Saturday, February 20, 2016

Feb. 20: Donald Trump - The Thirteenth Disciple

Let's see now. Pope Francis accused Donald Trump of behaving in a non-Christian fashion. Trump replied angrily that he is a devout Christian. And he proves it by pointing to his large, Christian following in those states, especially in the Deep South, where Christian evangelicals are numerous and powerful.
By no coincidence, it is also the region that most hates Blacks, Latins, and anyone who is different.

Similarly, he is also a man much in favour of killing masses of people in wars to make wealthy Americans  wealthier. And he not only approves of torture, but would make it much more severe.

Now, that might look to some people as, you know, unChristian. But you have to understand that these religious people, like Trump, have moved on from the ten commandments to the fifteen.

11. Thou shalt abuse people who look different from you.
12. Thou shalt not kill - unless it's necessary for higher profit margins. Abortion is wrong. Killing a couple of million Muslims is good for offshore bank accounts.
13. Thou shalt make thyself as rich as possible, for with that comes the power to be even richer.
14.  Thou shalt take the best wife thy money can buy.
15. Amendments to earlier editions of the commandments - a)thou shalt covet. (delete 'not'). Of course. How are you going to get rich if you don't covet?  b) Thou shalt keep the Sabbath - unless there is something else on TV .c) Thou shalt love thy neighbour - unless thy neighbour comes under commandments 11 to 13.

And that takes us to what bothers me about the Saturday Faith Page in the Irving press.

Have you noticed that it never, if ever, discusses the meaning of religion in the daily life of this world? No, it focusses on the individual. One is left to assume that the only concern is to get oneself into heaven - and to score points to get there by converting others. This is a profoundly self-centred form of religion and, in being so self-centred, it fails to be any sort of religious faith I can recognize.
We sent soldiers to kill and be killed in Afghanistan. Why? It was in no way a threat to  us. And, under international law, I doubt very much our intervention would be considered even legal. We committed war crimes by twice bombing Syria just recently. We illegally bombed Libya. We are now, for all our government's fudging, illegally taking part in the war against Syria, and will almost certainly take part in an illegal war in Libya.

This involves assisting (at least) in mass murder in order to support the illegal interventions of the U.S.

Would Jesus have had nothing to say about this? Or do you think He'd be out there waving the flag?

Is capitalism, in any sense, Christian? Really, the basic principle of it is to make money for  yourself, and to do it as cheaply as possible no matter what effect it has on other people. You really can't do that unless you accept commandments 11 to 15. Is it Christian to have a society in which a very tiny minority of people are born with every possible advantage, and all the rest have nothing but handicaps from the day of their birth?

Obviously, Dennis Oland was born with a belief that he had a right to be wealthy. So, I would guess, are all the Irvings. And, in general, New Brunswick accepts that. Isn't that an odd position for a largely Christian population to take?
Many years ago, I was active in the nuclear disarmament movement. What was notable about it was the very small number of Christian clergy who showed any interest in it. (There must be a commandment 16 I'm not familiar with. Thou shalt not criticize nuclear missiles.)

We live in a society motivated by greed, by the privileges of upper class birth, by a very limited interest in those who are born and live in poverty and hunger and homelessness. Read the Irving press. Almost everything is discussed in terms of creating profit which, necessarily, goes to a very few.

All of this is contrary to Christian teaching. And the Faith page discusses none of it. It has its nose stuck firmly in its own bellybutton. Save yourselves, is its message. Save yourselves and to hell with everybody else.

Now, before Norbert leaps out of his pants, screaming theocracy, I suggest he get a good dictionary and find out what theocracy means. I am NOT suggesting government by the church - any church. I am saying that churches have the same right and responsibility as any news medium or citizen has to speak on issues of how we treat each other.

Nor am I suggesting this should be limited to Christian churches. It's equally a responsibility of synagogues and mosques. And if they all did so, we'd realize that churches, synagogues and mosques are not nearly so different from each other as we often think they are.

The worst, I have discovered, for cloaking themselves in ignorance and self-interest are the  evangelical, Christian churches. And we get a sample of those in almost every Saturday Faith page in the Irving press.
Today's paper, as you might guess from the above, is not a gripping one. Section A has its mandatory big story on Dennis Oland. There's something strange going on here. The Oland family surely has enough influence with Irving to have these stories killed. Instead, Irving has obviously given his news hacks a green signal to publish these stories daily, each one making Dennis Oland seem more certainly his father's killer. There's a game being played here.

There are two stories worth reading in section A today. One is that east coast waters are getting warmer; it has already had a notable impact on the fishery; and the waters will become ice-free year-round. But that's probably wrong because the oil industry assures us that climate change isn't happening. So who are you going to believe?  Some scientists? And if they're so smart, why aren't they rich?

 Or should we believe oil billionaires who, Norbert assures us, are brilliant?
I mean, think about it. If Jesus were here today, would He be   wearing a sheet and sandals? Of course not. He'd be wearing snappy clothes purchased through his offshore bank account.

Then there's the story of how our school system, which Norbert has condemned as a hopeless disaster, has just produced a student who won a hundred thousand dollar national scholarship. That's an impressive product for the 'worst' school system in the world.

The only commentary worth reading is by Jo-Anne Moore - and it's a bit of a daring one. It's about women who abuse men.

Brent Mazerolle, our communications critic, demonstrates once again that he has nothing to communicate. The column below his is by somebody called Ben Champoux who writes a gushing, feel-good tale about Moncton - almost all of it simple-minded. But he does offer a sentence that scared me. He says Moncton is rated one of the 7 most intelligent communities in the world. I had not realized what bad shape this world must be in.
The most important story for Canada and the World is that Dominic Leblanc may be acting improperly in dealing with JDIrving Ltd. because he is a family friend. Come off it. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives have a long history of making the Irvings feel cozy and loved. In fact, I should think the odds are strong that Dominic would be the federal Liberal bagman for New Brunswick. (The one who deals to get corporate donations for the party.)

