Saturday, August 9, 2014

Aug. 9: The Blame Game...

First, something that didn't make the news in the Irving press. There's been something of a revolt at the New York Times. Reporters and editors demanded of the owners that they be allowed to use the word 'torture' in connection with the CIA. Until then, they had been forced to use terms like 'enhanced interrogation techniques'. Of course. Torture sounds crude and cruel , while enhanced 'interrogation techniques' sounds scientific and sophisticated. And that helps to brainwash the public into thinking there's nothing wrong with it.

And brainwashing is what most of the news media are about. It's always been like that going back the the press barons of the 1890s - and, often, before that. But it was become much, much worse as our news media have fallen under the control of fewer and fewer very wealthy people, and usually people with other interests to encourage. Irving ownership of much of the news media in New Brunswick springs to mind.

The staff of the New York Times has struck a blow for honesty in the news media but, ooh, it's awfully small blow at a North American media world that has become almost pure propaganda and very sophisticated mind control.

Still, it's too bad we've never seen a similar stirring of integrity and courage among reporters and editors of the Irving press.

This is one reason why I get quite annoyed by the Faith Page with its sermonettes and church activities.
This Saturday's sermonette is better than usual - though it still falls short of a need people have. We don't need clergy to tell us we should love our neighbours. That stuff is all written down in clear language.

What we need to know is how to apply those standards in the daily life of this world we live in. This is a world that economically and militarily acts in direct contradiction to virtually all Christian and Judaic teaching. But our churches, for the most part, refuse to make any connection between their teaching and the world we live in.

On the contrary, they support whatever convention demands they support. War? Yessir. The church will bless it all.

But it is often quite different in synagogues because they have a long history of the place of worship as also being a place of debate and discussion. That's illustrated in a story of the childhood of Jesus when he argued in the temple. When in Montreal, I would be invited to give talks on current events some fifty or sixty times a year. Almost all were at synagogues or other, Jewish institutions.

Audiences were normally one  hundred to several hundred. Participation was high. I was sometimes critical of Israel and that, too, encouraged debate rather than recriminations. I  couldn't help noticing, though, that when I spoke in Christian churches, it was best to avoid any serious topic at all. I think of that whenever I read that another church down here is having a strawberry tea this week.

People don't learn about events in our world from listening to the news media. It happens through regular and open discussion. In most churches (and in all aspects of New Brunswick life), no such discussion happens. I don't know whether there is village mentality that still hangs over the whole province - a fear of being noticed by neighbours as different - or whether the Irving press' practice of trivializing everything including its readers is at work.  But we all know what the result will be. In the coming provincial election, we will elect another flock of turkeys.

And now the blame game. This happens whenever, as with Israel and Palestine, there is violence. Everybody points a finger. But you would think Canadians, of all people, would know better.

When our first ancestors arrived here, they shattered the economies, religions, social and political structures of the native peoples. Sometimes it was deliberate; sometimes not. By the mid-nineteenth century, the damage was done across Canada. And the damage is still being done.

When a society is destroyed, it is a long and painful road to adapt to the change, to preserve what can be preserved while still operating in vastly changed world. It takes centuries to make the change, and with lots of pain and suffering on the way.

And when the damage shows among native peoples in crime figures, in violence, in educational figures, we point the finger of blame at them - when it should be at us. We caused the damage. And, to make it worse, there's not a whole lot we can do to fix it. It has to be done by native people, themselves. (We've already proven that with out horrible creation of residential schools.)

Our western empires have done a similar job around the world. Because of our interference, China was a basket case for over a century. Nobody knows how many Chinese died as a result of our activities. The whole social and political structure of the country was destroyed. And it would have been even worse if the American government's puppet, Chiang Kai Shek, had been able to take over after World War Two.

Africa? Tens of millions murdered, millions enslaved, and the rest to work at starvation wages or simply to starve. Ditto in Central America.

Then there has been over a century of intrusion, killing, disrupting throughout Moslem societies, breaking down political and social life. The result, as so often in these cases, is that the religion becomes stronger than ever, and more extreme. That's what we're watching in Iraq.

