a conservative heretic commenting on hypocrisy and stupidity in a world with too much of both
If you found this post of interest, please share it with your friends.
We no longer accept advertising on this blog. Your donations help us to defray the costs of its operation and are much appreciated.
Stay informed

Follow the Bear - Subscribe today


Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Real Choice In This American Presidential Election

“The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it.”

“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”

“It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.”
Consider these three political quotes. Each speaks to the idea of government by fear both of its external enemies and of its own people. Who spoke these words is revealed at the end of the post.
There was a time when the United States was the strongest and freest democracy in the world. It was criticized, mocked and even accused but nobody doubted its commitment to freedom and the triumph of the rights of the individual over the power of government.  Even its critics gave grudging admiration for the fierce independence of individual Americans and how quick they were to resist attempts by government to undermine their rights and freedoms. Perhaps no nation on earth held its constitution in such high regard as the United States. 
It is, quite frankly, what set it apart from other nations, including most other democracies.  As a result, it was the first and only choice of millions fleeing oppressive regimes and impoverished nations around the world. 
America has changed.
Since 9/11 its government has operated out of fear rather than confidence. It has reacted inconsistently to real and imagined threats by infringing on the guaranteed rights of its citizens in certain situations and violation of its own laws. It has justified the use of torture to obtain information, thrown out the presumption of innocence and the right of judicial due process against those it considers a threat to national security and has moved closer to having more in common with the values of its enemies than of its own constitution.
Under the Bush/Cheney administration, Guantanamo became a stain on the American concept of law and justice. People, presumed but not proven to be terrorists, were arrested and held indefinitely. Most were denied legal representation for much of their incarceration and the administration of torture was used in order to try and obtain information.
This was highly criticized by Barrack Obama during his run for president in 2008 and he promised to close Guantanamo. He did not keep that promise.
In 2008 when he was running for president, Barrack Obama said, “Guantanamo is entirely unnecessary and the detainees should not be interrogated.”
In 2011, President Obama reversed his stated principles and said, “Vital intelligence was obtained from Guantanamo detainees that led to our locating Bin Laden.”
Now, President Obama who continues to criticize the previous administration for doing what he is doing is preparing to go even further in the suppression of basic democratic rights and the Constitution of the United States and its Bill of Rights. President Obama is now proposing indefinite detention for those the government believes ‘may’ pose a threat but who are guilty of no crime. If he is re-elected and he is successful at passing this legislation, citizens and non-citizens alike can be arrested and held without charge for as long as the government wishes and those arrested will have no recourse under the law to defend themselves.
It amazes me that more Americans were violently upset with the attempt by government to impose some level of regulation on the Internet than are concerned with the possibility of being arrested without charge and held without legal representation for as long as the government deems necessary.
I appreciate that it is all too easy for Democratic Party and President Obama supporters to simply dismiss this as fear mongering and right-wing paranoia so let’s hear what a well known left-wing journalist and long-time Obama supporter thinks of it all. This video clip is fairly long but it is important enough for anyone who wants to be aware of what is happening to their country to watch it in its entirety.

Personally, I don’t take these kinds of pronouncements lightly. History is littered with societies that lost their freedom, not to invaders, but from a constant erosion of basic civil liberties and fundamental rights by democratically elected government that eventually became the very tyranny they originally opposed.
You cannot fight injustice by being unjust and you cannot preserve the values of a nation by betraying and violating those values. The United States is built upon one of the most carefully and thoughtfully crafted constitutions in the world and for a politician to believe that he has the right to undermine the principles of that document in the name of protecting the nation is a dangerous travesty. If President Obama is going to impose on his nation the very thing he claims to be fighting, what is it he is actually fighting?
In 2008, when running for president he said, “Bin Laden is innocent until proven guilty and must be captured alive and given a fair trial.”
In 2011 as president he said, “I authorized Seal Team 6 to kill Bin Laden.”
The issue isn’t whether or not you believe Bin Laden deserved to die. The issue is whether or not you believe your president should present one set of values to the people in order to get elected and then do exactly the opposite when in office.  This isn’t about terrorism; it is about using terrorism as an excuse to transfer more power to government by taking away the rights of a people. This is about integrity, the American Constitution and the rule of law.

When you do what you criticized others for doing, you have become what you criticized.

