Saturday, July 2, 2016

July 2: a change of pace.

Wow! A blast from the past. I had forgotten about this site from my TV days until my son sent it to me.

This, along with a couple of items in today's irving press got me to thinking how we cannot understand events simply by talking about them in newspaper style. Today, for example, we have yet another Brian Murphy column designed to offend no-one. He mentions how President Kennedy's father had to struggle against anti-Catholic feeling in the U.S.

Puhlease.  Kennedy's father as a mobster, killer, and bootlegger in a class with Al Capone. He used his position as American ambassador to Britain early in world war 2 to plunder British companies for his personal fortume. I don't know how devout he was; but he did not let the scriptures get in the way of his pleasures. He had countless affairs; and he made it a point that his wife should know all about them.  Once, crossing the Atlantic by ship, he shared a cabin with a movie star while his wife was in the cabin next door. He commonly brought girlfriends home, nodding to his wife and any guests who might be there, then heading upstairs to the bedroom for fun time.

He raised his sons to be just like him. Thus John F. Kennedy's scarcely secret affair with Marilyn Monroe.

Then there's today's story on Beaumont-Hamel where the Newfoundland Regiment was destroyed on July 1, 1916.  The regiment had drawn on fathers and sons of military age all over the province. In many outports, it took all the sons and fathers of military age. And, after July 1, 1916,   many of the outports, with their families, would never see them again.

In the story,  Newfoundland MP Seamus O'Grady furiously denied that the men were "colonial cannon fodder sacrificed by indifferent generals". No. They were brave men "who did not shrink from their duty."

In fact, they had no choice. If they had not climbed over the top to advance, they would have been shot by their own officers. Once over the top, They couldn't charge in glamorous style because they were loaded down with rifles and equipment. And they couldn't stop to shoot back.  They could only plod over a  huge stretch of flat and open land into the fire of machine guns, rifles and artillery. Over 90% of them were killed. None ever had a chance to fire a shot.
Shouldn't this tell us something about their generals? The commander for this battle was Field Marshall Earl Haig, one of the most incompetent asses in the history of warfare. And that's not surprising.

The British officer corps of that period was the dumping ground for the less intelligent sons of the British upper classes. Haig owed his rank to that and to his influence at the court. He spent the war struggling for rank and status, with no evidence he gave a damn about those who died because of his incompetence. How's that for an indifferent general?

(The American general, "Black Jack" Pershing was even worse.)
 The British government wanted to get rid of Haig, and to put in his place an outstanding Canadian general that MP Seamus O'Grady has probably never heard of -   Sir Arthur Currie.                  But the government  couldn't get past Haig's influence with the royal family.

As for being  'colonial cannon-fodder', that's exactly what they were And, contrary to what Mr. O'Grady seems to think, this had nothing to do with courage or duty.

In the 1870s, we suddenly find the British talking about how wonderful the  "English-speaking world" was. In particular, this sentiment was aimed at the U.S. There is even mention of it in a Sherlock Holmes story when Holmes meets an American,  and bursts into an impassioned speech about that "terrible misunderstanding" of 1775 - and how the English-speaking world, especially the U.S. and Britain should re-unite.

This reunion was a passion of Winston Churchill's life, too. That's why he wrote his History of the English-speaking Peoples. Why this sudden passion for the English-speaking peoples?

It was because most of the German-speaking peoples united to create modern Germany. And a united Germany would soon develop the industrial power to challenge British industry. It would also be large enough to back up its economic strength with military strength. Britain needed all the friends it could get. Thus the sudden, almost spiritual, belief in the unity of the English-speaking peoples.
But Canada could be a problem. It was next door to the U.S. The U.S. had invaded Canada once, and had sponsored other invasions. (In fact, it would theaten invasion again early in the 1900s, a threat that was averted only because the British agreed to allow the US to take land that Canada claimed on the Alaska panhandle. Canada was important to Britain. But the U.S. was far, far more important. By the 1880s, Britain was searching for ways to get rid of its responsibility to defend Canada.

But the 1890s  saw a sudden reversal of British needs. War with Germany seemed close, and the U.S. was still showing no sign of being interested in "the English-speaking peoples".

Britain needed all the English-speaking peoples it could get - and the only ones it could get in a hurry  were the colonies, especially Australia, New Zealand ---and Canada. But there was a problem. Colonies were not legally required to fight British wars. Britain needed a precedent.

The precedent was handy. The wealthy British wanted a war with South Africa, essentially against the Dutch farmers who controlled the two states there. The wealthy wanted to steal the gold mines of those states. Now, Britain didn't need help against the tiny, white population of South Africa. But it did need a precedent for the English-speaking colonies to fight for Britain.

So the wealthy of Canada  (who owed their fortunes to the British Empire) were told to beat the drums for empire, and to use the newspapers and politicians that they owned to clamour for war against South Africa - a war that had nothing to do with any Canadian interest, and nothing to do even with defending Britain.
Some 270 Canadians were killed in that war. Many more were made ill for life. And that,Mr. Seamus O'Grady, is what is called "colonial cannon-fodder". So please don't feed us that crap about dying for the King or Queen. They died  so British billionaires could steal gold.

