada and the US, stores like Target for commonfolk, are losing ground. The big rush is to get expensive boutiques in the malls. Because people have more money? No. In fact, most people have less money.  But the rich are getting much, much richer. That's what the wage gap is all about. And that's why Target in closing in Moncton, but Victoria's Secret is moving in. It's happening all across Canada.
Most of Tuesday's paper is a dead loss.

The editorial is a call for people not to make bonfires in their yards. Well, at least that's  topic within the intellectual grasp of the editorial writers. And Norbert writes another kiss-up column on why we should have the kind provincial budget Mr. Irving wants - one that will impoverish us so that he can get richer.

But there are two, good items. Alec Bruce is solid on the idiocy of Canada Revenue's treatment of charities. In fact, Harper has politicized charities so that what they do and who they help is controlled by him. Harper's obsessions with control and power are not only serious threats to democracy. They suggest a man who needs - at least - psychological treatment. And I don't say that lightly.

Then there's an excellent piece on the oped page, "Privatization is not the answer to Canada's health care woes." Privatization of health care is in the gunsights of the very rich. But every study I have ever seen, many from the UN, says that private health care is far more expensive that public care, far less efficient - and out of reach for most.  The US is consistently ranked as providing the worst health care in the developed world. It is lower than Canada - and Canada is not great, largely because we tolerate gross overpricing by drug companies.

But private care would make the rich much richer. So we can expect lots of propaganda and attacks on the fringes of it. This is really an excellent op ed piece on the subject.
The foreign news stories are useless. Here's a shortcut understanding of what's going on.

1. The war in Israel is going to get much worse. Hamas cannot stop fighting without allowing Israel to go on abusing Palestine as it has for over sixty years. Israel can't stop fighting because it wants to destroy Palestine, and take all its land. Who will win?
In the short run, Israel might, especially if the US joins  in, and if Harper then honours his very political promise to stand by Israel. So get ready to send Canadians to kill and to die so that Harper can win the next election.
In the long run, Israel loses after a war horrible by any standard. The  west, by its interference, bullying and killing for over a century has created the form of Islam that we call "estremists". The US has been paying, training and equipping these "extremists" for years to kill Syrians. And they are now a major political and economic force as they sweep through Iraq, heading for Syria and Lebanon and Palestine.
Of all the countries in this world that need peace, Israel is the leader. But it has wrecked every peace attempt ever tried. Instead, it has aimed for a military domination that is not sustainable. And it's now about to learn that nuclear rockets are very little help in dealing with enemies that are close by.
(And please spare me the mindless crap that Israel is just defending itself from rocket attacks. Do you think Hamas is shooting rockets just because it's a bunch of evil foreigners? They were shooting back at generations of abuse by Israel.)
2.The government of Ukraine is in deep trouble. When the US helped it to overthrow the elected government, one objective was to make the poor pay for the economic crisis created by the rich. The rich of Ukraine have long ago sent their money to safe havens. But the international monetary fund and the banks want the money owing to them. It is not an accident that the first president after the coup was an international banker. The elected, billionaire president is the same breed.

Not long ago, a bill was prepared to make the poor pay for bills run up by the billionaires, to reduce the country to poverty. This caused the important coalition parties (largely Nazi and fascist) to resign - and to force an election.

But Kiev has to go on fighting because it has to kill ALL the Russians in the eastern Ukraine. This is the 'final solution'. But they have no money. They need the west (NATO) to step into the war and end it quickly. And Harper has already promised full support, and sent troops and aircraft to the region.

Putin will have to react. and any such war would become nuclear. But how to get people to react? I know. Shoot down a passenger airliner, and say the Russians did it.

As I said earlier, the shooting down of an airliner is not a very good reason to start a war that would kill millions, whether nuclear or conventional. But it's a great, emotional trigger. And Obama has used it with constant threats ever since.  Obama wants a war.

Incidentally, some years back the USS Vincennes shot down an airliner, killing 290. But they were mostly Iranians, so that was okay. The captain claimed it was diving toward him, and looked like a fighter plane. Later, at an enquiry, he admitted it was an airbus, and it wasn't diving - but he never said why he shot it down. Some seven years later, the US issued an informal apology. And that was it.

