Monday, August 31, 2015

August 31: "The Canadians are coming. The Canadians are coming."

And so governor Scott of Wisconsin is galloping through the night streets of the U.S., sounding the alarm.

The Irving press did notice the story that governor Scott  has  warned of the need for a wall between Canada and the U.S. to protect the U.S. from ---whatever. Good for the Irving press.

This would all be very funny if some U.S. leaders and a great many U.S. citizens weren't buying it. But they are buying it.

It began with Trump's stunning rise in the polls after he proposed building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. has enormous problems, few of which have been addressed by any of the Democrat and Republican candidates. The worst problems are both social and economic. The federal debt is too great ever to be repaid. Poverty is rising because American big business is an equal opportunity looter, quite as happy to loot and impoverish Americans as it is too loot and impoverish Iraq and Congo and Ukraine and Guatemala and Haiti. ( And, along with Canadian big business, to loot and impoverish Canada.)

The social part is the racism and hysteria that is unravelling American society. As a small example of this, there is the question of why U.S. police kill Americans at the rate of 700 and more a year. Police aren't born evil. Certainly, police killings are pretty rare in Canada, rarer still in Britain, and in most European countries. Why aren't the news media asking why this is so?

Then there's the problem of a generation of war which has murdered at least three million people, and created as many as forty million refugees, maybe more.

Education in the U.S. is a shambles, largely due to privatization because only the rich can afford private schooling. And it gets worse at university level.

And the leading candidates really have nothing to say about all this – except to do more of the same. And the American people are flocking to the man who says the most pressing issue is to wall out Mexico. Oh, and maybe Canada, too.

This isn't stupidity. It's insanity. Not surprisingly, Trump seems to be eying Sarah Pailin as his running mate.

The Republicans will almost certainly lose the election. But it doesn't matter. The Democrats are just as intellectually vapid, and just as insane.

It reminds me of the day many, many years ago when I read Gibbon's “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” In those falling years, the imperial guards would sell the emperorship to the highest bidder then, in due time, murder him to sell the title to another taker.

The whole mess is compounded by a teaching of American history which is mostly false. The American revolution was not fought to make people equal. The settlers who spread to the west did not have to defend themselves against native peoples. They were invaders who murdered native peoples, and stole their land. The U.S. did not go to war only when it was attacked. It has gone to war at least 200 times, and in every case at the wish of big money. (Yes. That includes World Wars One and Two.) It has never, and never even attempted, to spread democracy to the world. It is an empire, as foul and murderous as all empires, and not at all different from the British Empire it rebelled against.

Teaching history with the purpose of making students patriotic is a big mistake. They have to grow up to react to a real world, not a fairy tale.

And iour only knowledge of the world comes from news services that are pure propaganda. Put them all together, and you get leadership campaigns like the disgraceful (and very dangerous) one we're now watching in the U.S..

And Canada is not as different as it should be. Harper and Trudeau have political philosophies much like those of Trump – but without Trump's talent as a clown. In general, the Liberals and Conservatives suffer from the same faults as the Republicans and Democrats; and all four are controlled by big money. (That's why Harper arranged for such a long campaign. He has buckets of billionaire money. The Liberals have much less because the billionaires know the Trudeau Liberals are losers. The NDP has a much, much smaller budget because it's honest. Ditto for the Green Party.)
The headline on page A1 tells us more than it was intended to. “Gallant zooms in on LNG project”.
Yes, he'll be meeting with leaders of New England and Eastern Canada to discuss a Liquid Natural Gas terminal in St. John.

Oh, of course – he's also going to discuss climate change. However, that latter statement makes up less than one half of a sentence in this long story. So don't expect our premier to spend a hell of a lot of time on climate change. That half a sentence is in to “just pretend”.

Let's see. The discussion is really going to be aabout big natural gas terminal, big and expensive. That means we expect this world to be using fossil fuels for a long, long time. And that means we'll have a pipeline, probably several, to carry it. And it will be going through our province for a long, long time. And that will turn up the pressure to develop natural gas in New Brunswick. And that too will have to be a long term investment.

Most of the world, despite the best efforts of oil billionaires, surely now understands that climate change is for real, that it could destroy us all, and that we may already have passed the point of no return. But the oil billionaires are still getting permission to drill for oil in the fragile soils of the Arctic, and in the Bay of Fundy. Duh – it creates jobs.

That's not stupidity. It's insanity.

If there's more news worth reading in section A, let me know.
The editorial is about cutting teachers. It's so illogical, I have no idea what the point of it is. And it's quite evident the writer doesn't have a clue about education. I haven't seen such editorials as the Irving press ones since I stopped reading gossip magazines.

Norbert has read another book. Again, it's by professor Don Savoie. I think he reads only Savoie and Saillant. Norbert, you can't believe everything professors say.

What the professor says is we need a national debate about how, ever since Pierre Trudeau, power has been centralized in the Prime Minister's Office, and how we need a national debate to decentralize it.

In fact, power has almost always been centralized in the PMO since 1867. He also says the Senate has become a shambles. Again, it has always been a shambles. We don't need a debate. We need a prime minister who's honest, intelligent, and accepts the importance of dissent within a government. If we don't elect such a person and such a party, then constitutional change will do nothing. We need an honest and intelligent Prime Minister – and we have the power to elect that kind of person.

It's not the form of government that has to change. It's us. We have consistently elected puppets of big business with, to say the least, a limited respect for democracy. Harper is probably the worst. But he's certainly not the only one in a tradition that goes all the way back to 1867.

