Saturday, September 26, 2015

When I was a child eating my supper,....

........ (as some children still do - while slumped over the plate), my very Presbyterian mother would say, “Sit up. And eat your supper like a Christian.”

I thought of that as I read two items in today's paper. One, on B4, is about how the pope (a non-Presbyterian) has been urging Americans to deal with climate change, with the stunning levels of pollution all over the world, with the destructiveness of unregulated capitalism, with the massive poverty it has created. And he has been doing it not out of political or economic ideology. He has been doing it out of his understanding of the Christian faith.

But, being still the child I was raised to be, with strict, Protestant views, I turned to C5 the faith page, for a true example of what Christian faith means. And the true message is – ya gotta have good manners. Yep, sitting up straight at the table like a Christian. That's what it's all about. It's about bein' respectable, makin' sure yer fly's zipped, 'n' keepin' all them women wearin' them heejaps or whatever out of this Christian country.

The pope makes us humans look good. The Faith page of the Irving press makes us look like self-righteous asses.
The election news, both in Canada and the U.S., is embarrassing. No serious issues are being discussed in either case. In the U.S., the debates are simply a matter of reporters looking for one-liners from Trump . The other candidates are just as bad. The bottom was hit by one of them (ironically, the only black in the running for the Republican leadership) who said that a Muslim should not be permitted to become president of the U.S. I know just what he means. Personally, I would exclude Muslims, Baptists,,Jehovah Witnesses, blacks, orientals, and anybody who slouches over supper. But I don't think that's a really big issue in this election. Anyway, the American constitution says they're all allowed to run.
In Canada, the situation is much the same. The Quebec debate, largely because of Harper and his good friend, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, spent much time and fervor on the threat to Canada of women who wear veils. (But it's okay to send your daughters to school looking like hookers.) If you agree with Harper,(and many will), look up 'racist' and 'bigot' in your dictionary.
The front page of today's paper offers another example of useless political reporting on the election. It's on “A voter's guide to navigating the 3 different plans for the economy.” A complete waste of time. Not one person in a thousand understands the workings of an economy. And among the 999 who don't know, are business leaders. They know how it can be made to work to benefit them – that's not the understanding we need. We need to know what politicians want to use the economy FOR. Is it to benefit the rich so that some day when they get tired of putting their money into tax havens, they might let some of it trickle down to us? Or is there some party that is interested primarily in us? In the health and education and welfare of our society?
That's the issue. That's the only issue. It's not about whether they're going to build a bridge somewhere, or telling women what they're allowed to wear, or promising to fix a road. If we have reporters who are inquiring (and intelligent and honest), they shouldn't waste their time and our reporting on trivialities. We need to know what values and what priorities they bring to our society as a whole. The economy is important, of course. But it's not the starting point. The starting point is the direction a party sees for where we are going. Then you design an economy to fit that purpose.
I pay no attention to the American debates except as low vaudeville. That's because I know there are no social values on either side. (With the possible exception of Bernie Sanders who isn't on either side.) It really doesn't matter a damn who wins on either side because the real government will be a handful of billionaires.
The debates matter in Canada because our democracy has not sunk as low as the American one has. But this could be our last chance to keep our democracy afloat. The politicians keep the debates trivial because they know that triviality is what the Canadian people expect and want. What that means is the demand for broader scale in political debate has to come from the public.
The editorial? Safe. Brainless. But it shows good manners.
Norbert's column is a useful outline of the problems in either restoring or destroying our hydro-electric damn which provides 20% of our electricity,and uses a renewable resource. Strangely, he says nothing about what we would use to generate power without that dam.
On the Commentary page, Anne Moore (lawyer) has an excellent column on legal aid. Alas, it also has columns by Premier Gallant and Brent Mazerolle that are not excellent.

With the massive suffering of tens of millions of refugees, the only story on them is that Croatia has opened its border with Serbia. There's not a word about the far greater number of refugees still in countries of the middle east, about how Israel refuses to have anything to do with them, about how the countries they are permitted to enter just cannot absorb that number, about how the UN doesn't have enough money to feed them, and how the U.S. and Canada won't give it enough money. (And if they did, they would insist it go through private contractors at retail prices. That tells you a lot about the social values of Canadian and American governments. ) Those people are dying of hunger, of disease in dreadful camps, of exhaustion, of drowning. Oh, but our Christian hearts went out to a three-year old boy who was just one of thousands to drown. But he was so cute!
And all of this is caused by the real spiritual leaders of the west – the super-billionaires.

And, of course, they're not a word about the aerial bombing, the drones, the enforced starvation by Saudi Arabia and the U.S. on Yemen. (Not to mention all the drones operating but not reported in the rest of the world.) If the pope was hoping to reach the Christian world with his message, he was wasting his time with the U.S. houses of congress.
On the good side, B3 has caught up on a several-day-old story that Alexion, a U.S. drug company, is suing Ottawa for limiting the price the scandalously expensive drug it sells in Canada. Wild over-pricing of drugs is common in the U.S., but had been kept under some control in Canada. Capitalism without regulation is disaster for us all. And Harper is preparing to give away our power to regulate. That should be the big issue for this election because if affects our health, even our lives.

The Irving press has been pretty quiet about the Volkswagen diesel scandal. For years, VW has been lying about the level of emissions coming from it diesel cars. It has reported them as extremely low. In fact, they are forty times greater than the law allows.

But beware. There's an error in the story above. It says that VW was unaware of the emissions problem. That's not true. Earlier reports are quite clear. VW deliberately created a lie by using misleading methods in measuring the emissions. And it deliberately reported the lie as fact to foreign governments. And even that isn't the whole story. Most governments are supposed to verify these tests by doing their own testing. In the U.S., the rule is supposed to be that 15% of each type of car gets tested. So how come this went on for years without the U.S. (or Canadian) governments noticing it? The fraud was discovered by scientists working independently of both government and big business.

Then there's the story that some American leaders are accusing the pope of spreading anti-capitalist thoughts. Well, yes. But note the choice of words. They could have said he was criticizing capitalism – or calling for reforms to it. Why didn't they? And note the use of the word 'thoughts'. Why didn't they say 'ideas'? Those are important questions because they suggest that these leaders don't just disagree with the pope. They're calling him a heretic.

That's an old tradition of U.S. political thought. “The pope was spreading anti-capitalist thoughts.” That suggests he's spreading not ideas because 'Ideas' has a sense of newness, of progress. But 'thoughts', well, that conveys a sense of evil, darkness, heresy and worse, unAmericanism.

The last time we heard that sort of language was from Senator McCarthy and his House Committee of unAmerican Activities. Rather like the Bishops who persecuted Joan of Arc, McCarthy was hunting down people who had -oooh – communist thoughts. And that was unAmerican because in America, God was a capitalist. This time, American leaders were accusing the pope of being unAmerican, a heretic because there is no distinction between being American and believing in God and believing in capitalism.

Then, I found this item by Ralph Nader.

The coming election could well define the whole future of this country. For the U.S., I suspect it's already too late. The U.S. has nothing but Harpers in the running.

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