McFee's Musings

June 17, 2012

In Memorium

Filed under: Poet's Pot Pouri — dwightmcfee @ 1:46 am

It has been a long, almost two years since McFee’s Musings last post. I place it in the Poet’s corner because it is personal and deeply painful. My wonderful wife Cayle Chernin passed away Feb. 18, 2011 from cancer.

Many, many family and friends came to the rescue, once we announced it, having to keep it a secret for several months so Cayle could complete the sequel to the 1970 Canadian seminal film, Going Down The Road: Back Down The Road. This is the only film I am aware of that has 3 of the 4 original cast in a film fourty years later about the same people. Cayle and I were in rehearsals for the play To Distraction in Toronto when dealt the mortal blow.

Over the next months I will attempt, intermittently, to tell the story of those many months as Cayle and I kept a secret. The story of a woman of strength, wisdom and creativity. And fierce. Forged in the imagination of an artist. So much so that friends and family had a large celebration which raised a fair amount of money to support The Cayle Chernin Award, www.caylecherninaward.ca.
This award is a project grant of $1000.00, awarded to an emerging or transitioning female artist’s project.

An overview of Cayle’s artistic life and blog can be found at http://www.cayle.ca

I was a very lucky man. I’m eternally grateful for our time together. I love you.

To all friends and family: thank you so very much!

October 18, 2010

In Praise of LEWIS LAPHAM

Filed under: Culture & Entertainment,Politics — dwightmcfee @ 10:19 am

LEWIS LAPHAM, the former editor for 25 years of the 160 year old Harper’s Magazine, now editor of Lapham’s Quarterly and a national correspondent of Harper’s informed his avid readership in the November issue, 2010 that the Notebook section that leads off every issue, “departs this month from the table of contents, it’s purpose served and it’s license expired after a term of twenty-six years in office.”

My heart and head sank. But then, after a pause, I remembered the hundreds of wonderful moments that the notebook provided. The brilliant half column one sentence paragraph to be read over and over for it’s sheer resonance, craft, meaning and perspicacity. I have marveled for years at the vast knowledge and readings of this teacher. Mr.Lapham is a motivation, a dynamo of words. As well as the Notebook, Lapham’s Harper’s has been a leading magazine for the investigation of the issues of the day, criticism, essay’s, photo journalism, literature, review’s, the Harper’s Index and the Findings. A treat to find in the mailbox every month and a template for magazines such as The Walrus.

Mr. Lapham in the final notebook reveals to us how the notebook came about, how he had to learn to write an essay, the resources at his disposal. Using the “ notion of the essay borrowed from Michel de Montaigne, the sixteen century French auto biographer, a contemporary of Shakespeare and Cervantes, derived the approach to his topics from the meaning of the word essai from essayer ( to try, to embark upon, to attempt ), asking himself at the outset of his reflections, whether on cannibals or the custom of wearing clothes, “ What do I know?” The question distinguishes the essay from the less adventurous forms of expository prose– the dissertation, the polemic, the article, the campaign speech, the tract, the op-ed, the arrest warrant, the hotel bill.” What a card!

Mr. Lapham goes on to tell us that the essay seemed appropriate for the American experience and that the essayist becomes as the poet Archbald MacLeish stated, “ the dissenter [who] is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.”

“ The monthly Notebook called for remarks somehow related to something visible in the news…”

Mr. Lapham is the author of several books as well, including, 30 Satires, Money and Class in America, Imperial Masquerade, The Wish of Kings, Hotel America, Waiting for the Barbarians and Theatre of War.

The following are excerpts from the last Notebook entitled ‘Figures of Speech’. The Notebook always lead off with a quote:

“Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times.” Gustave Flaubert

Mr. Lapham writes: “ My object was to learn, not preach, which prevented my induction into the national college of pundits but encouraged my reading of history.”

“ The reading of history damps down the impulse to slander the trend and tenor of the times, instills a sense of humour, lessens our fear about what might happen tomorrow.”

“ On being informed by the propaganda ministries of the Republican right that money is a synonym for peace on earth and good will toward men, that the capitalist free market is virtue incarnate, I resist the call for a standing ovation by remembering that Hugo Boss dressed Hitler’s troops, that the Ford Motor Company in the 30’s outfitted the Wehrmacht with it’s armoured trucks, that the Rockefeller Foundation financed the prewar medical research meant to confirm Nazi theories of racial degeneration.”

“ What preserves the voices of the great authors from one century to the next is not the recording device ( the clay tablet, the scroll, the codex, the book, the computer, the iPad ) but the force of imagination and the power of expression. It is the strength of the words themselves, not their product placement, that invites the play of mind and induces a change of heart. Acknowledgment of the fact lightens the burden of mournful prophecy currently making the rounds of the media trade fairs.”

