Friday, 12 June 2015

The Good Ol' Days

Notwithstanding the propensity of mankind to exalt the past, and to depreciate the present, the tranquil and prosperous state of the empire was warmly felt, and honestly confessed, by the provincials as well as Romans. "They acknowledged that the true principles of social life, laws, agriculture, and science, which had been first invented by the wisdom of Athens, were now firmly established by the power of Rome, under whose auspicious influence the fiercest barbarians were united by an equal government and common language. They affirm, that with the improvement of arts, the human species were visibly multiplied. They celebrate the increasing splendor of the cities, the beautiful face of the country, cultivated and adorned like an immense garden; and the long festival of peace which was enjoyed by so many nations, forgetful of the ancient animosities, and delivered from the apprehension of future danger." Whatever suspicions may be suggested by the air of rhetoric and declamation, which seems to prevail in these passages, the substance of them is perfectly agreeable to historic truth.

It was scarcely possible that the eyes of contemporaries should discover in the public felicity the latent causes of decay and corruption. This long peace, and the uniform government of the Romans, introduced a slow and secret poison into the vitals of the empire. The minds of men were gradually reduced to the same level, the fire of genius was extinguished, and even the military spirit evaporated. The natives of Europe were brave and robust. Spain, Gaul, Britain, and Illyricum supplied the legions with excellent soldiers, and constituted the real strength of the monarchy. Their personal valor remained, but they no longer possessed that public courage which is nourished by the love of independence, the sense of national honor, the presence of danger, and the habit of command. They received laws and governors from the will of their sovereign, and trusted for their defence to a mercenary army. The posterity of their boldest leaders was contented with the rank of citizens and subjects. The most aspiring spirits resorted to the court or standard of the emperors; and the deserted provinces, deprived of political strength or union, insensibly sunk into the languid indifference of private life.

The love of letters, almost inseparable from peace and refinement, was fashionable among the subjects of Hadrian and the Antonines, who were themselves men of learning and curiosity. It was diffused over the whole extent of their empire; the most northern tribes of Britons had acquired a taste for rhetoric; Homer as well as Virgil were transcribed and studied on the banks of the Rhine and Danube; and the most liberal rewards sought out the faintest glimmerings of literary merit. The sciences of physic and astronomy were successfully cultivated by the Greeks; the observations of Ptolemy and the writings of Galen are studied by those who have improved their discoveries and corrected their errors; but if we except the inimitable Lucian, this age of indolence passed away without having produced a single writer of original genius, or who excelled in the arts of elegant composition.  The authority of Plato and Aristotle, of Zeno and Epicurus, still reigned in the schools; and their systems, transmitted with blind deference from one generation of disciples to another, precluded every generous attempt to exercise the powers, or enlarge the limits, of the human mind. The beauties of the poets and orators, instead of kindling a fire like their own, inspired only cold and servile mitations: or if any ventured to deviate from those models, they deviated at the same time from good sense and propriety. On the revival of letters, the youthful vigor of the imagination, after a long repose, national emulation, a new religion, new languages, and a new world, called forth the genius of Europe. But the provincials of Rome, trained by a uniform artificial foreign education, were engaged in a very unequal competition with those bold ancients, who, by expressing their genuine feelings in their native tongue, had already occupied every place of honor. The name of Poet was almost forgotten; that of Orator was usurped by the sophists. A cloud of critics, of compilers, of commentators, darkened the face of learning, and the decline of genius was soon followed by the corruption of taste.