In 2008 candidate Barrack Obama was highly critical of the Bush/Cheney administration and I believe with some justification. He stated, “Navy Seal Team 6 is Cheney’s private assassination team.”
After the killing of Bin Laden, President Obama was quick to take credit and said publicly, “I put together Seal Team 6 to take out Bin Laden.”
Which is it? Is the president for due process or opposed to it? Was he opposed to Navy Seal hit teams or did he create one? And now, does he propose to protect and uphold the constitution by honouring its stated principles or does he believe he can violate his oath of office, erode the rights guaranteed in the constitution and still somehow, maintain the integrity of what that constitution stands for?

What does this president stand for? Do you really know or do you only know what you would like to believe he stands for? Does he stand for what he said in 2008 or what he has done and said since then which contradicts it? Is he prepared to defend the rights of citizens according to the constitution or will he go even farther in undermining those rights than George Bush and Dick Cheney? If you don’t know the answers to those questions, you would be well advised to find the answers before you vote.

President Obama is not the leader for our time. He is glib rather than thoughtful. He is divisive rather than unifying. He has demonstrated a cynical ability to trade principle for expediency and a willingness to commit the same constitutional violations for which he has criticized others.

In the same speech where he laid out his grand plan to detain and imprison people for what they ‘might’ do rather than for what they have been duly charged and convicted of doing, President Obama again criticized the Bush/Cheney record on judicial process. It is more than just a little hypocritical for a president to claim the moral high ground when it comes to legality when he proposes to do the same thing and especially when he continues to support his own Attorney General was found in contempt of Congress. Either you are prepared to defend and protect the law or you aren’t. There is no in between.

I am conservative but was violently opposed to what the Bush administration did at Guantanamo. I recognized that if they could justify violating the principles of the American Constitution and judicial system for some, they could rationalize violating it for anyone.

The fact that it is now a Democratic president doing the same thing and, in fact, has announced he is willing to go even further to eroding due process and fundamental rights like the presumption of innocence, doesn’t make it any less worthy of the harshest criticism. 

This election Americans must choose between being supporting a particular political party or simply being Americans and supporting their constitution and their rights and freedoms. They must choose whether as Americans they will protect the freedoms guaranteed in their constitution or are prepared to  to lose them by blindly voting along ideological lines.

Americans have a choice and it isn’t just between Obama and Romney. This election is about whether Americans want to lose their right to live freely, unafraid of their government or whether they want to buy the illusion of security by trading away those fundamental rights.  I encourage my American friends to choose wisely not only for their sake but for the sake of democracy throughout the world.

 “The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it.” -Adolf Hitler
“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” -Joseph Stalin
“It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.” -Vladimir Lenin
In the end, however, perhaps it is this fourth quote that Americans would do well to remember before casting their ballot. It was made by an American and considering what is happening today, is quite prophetic.
A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
-John F. Kennedy
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