“ The questions in hand have to do with where the profit, not the meaning, is to be found, who collects what tolls from which streams of revenue or consciousness. The same questions accompanied the loss of the typewriter and the linotype machine, underwrote the digging of the Erie Canal and the building of Commodore Vanderbuilt’s railroads, the rigging of the nation’s television networks and telephone poles, and I expect them to be answered by one or more corporate facilitators with both wit and the bankroll to float the pretense that monopoly is an upgraded synonym for a free press, “prioritized” and “context-sensitive,” offering “quicker access to valued customers.””
“How do we know what we think we know? Why is it that the more information we collect the less likely we are to grasp what it means? Possibly because a montage is not a narrative, the ear is not the eye, a pattern recognition is not a figure or a form of speech. The surfeit of new and newer news comes so quickly to hand that within the wind tunnels of the “innovative delivery strategies” the data blow away and shred. The time is always now, and what gets lost is all thought of what happened yesterday, last week, three months or three years ago. Unlike moths and fruit flies, human beings bereft of memory, even as poor a memory as Montaigne’s, or my own, tend to become disoriented and confused. I know no other way out of what is both the maze of eternal present and the prison of the self except with a string of words.”

I remember several years ago, on a crisp early winter late morning, hastily running out the door for some engagement or other and there in the mailbox was my Harper’s. Stepping onto the Gerard streetcar, sliding into a sun drenched single seat and expectantly opening my Harper’s to the Notebook like a child at Christmas. The words trilling off the page, my heart bright as the snowy sun, images of words searing my soul.

I wrote Mr. Lapham about that day on the streetcar, the joy it had brought me in an early winter funk and how I had been compiling his articles and reading his books in hope of some day mounting a one man show in the tradition of Will Rogers or Mark Twain.
Weeks later I received a personal reply, humbly thanking me for the encouragement and that if I wished to embark on such a project then he would be amenable.

I have never achieved the goal. The essay is a difficult form to translate to the stage. Reading Laphams words resonate in the skull as an intimate cathartic experience. It’s Action of the Mind. And laziness wins the day.

I encourage all to read Lewis Lapham. His essays compiled in book form are in the library. I encourage all to get subscriptions to Harper’s and to Lapham’s Quarterly. The Quarterly takes on single issues per quarterly with essays and articles from different approaches.

Lewis Lapham has been of great public service to America. Would that there were more of his integrity, honesty, humility and intelligence. Long Live Lapham!

THE TROTSKY and A SINGLE MAN

Filed under: Culture & Entertainment — dwightmcfee @ 10:16 am

A comedy and a drama: two fabulous films that deal with taking control of your life. For Jay Baruchel as Trotsky amidst the apathy, boredom and ‘oppression’ of school and a ‘Fascist’ father. For Colin Firth the apathy, numbness of the college professor after the loss of his 13 year relationship with his lover in a car crash.

Both films ask the question: What do I do, can I, and is it worth it to affect any change? Trotsky to effect social change, A Single Man personal, intimate change to continue to live.

THE TROTSKY is a brash wonderful look at the efforts of an idealistic young man who thinks he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky. His efforts to unionize his father’s business and later to unionize the student body at the public high school he has been sent to after private school has been denied him are outrageous, funny and heart felt.

When the author was in high school, I shant reveal when, students of the city went out on ‘strike’ as a result of the school board locking out the teacher’s. I was also on the picket line when local 2251 Steelworker’s went out on strike at the steel plant the same year. To watch Jay Barushel and a wonderful Canadian cast execute this polemic against apathy and boredom rekindled the reason’s social justice and caring are not irrelevent and misplaced. We live in an age were communal aspirations and the fight against total domination by authorities, whether a Texas school board against sex education or a giant corporation privatizing profit and socializing debt, must be dealt with.

The Trotsky accomplishes this with humour, wit, charm and principle. The added bonus is that it is a Canadian film. Kudos to Jay Baruchel, Domini Blyth, Genevive Bujold, Anne Marie Cadeaux, Jesse Camacho, Colm Feore, Emily Hampshire, David Julian Hersh, Tiio Horn, Ricky Mabe, Michael Murphy, Jessica Pare, Tommy Amber Pire, and the incomparable Saul Rubinek. Written and directed with love by Jacob Tierney.

A SINGLE MAN is a beautiful, delicate walk through grief and the appreciation of now. Through the memory of the relationship of his deceased partner and the compassion of a student in the professor’s class that brings him to the appreciation of the moments lived and to be lived in the here in now, Colin Firth’s performance is luminous.
I don’t want to give away the plot of the film for it is essential to the catharsis of the audience member. There are moments in this film that are so intimate that I felt like I should turn away so that I wouldn’t intrude on the delicacy of the interchange for fear of ruining the completion of the understanding of the moment.
The Music in A Single Man is haunting, captivating and mesmerizing. A small but big film, A Single Man.

Both these films have learning as a central theme. The student body learning that the past can help them in the here and now with the institution that leaves them apathetic and bored. The institutional man shaken out of torpor by accident and learning to live in the present through seeing the individual student.

Effective and affective, THE TROTSKY and THE SINGLE MAN.