Oh, are they murdering Christians? Yes, but not nearly so many as Christians do. The Germans that we bombed in World War Two were Christians. So are the Russians we are now threatening.

As for Israel, we neglected the Jews of Europe when they needed us. We knew what was going on. And we didn't lift a finger - not even after the war was over. What we did, eventually, was to give them land that wasn't ours to give. Not surprisingly, the Palestinians were annoyed at that.

Meanwhile, the Israelis, having learned they can expect nothing from anybody, treat the Palestinians with brutality, hoping to get rid of them all and take the rest of their land.

To make matters worse, the American government is encouraging the breakdown of societies, figuring it will make them easier to exploit. That's why it is encouraging Al Quaeda to fight as "rebels' against the Syrian government (and, incidentally, kill Syrian Christians). That's why the US has paid, equipped and trained the very extreme Isis movement that is destroying Iraq.

We are creating a world catastrophe which, like the one we created for native peoples, takes generations to overcome.

And the almost sole reason is so that multi-billionaires can get richer. This is stupidity and greed on a scale the world has never seen.

And we're doing it to ourselves. For more than a quarter of a century we have known of the threat of climate change. But there was a massive propaganda campaign (still going) to say it isn't happening or, if it does, we'll invent something.

Who financed this propaganda campaign? The oil industry, of course; notably the Koch brothers. The oil industry makes huge profits for some very rich people. And they intend to keep going as long as there is oil in the ground. That's why so much of the world has been so slow to take necessary measures and research. (Billionaires show a remarkable talent for ignoring the future. That's because excessive greed destroys logic - and morality..)

So what's in the TandT for yesterday and today? Not much. Not much at all.

For Friday, the most  (only) important column is Gwynne Dyer on climate change. It's on the op ed page.

For Saturday, Bill Belliveau has a contemptible column on our budget deficits. He doesn't even mention who it it that really sets our budget. He doesn't mention the stunning tax breaks we give the very rich - or the favours and gifts we give them out of our tax money.

Nope. You know who caused this recession? It's them poor people. "The not-so-obvious causes are found in public attitudes, government dependency and a deeply entrenched sense of entitlement."

The same things were being said in the great depression of the 1930s, and were being published in scruffy   papers like the TandT. In fact, the people more dependent on government than any others are the rich. They depend on it for their tax breaks, their grants, many of their overpriced contracts and, of course, they depend on us to pay for their wars (and most wars are for them) - thought their enlistment rate is not high.

A sense of entitlement. Damn right we have one. We're entitled to have a government that governs for us, one that ensures we get a fair share of the money our work produces. (No wage gap.) Nobody writing for the TandT has even had the courage (or maybe the intelligence) to mention the very rich, and their role in our economic problems.

Brent Mazerolle has the best opinion column I've ever seen him produce. It's a very human and very effectively told story of changes he's gone through in how he sees the world. This is well worth a read.

Gwynne Dyer is the other must read for Saturday. He takes the spread of Ebola, and explains why it's going to take so long to supply medication for it.  In brief - it's going to take a long time because the big drug companies don't see enough profit in it.

Now, I'm not talking here of your local pharmacists. I'm talking of another breed, the corporation bosses who control the big drug companies. These have a long history of being the greediest and least moral species in creation. When we or the US send drugs as foreign aid to countries ravaged by disease, these big drug companies make deals to sell the drugs to the government as such exorbitant prices that the actual  shipments are much smaller than might have been expected - and people die. This is one of Dyer's best columns.
In Saturday's letters is "Israel is protecting its citizens". Mark David of Centre for Israel and Jewish affairs has a couple of pretty serious mistakes.
1. The story of a well-financed Israeli lobby operating among American and Canadian politicians has been well-known for years. In the US, it undoubtedly has the power to make the difference in elections. They're also trying it  here - and Stephen Harper  is deeply involved. It is quite possible, and well known to any political pundit I have ever met. Indeed, I was in conversation with a leading figure of the Israeli lobby just a few days ago. He defined me, as I recall it, as failure as a teacher (he knew nothing about my teaching) and a tragedy as a human being.
2. Then David goes on to say that criticizing Israel is "anti-semitic".  Talk to your bosses, David, they've dropped the use of anti-semitic in favour of - "anti-Jewish". That's because most Jews in Israel are not semites.  The word semite refers to a language group with its history in the middle east. However, it seems that European Jews are largely descended from European converts of a very long time ago.