Canada’s Council Of Fools

Canada’s Council of the Federation

The provincial premiers of Canada met this past week in what they have come to call the Council of The Federation. These semi-regular get togethers used to be called First Ministers’ Meetings but that appellation was no longer grand enough for a group of political hacks who see themselves as leaders and statesmen.
A better name for the meeting would be The Council of Fools because that is precisely what they are, a group of cynical, self-serving politicians with little to no vision and just enough authority to be dangerous to the nation’s prosperity and future.
For decades, this group of provincial premiers gathered regularly to condemn the federal government while at the same time begging for more federal money. They met, had nice lunches and dinners, provided quick sound bites for the television news shows, posed for photographs and then trundled off home after agreeing to study their latest ‘agreements in principle’. It was then, as it is now, all talk which accomplished nothing.
The COF hard at work accomplishing nothing
They demanded that the federal government (Ottawa) stop interfering in areas of provincial jurisdiction like the delivery of health care and so, Ottawa has now done exactly that. It still, as it required to do, provides funding for healthcare but it has backed off completely from dictating how healthcare is delivered by the provinces. You would think that would please the Council of Provincial Twits but of course it hasn’t. Instead, they now criticize Ottawa for what they call its lack of leadership and participation.
It’s hardly surprising. The provincial governments have completely undermined Canada’s healthcare system through mismanagement of cost, inefficient delivery mechanisms, a lack of consolidated buying power at a national level and sheer stupidity.
There have been countless studies done on Canada’s healthcare system with countless more recommendations on how to improve and fix it. Those studies and recommendations lay on book shelves gathering dust, ignored by The Council of Would Be Leaders who haven’t got a clue what leadership actually requires.
Quebec Premier Charest gives
B.C. Premier Clark some insight on
how his province successfully extorted
revenues from Newfoundland’s hydro
power plants in Labrador.
This is a group of cheap small-town politicians who have no national vision, no concept of Canada as a nation and whose primary objective is little more than pointing fingers and finding more sources of money to try and fix the financial mess they have created over the years in their own provinces.
Successive governments in Quebec have demanded and received money from Ottawa far beyond their rightful share of transfer payments which they have squandered on everything but for what it was originally intended. As a result, Quebec is the highest taxed jurisdiction in North America and still has a budget debt that is staggering.
Ontario Premier McGunity who has
elevated cynical and wasteful politics
to an art form.
In just nine years, the current Liberal government under Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has managed to take the richest province in Canada and turn it into a have-not province. Mr. McGunity has managed to rack up more debt than that of all previous premiers combined and his policies have resulted in high unemployment, more than 1 million people without access to a family doctor and billions squandered on government scandals in eHealth, The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission, sustainable energy and the latest, the Ornge Air Ambulance fiasco. Under Mr. McGunity, the province has seen its credit rating downgraded and its debt service cost increase as a result.
Alberta which is experiencing an upsurge in prosperity thanks to its vibrant energy sector is led by a premier who stood by with a deer-in-the-headlights glazed look while the American government considered the Keystone Pipeline that would connect the oil sands in her province to the refineries in Texas. When it became clear that the American administration was going to drag its feet on approving the pipeline, she made no effort to lobby the Obama Administration on behalf of her province or its citizens and industry. 
Alberta Premier Redford who mananged
to squeeze in the COF meetings before
jetting off to the Olympic Games at
taxpayer expense
She has had no difficulty, however, in dropping a quick $83,000 in tax payer cash to get herself over to the Olympic Games. No doubt the International Olympic Committee will look kindly on Ms Redford’s support of their efforts and will consider buying some of Alberta’s oil as a result of her careful priority management.
And then there is Christy Clark, the premier of British Columbia.
I used to think that Dalton McGunity, Ontario’s Premier, was not only the most dishonest politician in Canada but also the most stupid. While I still believe Mr. McGuinty is the most dishonest, there is no question that for lack of intellectual ability, Ms Clark is in a class by herself.
Former radio show host and now
Premier of British Columbia Christy Clark
There is an election looming in British Columbia and Ms Clark is far behind in the polls and her re-election is in question. It’s small wonder. She is, to put it bluntly but accurately, an idiot who has successfully made Dalton McGuinty’s cynical approach to politics looks positively visionary. In an attempt to improve her re-election hopes, Ms Clark is now demanding a ‘fair share’ of Alberta’s oil sands profit in exchange for allowing a pipeline across her province that would connect the oil sands to the ports on the Pacific coast in British Columbia.
Her stand is quite popular with many in British Columbia who are Canada’s equivalent to many of the day dreamers who live in California and who actually believe she is sincere about her expressed environmental concerns. Popular it may be, unconstitutional it definitely is but then why spoil the beauty of a cynical political ploy with legalities and nation building? The simple fact is that Ms Clark’s cheap trick is a violation of three different sections of the Canadian Constitution and a complete lack of understanding of how this nation actually works but then, what else can you expect from a former radio show host.
She, along with her provincial colleagues from across the country are the Council of the Federation and it is both an embarrassment that this is the best that Canada can come up with in the way of leadership and a threat to the nation’s future.
One thing is clear, the COF never met a photo op
it didn’t just love
By any other name, the Council of The Federation has squandered opportunity after opportunity over the years, falling back on territorial protectionism, jurisdictional disputes and lack of vision but always banding together to attack the federal government. 
Canadians as a whole and as citizens of our individual provinces are not well-served by this abrogation of leadership. It is an unbelievable lost opportunity that costs the country both in terms of tax dollars and prosperity. It is a humiliation made all the more so considering the fact that Canada has one of the most stable societies and economies in the world despite the best efforts of the provincial premiers.
One shudders to think what this Council of Fools would do if they had to deal with circumstances like those in Greece. Perhaps Ms Clark would have considered forming her own provincial army and actually invading Alberta while Ms Redford was indulging herself at the Olympics at taxpayer expense.
The only bright side to all of this is that Ms Clark’s power play will be for nothing and in the not too distant future, she will be back on radio, Ms Redford will run out of money in London and come home and all of the weighty discussions of the Council’s meeting last week will be……as they always are…..ignored and soon forgotten. 
Canada’s provinces, you see, are led by those who do not have an attention span beyond the photo op. It is small wonder so many beyond special interest groups are not only disillusioned but completely fed up with the politics and politicians our tax money buys these days. 
It seems to me to be an incredible expense to Canadians for something so divisive, ineffective and small-town cheap.
What Ever Happened To Integrity?
Government Takes Over Where The Mob Left Off
For Outstanding Achievement In Government Waste & Stupidity – The 2011 Teddy Awards
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

