Archive for February 2008

Making the rounds in Alberta

February 28, 2008

ARE YOU A TORY SHEEP, TOO?

I love being SHEARED (energy deregulation-$8 billion and counting), 

FLEECED, (uncollected royalties-$4 billion plus), SHORN, (Who needs the boreal forest?)  INSULTED, (Question Period),

SPIED ON, (EUB), 

 PENNED UP IN THE DARK,

 (Mr. Oberg, tell us where the skeletons are.),

HAVING THE WOOL PULLED OVER MY EYES, (Transparency??)

LED ASTRAY, (by  Bureau of Public Affairs spin doctors)  and

HERDED (Of course you’re going to vote for us again. There’s no one else to vote for.).

 I’m PROUD to be a Tory sheep. 

 

I’m a Tory sheep

and I’d like to keep the Getty, Klein, Stelmach brand of

 government in Alberta for another  37 years

  

Milton Friedman, give back your Nobel

February 22, 2008

You gotta love Adbusters.

They are out to correct a major injustice: the Nobel Prize in economics to the Ayn Rand buff, Milton Friedman the influential leader of laissez faire turbocapitalism. Friedman  who sent his rabid disciples all over the world to deregulate markets and simply watch the trickle down social benefits (never happened and never paid any attention to the ecological fall out or the cruel unemployment) accrue.Not that Uncle Miltie was the only economist  who was beloved by the jury of neoclassical brethren.

Adbusters are also  recommending that the brilliant disciple of Keynes, JK Galbraith take his place. The great Galbraith like many of his disciples always asked the question: what’s an economy for?

Galbraith always infuriated the neoclassical  team because he had so much more influence than they they did.

All over the world young economists are revolting against the chart people who have never factored humans and the environment into their silly anti-human games.

About time. 

New pundits, please

February 20, 2008

Gore Vidal mockingly called his country “the United States of Amnesia.” It is difficult to remember and have serious thoughts when Disneyworld runs on a 24/7 loop, rapidly erasing memory and critical thinking. In a recent book The Age of American Unreason  writer Susan Jacoby, says that  only 57 per cent of Americans claimed to have read a work of non-fiction in 2002, and as she says the problem isn’t that so many people in 21st-century America know so little; it’s that so few know they don’t know.” They are out of it. Jacoby goes on to say that “The nation’s memory and attention span may already have sustained so much damage that they cannot be revived by the best efforts of America’s best minds.” 

Given the constant assault by promoters of the fun culture —the text messagers, TV addicts, Facebook stars, can this wired country be far behind?

The surest sign of mass amnesia is that the pundits who promoted the lies of the Bush administration–the Frums, Kondrakes, Kristols, Adelmans,Wolfowitz et al are still appearing on TV! No shame at all. As if nothing had happened. Iraq with a minimum of 700,000 dead ( no matter they live somewhere else), 3,900 US kids.

Can not the free press find other commentators with integrity? 

Stagnant wages for workers not for the owners

February 15, 2008

The New York Times recently reported that America’s median hourly wage is barely higher than it was 35 years ago, adjusted for inflation. The income of a man in his 30s is now 12 percent below that of a man his age three decades ago. Most of what’s been earned in America since then has gone to the richest 5 percent.

In other words, unlike the neocon promise, the trickle down theory never worked. and the corporate class successfully lobbied for greater tax breaks for themselves thereby putting the squeeze on the middle class to make up the difference.

The rich devote a smaller percentage of their earnings to buying things than the rest of us because, after all, they’re rich. They already have most of what they want. Instead of buying, and thus stimulating the American economy, the rich are more likely to invest their earnings wherever around the world they can get the highest return.

Juliet Schorr (The Overworked American) discovered that the average worker  now works 6 weeks a year longer than he/she did in 1971. The corporate class gave us all computers  to take home and the extra time we worked turned into money and profits for them and stagnant wages for the rest.

Ordinary folks know something is terribly wrong but are diverted by the neocons and religious right who focus on the cultural issues (prayer in the school etc) and ignore the socioeconomic theft which has taken place under the Republicans. The Democrats are just as bad. As Gore Vidal used to say, “In America there is one party-with two branches.”