Yemen still doesn't exist. In fact, if you can find anything worth reading in this whole section, let me know.
The story below deals with I policeman and his killer who were both shot to death, and 2 police who were wounded in the same incident. I thought it worth including this because I have often mentioned the high rates of killing by police in the U.S. But it would be wrong simply to blame the police. The whole country is armed and trigger-happy.

As a result, the U.S. has the highest murder rate in the world. That suggests a society in a state of social breakdown. The guns are bad enough. Add them to social breakdown, and you have a nation in profound trouble.   (And it hasn't emerged as a major election issue.)
The opinion below is from al Jazeera, and it's a pretty good summary of what the U.S. leadership races are about. It does not mention a key problem, though. The problem is that neither Trump nor Sanders is the answer. Trump is nothing but show biz. Sanders' positions are much too tame and, in any case, they would never be accepted by a congress owned by billionaires. As well, Americans seem to prefer myth to reality in dealing with what is  obviously the collapse of its whole economic and political system. Thanks to their news media, they know and understand nothing of the situation they are in.

A leader is important. But even more is a public that understands what is going on, that knows what the options are. But such a public does not exist in the U.S. - and not much in Canada. This is the result of more than a century of news and entertainment media that push myth and propaganda constantly down our throats.
I chose the next one because it takes a sunnier view of the American leadership races than I do. It also, for Norbert, explains what a theocracy is, using Iran as the example.
The following opinion first appeard in the Boston Globe. It's a good and revealing account of the way most of our news media feed us a diet of lies and propaganda.
_________________________________________________________________Haaretz had this interesting opinion on the chances of Bernie Sanders achieving anything even if he gets elected president. I'm afraid I agree with it.
Well, this post has been rambling on for some time. Here's a quick summary of what's happening, and what to look for.
The war in Syria is between Russia and the U.S. The U.S. created the 'Syrian rebellion' to fight the war for it - as the American proxy. It supplied the rebels with weapons and money. When Russia ruined that by  crushing the rebels, the U.S. turned to ISIS to do its fighting for it. That's why ISIS had no problem in taking Syrian oil, getting it to Turkey, and selling it on the world market. But now, Russia is creaming ISIS, too.

Enter Turkey. The U.S. has no great desire to put American boots on the ground in Syria because that would almost certainly create World War Three. As it happens, Turkey is anxious to get in on the Syria war. It's not to fight ISIS. In fact, Turkey and ISIS are close, and always have been. In fact, Turkey has been actively giving aid to ISIS, and it offers care for wounded ISIS soldiers.

But Turkey wants to get in on the war to kill Kurds. All of that has encouraged the U.S. to think of Turkey as being its new proxy in the war with Syria. Of course, that will mean keeping the situation in Ukraine and Eastern Europe tense so that Russia will be limited in how much of its military it can use in Syria. They have to keep it down to a level that Turkey can handle.

Saudi Arabia, too, may be encouraged to enter the Syria fray - though its military record is not a fearsome one.

Meanwhile, in a masterpiece of doublethink, the Hillary Clintons on our side want a war with ISIS in Libya. They say it's to bring peace and stability and  prosperity to Libya.

Actually, Libya WAS peaceful and stable and prosperous, What destroyed all that, and made Libya an easy target for ISIS, was the U.S. (and Canadian) destruction of Libya along with the murder of Omar Ghadaffi. The U.S. record of bringing peace and stability anywhere in the world is a pretty slim one.
Now, an attack on ISIS in Libya is likely to make ISIS stronger in some other part of the world.

And, with the world distracted, Israel is busy illegally taking Palestinian land, and destroying Palestinian homes to create Israeli 'settlements'. It may well be considering the final destruction of Palestine while things are in chaos.

And what will Iraq do in all this? Not much. Iraq, as a nation, was effectively destroyed by Bush's invasion. It's now impoverished, incapable of necessary government functions, badly divided. Bush pretty much destroyed it as a country. And it probably won't get better.

Bush's invasion of Iraq was one of the most disastrous decisions in history. It has become a destabilizer of societies from the middle east to Afghanistan, Pakistan - and it will go beyond.

It was also an illegal invasion, a war crime. Bush and Blair should have been tried and hanged just as losing war criminals were. But that takes us to a disaster beyond all the destabilized societies we have created.

The rule of law in world affairs does not exist. This was to have been the outstanding creation of the United Nations, a world of international law and order. That was never strong, and it no longer exists at all. The U.S.  has been a leader in its destruction. That destruction is what is called 'American Exceptionalism', the dictum that American governments are free to ignore international law.

In American political life, international law does not exist. And, for that matter, American law is disposable. It is illegal, for example,  under American and international law to practice torture. The U.S. practices it on a massive scale. But no torturer has ever been prosecuted. The only ones who have been pursued are the ones, like Snowden, who revealed it was happening.

You cannot have a democracy without law. You cannot even have a society without law. The U.S. is no longer a democracy. And it has become increasingly difficult to describe it as a society.


  1. Superb column today. You have outdone yourself.

  2. I don't see your comments in the Moncton Free Press anymore. Great work sir.

    1. I'm in the Moncton Free Press for Feb. 20 - but the print is quite fuzzy at the top of the column.

  3. For a guy who wants to lecture on theology, maybe you ought to start with the 8th Commandment.

    1. Which version of the eighth? It varies.

    2. Catholic numbering. For greater clarity, it's the one about bearing false witness.

  4. Oh. i thought bearing false witness was the key to success in this world.

    1. It certainly seems to be the case for progressive bloggers!