The sublime Longinus, who, in somewhat a later period, and in the court of a Syrian queen, preserved the spirit of ancient Athens, observes and laments this degeneracy of his contemporaries, which debased their sentiments, enervated their courage, and depressed their talents. "In the same manner," says he, "as some children always remain pygmies, whose infant limbs have been too closely confined, thus our tender minds, fettered by the prejudices and habits of a just servitude, are unable to expand themselves, or to attain that well-proportioned greatness which we admire in the ancients; who, living under a popular government, wrote with the same freedom as they acted." This diminutive stature of mankind, if we pursue the metaphor, was daily sinking below the old standard, and the Roman world was indeed peopled by a race of pygmies; when the fierce giants of the north broke in, and mended the puny breed. They restored a manly spirit of freedom; and after the revolution of ten centuries, freedom became the happy parent of taste and science.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Illicit Acts of Government

Illicit Acts

We’ve become so accustomed to the illicit acts of government that we tolerate them. They are nonetheless illicit and as such lack the legitimate authority of properly constituted and enacted law. Illicit acts include lies and deception, concealment, propaganda, fraud, bribery and undue influence, a toxic brew festering in the seats of power in New Brunswick.

The lure of shale gas has stirred up a witches brew of the most outrageous illict acts we could ever imagine. Police bullying, the outing of LaPierre, the outlandish statements of Craig lLeonard, David Alward and the Irving papers, and now the injunction: these are a few of my favourite things.

Law school is 30 years away for me, but I do recall that an ex parte injunction, one granted without notice to the other parties, is granted only in cases of clear urgency and an unarguable legal claim. This is neither. Among other things, the government is the transgressor here, having ignored its constitutional duty to consult with the natives before authorizing natural resource extraction. This injunction should not have been issued without proper notice to the parties affected and an opportunity to present evidence and defend their actions. This is the foundation of our legal system, tossed in the dustbin.

The injunction should not be enforced since it was illicitly solicited from and issued by the judge. They all know this and they also know that efforts to enforce an injunction issued on a non-existent foundation are in blatant bad faith.

Governmental bad faith is the order of the day, but when it becomes this blatant it becomes very difficult to ignore or tolerate.

The government cannot possibly win a debate based on lies and brute force on one side and common sense and reason on the other. The current rash of outrageously illicit behavior by a broad slew of our once trusted and respected elite smacks of desperation, shameful acts they have brought upon themselves since not one of them can muster the courage to own up and do the decent thing.

Tomorrow, let us all stand proudly behind Chief Sock and the warriors for their courageous acts.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Bad Day for David Alward

What a week. At the beginning, David Alward couldn't offer a single new word on how he would deal with the protests on highway 126. By week's end, he had it down: he was planning to begin a consultation with the natives.

Between these two non-events other players, that would have been better advised to stay out of the debate, weighed in with such nonsense that they lost a big chunk of the people that were trying to believe in them.

Today, the growing coalition of people opposed to shale gas exposed the futility of the political output for the week. Natives and non-natives decided this afternoon to stop the trucks, again!

Civil disobedience has become rather mundane in the province of New Brunswick. It is evident that quite a few are willing to defy whatever laws oppose putting their bodies in the way of thumper trucks in the hope we can prevent fracking from destroying our province as has happened elsewhere.

It was a routine affair at first. The protestors were well behaved, the cops so polite one wannabe arrestee (female, non-native) was gently ushered to the far side of the road to await freedom, while the rest were hauled into the paddy wagon.

The party atmosphere ended abruptly when the trucks began moving and three natives, two men and one woman, threw themselves into the path of the thumpers. It seems the police training wore off as they punched the woman, giving her a bloody lip, and threw her and both men on the ground.

David Alward should get out more. Visit David! People do not want shale gas here, there or anywhere. The time for useful discussion (consultation) about exploiting shale gas in New Brunswick was two years ago. Any possibility for you starting a positive dialogue with the native people of this province may have ended today, and I recommend offering gifts.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

David Alward's Dilemma

June 15, 2013
Pyrrhus of Epirus was one of the greatest generals of the ancient world. As a Greek, he won many victories against the Romans, but finally concluded that "If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined".
 So must Premier Alward be thinking today, after yesterday again scoring a signal victory over peaceful protestors, freeing the thumper trucks to continue their vile work. RCMP: 20, Protestors: 0. But today, the thumper trucks were pulled of the road for a 4 day cooling off period, and who can guess when day 5 will arrive?