The Jews who are semites, most of them, are the ones who stayed in the middle east. Many of them were Palestinians who live quite peacefully with their arab neighbours.

All arabs ARE semites. So if you're accusing someone of being anti-semitic, you're saying he's anti-arab. And I think that makes you, Mark, an anti-semite.

Oh, you must know some Jews. Note their complexions. Some, few in Canada. have an olive (Mediterranean) complexion. Those are semites. Most have the complexion of - well - of the Europeans they are.
Sorry to take so long. There was so little in the TandT that I thought it better to speak in general terms. And, oh my, it did run on.

I should add I had a couple letters that I didn't publish. This is a person I've heard from before, I'm sure, though he never has the courage to give his name. He writes to ridicule me - and that's okay. (I'd be more worried if he approved of me.) But he was also very coarse and vulgar. So I thought I really couldn't publish that.


  1. Just had to write to make sure nobody thought it was ME. I sometimes criticize, but any ridicule is definitely unintentional.

    I only want to comment on the New Brunswick stuff because, well, because. Its very true about the churches, thats pretty common from christian churches everywhere. Catholic congregations are usually a little better than protestant ones, however, part of the propaganda machine is definitely to push the "don't make waves" theme. Combine that with other themes like the scottish presbyterian notions of predestination (people who 'work hard' will succeed and therefore those with money must have 'worked hard' and therefore deserve respect), and lack of any kind of labour movement, and that is New Brunswick, and much of Canada, even the west.

    But again, its not like you won't hear this stuff, its just done at Tim Hortons rather than church. But as for your conclusion, I would add that you get just as big of 'turkeys' in Quebec as in New Brunswick, or Canada, or the US, or Ontario., etc. Again, the problem in New Brunswick is simply that people have no choice. Thats dangerous, as I think ultimately its going to lead to an 'arab spring' like event where people say 'this government just has to go'. However, nobody can predict the future. But you see it in NB all the time. Everybody knows the NDP have no chance of winning, yet 10-15% of NBers continue to vote for them. Others vote for the peoples alliance or greens. These movements simply CAN"T succeed simply because of the electoral system which pretty much acts like a club to keep out change.

    Just the fact that NBers will vote in a different party says a lot. Yes, its true, the other party isn't much different, but there's a reason why parties always dump their leaders now. However, again, the reality is that what else can people do? They do what they've always done, which is to donate their time to organizations and try to have an effect on their communities.

    I'm surprised its not discussed more because that 'politeness' is really the main thrust of propaganda, which is why I don't mind places like the Toronto Sun quite as much as I should, or bothered by the antics of Rob Ford. Anything that shakes things up is a GOOD thing, which is why I like Charles Leblanc's blog. He may be nuts and not very objective, but issues get addressed that the media, particularly in NB, are WAY too polite to address. Thats really why the Irving rags are set up the way they are, and why I'm actually surprised they have editorials, because thats the one thing that always works against them. I don't know if they still do, but they used to actually call it "We Say....". I think they finally got smart enough to stop doing that.

    But the real contentious stuff is out there, you just don't hear about it on the radio. Again, check out Charles blog, because anytime the council of canadians, david suzuki, or just last week, some new small group who are doing a 'forestry tour', gets covered.

    So there IS more stuff out there, you just don't hear about it from Irving. And thats the other important aspect of media ownership-which is to make sure people who have similar views don't know about one another or interact with one another. Because its only organizations which can really affect something as large as government or industry.

  2. No. It definitely wasn't you who wrote those posts. I recognized the style as soon as I saw them. This guy writes nothing but personal insults. I hadn't heard from him in a couple of years - but the style was familiar.

    And I am familiar with the Presbyterian concept of predestination. My mother was a highland Scot. Once she hauled me into the house for a strapping for playing cowboys on Sunday. Desperate, I pleaded that I was predestined to play cowboys on Sunday. She paused, then reached for strap, "And I was predestined to punish you for it."