Ben Provides Serious Insight About Poop!

“It’s not ok to poop in other people’s gardens right, mommy?”
– Benson Gagnon

Even bears know enough to poop in
their own woods and not the gardens
of their neighbours

When my daughter first shared my grandson Ben’s latest quote, my first reaction as it usually is was to laugh. Ben is not quite three and since he learned to talk, is pretty direct and often quite funny in what he chooses to say. What makes it all the more amusing is that he knows he’s funny and we believe he often says these things just to get a laugh. It’s fairly impressive cognitive thinking for someone his age.

Last week, when my daughter saw him sticking his hand down his pants she asked him what he was doing. He replied that he was tickling his junk and when she asked why, he replied, “because they’re giggly.”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone ever refer to their equipment as ‘giggly’ before.
I posted his latest quote on my Facebook page with a picture and didn’t think much more about it until just a little while ago when it occurred to me that maybe Ben had touched on something just a bit more profound than just leaving your mark in the neighbour’s flowers.
It isn’t ok to poop in other people’s gardens but we do it all the time, if not literally, certainly figuratively.
We have become very judgmental over the past few years and are very quick to condemn and criticize others for their opinions, especially those with whom we violently disagree.

In other words, we poop in their gardens. In fact, on social media, we are a little too quick to poop in each other’s gardens, often without taking the time to consider whether or not we should or even understand the context of what is being discussed.
It is one thing to disagree with someone, it is entirely another to assert that they are wrong, racist, a fascist, bigoted, a communist, a Nazi or whatever simply because you disagree with them. It is nothing but poop, as Ben would call it, when the opinion you toss into their garden is ill-informed bias based on an emotional knee-jerk response rather than objective critical analysis of the substance of the issue.
It is also a lack of basic respect and simple good manners or as it is sometimes referred to….civilized behaviour.

I’ve had people on Twitter that I don’t know and with whom I was not interacting suddenly insert themselves into a conversation I’m having with someone else to inform me that I’m wrong, nuts or just plain stupid. They might be correct in their assessment but what gives them the right to jump into the middle of something that is really none of their business?

I appreciate that we live in a democracy but there was a time when democracy included basic respect for the rights of others and common courtesy in our interactions with each other. Apparently, those days are gone and social media has successfully removed the social part from the medium.
We demand respect for our own ideas, our opinions and our beliefs but we are too often unprepared to give that same respect to those with whom we disagree. It has become more important to assert our own opinions and beliefs over those of others as if it is the only way we can find validation for our opinions and for our egos. Often, we are downright rude and appear not only to be incapable of basic respect for the opinions of others but are incapable of good manners as well.
Arrogance is a poor substitute for knowledge and ability but there is an incredible amount of it in the world today, especially on social media. Most of it is nothing more than ill-informed babble but an increasing amount of it is nothing short of invective and mean-spirited attacks that lack courtesy and precious little thought behind them.
It seems to me that if all you have to contribute is more poop, as Ben would call it, then you really don’t have much to contribute at all. If what you believe in is so weakly founded that you can only support it by attacking what others believe, then your faith in your ideas and beliefs is very insecure and probably requires some serious reassessment.
But then, there isn’t much actual thinking that goes into opinion these days or much actual knowledge either for that matter. Opinions are formed on the fly as we hop on and off the Social Media Express. We glean our messages, see something that offends us and bingo, we drop our pants and verbally crap in the offender’s garden. Sometimes, when what we’ve read confirms our own opinion, we simply nod in agreement with a tweet or two in support and keep our pants done up.
Either way, it is seldom the result of actually stopping to think about what was said. It is usually just an emotional response. I am always suspicious of anyone who starts a sentence about what they think of an issue with, “I feel…..” I didn’t ask what you feel, I asked what you think and there is a big difference between the two.

