Friday, November 11, 2016

Nov 11: The election of no choice.

Norbert Cunningham has, not surprisingly, a stunningly hackneyed commentary on Remembrance Day. It's all about how Canadians fought to bring peace and freedom to the world.

I wish we had. And I have no doubt our military thought they were fighting for those because that's what we told them. But it's just not true.

We have seen almost nothing but wars since 1945, most of them wars triggered by aggression on our side, particularly from the U.S., Britain and France.  Our military fought for freedom? Our side established dictatorships in Iran (1948), all over the Caribbean and South America. Our best buddy in the Middle East is the dictatorship of Saudi Arabia. And Canada is now supplying that murderous dictator with armoured cars so he can kill more of the starving people of Yemen.
Since 1945, our side has been almost constantly at war, has established the most wide-ranging torture programme in history, has invaded uncounted countries and killed millions. Freedom? We are all spied on by our very own secret police. I don't think that is what most Canadians fought for in any war.

But Norbert read a book - always a dangerous sign - that the world levels of violence are down. Down compared to what, Norbert? We now kill civilians at the greatest rate in history. In the relatively small wars in the Middle East. we have killed in the millions, and refugeed in the tens of millions.
And, in more than seventy years, we have done nothing whatever to end the danger of nuclear war.

For a more intelligent look at Remembrance Day, check out Justin Ryan's column on the opposite page.

For Thursday, Mr. Cunningham had another mindless rant on yet another subject  he knows nothing about - the teaching of literacy. The same edition has a front page headline that's an indicator of the general sloppiness of the journalism (and the illiteracy)  of the irving press. "Mi'kmag sue for province for control of one-quarter of N.B." Read that sentence carefully. This is the lead headline. Like all headlines, it was written by an editor. Now, look for the word that shouldn't be there. And consider. This is the newspaper that criticizes the schools for their teaching of literacy.

Incidentally, I'll be cheering for the Mi'Kmag in this suit. It's the only way they're going to get any fair treatment out of our governments.
I have a love affair with The Guardian that goes back to my teens.  I'm sorry to see how it has become so much more difficult to find useful news and opinion in it. But the opinon below is worth a read. And I think we face some very unpleasant times if we don't pay attention to it.

Capitalism as we practice it is based on greed. And, ultimately, that greed will destroy us - and capitalism itself.
The warning below is certainly true about Trump's likely behavious re climate control - and the result of such behaviour.  However, I don't see how that makes any great change in what is being done now about the climate threat. Let me know if you see any oil billionaires and their bought politicians leading protests against, say, oil pipelines or spraying glyphosates.
Cuba is holding military exercises in case of attack by----? No. Not Haiti. Guess again. Watch for pressure on Canada to play some role in this. (We could do what we did in Haiti - support the U.S. invasion while pretending to to peacekeepers.)
The following is almost the only commentary to even hint at the meaning of what the U.S. election is. Almost all reporting around the world seems to hammer Trump, and be kind to Clinton. But the meaning of this election does not lie  in the personality of either candidate.

The meaning of this election is the collapse of the social,  political and economic structure of the U.S. It really collapsed a long time ago. But the meaning of this election should have been obvious once the two candidates were named. A society that is even remotely healthy does not produce a Clinton and a Trump as the leading figures in a national election.

We are concentrating on the personalities of two people. But that is not the disaster. The disaster is the collapse of American democracy,  collapse that really happened many years ago. Neither Clinton nor Trump caused that disaster. They are, both of them, the rubble of it.
Another sensible item on the U.S. election. Again, the problem is not Clinton or Trump. The problem is the collapse of a system, and the inability of Americans to see any alternative. Some people refer to Democrats as 'left-wonders'. That's absurd. There is no significant left in the U.S. This is a nation that has been drilled for a century and more to a conformity in its thinking, a training in conformity that is emphasized by a twisted form of patriotism.