3. Libya is an excellent example of the godawful foreign policy of the US. They destroyed a nation because the leader wanted a better share of the oil revenues. ( Oh, I know, I know. Ghadaffi was a bad man. Yes. So it was worth sending our pilots to kill people so they could get him assassinated.)
You want to talk bad men? How about Bush and Blair who lied and who killed by the million? And, for that matter, how about Obama?


  1. Dude, lots of big news today, especially for your pet theories, and you go on about the Irvings? Dude, just say "they're presbyterians". Do you think ANYBODY out there thinks the Irvings are just kind charitable people? Dude, this IS New Brunswick, you aren't explaining the area to Albanians!

    There's certainly no evidence that Ukraine or the US shot down the plane to blame Russia. Come on now! While similar things have been done in the past, that doesn't constitute proof. Hey, maybe there is no such country as Russia, they are all CIA agents in disguise!

    But in relevant news, not only is Harper sucking up to Israel, but you'll love this, the latest is to blame china for attacks at the NSC. While government insiders claim there is no record of any such attacks, that hasn't slowed down Harper! Enemies everywhere!

    And in other 'comforting' news, Russia has decided to forgive billions in Cuban debt in exchange for re opening its listening post base on the Island. The cold war is back baby!

  2. Well, dude...
    1. I see no evidence that "most" New Brunswickers see through the Irvings. If you're right, they are amazingly passive and even stupid people to keep voting for Irving parties. Are you calling them passive and stupid?
    2.I never said there is any evidence of exactly who shot down the airliner. And that wasn't my point in the first place. My point is that Obama, despite the lack of evidence, has been extremely aggressive in blaming Russia - and in taking economic action against it. And in moving troops into the region. And that suggests Obama wants a war.
    3. The cold war was never off. The difference is that this time any cold war will be a very, very short one if, as the US claims, it has surrounded Russia and China with rockets that can knock down nuclear missiles. If that is true, the next war against Russia or China will go nuclear within days. A conventional war against Russia or China is out of the question. The US military, though the most expensive in the world, has not performed well for many years. As well, the American people would never accept the financial and human cost of a conventional war. Obama would have to go nuclear.
    4. I don't have any 'pet' theories and, if I did, I wouldn't waste my time peddling them. When this all started, and while the news media were still treating it as just another fluster, I said that Ukraine and the Middle East were going to be very serious business, indeed. There was no theory involved. It was simply understanding how these affairs work. And they have worked as I said they would
    5. Yes, sometimes I will miss a story. That's because a) I am only one person, and I have other interests in life. b) you have already complained my blogs are too long as they are. and c) I don't consider your two suggestions to be important stories. Baby!

  3. I think we're talking about two different things. 'Seeing through' somebody means knowing they are full of crap. What does that have to do with voting? In a first past the post system, only one of two parties has any chance of winning. And if anything, the increasing pace at which new brunswickers throw out one party is evidence they don't buy what the government is selling. We have to wait for this election, because the last one was more about NBPower, not the Irvings.

    Lots of people know when politicians are full of crap, they still may vote for them for any number of reasons. I'm not saying there are NO people who might say "oh those IRvings are just so nice, look at what they spent their money on". There are all kinds of idiots, but THOSE idiots aren't likely reading your blog.

    2. This is what you wrote: "Putin will have to react. and any such war would become nuclear. But how to get people to react? I know. Shoot down a passenger airliner, and say the Russians did it." That sounds pretty clear to me. It might not be your 'point', but it IS a point, and pretty big one.

    3. I think the cold war was most definitely over. During the nineties the russians couldn't even keep its own states from seceding, there certainly wasn't any concern about the US, in fact the US was invited in to re organize their economy.

    4. Dude, Ukraine and the middle east have been 'serious business' for decades, thats hardly prescient. You are seriously saying that your predictions of the future were 'simply understandings of how these affairs work'??

