Monday, November 7, 2016

Nov. 7: A slow day.

If patriotism were used to do what is best for our country, it would be admirable. But that almost never  happens. Instead, patriotism is manipulated to justify the killing and looting of other countries to benefit the very wealthy. That's what empires are all about. I thought of that as I read about Mr. Khan, who is now campaigning for Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Khan is the man whose son was an American soldier who was  killed in Iraq.  Mr. Khan, and his family, are Muslim. He joined the Hillary Clinton election team to criticize Mr. Trump for his verbal attacks on Muslims. Hand on heart, Mr. Khan passionately defended his son's patriotism in giving his life for his country.

That can be admirable. But not always.

The son went to kill Muslims in Iraq. Why?  The Muslims in Iraq had NOT threatened to attack the U.S. Nor was it even possible for them to do that. Worse, Bush and Tony Blair both lied about 'weapons of mass destruction' which, in fact didn't exist. That has been confirmed by studies conducted by the British
government. For that matter, we were never even told what the term 'weapons of mass destruction' meant. We still haven't been told.

How on earth did killing Muslims who couldn't in any way endanger the U.S. do anything to benefit America or to show patriotism?

The answer is that it didn't. The benefit was only for a handful of oil billionaires. But there was Mr. Kahn with his hand on his heart speaking as if patriotism were the highest expression of human existence.

Patriotism was the note Hitler sounded when he turned his armies loose, and when he rounded up Jews and Roma. We  hanged some Naziis for what they had done. But, hey, those people were surely just as noble and patriotic as Mr. Kahn with his hand on his heart.

Some of the worst butcheries and the worst lootings in history have been done in the name of patriotism. The guards who tortured prisoners in Afghanistan were being patriotic. The Britiish who killed and looted a fifth of the world were patriots. And before patriotism, in the days of the Crusades, the same slaughtering and looting were carried out in the name - of all things -of Christianity.

There's nothing wrong with being patriotic in doing something for the benefit of one's country - if that means for the benefit of all the people.The old, CCF party was founded for that purpose - as was the Green Party. But for the Liberals and the Conservatives, patriotism - even before Confederation- has always meant serving the rich and influential.

Patriotism, by itself, doesn't justify anything. Whatever we do we should do in the light of religious values, personal values,and of giving benefit to the whole of our society. Patriotism, by itself, is simply a device to be used by the influential to whip the unthinking into line.

The irving press is hopeless. Section A is trivia. Even Alec Bruce's column is feeble. He says the political parties should work together for the good of New Brunswick. No, they shouldn't. The whole idea of parties in a democracy is that they are supposed to offer different views of what society needs. If they're all working together, we don't need parties - or elections.

In reality, course, the Liberals and Conservatives do work for the same boss. So both are working together for the same little circle.

American election coverage? Big stories on the Trump and Clinton (feeble) connections with Canada. Lots of BIG pictures about nothing in particular. No mention of the confict that has us on the edge of nuclear war.
Here is a story that is quite likely to end in tragedy. Britaiin agreed to give Hong Kong back to China in 1997. China then agreed that Hong Kong could keep its political system - government by a Legislative Council. Recently, however, China has broken that promise, and wants Hong Kong to be subject to the rule of Beijing. And now,  furious Hong Kongers are in the streets demanding  independent democracy.

There is no possibility they will get it.

A very sad part of this story  does not appear in the news accounts of it. The reality is that Hong Kong had never had democracy in its more than a hundred and fifty years of British rule. It was run by a British governor - which invariably meant rule by arrogance and racism.  To the end of British rule, almost every news story in the Hong Kong papers was about the governor. He ruled directly, sometimes through a coterie of appointed figures. One of the latter, the governor's secretary, was a man I knew. Very much a product of imperial Britain, he was arrogant, arbitrary, and contemptuous of the people he ruled.
However, as it became clear that Britain's days of rule were numbered, the British made some gestures toward democracy. And those gestures are what has given rise to a demand for full democracy from Beijing.

This could become quite terrible. And i fear for my many friends in Hong Kong - a hundred and fifty years the victims of Britain - and now of China.
Morocco has figured out that climate change is happening - with deadly effect. (So have other countries. See the items below this story.) The change is already showing up as severe hunger and growing instability which will mean mass   (and chaotic) shifts of population. But not to worry. Our oil industry says it isn't happening. So it's prefectly safe to burn oil for decades to come.
Electian fraud is as old as elections in just about every country that has elections. In earlier days here in New Brunswick, for example, voters had to step forward  (publicly) to say in a loud, clear voice who they were voting for. And that had consequences in a colony in which a handful of employers decided who would get a job, and who wouldn't.