(Americans actually believe that Muslims are attacking them. Count the dead on each side. Notice where they died. It should be obvious that the U.S. has been doing the attacking and most of the killing. But American thinking can't get beyond their form of patriotism that keeps them in ignorance.)
The following is the most overlooked news story of the year. Forget the rhetoric. This is really what American society and government is about.
And if you think Canada is different and more pure, read this.

Our mining corporations are led by bastards as thoroughly vicious and greedy as any in history.
And here's a story that hasn't made the Canadian press.
And here's one that many people will dislike. But there's a lot of truth in it. For all that it does for veterans, the Canadian Legion has  been strident in its promotion of war and its resistance to any truth about it. I remember well their anger at claims that the RCAF deliberately bombed civilian targets. But it's long since been proven that it did just that. In fact, civilians have since become the major targets of almost all bombing everywhere.

That Canadian airmen did it wasn't their fault. That decision was made by our leaders. But a major reason The Legion was formed in the first place was not so much to help the veterans as it was to defend the ruling class. In Britain, which had the first Legion, it was created so that World War 1 veterans could be called on by the government in case the voters got uppity and demanded frills like health care, access to education....
And here's a very different view of the election result - from the viewpoint of a CIA analyst.
Here's a good example of how complicated (and unpredictable) U.S. policy in the middle east can get.
And here is that 'evil' Russia Today news site. I send the whole thing so readers can look it over - and tell us all what the evil parts are.
I don't think I've used this one before. It's important. And it helps to explain the increasing blandness of The Guardian.
The following is a story of guesses about Trump, largely about how his election will affect Israel. It's worth a read. Trump's knowledge of foreign affairs does not seem to be impressive. But that doesn't chalk up a point for Clinton because her policies in that area have been pretty poisonous.

Mind you, there's also a concern that Trump is profoundly anti-Jewish.

Interestingly, in all the turmoil about the U.S. elections, the lead story  (and several others) was about the death of Leonard Cohen.
And, a thought in summary.

U.S. democracy and, to a major degree, U.S. political values have come crashing down. In this crash, Trump and Clinton are close to irrelevant. They are the products of a massive failure - not the cause of it.

American business leaers, like Canadian ones and British ones, and others have always been greedy and exploitive. They have always created poverty.

Got some Joe Fresh clothing? Know what it came from? Here's a (very kind) report from Financial Post.

There's nothing unusual about that. Dangerous working conditions, underpaid workers, long hours have been staples in the clothing industry for well over a century. In the U.S.,  women locked into their work areas burned alive in fires.
Oh, I know how the irving press is just chock full of stories about how the magic wands of the rich create prosperity for all of us.  And that is pure rubbish.

Business, especially big business, does not exist to create jobs or prosperity. It exists to take money, spending as little as possible in salaries and taxes and on working conditions. That explains the vile conditions and deep poverty that Canadian mining companies have created all over the world.

And big business happily does the same to us.

It has always been that way. But, since the time of Ronald Reagan, it has become much worse. "Free trade" deals have made it possible to move jobs out of Canada to countries that will permit abysmal working conditions and starvation wages. And that has made it possible to reduce salaries for those who stay in Canada.

Oh, yes. Total wealth in Canada and the U.S. have risen greatly. But the greater wealth has not been going out to the workers. It's been going out to the very, very rich - who then bank it in tax havens. That creates deepening poverty for most people. Then our news media (that are almost all owned by the very wealthy) write alarmist editorials about how it's all because we're squandering money on health care and education. Read any edition of the irving press.

The news media have so lied about questions like this that people have no sense of what their real problems are or how they can deal with them. And that produces a Donald Trump who can channel that anger into racial hatreds. And so it is that a multi-millionaire who pays no taxes and is notorious for his treatment of workers can become the hero of people he has abused all his life.

With either Trump or Clinton, there was only one direction the U.S. could go in - down. Watch for more of the same. Watch out for Trudeau to fall into line.

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