It boggles the mind to believe that people would fall for Bush l and 2 on the grounds they cared and were religious. The people’s credit cards are maxed out and the bills are coming due as billions are wasted on foreign wars. Who will ever forget “Mission Accomplished”?

Maybe Obama can help the people rise up. There is no hope with the Clintons. 

Another reason for voting for bishops

February 13, 2008

Two students drowned in early February near Barry’s Bay in the Ottawa Valley

The local paper The Daily Observer quoted the Bishop of Pembroke Michael Mulhall as say ing that God knows the school and the community at large can deal with it and take something good away from tragedy.

Surely new insights, re-evaluations occur in boundary situations like this but listen to the bishop reflecting on this sad event:

“He has seen fit that a community like the academy can accept what’s happened or He wouldn’t let it happen,” 

He added their deaths are a blessing that everyone who knew Paul and Janine should accept with open arms.

Is this man serious? Their deaths are a blessing?  Wonderful consolation for the parents.

God the puppet master is back, doling out death as a blessing. Lives cut short to give such blessings!.

Strange God.

“He has allowed you the grace for this to happen and to change your lives,” he said. “You must look forward in hope.”

I look forward to the time we can vote for our ecclesial leaders.

Lies, lies and no impeachment

February 11, 2008

In a recent article the Catholic prophet Benedictine nun Joan Chittister quoted (http://www.Publicintegrity.org) that GW Bush and his top administration officials issued more than 900 false statements on “at least 532 separate occasions” about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks. More than 900. 532 times.

Yet because of the craven performance of the Democratic Party and its house leader Nancy Pelosi there has been no attempt at impeachment.

Over 3,500 Americans have come home in body bags, several hundred of whom had to join the military to get an education which should be owed to every citizen in the wealthiest country in human history. The number of American deaths  are less than 1% of the Iraqi deaths caused by the lies of this evil administration.

The US bishops apparently are not outraged by the egregious breaking of two commandments “thou shalt not kill” and thou shalt not bear false witness.”They were however overly exercised in the last election by Catholic politicians voting for same sex marriage.

Is there something wrong here?

Oh What a Lovely War

February 8, 2008

Up to your waist in water,

Up to your eyes in slush,

Using the kind of language,

That makes the sergeant blush.

Who wouldn’t join the army?

That’s what we all inquire;

Don’t we pity the poor civilian,

Sitting beside the fire.

Oh, oh, oh, it’s a lovely war,

Who wouldn’t be a soldier, eh?

It’s still around and still worth watching on DVD- Richard Attenborough’s adaptation of Joan Littlewood’s Oh What a Lovely War, a savage send up over the stupidity of war. Made in 1969 and featuring la creme de la creme of British cinema (Olivier, John Mills, the Redgraves,  Gielgud etc) it is at the same time very funny and extremely sad. The same attitudes are still with us. War as adventure, sport, us vs them, patriotism the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Only the Brits could have made this savage satire. They saw the cream of Great Britain sacrificed for nothing in the mud of France and Belgium. The contrast between the grunts in the field with their bitterly ironic songs and the true believers sending them off to war is painful to watch.

Using all those music hall songs of the period plus the shocking jingoism and sentimentality which always surrounds the tribe and the homeland, OH hits all the right historical notes. Loos, Verdun, Ypres, Somme, Paschendaele and all the stale rhetoric—home by Christmas, it’ll soon be over, King and Country—as Wilfrid Owen said—”the old lies, it is sweet and lovely to die for your your native land.” We even see the heartbreaking Christmas truce of 1916 where the Ger mans and the Brits sang silent Night, exchanged gifts—and then started firing on each other. Like a Greek chorus a silent nurse keeps adding to the mortality scoreboard throughout the film while John Mills as General Haig tries to convince us that one more push should do it. You’ll want to scream.

This is a DVD rental which should be seen in every high school in  Acadie, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Pembroke and all those places where the Canadian army now promotes war to our everlasting shame and embarrassment. All these kids, many  who have failed to launch by their mid 20s, served up by the Harperites and Rick “Kill the scumbags” Hillier—for what? To appease Uncle Sam for not going into Iraq.

Where we could have made difference was Haiti but that was too close to Canada, too much like real peacekeeping instead of this fruitless war we are now engaged in.

