Archive for November 2009

Dragging Canada down pt 1

November 30, 2009

Can you remember a worse foreign minister than Peter McKay? Who would believe this guy anyway after he swore to David Orchard that he would never unite Tories and the Preston Mannings.

This exchange below  is unbelievable. Refusing MPs information while giving it to the generals?

What kind of democracy is this?

As Eric Margolis stated in his Sun column Sunday:
“They are amazingly ignorant or deceiving the nation.”

Mr. Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, We now have the sad spectacle of Mr. Colvin, the three generals yesterday and no doubt Mr. Mulroney today all having access to documents that members of Parliament cannot see. We are barred from having access to information that the government itself has full control of and that ministers and even retired generals can review. We are asked to do our work in total darkness. This is a flagrant case of obstruction of justice.

Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I cannot help the hon. member if he feels he is in the dark.

Just yesterday, the committee passed a motion asking that legally available information be tabled. That will happen. The committee passed a motion seeking those documents. As would be expected on issues that involve [u]national security and sensitive information[/u] that could affect troops in the field, it will be looked at as far as the [u]Canada Evidence Act and National Defence Act[/u] are concerned, always keeping national security front and centre.

Mr. Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, bits of blacked-out documents with key information missing are not disclosure. Non-answers in the House are not disclosure. Rhetorical personal attacks are not disclosure. We need to get at the truth. The international reputation of Canada and our military is at stake here.

Why is the government afraid of a public inquiry to get at the truth?

Advent begins on Palestine Day

November 29, 2009


Sunday, 29th November marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It is the anniversary of the adoption of the UN resolution for the partition of Palestine.

What a perfect day to begin Advent, 4 weeks of waiting for the birth of the Palestinian Jewish Christ child. A perfect convergence. It brings the gospel readings  back to their roots in the oppressed soil of Palestine where Jesus is still being persecuted under Israeli rule.

In the bizarre gospel reading of today, part of the apocalyptic end times view (20 years after the destruction of Jerusalem) which enveloped the time of Jesus we see strange words on the lips of the Galilean, words which we should not take seriously as apocalyptic was in the Jewish air. This type of literature always arrives when stress and oppresion dog a people and they look beyond history for  divine intervention as many did under Roman rule. Luke has taken the Little Apocalypse of Mark 13 and reworked it. Scholars are divided on whether these were actual words of Jesus:

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory

These wild words sure have bent fundamentalists  out of shape.

Most of us contextualize them but take seriously Jesus words to : Keep awake. Look around for signs of hope, signs of the times, Don’t fall asleep.

Christ is coming, always coming—this time as Spirit, the forgotten God.

The Slacker Uprising

November 27, 2009

“Slacker Uprising,” is the least known of Michael Moore’s films. In retrospect it is well worth a watch as a great reminder of the collusion of the major media with the George Bush presidency. As well it reminds us that principled resistance is never futile even though Moore’s intent to defeat Bush failed.

Slacker Uprising follows Moore around the key states which would decide the presidency in 2004. He travelled for 42 days and visited 62 cities only to watch John Kerry blow the big one. Imagine a war shirker like Bush, the “Mission Accomplished” phony who ducked out of Vietnam actually had the gall to impugn Kerry’s war service with the Swift Boat ads. It still boggles the mind as does Kerry’s unbelievable failure to blow Bush out of the water by challenging him on this veery point.

Moore scared the hell out of the Republicans who tried to bribe universities from allowing him to speak. He was having a dramatic effect in city after city but got little help from the silent Kerry.

It was refreshing to watch several artists (REM, Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine frontmen as well as Steve Earle appear with Moore and put their careers on hold—something you would never see other better known pop artists do( Celine Dion, Tony Bennett, you name them) or athletes of distinction speak out.

Moore’s desire was to get the younger generation off their asses and become citizens instead of Slackers.In this he succeeded.The Passive TV heads turned up in greater numbers and the lamentable Kerry took the youth vote.

Moore to his credit allowed his film to be downloaded free on the Internet.He did this as a thank you for people who have supported his work and made him the bestselling documentarian in history.

Catholics will enjoy this film as the work of a man who has truly honoured and built up the public good.

There are a few scenes however which are nauseious.In one of the poorest states, West Virginia  a bunch of right wing Micks actually chanted the Our Father and Hail Mary to ridicule Moore. He let these sad sacks and theological illiterates  have it and reminded them that the gospel is about the poor and what the hell were they doing supporting the Republicans.