 I have seen many elections in Canada in which votes were arbitrarily rejected.

 A friend from South Carolina - who was black - told me how he and other blacks were rejected for their inability to answer long and obscure questions about the constitution. Electronic voting simply adds another trick to the game.
And here are some stories about wikkileaks that you won't find in the irving press.
And this one is short. But be sure you read it to the last line.
There's yet another war in the middle east that the irving press hasn't noticed. It's a bit complicated - a war within a war within a war.....

Kurds want their own state. A hundred years ago, they fought Britain for it. They've now committed a major force to take the Iraq city of Mosul - but nor for Iraq. It's for themselves. And in a war within that war, Turkey is determined to annex parts of Iraq, possibly of Syria.  Parat of the reason is to prevent the rise of a Kurdish state. And in a war within a war within that war, the U.S. is supplying money, weapons and training to the Kurds to help them fight the Turkish and Iraqi friends of the U.S.
American leaders, notably John Kerry, have been indignant about Russian bombing of Aleppo in Syria. That's quite a charge, coming from the world's leading killer of civilians by bombing.
This is a long one, but worth a full read.
"Libertarian." It sounds like a nice word, doesn't it? Liberty, freedom, democracy. Yeah.

Actually, no. Those who call themselves libertarians are people who want complete freedom - yes. But only for themselves. New Brunswickers should have no trouble recognizing the type.
Our news media are fond of referring to anti-Syrian rebels as 'moderate rebels'.   They aren't, of course, and they never were. For the most part,  they are jihadists, terrorists, closely related to the terrorists who hit the world trade centre and the pentagon on 9/11.

These are the same as those Muslims that Clinton and Trump are pumping people up to hate.  It's one of the things that makes the middle east wars so bizarre that one wonders how or if they can possibly end.
And just for the thrill of being sinful, you might enjoy this awful propaganda from those evil Russians. Why, this is surely something you would never see in any God-fearing western news medium.
If this site is Russian propaganda, it's pretty tame stuff. Certainly, I don't see anything resembling propaganda in this story. The reason I include it is it might serve as a reminder that nobody can ever know in advance how weapons will perform in any war. The British invented the tank in World War 1. They continued research and development of tanks between wars. But their tanks of World War 2 were, until the last days of the war, among the worst in the world.
Hitler embraced the Stuka bomber as a war-winner. In practice, it was a flying coffin. The British praised HMS Hood as a powerful warship. But it blew up on the first shot to hit it.

How would this ship work in practice? How will any weapon work in practice in a new war? Who knows?
Here's a sample of pretty courageous reporting from Israel. Haaretz is no respecter of leaders just because they got elected.
Here's something unusual -  a poem as a news story. Only in Haaretz....
And this was irresistable.
So what does all this news add up to?

1. the world is spending monstrous sums of money on weapons. And that translates into hundreds of millions of people, including in North America, without adequate access to food, to medical care, to survival.
2. It means that dealing with climate change is pushed aside - and that failure is going to lead to massive disorder, population movements, panics, and violence. Everywhere. Including where you are.

3. Propaganda power, reflected in news media, popular film, TV, and false history has come to exercise a hypnotic effect on us. And that effect is blocking us from dealing with 1 and 2.

4. Real power is exercised by a tiny minority of people in this world. And all of those people are interested only in making money for themselves.

5. All of this is leading to a general anger and violence - as we are seeing in early form in the Trump campaign. Because of the power of propaganda and myth in our understanding of what is going on, the anger and violence will simply make things worse. (Nor do I suggest this is a reason to support Clinton. It's people like her have created the anger that leads to  violence. It's people like Trump who then channel it into useless anger and violence.)

To be patriotic in all this does not mean sending more Canadians out to kill people. It means learning about what is  happening. It's about encouraging others to think. It's about understanding the needs of people rather than the greeds of billionaires.  it's about us deciding on solutions, and organization to put them in place.

It is most certainly not about voting Conservative or Liberal or Democrat or Republican. They're what put us in this mess.

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