Dwight McFee

October 7, 2010

Governor General: Nice Man, Wrong Time

Filed under: Politics — dwightmcfee @ 12:47 am

The new Governor General of Canada is a very nice man as witnessed at his investiture on Friday, Oct. 1, 2010.

His Excellency David Johnston comes to the office with a civic spirited family of four daughters and a supportive and independent spouse.

David Johnston has spent a goodly portion of his life in academe as either a professor and later administration. He is a constitutional expert. He has left good will wherever he has worked.

Mr. Johnston, a university president has also been appointed to several commissions and informal investigations. The latest was for Prime Minister Harper setting the parameter’s for the Ostrey commission into former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s dealing with the Karl Heinz-Shrieber Affair. Undoubtedly at the Prime Minister’s wink, the parameter’s of the inquiry were limited to the three hundred thousand dollar undocumented payout to Mulroney but not the what for, meaning the Air Canada/Air Bus quid pro quo.

I don’t wish to imply that Mr. Johnston did anything untoward. Mr. Johnston travels in the circles where these kind of situations are understood. Mr. Johnston is held in high regard not only for his good character but also Mr. Johnston knows what a nod and a wink is in the establishment.

The above event set off an alarm bell when I heard the announcement last month.

What would Mr. Johnston bring to the Governor General’s office?
The first thing that came to mind was that if Our Great Leader ever wanted to Pro Rogue Parliament again, he wouldn’t get much fight out of Mr. Johnston. Although versed in the constitution, I would make a large wager that deference to the Prime Minister would be the over riding principle irrespective of the Governor General’s obligation to the Queen to protect the integrity of the democratic process.
As my nephew said, just another connected old white man from the fifties. Harsh but valid ?

What did Mr. Johnston say in his speech to the people of Canada?
His three pillars were; family, education and philanthropy/volunteerism. Sounds like Grande Mere and Tortierre. But let’s examine the pillars for meaning in 2010 Canada.

Family: Code for the right and anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion minority religious right or just old fashioned communal sensibility. We all want the family, the basic social unit, to love and thrive. You have to ask the question? Which families? No mention of how families struggle to survive in an inequitable economic climate that leaves a quarter of the ‘families’ in this country in poverty. Not to mention the disgrace that our native population lives in.

We owe a great deal to our families and they should be honoured. But, come on….

Education: honouring teachers is a worthy and an about time pillar. Teachers are thought of as elitist and have to much time off. Hogwash! In the public elementary and high school systems it is a profession that needs all the help it can get. With the pace of change and the problems of the young to integrate and understand, learn how to learn, a great teacher is a life long asset to have had. I thank mine. J.J. Casey, Tom Peacocke, Jim De Felice, Bernard Hopkins to name a few.

For the last two decades higher education has been turned into a utilitarian processing school for the needs of the unspoken truth of our age, finishing schools for the corporate agenda. What are business schools doing in Universities. University professors become pimps for the justification of ideologies. Particularly economics departments, which is called the dismal science for a reason.

People go to university to meet the expectations of the corporate job search like we used to in the sixties take trades in high school to feed the industrial machine. We go to university, not to learn how to learn and think, but to be smart (self interested) and utilitarian.

Mr. Johnston has spent his life in this environment, becoming the bright light of one of these institutions while raising tuition’s exorbitantly and redefining the purpose of a university.

Which brings us to the third pillar, philanthropy/volunteerism. I have no doubt the good intentions of Mr. Johnston. As funding for universities has declined to levels that leave Canada at the bottom of the OECD, through no fault of Mr. Johnston, he had to find funding somewhere. The great American Universities have endowments and of course whatever happens in America can only be good for us as well.

In the age of in-equality, excess and greed, the wealthy are wealthier than at any time in history. The Schulick this, the Munk that. What happened to naming buildings after inventors and humanitarians like Fredrick Banting. As our universities have become more exclusive, the rich have moved in for posterity (philanthropy) to create ideological centres of ‘excellence’. Toronto has a new Opera home (which is good) but has not had a new medium size theatre in fourty years. And the ones that do exist are falling apart. Elites recover a great deal of their philanthropy through tax breaks. So who is really paying for these Munk Centres for International Studies? Donate 19 million, get a tax break for 12 million and have the governments chip in 66 million for the operating funds. We do. So Philanthropy is a sometimes good but double edged sword.

Canadians, per capita, are one of the most volunteering societies in the world. But as a substitute for the strengthening of society while corporation’s and the wealthy absolve themselves from contributing to the tax base is no solution.

His Excellency Mr. Johnston from all appearances is a smart and caring man which is his slogan for the country: smart and caring. But the boys down on bay street are smart. And when they go home to their families I am sure they are caring. But do they have vision and creativity. Two words I don’t think I heard from Mr. Johnston. I heard no mention of the creative arts. Only the cliches to the cultural communities and to that sacred word, innovation.

I wish Mr. Johnston and his family the best. But as inspiration and vision, Mr. Johnston is just another member of the establishment being used by this Prime Minister, cleverly, to fall in in line with the paternalistic fifties regressive agenda in The Age of Inequality.