    I'm not sure where your "Russia" letter is. I pressed "publish" - but it didn't come out like the one above. Anyway, I'm not sure Russia is the real target. It is, as you say, much weakened. I suspect the real purpose is to surround China - which is the big threat to American business dominance.

  3. I even doubt that. Russia doesn't have much of an economy, although you could simply argue that its simply a resource economy, and pretty much the exact same thing can be said of Canada.

    However, take a look at Iraq, the US got out just as soon as possible, they don't even want troops there. In Russia it would be next to impossible,and Russia actually has a navy which could hit the US. Its one thing to placate americans into a war with a country that has no chance of attacking you, but whether americans would remotely tolerate going to war over a country they know nothing about. Heck, most probably think Ukraine is part of Russia already.

    And for US businesses, its far easier to simply hold out on China. I was reading several economic's reports and it turns out that China actually doesn't even produce most of the junk we get-they simply assemble them. For american businesses, it would make FAR more sense to tear apart China from within. A war of that magnitude (to repeat myself sort of), would be like world war 2, where the government pretty much took over industry, and industry prefers it the other way around.

    And US parties aren't much different than ours, they work for who pays the bills, and if you look at corporate donations, the democrats typically get more financial and technological donators, who tend to be more war averse than the Haliburtons who prop up the republicans.

  4. First, in answer to a part of your post that went missing, I never said that Quebec politics were more sophisticated than those of New Brunswick. I was speaking of one community, just one, the Jewish community, that took public affairs seriously.

    In that same past, you said business doesn't like wars because they enhanced the power of government. That was true in World War 2 - but that was the only case I know of.
    In fact, as a rule, wars are fought because big business wants them - and big business on the winning side usually does well out of it.

    And if Obama doesn't want war with Russia, he sure is acting strangely. He's been very aggressive in his language from the start.

    And whatever the condition of China or Russia might be now, the US is in decline, too. If the US ever wants to dominate the world (and it's on record as saying it wants to - that's why Obama speech about believing in "American exceptionalism" was such a shocker - American exceptionalism MEANS world dominance). And if wants to do so, it does now or never.

    As for China simply being a place of cheap labour, that won't be true forever. And, in any case, China is such a value as as economic prize that western countries, notably Britain and the US have been striving to control it for over 200 years.

    As to what the American people think, who cares? It's the job of the press to make them fall into line. And the very rich who own the big corporations also own most of the news media. And excuse for war that will inflame people is always easy - like accusing the other side of shooting down an airliner or of killing Christians.

    It's stories like this that have sex appeal in the press, and delude people into supporting war. The US once shot down an Iranian airliner, and exploded a bomb in a Cuban airliner. The former made the news only briefly, and the latter not at all. But when the other side does it? Well, Obama just explodes in righteousness.

    As for killing Christians - hell - we do it all the time. The US is now paying Moslem 'rebels' in Syria to kill Christians among others. And remember the Iraq war when the US killed so widely and indiscriminately? At the time, I never heard a mention in the press of Christians getting killed in Iraq. Of the 300,000 the US killed in Guatemala, virtually all were Christians. But I never saw anything in the press about that. Cubans are Christians. The american government would happily kill the lot of them.

    Incidentally, World War 2, the one in which government took control, was one of the only economically well-managed wars I ever hear of. World War 1, in which business ran free, was dreadful. And all the US wars since World War 2 have been economic disasters.

    re China and Russia, the US is also very worried about them spreading influence into Africa, and even into the cradle of American Imperialism - Latin America. That's one reason the press pours out hatred on Cuba.

  5. I'm not sure what that was about christians, I never mentioned the word and am not sure what thats about.

    So long as 'society' doesn't do more than pay for war, then, as you say, 'who cares'. But a full scale war with an enemy who fights back is another issue entirely.

    Thats why if you look at the history of american warfare since world war 2, what you see is invasions on a small scale with enemies who really can't fight back. Iraq was a perfect example, no real threat to the US, so for the most part nobody cared. However, they DO have to placate people somewhat. If what you say was true and 'who cares', then the NSA wouldn't be going out of their way to digitally record domestic communications illegally. They very much DO care what the public an extent. And what business cares about is perfectly exemplified by Iraq-billions and billions of dollars that flowed to business without any accountability or transparancy. THOSE are the kinds of wars big business likes.