Trouble is, Alward's shale gas policy has been a disastrous waste of money and integrity, the strategy to evade any meaningful debate on the topic and insinuate shale gas fracking on an unsuspecting population a dismal failure at all points. But Alward, as failing tyrants do, has pushed a stupid strategy way beyond limits of human endurance, and suddenly the entire world is looking at this wholesale abrogation of democratic standards of decency. Sorry David, you are just not as good at this game as your role model Harper.

Your government has no policy, no plan whatsoever to elevate New Brunswick from its dismal economic situation, the result of years of official refusal to face reality and effect any sort of positive change. No, the Irving lure is too much for our mediocre politicians, pre-eminent only in the race for the bottom among Canada’s most uninspired leaders.

Whither now David? You can perhaps follow Sean Graham into slow oblivion, or do New Brunswick a favour , resign, and salvage what remains of your dignity.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Mansbridge on Cynicism

Peter Mansbridge had this to say today:

I confess. A political scandal is a juicy news story and it energizes a newsroom. Chasing down new angles, uncovering more dirt, milking every revelation. Who needs adrenaline when you have that for fuel every day?

But in my heart I know that political scandal is profoundly harmful to the country. Scandal breeds cynicism about the basic fairness of our democracy. And that is crippling.

There's no science in talking to cab drivers, but I always do it when I'm in a province having an election. I ask them how they're going to vote. Way too often they tell me they aren't going to vote. When I ask them why I usually get something like, "It makes no difference. They're all crooks."

I try to persuade them that every vote counts. I tell them which party is in power does make a difference. I argue that most politicians are actually hard working women and men who really do want to make life better for their community.

They laugh at me. And more and more Canadians have decided not to vote in elections. In B.C.'s election this month the turnout was about 48%. Ontario's turnout in the last election was also below 50%. Even in PEI, where the turnout was about 76% in 2011, that was down from 84% four years earlier.

I find it depressing. But frankly it's getting harder to defend politicians.

It's still true, I think, that the overwhelming majority are honest and faithful to the citizens who they serve. But what's with the rest? Is it really that hard to conduct yourself with honour? I'm disappointed that we need a mountain of rules and codes of conduct and ethical guidelines for our politicians. Don't we know right from wrong without a forensic audit?

Can you really be confused about accepting an allowance for living away from home, when you don't live away from home?

When a construction company offers a bribe, how long should it take to say no? Is that not a black and white issue? There's no shade of gray.

When you hire the advertising company that offers to kick back some of the government money it gets to your political party, is there a moral quandary about the propriety of that action?

The Prime Minister says, "Anyone who wants to use public office for their own benefit should make other plans." Too bad he actually has to say that out loud.

Look, none of us is perfect. If we all drove at the speed limit, obeyed all the traffic laws, drove sober, and parked legally, our police forces could concentrate on more serious crimes.

If every Canadian paid all the taxes they're supposed to, the Canada Revenue Agency wouldn't be saying it can't collect about $29 billion in taxes it is owed.

Still, politicians engaging in unsavoury shenanigans are in a special category.

Canada spends billions of dollars every year to defend the country. The money goes to the military, to border security, and to intelligence agencies. The idea is to prevent physical attacks. But the larger purpose is to defend what Canada stands for. We are a democracy. But if the average citizen no longer believes that our system of government is worth defending, we enter a very dangerous area, at least as dangerous as a physical attack. Scandals contribute to just that kind of cynicism. Which is why I have nothing but disdain for politicians who act with greedy self-interest.

My comment went against the grain of opinions on the CBC site:

This article does not sit well. Cynicism does not suddenly erupt with a major public scandal where a bunch of miscreants, the usual suspects in fact, get caught red handed monkeying with the public trust.

Cynicism breeds over years of governments that promise one thing and do something quite different.  Cynicism permeates deeply within the public psyche when governments blatantly lie, abuse the democratic process, oppress the less fortunate, and serve private not public interests.

I admire the CBC greatly, but the Peter Mansbridge daily half hour of pabulum, not so much.  The mainstream media has an important role in forming public opinion.  If the public is cynical about politics, the media has to carry a significant part of the responsibility.