One is emotional and requires no thought. The other is intellectual and requires nothing but thought.
Increasingly, we don’t bother to think anymore. We simply ‘feel’ our way along and more often than not, what we feel is a self-righteous anger that encourages us to believe we have the right to take a verbal dump in the gardens of others. It never occurs to us that in so doing we are encouraging others to do the same in ours.
So, ask yourself a simple question. If you wouldn’t cross the street to actually poop in your neighbour’s garden in the real world because it would be rude and even disgusting, why would you online? Do you honestly believe that it makes you look like you are more intelligent or do you ‘feel’ that somehow online, manners, respect and common courtesy are less important than they are in the real world?
Ben is not quite three and he already gets it. You just don’t poop in other people’s gardens and particularly not if you don’t want them pooping in yours. Isn’t that what a civilized society understands; that we respect each other even if we don’t agree? Anything less is chaos but don’t take my word for that, spend a little time on Twitter or Facebook.  
It should take about twenty minutes to confirm that there are an awful lot of ill-informed, uncivil crap being slung around by people on social media these days. They would do well to take some advice from Ben.
‘It’s not ok to poop in other people’s gardens right Mommy?” That’s right Ben although a lot of people still don’t get it.

You’re Awesome!
Psychotic Penguins
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

The Official Opposition To Reality

Queen Elizabeth II, Canada’s
head of state and a grand and
noble lady

Canada is a parliamentary democracy. In fact, it is actually a constitutional monarchy but the Queen is tied up with the Olympics right now so we’ll just deal with the parliamentary part of it.
Unlike the republican form of government in the United States, Canada does not have an executive branch. Our government is comprised of the House of Commons (the legislative branch), the Supreme Court of Canada, (the judicial branch) and the Senate (where former political hacks and bag men go to retire in taxpayer funded comfort before dying). Only our House of Commons can pass legislation that has been introduced either by the Commons or by the Senate. Typically it is the governing party that introduces legislation but individual members can also prepare and introduce legislation but these bills seldom get passed.
Our system is a first-past-the-post electoral system. Like the United States, we have political parties because like Americans, we haven’t figured out how to get rid of them yet.  The party that gains the most seats in an election forms the government. If the total number of government seats outnumbers the total number of opposition party seats, it is called a majority government. If the opposition outnumbers the government, it’s called a minority government. (They actually have government committees who come up with the official labels for things like this)
We do not have a president who is elected separately by the people. The prime minister is just one more member of parliament who represents an electoral riding like the other members. He or she becomes prime minister because they also happen to be leader of their political party. 
I know that’s all a big yawn and I apologize but it was necessary to lay it out so that we could get to this point.
The party in parliament with the second highest number of members is called the Official Opposition. Currently, the New Democratic Party is the Official Opposition which provides them with a few extra perks over the other opposition parties; the Liberals, Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party who who get no perks beyond their six figure salary and gold-plated pension.
If you find all of that a little confusing, you should try living under that system for awhile.
Canada’s parliament buildings
It is the job of the Official Opposition to hold the government’s feet to the fire in order to cause improvements to legislation and ethical conduct by the government. Of course, that gets difficult to accomplish when the Official Opposition, along with the rest of the opposition and the governing party itself, is actually part of the Official Opposition to Reality.
Reality, by its nature, pretty much demands some level of common sense and that seems to be in fairly short supply these days. You sort of accept that on social media with the plethora of people who are only to eager to share their lack of critical thinking with the rest of the world but clearly it has spread from politics to the mainstream media, from Wall Street to Main Street.
Reality is a concept that more and more of us resist with an incredible amount of dedication and tenacity.
There’s Mitt Romney on television in a nice suit starting his “foreign affairs’ tour in England and the first thing he does is criticize the preparedness of the Olympic Games. Oops! London Bridge didn’t actually fall down on his head because it’s in Texas now but he did get his knuckles rapped by the British Prime Minister and the Mayor of London, not to mention the British tabloid press.  Being forced to do serious public relations repair on your first day of the big tour isn’t an auspicious beginning to demonstrating that you’re a world statesman.
For their part, the Obama Administration in an unbelievable over-statement of the obvious announced that there was a possibility of a massacre in Syria. Twenty thousand people have already been slaughtered which would seem to indicate that the massacre has been going on for some time and is continuing. As the dear lady, my late mother used to say that if you have nothing nice or intelligent to say, don’t say anything at all. She was a wise woman and there are a lot of folks in politics, including the current administration, that could have learned from her.
Even up here in the Great White North, we have been treated to some significant disengagement from reality this week. 
Christy Clark, premier of British Columbia
The premier of British Columbia is attempting to extort a share of the oil revenues from the Alberta Oil Sands by suggesting her province may block construction of the Gateway pipeline. This is the pipeline that will carry the oil from Alberta, across British Columbia to the ports on the Pacific Ocean.
The premier’s comments have raised a fire storm of criticism and so they should. Her pronouncement is not only self-serving, her intention is unconstitutional and therefore illegal. It is also hypocritical. On the one hand, she talks about the environmental risk the pipeline poses to her province while on the other gleefully dismissing that risk if, of course, the price is right. You have to love a politician that can be bought….well, actually, they can all be bought so I guess it’s not all that easy to love them.