Dwight mcFee

September 26, 2010

The Armageddon Factor

Filed under: Politics — dwightmcfee @ 9:49 am

Marci MacDonald’s new book, The Armageddon Factor, is an investigative revelation and should be a wake up call for all those somnolent Canadian’s that insist that what happens in America can never happen in Canada.

The Armageddon Factor details the history in Canada of right wing Evangelicalism, and it’s marriage with politics, money and neo-liberal economics. It follows the threads of the evangelical nationalists, dominionists, dispensationalists sects, the prosperity doctrine, and the literalist theologies from America that interlace through the fabric of Canadian right wing evangelicalism right up to our born again Evangelical Prime Minister Steven Harper’s office where interns from Bible Colleges with degress in economics learn the political craft and spin of power in service to create a christian nation.

Canadian’s who think we live in a country that has a separation of church and state, need to know that there is no such separation in Canadian law, and that there is a faction of the populace that believes Canada has been chosen to be the promised christian ruled land. This fact came as an un-nerving revelation.

Ms. MacDonald chronicles the methods of the christian right to subvert the Canadian Radio and Television Commission in order to facilitate exclusive religious media in radio and television, particularly in the west.

Exceptionally revealing are the methods picked up from the religious right of America: methods used to take over school boards, city and town councils, federally elected officials as well as the promulgation of supposed citizen groups advocating sexist, racist, xenophobic and fascist ideologies couched in religious and economic freedom. One of the favoured tactics when using hate speech against gays and immigrants for example is to attack the Charter of Rights and Human Rights Tribunals as limiting freedom of religion and speech. Then if found in contravention, accusing the state of fascism. It’s an old political trick: accuse the victim of the very crime you commit.

Ms. MacDonald ties the book all together by pointing out how family values, law and order conservatives in deceit with neo-conservatives have been able to exploit the fundamentalist Evangelical, Orthodox Catholic and Orthodox Jewish citizens to become a significant part of the hard core of Harper’s 30% base. Thus the Harper foreign policy commitment to Israel where the supposed rapture will occur and all Evangelicals and 144 thousand converted former Jews to Jesus will be raptured to heaven while the rest of us are engaged in the blood bath of Armageddon. As a supporter of Israel, to watch Israel be used as a christian Crusade is deplorable and beneath contempt.

Ms. MacDonald gives us the history of how this false doctrine has been disseminated.
The who’s and how’s of the selective readings of biblical literalists have been turned into this apocalyptic take on humanity. Humanism, tolerance, common sense, compassion, love thy neighbor are thrown out the window. This is war, war not jaw, jaw. The theocracy must rule. Remind you of anywhere else in the world!

This creed of despair, except for the chosen, has politically been wrapped in the term Values Voters. Established social and civic values are attacked and spun: abortion, choice, womens rights, gun control, evolution, tolerance, education, science, nationalism, welfare, inequality, unions, immigration etc. are EVIL. The civic landscape is black and white with no room for compromise or tolerance. Multi-culturalism is anathema.

The Armageddon Factor’s ‘christian movement’ has total certainty, absolute certainty, no doubt of it’s efficacy. We are all to follow that certainty or we are banished to eternal damnation. There is no doubt, they are right, you are an unbeliever. They strive for a christian nation and militant nationalism. This is fascism or certainly far right authoritarianism. This is real, not a conspiracy.

We see this in our Prime Minister as he incrementally enables the agenda of ‘values voter’s’. The great service of Ms. MacDonald’s book is the naming of names and the exposure to light of how this Theocratic ideology has infiltrated all levels of government’s, particularly the Federal Government, and how this has come about through the nurturing and training at think tank’s like the libertarian Fraser Institute and the religious colleges like Trinity Western in B.C. and the further interning and employment of these acolytes in minister’s offices and the Privy Council of the Prime Minister.

The very disturbing aspect of this revolution has been the political marriage of right wing Evangelical, Orthodox Catholic, Orthodox Jewish fundamentalism with right wing Chicago School Libertarian Economics: anti government, no tax, individual vs. communal rights, corporatism. This marriage creates a volatile mix of gas on fire that has been beautifully manipulated by politician’s, media and big business.

This is wonderfully illustrated by the appointment on Friday, September 24, 2010 of the Prime Minister’s new Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright. Mr. Wright is an executive of Onex Corporation, a very large and influential investment firm and was the presumed heir to the chief of Onex. Mr. Wright specialized in buying supposedly underperforming companies and making them profitable. We may all remember that Onex ‘bought’ Air Canada, hived off the profitable parts into a fund that is very profitable and left the debt to the airline. It used to be called cannibalizing until Wall Street and Bay Street became invincible. Mr. Wright was involved in the stabbing of Joe Clark for Brian Mulroney who he later worked for in the policy end of the Privy Council, meaning lower taxes for corporations and the off shoring of 100 billion dollars, tax free, for the wealthiest families in Canada. Mr. Wright is also a director of The Manning Centre, a corporate funded think tank for former Reform Leader and ordained minister Preston Manning. There readers is an example of the confluence of the corporate, the religeous and the political. Even though there has been a silent ‘elite accommodation’ with Bay street by the conservatives, who never think they have enough, this appointment cements Mr. Harper’s hard right economic agenda with big cash and his incremental ‘religious accommodation’. And all without a whisper from the Main Street Media.