It is good to learn that Peter Mansbridge takes cab rides and has some contact with regular people, but he must generally live in a bubble if he still believes of politicians that " the overwhelming majority are honest and faithful to the citizens who they serve".  Is there any evidence of integrity within the conservative caucus?  These individuals know they are despised by a majority of their constituents for very good reasons.  Robert Goguen in my riding resolutely refuses to have any contact with his constituents except for small private gatherings with those most likely to vote for him, such as his annual Christmas tour of the seniors residences to present a poinsettia. 

If there was a shred of integrity in the conservative caucus, there would be a revolt, at least one or two defections, but as usual nada!  Business as usual as the great leader stonewalls.

If Peter Mansbridge is concerned about cynicism, why doesn't he spend more time covering the very few politicians who do have integrity?  Politicians who speak and act out of principle, and who stand down when it is in the public interest to do so?  How about more time covering the historic genocidal injustice that has been perpetrated on Canada's aboriginal population for centuries, now accelerated under Harper?  Or the irreversible damage being done to the globe, greatly exacerbated by Harper's policies? 

Major scandals are, if nothing else, at least cathartic.  Journalists get to release their pent up rage normally curtailed by their professional ethics, or by their beholden editors.  And Canadians of all stripes get to learn what kind of government they have elected.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Advancement of Knowledge

It has been an incredible and taxing week, or month, depending on how much scope you want to look at.

Personally, and I think many others had a similar experience, the events beginning around the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 was my latest mind flip.  I had just begun a survey of conspiracy theories around 911, but this quickly led to learning about a long series of such theories around wacko, Oklahoma bombing, the shoe bomb, the underwear bomb, child prostitution rings leading right to the White House, Sandy Hook, and Benghazi.  I am sure I am missing some because the literature spans a range that gradually extends beyond one’s limit of even potential credulity.  But humans are born to imagine and to seek to understand, and a great deal has been left to the imagination for several decades.

I draw a limit at Israel controlling everything, and the supposed technology transfer from outer space aliens.  The former is tied in with way too many ideological currents that are very imperfectly understood and often aggressively misconstrued and passed off as propaganda posing as truth.  Increasingly, everything to do with the Middle East has been so lied about and distorted that the truth will take decades to emerge.  Regarding UFO technology, and amazingly advanced secret military technology, there is some interesting testimony but a dearth of facts and concrete evidence.

Aside from some notable excesses, a careful examination of recent extraordinary events gives rise to very real question that have not been remotely answered.  There is a clear policy of evasion, misdirection and disinformation.  Now, each new incidence seems to involve an increasing degree of brazenness, challenging credulity, but affirming that something is amiss to a previously unfathomable degree.  The extremely unsettling circumstances surrounding Sandy Hook and Boston Marathon lend credibility to all the other questions being raised about earlier extreme events.

Here is a bit about how I probe into a conspiracy that has been suggested online.  I was utterly puzzled by the controversy over Benghazi.  From the outset, the hullabaloo from the right seemed contrived, but who knows?  I am not like minded and have to struggle to see logic in their words at the best of times.

An article on infowars provided a shocking background to that evening in Benghazi.  In effect, the Benghazi “consulate” was a CIA outpost for funneling Libyan weapons a d/or personnel from the jihadists, essentially Al Qaeda affiliates, to Syria.  An ongoing relationship of this nature shocks but explains a lot.  It is, regrettably, not at all incredible and casts in stark relief the unalloyed cynicism of US foreign policy.  Prior to the Boston event, and all the time I have spent digging into the facts of various conspiracy theories, I resisted contemplating that idea.  In spite of all the evidence of America’s imperial intentions in the Middle East, that was a turning point.  I wanted to believe in Obama, I wanted Hillary to succeed.  It has been disorienting – and frightening – to learn that these two, along with nearly the entire US government have regard only for power and corporate objectives without any regard for democracy or the interests of the people.  Democracy in the US has been thoroughly usurped.