Canada's Robert Service wrote of it...

But the precedent was set. And so, barely a dozen years later ,  Newfoundlanders cheered as fathers and sons marched onto the ships to die at Beaumont-Hamel.
Reading the news or listening to stirring  political speeches seldom tells us anything about reality. History is a much better teacher. Nations act because - well, it's n because of glory or serving the Queen or spreading democracy. It's not even because of the nation. It's because of the power and nfluence of dominant groups particularly dominant economic groups. And for over a century now, the news media have been their major tool -along with the help of the movie industry.

Now, think. Why did Canada send troops to Afghanistan? Why did we bomb Libya? Why have we sent troops to Iraq? Why has Trudeau now offered to send a thousand to Eastern Europe?

In South Africa, we were used as tools of economic imperialists. We were then a colony of Britain.

We are now, in land area, the largest colony of the United States.  To understand the news, we first have to see the realities of human behaviour.
There's only one story worth reading in the irving press. It's the story on the next step in privatizing health care - privately owned blood clinics. Mr. Gallant is in favour. Of course. And we are actually going to pay them to set up business. (So when does Gallant decide to issue free guns to bank robbers? It would create jobs.)

In our Christian societies, thoroughly sunk in greed, corruption, mass murder, poverty, imposed starvation, torture, the Faith page reminds us to go to church while at the summer cottage.

I think Jesus would have noticed other things.

Maybe the irving chapel will  notice the other things. But I doubt it. Count on seeing one, tame duck in the pulpit.
For some reason, I'm having trouble with The Guardian site. There's at least one opinion column that's good on Brexit. (But, for some reason, it won't copy.) Anyway, I've begun to realize that all these items on Brexit miss the point.
Brexit it not a crisis caused by the British. And it's not a reaction of misguided people. The real disaster is that a world economic system based on greed and corruption and war is collapsing. It has been happening for a long time. The trigger for the greater collapse was pulled by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan - with minor assisstance from Brian Mulroney.

Putting capitalists in charge has failed. It has become a disaster on both sides because we have failed to look at anything else in all those years. Rule by capitalism has been a disaaster. It has actually spread poverty and violence and mass murder. But it's a disaster for all sides because we have neglected working on -anything else.

In Britain, the vote against the EU was a vote against poverty. That poverty was the direct result of a government system that put all power into the hands of a capitalist bureaucracy which, in turn, looted everybody but the very rich. In Britain, the Labour Party  which might have provided some moderation was destroyed by Tony Blair. So it that the alternative to disaster could only be another disaster.

This general pattern is true of most of the EU, true of Canada, and true of the U.S. where the only alternatives are the disasters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

We are facing a problem much bigger than just Britain. It is a world problem.
An example of the problem is our embrace of tax havens. Where the hell have the Canadian news media been on this one? Uncounted billions of dollars have been stolen from us. Who is doing it? What has it cost us? What to Trudeau and Gallant have to say about this?

We  have lost billions of dollars, money that is needed for health care, education, basic nutrition, housing. And nobody is saying boo. And, if I am to judge by the Faith page, Jesus wouldn't care about our levels of mass theft, mass murder , enforced poverty.....

Brexit is not the problem Brexit is a sign of a much, much bigger problem.
Sorry I'm having trouble with my computer. I can't corrent spelling ,either, without rewriting everything.
This is a sample of the problem. The writer of this column, by the way, counts Canada as an American colony.
Only a small part of this story will come up because I don't yet have a subscription to Haaretz.

But you need only that small part. Israel refuses to negotiate a peace deal with Palestine.  The reason is because Palestine insists that Israel stop stealing Palestinian land - and that it return the land it has already stolen - the so-called settlements.

Palestine won't accept any deal without the return of its land. This has the makings of a very, great disaster because Israel not only refused to return land, but constantly takes more.

1. The days of mass migration of Jews to Israel are over. In fact, many Israeli Jews are now returning to Europe.
2. Israel has a large population of Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. They're treated like dirt. But they have larger families than Jewish Israelis have.
Add  one and two. Israel's days are numbered. I would normally not quote Henry Kissinger. But he gives Israel at life expectancy of a dozen years. I think he's right.
I know it's a waste of time to ask Moncton city council to think about an urban plan. But here's an item that could suit Moncton very well.

By the way, I once knew a very wealthy man who owned a large, apartment building. His apartment was on the roof, with a huge lawn and gardening area. Very pleasant on a summer evening.
This one strayed into a lot of me talking. Sorry. But I saw basic issues - like Canada's wars, the general collapse that brexit is just a sign of, the almost complete collapse of Christianity,...

And remember, spelling mistakes are not my fault. I can't correct them without rewriting everything. (I'm computer illiterate.)

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