    The US ALREADY dominates the world, and has so pretty much since world war 2. Any statements I"ve heard from Obama have actually been pretty guarded. For domestic audiences, particularly one as war prone as the US, he obviously has to talk about 'american exceptionalism'. However, he really hasn't done anything particularly confrontational. I'm not saying you are wrong, I just don't see enough evidence to convince me you are right, but I've certainly read lots of pundits who have talked about how currect actions can easily 'lead' to war, whether they want it or not.

    But big business isn't stupid, there is LOTS of dissent in China, and it makes more sense to disrupt china from within. And more importantly, China is a huge market, and again, big business isn't stupid, when their markets in china surpass those of the US, they'll be putting on red flags faster than you can say "buy chinese". US markets are getting smaller and smaller, I remember reading about how New Brunswick Liquor can no longer get many varieties of scotch because those makers have found asian markets far more lucrative.

    Back to New Brunswick my point was that I think you are being too hard on people. Its hard to make statements about entire populations, but I read mostly 'fringe' media and social media, and I find people FAR more educated than they've ever been. I've read posts from rural housewives who were talking about environmental engineering-these people got VERY educated.

    New Brunswick is a good example of 'things changing'. Out west you didn't see any these kinds of protests, and when I read stuff, I see a population that is FULLY aware of many of the things you write about-you see that just on the CBC comments section.

    When 'things will change' is the big question, maybe they won't at all. But again, the problem is the lack of options. Its hard to 'change' when the only response is either direct protest where you are photographed by security forces of virtually the only private company hiring in a province that is no longer hiring public employees, or else voting in an election where the electoral system virtually guarantees that either your vote doesn't count, or else you have to vote for the guy who may be just as bad as they guy you are voting against!

    If somebody thinks of 'a third way', then maybe change will come quicker. Or, as in many places, economic forces FORCE people to get more active.

  6. Well, I'm not sure we disagree that much. but - 1. I never characterized any whole society as anything. I said NB was much less informed and active than the Jewish community in Montreal that I knew. I also said it shied away from serious political discussion. For example, I see very, very few political gatherings in this province. It also has never voted anything but Liberal or Conservative even though both are pretty much the same party. And they have less access to newspaper information than most Canadian provinces - though most Canadian provinces are pretty bad. 2. Of course, spies watch us. But it's misleading to say they do it because they're interested in what we think. What interests them is a)who they can report to their bosses and b)how are thinking can be manipulated. 3. The Iraq war was not a cheap and short war that nobody worried about. In fact, the US is no longer capable of such wars. It's record since World War 2 is miserable. Americans accepted it because their government lied to them about what it was about - and because the press helped the government by spreading its lies, and also by spreading hatred and fear of Muslims. 4. Of course business supports wars to make money for itself. I said that. You were the one who said business dislikes war. 5. I have never seen any sign that big business is intelligent about anything but making money for itself. And it's stupidity is in its lack of any sense of morality at all. 6. As to stirring up discontent, the last time we did that it resulted in Chairman Mao. You sure you want to go that route? Almost the whole of US policy in Africa and the middle east is to stir up discontent. And look at what a mess that is. 7. To judge the political awareness of a whole society simply on the basis of those who write in to CBC seems to me quite a leap. 8. Then you ask when will things change----uh - you just wrote a whole lot about how they don't need changing. The public IS active and aware and informed, etc. 9. Obama has been very confrontational in Ukraine. a)he immediately recognized the new government formed in a coup - which is illegal. Why was he so quick? b)Sanctions ARE acts of war. Our press never says so, but they are. c)There was no pressure on him to endorse American Exceptionalism. But he did and very publicly. That is confrontational for the whole world because it means the US rules the world. As well, sending troops to eastern Europe was confrontational - even if it is a relatively small force - and it was meant to be confrontational. 10. It is not true that the US dominated the world after World War 2. in fact, as I've pointed out, its post-1945 military record is abysmal. It did move quickly to keep Latin America nailed down - but it has steadily lost ground there. It also moved quickly to nail down Africa and the middle east - but so far has just created crises. And, of course, it lost China which its pet thug, Chiang, got kicked out. And, while it has humbled Russia, it has no dominated it. The only ones who have accepted US domination are the west Europeans - because they don't have much choice.