I have realized how much farther down the road to fascist state the US has gone than I believed.  By nature, I cling to the principles of democratic government that I grew up with, and I have difficulty accepting the Machiavellian approach to government that are in fashion today.  It takes a hard shock, what I call a mental flip, to see things in a bigger context which explains a much larger scope of the known facts.  This Knowledge advances in leaps and bounds as like Kuhn’s paradigm of scientific explanation on steroids.
The war of words over Benghazi has waged in Washington this past week.  At one point during the week I did try to penetrate the conversation, much ado about a memo that was amended 12 times.  I eventually gave up.  Nothing was coming clear, and I have seen no reflection in these debates or in the mainstream media that the crisis in Benghazi involves a CIA post working with Al Queda to funnel arms or jihadists to Syria.  

Such is the bizarre state of public discussion today.  After all the vehement public debate, coming down to a 12 times changed memo, I left the matter at a draw as far as I could determine, and that precisely the role of Washington (and other countries’) politics: make real issues disappear down the memory hole through inane, incomprehensible  argument about random facts.

The denouement to this tale is of a type I am incurring more and more frequently.  Today I read an article in Counterpoint which matter-of-factly acknowledge that the Benghazi station was precisely as had been reported by infowars.  This does not clinch the matter, by any means, but a second, somewhat more credible source gives credence to an *explanation* that fits very well the facts of US involvement in the Middle East.  The war on terror is obviously bogus.  It is a phony pretext for invading other countries in quest of total worldwide dominance, and for population control at home.  All of the US activities in the Middle East further a toxic, illegal policy.  As usual, this is a “theory” I have heard many times in the past decades, but it did not come real to me until the events of the Arab Spring were cast into context by a disastrous  aftermath, and then the cynical moves of the United States, and the falsehoods of US leaders like Obama and Clinton become all too obvious.


The enormity of the crimes and cover-ups being now routinely committed  indicate that the power of the US government is about to be wielded ever more robustly against its own people and those of the Middle East, all in the name of the nefarious ends of world domination and control of the oil supply.  The sense of panic and desperation which these events give rise to is reflected in the lucidly argued articles and discussions in the alternative media such as this poignant appeal to action by Chris Hedges.

Although underfunded, we now routinely see progressive issues being debated passionately and fruitfully in a flourishing alternative mdedia.  This is a refreshing and much needed development where the press is reviving and issues are addressed civilly, usefully leading to better understanding of the many progressive issues facing us.  An example is the Greenwald-Maher dustup over Benghazi and Islam (see also my post The Great Debate below.. This ferment is one of the great engines of dissidence in the world today.  In free speech, we have the beginnings of a coherent and organized opposition.  How long will it be before this historic democratic freedom comes under official attack?

The What, Why and If

I commenced this blog in response to a particular incident of glaring injustice.  It was clearly wrong, a misuse of police power against a citizen for his exercise of free speech.  I though I had something to say about it and I started this blog and published and tweeted my opinions.

I stood up for Charles Leblanc as did others.  An egregious wrong was diverted, repeated and diverted again, but Charles still waits for justice.  Indeed, many wronged people, mostly the disadvantaged, are deprived of justice in this province.

Other than the very infrequent post that I intend to publish, and post on twitter and facebook, my posts here are mainly for my own reference, and I welcome anyone who is interested in pursuing the same ideas and information as I am.

When I publish something on here, I put some thought into the content with that in mind.  I am prepared to stand behind my considered opinions.  Otherwise, the content I post - links, videos, opinions, whole articles  - are posted for own interest and may reflect mere passing thoughts.  Either way, I am open to comments that are posted in a vein of moving a thought or discussion forward.  Toxic comments, and any post that seeks to conceal ill intent behind an anonymous identity may be deleted.

I identify with the progressive movement of individuals that seek to improve the world.
 The progressive movement is becoming more and more visible and prevalent in public spaces.  On the other hand, the world is still awash with nasty people motivated by greed and power, and suffused with ill-intent, and they must be opposed in every peaceful way possible as they are destroying our civilization and harming the planet irreversibly. 

Such people are not welcome here and do not have permission or license to access my content.  You are prohibited from continuing to access my site without express permission from me.