Moore also takes on the slovenly press who betrayed the public trust by giving Bush and Cheney a free pass.

It’s on the shelves in video stores and in libraries, a testament to the most effective Catholic in America, a modern day Jeremiah.

Sports and Hebron

November 15, 2009

“Sports is one of the least effective resisters to the machine” wrote cultural critic Lewis Mumford 50 years ago. Spectator sports drains people’s attention from  society’s great questions, substitutes an ersatz identification with “our team” and genuinely arrests our personalities at an adolescent level. Who really cares how Leafs are faring when the climate is burning down?

Last week I attended a Leaf game and had to endure another tribute to soldiers.What pray tell has this got to do with the game? This is how much Don Cherry our national philosopher has infiltrated our Canadian consciousness. When not bashing Europeans he’s plugging an immoral war.

If I wanted this nonsense I’d go to the Moss Park Armouries not the ACC.

The premier American sports writer Dave Zirin, a man who never gives a free pass to the bloated pro athletes, their infrastructure and their depoliticized fans brings this sick item  to our attention.

The New York Mets are allowing the Hebron Fund, a Brooklyn-based non-profit supporting violent and racist Israeli settlers living in the West Bank City of Hebron, to hold a fundraiser at Citi Field on November 21st. The Mets have to date refused to cancel the Hebron Fund dinner despite a letter from 11 US, Palestinian and Israeli organizations documenting that the Hebron Fund, by supporting Israeli settlements in Hebron, violates international law and the Obama administration’s call for a freeze in Israeli settlement construction in Occupied Palestinian Territory. The letter also demonstrates that the Hebron Fund actively promotes racial discrimination against Palestinians, and it supports, at least indirectly, violence and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes in Hebron.

In a tragic irony, the Hebron Fund dinner is being held directly above the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field. Jackie Robinson broke the barrier of racial discrimination in baseball and his legacy is actively promoted by the New York Mets and Major League Baseball.


A faux Remembrance Day

November 11, 2009


Remembrance Day is to end all wars. Hard to take Stephen Harper and his poppy seriously when he keeps sending kids to die in Afghanistan, Paul Martin’s sop to the Americans. Hard to take Remembrance Day seriously when we have a war budget—$20 billion over the next 15 years. That buys a lot of infrastructure and health care and who pray tell is going to attack Canada?We’ll never be a serious warrior culture.We were an excellent peacekeeping brigade. We could have been in in Haiti rather than that historical trap

Eamonn McCann recently wrote:

And it should be remembered, too, that the vast majority of the fallen are Afghanis. But pride? Ought they not rather be remembered with anger? Just as we should recall the unnumbered dead of World War One not with reverence but with rage? Then, as now, young people fresh-faced from school were flung to their death like fistfuls of chaff for no cause that any working-class person had an interest in. The millions died so a tiny elite could rule the waves and rob the world.

The purpose of the poppy is to sentimentalize this slaughter, to conceal a crime against humanity under a cloak of soft emotion.

Wilfrid Owen’s reminder:


Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares2 we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest3 began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas!7 Gas! Quick, boys! –  An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets8 just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime9 . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud12
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest13
To children ardent14 for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

8 October 1917 – March, 1918

Ft. Hood

November 10, 2009

Russell Longcore writes:

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Part of PTSD is the mental anguish military personnel experience when they have done unspeakable things in war that conflicts with their moral code. How do you live with yourself when your actions caused the deaths of women and children who never did anything to deserve death? How do you cope with seeing thousands of people bombed out of their homes and turned into refugees? How do you cope with seeing your buddies blown to bits by IEDs? How do you deal with the disease, displacement and death that your very presence in a foreign country delivers? Most military personnel live through it, albeit mentally tortured.

Suicide rates in the military. News stories about alarmingly high suicide rates in the military have been surfacing since 2001 when the US began its military adventures in Iraq. The fact that military personnel have been deployed multiple times is a giant factor. The fact that National Guard and Reservists have also been deployed to “the sandbox” multiple times is another suicide factor. Finally, soldiers see…and cause…thousands of civilian deaths in both countries. The military personnel ask “what are we doing here?” and find no answer. They can’t escape their service, can’t desert their post and hop a plane for home, find themselves 5,000 miles from home with no solutions, or are scheduled for a mandatory deployment that they cannot avoid without court martial. So, in hopelessness and despair, many kill themselves.”