    5. I'm sorry about how that was worded, I suddenly had to go and didn't have time to edit, obviously nobody can cover everything and my point was to simply add to the blog. I would have argued about the Irving thing regardless, but I wouldn't have worded it like that in a final draft.

    But I think you DO think at least one of my stories is important, unless you don't think facts get in the way of a good theory. The talk about china is right up your alley about talking about war with china. You can say what you want, but when you say "Obama wants a war...", thats a 'theory'. You gave some anecdotal evidence, but that doesn't prove a theory.

    1. Well, it looks as though you're arguing for the sake of arguing.

      I don't see any reason to say New Brunswickers are stupider than the average western population. There are lots of factors that make people hold a skewed view of politics. Fear is one of them. Living in a relatively small community is another.
      I don't see how voting out a party you are dissatisfied with in order to bring the one back that you voted out because you were dissatisfied represents anything at all. And they don't have just have two parties to choose from.

      New Brunswickers are very ill-informed about local, national and international affairs. Much of the reason for that is a heavily biased news source that simply ignores what it doesn't want you to know, deliberately trivializes the news, and simply has a staff that is lazy and incompetent. You cannot build a democracy in such an atmosphere.
      Ukraine has not been an obvious flashpoint for decades. If it was, the whole world world but you didn't notice it.

      Israel has, of course, been more obvious.

      Russia's consulting the UN and even the US on its economy has nothing to do with ending the cold war. Both sides knew it was still there. That's why the US spent those "no cold war" years building and siting an anti-rocket system.
      The cold war did not happen because of communist and capitalism because Russia wasn't communist, and the US wasn't really capitalist. That sort of thing is rarely what causes wars. What causes them is the striving of the wealthy elite in almost every country for more wealth.

    2. Oh, the "shooting down an airliner" bit was not an anecdote. And it wasn't proof the US did it. But it was pretty strong evidence the US wants a war and, as nations always do, it is looking for a cause that gives in the moral high ground. And shooting down an airliner has the emotional punch that's needed.

      In fact, far more innocent people have been killed in the ground fighting. That's also true in Israel. But ground fighting isn't a sexy topic for the PR boys. They need something to rally the population behind.

      In fact, the US has no objection to shooting down helpless passenger airliners and killing all aboard.. I has done so at least twice that I know of.
      As a simple bit of common sense, risking a nuclear war which would kill millions over the deaths of 294 passengers is crazy. But the drama of it makes it possible.
      In the same way, much of the west applauds Israel for retaliating against rocket fire which has killed, I believe, two people, one of them an Arab.

      rocket fire/civilians - that has PR sex appeal. The fact that Israel kills, on average, more innocent palestinians per day than that doesn't matter. It doesn't have PR sex appeal.

      Anyway I never said the US shot down that plane. I didn't indicate anybody. I just pointed out that only the US and Ukraine had a motive for the act. But for Putin, it was easily foreseeable as of no use whatever and a devastating blow to the Russian position.
      That may seem a simple observation to make - but I have not seen it in the North American news media.

  4. For years now, almost anytime I visit an Irving-owned Kent's Building Supplies lumberyard, whether it's in Saint John or Fredericton, I am appalled at the quality of much of the lumber.

    If Irving wants to do something positive for the province, and since they're getting much of their lumber on the cheap from crown land, (and being subsidized or paid to put roads and culverts in) then at least give back to the province by supplying us with good quality lumber to work with!

    Irving is certainly not doing the house building industry in NB any favors.

    For instance consider this: much of today's 2” x 6” pieces of lumber used as load bearing lumber on the exterior of a house wall, will often (because its crappy) have the structural strength of a decent 2” x 4” (if you're lucky).

    I don't understand how they can pass the lumber they do, and I'm tired of wasting my time picking through the crap lumber for good lumber.

    Because of this, I have to waste extra time and effort going to a variety of lumber yards to find what I need. (If I want to build with half-decent lumber - which of course, I do).

    As for MH17, you're right Graeme, the US has enacted too many false-flags in the past to be believable any longer on any issue.

    Anytime, I happen to catch an Obama, or a Harper speech in which they pretend to position themselves to a higher moral ground, I want to throw up.