Add to this the failure of the Canadian Bishops to make a strong statement on the way our country has exchanged peace for war.

Oh What a Lovely War? Best movie you’ll see this month—maybe next to the latest Rambo.

Show me your cheque book

February 6, 2008

A 2004 UNICEF report on the State of the World’s Children found:

* One in six of the children on the planet were severely hungry

* One in seven had no access to health care

* One in five had no safe water

* One in three had no toilet or sanitation facilities at home

* 640 million children did not have adequate shelter

* 140 million children, the majority of them girls, had never been to school

More than 10 million child deaths were recorded in 2003, with an estimated 29,158 children under 5 dying from mostly preventable causes every day.

29,158. Under 5. Every day. From preventable causes.

And it’s not much better today.

Look what the Christian nation is spending on war:

On Monday Feb. 4, the Pentagon unveiled its proposed 2009 budget of $515.4 billion. If it is approved in full, annual military spending, when adjusted for inflation, will have reached its highest level since World War II.

Again, budgets are moral documents. Show me your cheque book and I’ll tell you who you are.

Born again? Revise your national cheque book or stop the hollow Jesus talk. 

Cathletics and Empire: a toxic brew

February 4, 2008

My brother Paul, a principal in the Catholic school system knows how to wind me up and get me going.

Recently he sent me a warning about a book which should be in my collection, one promoted by amazon.com   All American: Football, Faith, and Fighting for Freedom (Paperback). Their description right off the bat warns you off this piece of nonsense.

Robert McGovern 4 years as an NFL   linebacker uses his Catholic education and football experience to write a pathetic justification for the Iraq disaster. And this guy has a law degree from Fordham! 

Here is part of Amazon’s review:

McGovern conflates them with unnamed straw men who allegedly want to coddle Osama bin Laden. It all merges into a manifesto, complete with broadsides denouncing drugs and supporting the death penalty, a touch of France-bashing and jockishly cloying salutes to lawyer colleagues (“Deep down inside, John is really just a big old Teddy bear”), revered coaches and other all-Americans. McGovern’s stay-the-course cheerleading seems irrelevant to the agonizing quandaries confronting America in Iraq or the results of the recent elections. 

Now Paul who in a darker and more innocent period of his life was a good high school end and a punter for our alma mater Saint Mike’s and he shares my decidedly mixed review of the “Cathletics” which held sway there and at many Catholic schools. And I know he was chuckling when he sent me the description. But he succeded. I went off like a rocket.

20 years ago I wrote a series of articles on this phenomenon and 30 years ago I wrote a manifesto saying that it was time Catholic schools got out of football entirely. My argument was based on philosophical and theological grounds. Football I maintained should never be promoted in a Catholic school. It is simply much too violent. There are now better, more civilized  options available with much less violence.

Happily my prediction came true. More and more schools dropped football, probably for cost reasons rather than on my argument that in this time in history it should go the way of boxing and smoking—throwbacks to a less enlightened past. The rise of feminism challenged the old boys club as well and the money spent just on helmets could have easily funded female sports programs. Sadly there are still a few true believers about the value of football in Catholic schools. They will love McGovern’s book.

 

This sad paean of praise to the worst instincts of Empire USA and to a trivialization of Catholic values is deeply troubling.

Reagan and Clinton

February 1, 2008

“The Reagan-Bush year have exalted private gain over public obligation, special interests over the common good, wealth and fame over work and family. The 1980s ushered in a Gilded Age of greed and selfishness, of irresponsibility and excess, and of neglect.”

BILL CLINTON’S INAUGURAL 1992

Clinton was exactly right. Reagan,Charlie McCarthy to the corporate class which had always used his folksy ways to turn back the gains of workers and The FDR years of the 30s, was an abject failure as a president. He did succeed in his expanding the gap between the rich and the poor. He also ran up a deficit greater than all his predecessors in the Oval Office. Yet he was lionized by the Republican Party, the putative slayer of deficits.

He did make America feel good about its imperial past and paved the way for more plutocracy under Bush One  and Two.

The sad question is what happened to poor Bill Clinton, the $100,000 per speech man?

An American tragedy. 

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