The Media in Canada refuse, are enabling or are asleep to this deadly threesome. This in itself is a book that needs to be written.

Don’t misunderstand me. No nation can survive without a moral base. Every human needs to nuture their soul. But to claim religeous exclusivity and condemn the ‘other’ while having control over the leavers of political and economic power spells disaster. There are numerous Historical examples of cultures disintegrating through war, genocide and revolution when religeon, economics and politics go to bed for a threesome.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you! love thy Neighbour!

I highly recommend this absorbing and accurate investigation. Ms. McDonald is to be commended for this brave and revealing document.

Dwight McFee

August 1, 2010

CONRAD BLACK: Going to Hell

Filed under: Culture & Entertainment — dwightmcfee @ 7:01 pm

Our lord and saviour, Conrad Black, or as we like to refer to his lordship, ‘Lordy’, is temporarily out of the clink and cutting a swath through the pages and columns of Canadian society, or as his lordy likes to characterize our confederation, a “ Third World dump run by raving socialists”: and now His Lordy wants to come ‘home’.

Conrad the Incorrigible says, “ Toronto is pleasant this time of year,” and Babs of the Bounteous Beautiful Breasts isn’t feeling well in the Palm Beach air so they would like to come ‘home’. Translated: Conny hasn’t been in Toronto in July in a humid wave in a long time and ‘ I’m broke and Babs needs the Socialized Medicare System’.

If Lord and Lady Black of Crosswhatever wish to step back on the soil of Canada they will need a Ministerial Directive as Lordy is presently a convicted felon. Lordy has renounced his citizenship, soiling the good name of the country in the process and this observer says that Lordy has to give up the title and pay for health care like any other Alien or as we more politely say in Canuckistan, foreigner. As Lordy’s English passport has expired he is a displaced person with no documentation. Therefore he has to go through the immigration process. As Canada has signed on to an another integration agreement with the United States that all undocumented aliens must apply for immigrant status from the other country, His Lordy will have to apply from the U.S. Of course given that his passport has expired he therefore should be sent back to prison. But of course we at McFee’s Musing’s can anticipate the Harper Government genuflecting to the Lord’s wishes.

On a more serious note: All of the above is subject to a libel law suit irrespective of it’s satirical truth. One of the great truths of Conrad Black and admired in chattering classes is that Blacky has been able to use libel and the Canadian Judicial System to technically get away with myriade immoral, unethical but legal manipulations in business and to keep his detractors at bay. Therefore Lord Black has been able to flout the system in your face while walking away with union pension funds and shareholder value. What used to be criminal is now legal. That is one of the legacies of the last 30 years. Conrad Black has been one of the leading lights in that onslaught of the far right corporate agenda. And now that the United States Supreme Court is 8/9ths composed of corporate lawyer’s, Blacky has been saved from the completion of his sentence. As will Jeffrey Skilling, Goldman Sachs and the like who destroyed billions of dollars in pension, shareholder value and lives. The decisions of the Roberts U.S. Supreme Court of the last two years have resulted in an unleashing of corporate rights at the expense of civil rights. In essence a reaffirmation of the 30 year take over of democracy by reworking the laws to the benefit of transnational capital under assorted ‘free trade’ regimes.

Irrespective of Lordy teaching his fellow inmates to read, his feigned softening up and the panderers and compadors that are attempting to rehabilitate his Lordship, the facts are that in the Age of Economics, Lord Black used his vast knowledge of history to subvert and destroy democracy, supplanting the freedom of peoples with the corporatism of the few. Like the spoiled selfish child he is, Lordy’s needs came first to the detriment of the commons. For Mr. Black, in fact they were synonymous with Himself. Because the hubristic Lord Black had the ability and brains and wherewithal to contribute to the good of humanity is a double strike. If there is a God and He has been accurately quoted then Conrad Black will be going to hell.

Cardinal Richeleau
DCM

MAKES CENSUS OR NO CENSUS

Filed under: Politics — dwightmcfee @ 6:58 pm

Makes Census:

According to the bright lights at right wing charity, The Fraser Institute, the Prime Minister’s long census degrading from compulsory to voluntary is exactly what is needed. But not for the obvious reasons of privacy and that government shouldn’t know how many bedroom’s are in your house.