Yes —and their names are never  GW Bush, the war shirker who started this mess. His daddy got him out of Vietnam—though he did show up in miltary gear proclaiming “mission accomplished”. Thousands of needless deaths followed because this manchild playing at war put so many innocents at risk—mostly Iraqi citizens.

Their names are never Dick Cheney who had 5 deferments in Vietnam because “he had better things to do.” Another depicable chicken hawk who cavalierly sent kids to an early graves while he played war games as a chess board.

Common good trashed

November 6, 2009


John and Doug wait almost 7 hours

There they go to the head of the line—the privileged, the powerful and those with little respect for that cardinal virtue of Catholic Social Teaching: the common good.

It was nice to see the media cover those “me- and my kids first” citizens who vaulted over the unwashed to get their H1N1—the power couple, Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz, Tannenbaum of the Raptors and Leafs and all those hockey players in the heart of capitalist Canada, the Calgary Flames the home of Stevie Harper.  The latter in his abysmal failure to prepare for this pandemic seems set on proving that governments, the only ones who can logically organize for  collective well being, is in fact a failure. Everybody look after themselves while we pour money down the military rat hole.

This of course gives rise to those  who wish to demonize our collectivity. Like Doc Robblen an Ottawa sawbones who wrote in this vein to the Globe and Mail (Nov.3) about “the lesson for all Canadians-Never let the government run anything of importance.” It was troglydytes like this that Tommy Douglas had to fight when he pioneered Medicare in Saskatchewan in 1944.You can bet that Robblen accepts his government cheque for his healing ministrations.

There they were, two of my grandsons with their dutiful dad standing in line last Saturday  from 7 AM to 1:30 while these selfish folks vaulted to the front.

The common good baby—that’s where it’s at.

The hidden costs

November 4, 2009


The great Canadian public affairs show the 5th Estate had a fascinating hour on Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome as experienced by  our Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. The victims were very articulate in their own way.

One returning soldier who was driven to near suicide talked about how difficult It was for a “warrior” to admit his weakness and undergo therapy.The army itself was just coming to terms with the number of these  victimns of this stupid war we Canadians got ourselves involved in. Promoted heavily by poster boy Rick Hillier who heavily championed it saying to Paul Martin it would give us more credibility with the USA.  And the Martinites bought it to our everlasting disgrace.

What were we thinking?

The piece de resistance  in the 5th Estate show  was Senator Romeo Dallaire speaking about his own 4  failed suicide attempts and his ongoing therapy.

And then the shocking statistic: Over 102,000  US vets had killed themselves after VIetnam. That is twice as many as US soldiers who died in that ungodly war, one which eventuated in the death of over 1 million Vietnamese civilians.

The old lie, as Wilfred Owen said after WW1,  Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori: How sweet it is to die for your country.

The poppy brigade

November 1, 2009


Frank Magazine justifiably mocked the “too early and trying too hard” earnest Canadians  to  wear the poppy as we moved to November 11. These guys—Preston Manning was always among the first—couldn’t wait to show how patriotic they were and voila, there was the poppy in October. Most of these uber-patriots of course did little to create peace.They were always boosting war expenditures and cutting aid to the Third World etc.

As Christians they were part of the “Pull yoyurself up by your bootstraps” crowd.

Harperites today.

“Patriotism—the last  refguge of the scoundrel” according to Dr Johnson. Ambrose Bierce was closer to the truth“” With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first,”

Well a group in England wishes to move beyond sentimentalism and give us a real Rememebrance Day. Read on Macduff.

London, UK – NOV 2, 2009 A new report ahead of Remembrance Day is recommending a deeper and more meaningful form of remembrance that encompasses both soldiers and civilians on all sides in all wars.

Released today by the thinktank Ekklesia, its suggestions include an honest acknowledgement that some did “die in vain”, an end to “selective remembrance” and making Armistice Day a bank holiday. It follows the death of the “last Tommy”, Harry Patch, who described Remembrance Day as “just show business”.

Remembrance has been ‘cheapened’ it says by a failure to back up words with action, particularly when it comes to successive Government’s care for war veterans, but also the lack of resources put into peacebuilding.

It traces the development of Britain’s remembrance tradition and makes a series of proposals about how Remembrance Day might be updated and made more accessible to future generations, making the way we remember war more truthful and inclusive.