Prof. Savoie tries to make his point as a solution to our economic problems. Tell me, prof, how do you find it possible to discuss New Brunswick's economy without ever, ever mentioning the name Irving? Irvings own the province. And you, as an observant kind of prof, must have noticed that, at the beginning of the Alward term, Mr. J. Irving announced that he was a member of the government (without the bother of getting elected.) He then set up an absurd meeting of flunkies to plan the provincial economy. And he told Alward who to appoint as advisors to the Minister of Finance who, as I recall it, was a former Irving employee.

But neither Norbert nor the prof has, to the best of my knowledge, ever said anything about Mr. Irving – and certainly nothing more critical than “Happy Birthday”.

And Norbert, by all means read books. But you should also think about them. Don't just believe them.

And prof, as a keener on governance, how about a book on the impact of big business on political parties in New Brunswick?

Craig Babstock has nothing much to say about a nothing topic – (parking for the new hockey rink).

Steve Malloy, like the editor, writes on education. Like the editor, he has no training in education that I know of. But, unlike the editor, he's observant and he's logical. This is an excellent commentary.

Alec Bruce, too, does a solid job on coping with change in this province. As I started reading, I feared this was going to be pretty light stuff. But it gets tougher and tougher with each paragraph right to the end.

Read it to the last sentence, “Let the clear-headed, cold-eyed wisdom in this province be, for once, about imagination.”

Read that, then think about it. Think hard. The problem with this province is not the elected governments – despite their puppet behaviour. The problem is us.

Oh, the big news on the last page of A is that free Wi-Fi is becoming popular in bars. Who could possibly care?
There's also another story that I wrote off at first, “Acadian filmmaker to attend film festival in France”. And I was wrong. The story turned out to be quite fascinating about a three-minute film that has made this Dieppe filmmaker a finalist in major competition. This sounds like a film I really want to see.

On Canada&World, B1, is the story of a Canadian journalist for al Jazeera who has been sentenced to three years of prison in Egypt. And what terrible thing did he do? He told the truth in a news report. Journalists and human rights advocates all over the world are calling for Harper to intervene in the case. Will Harper do so?

Not likely. He did, and still has done nothing for Omar Khadr who was, contrary to international laws, put into prison, tortured for years, illegally and farcically tried by a military court and sentenced to life. All of that was illegal under international and American law. Now, a Canadian reporter is in an Egyptian prison and, though he's a Canadian, is not likely to get much help from Stephen Harper. He was an arab-sounding name. And there's no votes in helping a Canadian with an arab-sounding name.

That's the story that is, as it should be, on page 1 of B section. But why did they then do it all over again on B3?

B4 has two, big stories on the dangers of fracking. Unfortunately, both lack adequate research, and both tiptoe around the subject.

There's one long but narrow story on Middle East and Africa refugees who are being denied entry by Hungary. Surprisingly, it doesn't have the much bigger story that both Germany and France have agreed to accept much larger numbers, Germany perhaps as many as a million. That's important news, and it's good news – particularly in light of Britain, Canada and the U.S. declining to be any help at all in this disaster they had a big hand in creating. And remember, the total number of refugees is probably in excess of 25 million. And nobody knows how many are dying of hunger, drowning, exposure, fear…..

And the wars in the Middle East go on, though it's hard to tell who's on which side or why. Al Quaeda has frequently had help from the U.S. - though it's listed as 'terrorist'. There's more than a little evidence that ISIS has had American help.

What these wars are about is control of the Middle East for its oil – the same oil that can destroy us and everybody else because it's the oil the oil industry is determined to continue no matter how many it kills and how much suffering it causes. It makes a good profit for the industry. And it's paid for by our taxes - which is great for corrupt arms billionaires.

****it was at this point that I stopped for some hours. What could I say? How can we understand what it being done in our names?

25 MILLION refugees have been created by us to hold up oil profits, even though those profits put us in grave danger from climate change. Helping some of those refugees is the right thing for Germany and France to do– though I greatly fear this will lead to another hysteria of quasi-racist violence in those countries.

Then there's over 20 million people in Yemen, starving and dying under a rain of American bombs dropped by the Saudi air force with a little help from American drones. And Canada has done its bit in Libya and Afghanistan, and is now doing a bit more in Iraq and Ukraine. We're doing our bit because we've allowed ourselves to become puppets in the American empire.

Prime Minister Lester Pearson over 50 years ago, for all his faults, saw this coming. That's why he worked so hard to develop a peace-keeping role for Canada – an attempt to develop an independent foreign policy, and to break the cycle of wars. But we gave that up a long time ago. Now, our armed forces are just the Hicksville branch of the U.S. military. And Harper is getting by as a blustering warrior for Ukraine and Israel when, in fact, he has done nothing for either of them.

Almost none of this makes the news.

What we are doing is insane. It's not just stupid. It's insane.

And now, we're playing games with threats of nuclear war. You won't find this in the Irving press, but this world has over 17,000 nuclear missiles. Firing even a tiny fraction of them would mean the end of the world. Nor would it help to shoot them down. In being shot down, they would still explode and bless us under intense radiation.

And even if there is no more war, the immense cost of military weaponry, just buying it, is creating a severe crisis in providing for social needs, especially in the U.S. That means more civic unrest, more destruction of democratic rights, more secret police, more jailing without charge or trial, more militarization of the police.

And we have done nothing whatever to deal with any of these issues. That's why I stopped writing for a time. In a world in which a big news story is the shooting of a Texas policeman or, perhaps, the front page story about how our vineyards are attracting more tourists, there's no interest in dealing with reality.

And that refusal to deal with reality is a definition of insanity.

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