No, the reason is that business that want these statistics should pay for them. Now on the surface that is appealing. Why shouldn’t business pay for them? Well let’s think about that! Firstly, if corporations provide statistics as opposed to polls or surveys that they are doing all the time in any event, that information will be specific to that corporation’s need. Secondly, that information becomes proprietary information. No one can see it except at a price. And thirdly, because no one can see it except for a price, the assertions of that information are and will be difficult to challenge. Therefore as an example, the Fraser Institute’s assertion in 2006 that 400 million dollars can be saved in the Health Care Industry by paying kitchen and cleaning staffs close to minimum wages will be difficult to challenge. Why? The Labour statistics portion of the census will be inaccurate. It then becomes my stats. vs. your stats. Which of course serves the purpose of the corporate agenda which fully funds the Fraser Institute. There will be no arbitrator like Stats.Can. That can be trusted that is.

No Census:

That Canadians should have access to where, how and what kind of country they are living in and who is in control of what. That Mel Hurtig or Stephen Clarkson or Maud Barlow or Naomi Klein or Linda McQuaig or Donald Gutstein or the Parliamentary Opposition or non-profits or university researchers et.al. should have access to information that isn’t provided by the corporation’s in charge.

June 22, 2010

G8/G20 UPDATE 2

Filed under: Politics — dwightmcfee @ 10:51 pm

Get ready citizens of the world. This meeting of the satraps, courtiers, panderers, crony capitalists, authoritarians and dictators is shaping up as a post first world war 1 economic collapse that visited like a plague and was sought only by the political elites pandering to the orthodox, conventional ‘wisdom’ of the economic ‘market’ of the time.

The austerity measures are to placate ‘the market’. After WW1 austerity was the supposed answer and we should all know were that led. The rise of fascism. The first wave of Corporatism. The second we are now living in. In case you haven’t noticed.

But our political elites including our Great Leader, who is an orthodox trained economist, advocates, and you just wait if he wins the next election, fiscal austerity. And what do you think that translates to: more tax breaks for financial services and more cuts to civil and social society.

The post WW1 descent into a world wide depression was caused by corporate pressure on politicians to provide no services to the populous. To have control of the government. And having got what they wanted they turned the world into the middle ages. Corporatism was a failure which is why democracy and regulation rose out of the ashes of the depression.

But here we are again. Our politicians are running scared of the boys who bought them even after having bailed them out. You’d think they would use their leverage for the common good. That these pigs of profit have no compunction at twisting the circumstances to our detriment is our own folly in the end.

After this meeting, not of the G 20, but of the representatives of corporatism and Silvio Berlusconi is the pinnacle of the trash heap, get ready for the collapse of even more civil and social institutions.

The world is in post WW1 mode ready to be pilloried by the economic determinism of the last 20 years that coersively implies, led by the mystical soothsayer economists, that we can’t do anything about this, we should only do what we’re told. Like cancer patients in the Pharma/Cancer industrial complex citizens there have only three options, chemical, surgical and radiation. All kill you and refuse to acknowledge other options. But the system fulfills, and perpetuates itself, at the cost of lives and other healthy options. Just as this meeting will self fulfill and perpetuate policies that visit hardship and death on populations around the world. All in the service of corporatism.

The shamans divining and disseminating the commandments from the gods of the market will give us the lowdown and orders this week.

Unfortunately this is not post WW1. This is the advanced sickness of corporatism. Is it terminal for the citizen and democracy? Don’t take the poison, and we don’t need surgery or nuclear radiation. But we could use some skepticism and common sense and ethics and humanity.

Is there a naturopath in the house?!

Well, yes there is. There are choices.

Take personhood away from the corporation. Make individuals in the corporation responsible for the corporation’s decisions. You kill people with a bad drug you go up on involuntary manslaughter.

Greece under Salon had the ‘Great Unburdening’ ware all debt was wiped clean. In our version that would be all personal and national debt. Greece survived for another 300 years.

All pricing of goods would take into account their total cost: not only manufacturing etc. but their environmental impact. To make a profit you have to produce something.

Unearned income would be taxed at 50%.

Just a few suggestions for the Great Leaders of the Corpocracy to consider.

Good Luck.

June 14, 2010

Brian Mulroney: Constitutionally incapable of being honest with himself and a country!

Filed under: Politics — dwightmcfee @ 9:24 am

Harsh words I know. I have been scolded by friend and foe for this harsh assessment of the former Prime Minister. I think the characterization has merit.

As a result of the Oliphant Inquiry and it’s findings the punditocracy and plutocracy have been dishonourably attempting to admonish with feigned umbrage the former PM and at the same time burnish the legacy of Lyin’ Brian, irrespective of his “inappropriate behaviour” as voiced by Justice Oliphant. Uber conservative Andrew Cohen was upset at the damage that Mulroney has done to the cause of conservatism. I guess Mr. Cohen has forgotten the real disservice to the conservative party done by the boy from Bae Comeau: wiping out the party in 93 and leaving us with his spawn: Manning, Harris, Harper. Most editorial comment has focused on the Mulroney ‘legacy’ that will survive the great man’s avarice, hubris and transgressions. Well let’s take a look at that ‘Legacy’ that the Main Stream Media and Mr. Mulroney are so intent on propagating.

The two big ones that Mulroney has been extolled for are the fight against Apartheid and the Free Trade Agreement/ North American Free Trade Agreement.