  7. No, we don't disagree much, just a couple of details really.

    1. I DO think the US has pretty much run the world since world war 2. They organized not only western europe but also their colonies, which was most of africa. They controlled most of the oceans, they controlled the energy resources of the middle east. South America is only now getting out of its shadow, and they were so successful they pretty much relied on just the CIA and the thuggery of the countries in question. Its true about China, but it was a third world basket case which really had nothing of interest anyway.

    They didn't control russia until the 90's,and quickly looted it and found there wasn't much else worth keeping.

    Obama does have to talk about exceptionalism for the reason I mentioned-they have a loud vocal media that will jump on a politician if their first sentence isn't "United States is the most wonderful country in the world that has ever existed".

    Its true, CBC comments aren't the best way, but in New Brunswick there is almost no other way, the province hardly even gets any polling done. CBC is 'nominally unbiased', what many consider 'left', so its not like reading the comments at the Toronto Sun which is almost totally made up of right wing lunatics.

    2. If you want to manipulate 'how people think', first you have to know WHAT people think. I think you are putting way too much stock in the power of employees ("who they report to their bosses"), although no doubt the value of people knowing 'we are recording you' has a probably purposeful chilling effect.

    3. I didn't say Iraq was 'short and cheap'. I said the opposite, it cost BILLIONS, maybe even trillions. However, the US was not at risk at any time, so those companies making all that laundered money had no risk their golf courses and mansions would be hit by bombs.

    As for big business and war, thats a little nuanced. What I thought I said is that they don't like BIG wars where they may lose everything they have and there is the potential for the government to take over.

    Clearly they LOVE wars like Iraq for reasons mentioned above.

    Good point about China, but in fact I'd be far more convinced of a war with china IF they were actually socialist and weren't essentially a mirror image of the US.

    Sorry this is all over the place, no time for editing. In New Brunswick my point was that people DO know this stuff, they don't know details, but they know they are getting screwed, and Irving is walking all over them. Two generations of New Brunswickers are acutely aware of that.

    Thats really why Irving media mostly talks about inconsequential things, because when it DOES have to talk about political issues, they know full well that people either don't believe them at all, or take them with a huge block of salt.

    But slaves knew they were getting screwed over ever though they weren't 'educated'. And sometimes they even rebelled in certain cases. What new brunswickers, and canadians in fact, DON"T know, is how to organize effectively. Like I've said before, the opportunities for polical change have virtually never been greater.

  8. Ok I had a chance to think. Yeah, it makes no sense to say "the united states runs the world...except for these places it doesn't run". So I'd say they run the international order of the world may be closer. A good debate on this was the Chomsky-Perle debate I posted earlier, just youtube it. Both arguments are made, although I tend to come out on the Chomsky end of things.

    To New Brunswick, the point was about 'change', and I danced around it a bit. Knowing you are being screwed and even complaining about it isn't 'change'. There are some things that change regardless, for example, charles had a video of the gay pride parade which had three of the five political parties marching, and this was a city where ten years ago the Mayor wouldn't even attend or announce the thing.

    But political change is different, and so far we don't see any of that from politicians. There is plenty of complaining, and people know its bad, but thats not 'change'. But even those jewish political meetings didn't really have much of an impact, although the student strike of a couple of years ago had a marginal effect.

    Whether NBers will get angry enough to demand political change is the big question. We've seen them do it when public utilities are being sold, but there's a reason why most political change is made by young people, and in NB there are not that many of those. We see some young people getting organized about the abortion issue, they were looking for money for keeping the building on lease. I gave them some money and wanted to ask whether any of them were going to try to raise money to continue Morgentaler's lawsuit, because I'd donate to that, yet they didn't even have a way to contact them! And like I think I said before, their leaders at a protest didn't even know where the legislature was. If you aren't a voter, then government has little reason to fear you.