Give the man his due. The fight against Apartheid was important. Mulroney convinced the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher and the Teflon President Ronald Reagan ( who railed against the Civil Rights Acts in the middle 60’s and against Martin Luther King Day ) to concede that Apartheid had out lived it’s time on earth. Brian-come-lately jumped on board a world wide effort, particularly the Europeans, that had been hammering the South African Government for years. It was becoming obvious that the regime was surviving only as a result of American and British backing. The South African government had become a major arms exporter to any dictator with blood money and on any side of the cold war. Embargoes had begun to destroy the economy and the only ones out of step with ‘freedom’ and human rights were the Capitalist Kong and the Nanny-run Britons.
Mulroney hogged the stage on the file and was given the credit by the big two for the fall of Apartheid.

However opportunistic this was by Mulroney, Canada as a middle power was situated on non-military issues to have enough influence to move an issue of this civil import in the world community. Ah, the good days when there was a modicum of independent foreign policy or what appeared to be sovereign foreign policy.

But there was a trade off. We scratch your Human Rights and ego back and you scratch our foreign and economic policy back. Meaning that Canada now acquiesced in economic policy to fighting inflation instead of full employment as well as have a see no evil policy regarding the mining of Nicaraguan harbors and full support in the UN against the Evil Empire. Underlying these policies secret feelers were being sent out by the corporate communities of Canada and the US about the potential ‘freeing’ of capital and financial services.
So, give Mulroney a certain amount of credit for helping to dismantle a despicable and inhuman regime.

Brian Mulroney won an election denying he was planning a free trade agreement and that Canada had to lower tariff’s to compete. However tariff’s on goods were almost completely gone between the US and Canada as a result of the GATT, The General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, the world body overseeing international trade.

The US under Reagan, Bush 1 and a protectionist, nativist Congress had a different strategy: not wanting to be handcuffed with world ‘rules of the road’, After all this is America and nobody hamstrings our ability to do what we want: therefore trade policy would consist of picking off countries one at a time in bilateral agreements, setting precedents as each agreement was made. This provided the US with emmence leverage as each country supplicated itself to get into the American market. There was a great to do about this strategy at the time and when Canada was the first to cave instead of standing with the rest of the first world, the future of international agreements was in jeopardy. It allowed the US to pick successive countries off one at a time demanding the new ‘globalism’ to take root. As we have seen this trade policy has worked to the detriment of control over trade world wide. For instance three companies now control 70% of the growing/breeding, production and distribution of beef, chickens, and grains in the WORLD. Successive rounds of international trade agreements have consistently faltered.

The real deceit of the FTA and NAFTA is that they were not agreement’s on trade. And they were not free. “Long before either treaty was signed all three countries were approaching virtual free trade”. These agreements were about ‘freeing’ the movement of capital/financial services from transparency and oversight and “freeing the transnational corporation and its managers from geographical realities and obligations”. Brian Mulroney was a corporate lawyer and corporate chief executive. What else did people think he would do? All through the debate over ‘free trade’ the main stream media shat over the opposition. How could they be against free trade. It’s free as in Freedom and trade as in prosperity, stupid. Only fools and dreamers can be against it.

Well the opposition was right. They weren’t fools, they were pragmatist’s with common sense. Several studies have shown that free trade has been either neutral or minimally positive and other studies a negative impact. For Canada the effects have been loss of sovereignty, loss of influence in the world as we are seen as a satellite of the US in foreign, economic, cultural and human rights policy. And loss of jobs! And a middle class existence. And the collapse of the world economies!

This is the major legacy of Brian Mulroney: A deceitful agreement that sold the inevitability of corporatism behind a mask of populism.

Never mentioned in this belated revisionism are the legacies of a 580 billion accrued debt ( 70 billion from Trudeau as a result of the 70’s oil crisis) that had to be dealt with through draconian reductions in the nineties to social, cultural and civic programs. Unemployment Insurance surpluses from workers in the 90’s payed down the debt as those contributions went into general revenue. The beginning and acceleration of the decline in manufacturing happens under Mulroney. The long slow choking of the CBC started with Mulroney. The anti union rhetoric/pro corporate elevation to god like status began under Mulroney. The fracturing of the country accelerated under Mulroney as a result of the Meech and Charlottetown constitutional fiascoes. The Business Council on National Issues, now the Canadian Conference of Chief Executives became the defacto cabinet, purporting to have the interests of the nation at heart. Mulroney tripled the Privy Council, created the Presidential Prime Minister-ship, scoffing at the supremacy of parliament which continues today in the Harper regime. The decline of the 70’s push for the establishment of a cultural industry started under Mulroney with cuts to the Canada Council and the reneging of a promise for more screen time for Canadian film product on the American owned screens in the country.

An infamous story from the cultural world serves to illustrate the Mulroney Pander: Flora MacDonald was the Federal Culture Minister and was about to introduce a bill in Parliament proscribing that 15% of screen time in movie theaters had to be Canadian product. Similar to radio Can-con play for Canadian musicians. Jack Valenti, President of the powerful American Motion Picture Association flew up to Ottawa, flew into McDonald’s office in a rage and demanded that the legislation never see the light of day. Flora reminded him that he was in another country. Valenti then went to Brian’s office and told him that if he didn’t withdraw the legislation there would be no free trade deal, movie theater’s would be shut down and that he had enough influence that he would shut down the border. ( Remember that other than Military Arm’s the largest US export at the time and now was American film product and that the AMPA considered Canada a domestic market as a result of a 1948 under the table deal with a conservative government that allowed Hollywood the rights to treat Canada as a domestic market, in return allowing Canada to have a government run National Broadcasting System, the CBC.) The next day the legislation was gone and Mulroney disavowed that there had ever been any such idea. These were a few of former Prime Minister’s “unintended consequences”.

And on Mulroney’s last day in office the friend of Corporatism allowed the very rich to ship off billions of dollars to off shore accounts tax free for 20 years costing billions in tax revenue. As the PM once said, “ you dance with the girl that brought you”.

Brian Mulroney was a harbinger of the beginning of, as Peter Scowen iterates in the Saturday, June 12 edition of the Globe and Mail, a harbinger of The Great Disillusionment or The Endarkenment. Mulroney was only the messenger who sold his soul. In this age where “freedom of expression has been bastardized into the right to take no responsibility for one’s actions or words”, Mulroney’s obsequious performance at the Oliphant Inquiry, ( Nobody asked me if Schrieber gave me any money ) serves to illustrate the sheer overt stupidity and arrogance of the corporate elite that have hijacked what little of ‘democracy’ that was envisioned by the Enlightenment in the furtherance of socializing the cost and privatizing the profits of huge transnational corporations.

In a letter to the Globe and Mail editorial page Mulroney’s attorney states that the Oliphant Inquiry cleared Mulroney of the accusation that he was paid off for the acquisition by Air Canada of the European Air Bus and shouldn’t have to return the 2 million dollars awarded to him for defamation of character. This is specious. The Inquiry was not given the mandate to investigate the Air Bus Affair.

Historians, as they are want to do and have already done, will white wash the Mulroney years and their subsequent reverberations. Already the talking heads are comparing the ‘inappropriate’ behaviour of Mulroney to the Clinton/Lewinsky affair. Ridiculous! Clinton got a blow job. Mulroney fucked a country and got caught with his hand in the till.

The reality of Mulroney is that he was desperate to be loved by the richest and most powerful. They lived in the United States and the capitals of Europe. Mulroney convinced himself he was loved by the elites when he was only being used. Being rewarded with corporate directorships etc. wasn’t enough. Like an alcoholic, which he was, it was never enough. Addiction comes in many guises, power being one of them. Brian Mulroney is one of those elites defined in The Doubter’s Companion, a dictionary of aggressive common sense by John Ralston Saul under the definition of Canada: no. 5

Burdened by the laziest elite of any developed nation; people who have made fortunes by selling off the country’s resources and by working for more energetic foreigners. They are most comfortable on their knees, admiring those from larger countries who have purchased them.

Brian Mulroney was a want a be American with a drinking problem who disappointed and hurt immeasurably and irrevocably the fabric of a visionary country. Worse, he was one of the enablers of the Age of The Great Disillusionment leading to the Great Endarkenment. The mention of his name in Canada is synonymous with the corruption of politics, lying and hubris.

The Legacy of a Liar

May he be banished to Palm Beach, Florida.

G8/20 UPDATE

Filed under: Politics — dwightmcfee @ 9:15 am

Are we having fun yet kids! Million dollar indoor Muskoka ponds, 122 million dollar sound guns, half million dollar Huntsville gazebos and on and on! This is going to be a great tourist promotion for Toronto! And if you believe that I have an island you might want to buy. Or, oh yea, how about announcing an untendered 16 billion dollar F-35 fighter plane purchase just before the big press conference.

Some interesting sidelights:
Why use the convention center when you got an empty CBC building across the street for the event. It has sound stages that can be turned into anything you want at an in house price. Oh yeah, were into the private sector.
How about using the Exhibition grounds. Self enclosed for easy security and there’s a lake right in front of the grounds. Easy access to hotels. Oh yeah, public space that won’t cost much.

And don’t forget that the big cheeses in the financial district are sending their worker bees to hives that have been specially adapted in Mississauga and environs so they won’t be interrupted in their daily foraging for honey. Guess who’s going to pay for that? You bet ya! It is a cost of doing business and will be a nice extra tax write off! Thanks Steven Harper! But the small businesses downtown? Nada!

The gall of The Gang of Deceit: To pass this off as a Tourist Attraction! They will never give us an accounting of the true cost. You can bet your ass that every level of enforcement has padded and padded their budgets. This is the way the law and order faction of the ‘new conservative’ party is going to get their ‘fig’ or bachshesh or grift or pay off!

Go to the alternative summit at Massey Hall. That’s were democracy will be exercised!

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