Fortunately, there is an election coming in British Columbia and it looks very much like Ms Clark, who is well back in the polls, will be seeking an involuntary career-path adjustment immediately after it is held. Unfortunately, she will be replaced by another politician.

In Toronto, the mayor poses for a photo op with a Neo-Nazi while the provincial government of Ontario declines to open up beer and wine sales to allow them to be retailed in grocery and convenience stores like the rest of the world. The Premier of Ontario is of the opinion that the people of the province are too irresponsible to purchase these products at convenient locations and it is best left in the hands of a monopoly comprised of foreign-owned companies.
It isn’t merely politics where opposition to reality has taken hold.
Michael Moore
I watched Michael Moore on Piers Morgan the other night. Before you say anything, in my own defense I thought it might be amusing to watch two supremely arrogant people with not much of importance to say….say it. 
They were discussing gun violence and the gun culture in the United States and for a brief, shining moment, Mr. Moore actually started to make sense. He criticized President Obama for not keeping his campaign promise to tighten up the sale of assault rifles and went on to say that he was actually quite disappointed by a number of things about the Obama Administration. Usually, when someone is prepared to take a critical eye to the politician or issues they support, it is an indication that they are reconnecting to reality.
Excellent Mike! You have rediscovered common sense but tragically it was only momentary because he immediately said that, of course, he would vote for President Obama again.  How many times have we seen people vote for someone who didn’t deliver, screwed up or just flat out lied to them only to turn around and vote for them again?

You’re right….I’ve lost count too. It’s small wonder we keep going around in circles and never arrive anywhere.

Too many have become part of the Official Opposition to Reality. Common sense has fled and been replaced by hyperbole and outright stupidity in some cases. Politicians are behaving like panicked animals fleeing a forest fire when they are not pontificating or pandering to the lowest common denominator.

The mainstream media have lost sight of the idea that reporting the news is about uncovering the truth, not spinning or editing the truth to support a political ideology or candidate. True journalists have been replaced by pretty boys with trendy haircuts and prettier (for the most part) girls with short skirts and nice legs or by gruff, opinionated impersonators of journalists.

The news is no longer about ‘Keeping Them Honest’ or presenting the facts in a clear and unvarnished manner. It is all entertainment now, one long never-ending reality show that is only missing Howard Stern as a celebrity judge.

Social media is awash in polarized and uniformed opinion. It’s thousands of words per minute almost all of which signifies nothing.
Meanwhile children are murdered and kidnapped across our nations, drug gangs terrorize our cities and people are slaughtered by desperate totalitarian regimes and terrorists around the world. We have not come close to defeating poverty despite our national wealth and we continue to squabble over the birth certificates and tax returns of politicians while billions of dollars are squandered by inefficient government policies and outright corrupt practices.
Even as the price of oil goes down; the cost of gas goes up. The prime lending rate is almost at zero which means that banks will pay you about .5% on your savings while they continue to rake in almost 20% on credit card interest. Nobody says a word about about the banks increasing the spread between what they charge in interest and what they pay; we’re too busy looking for proof the the President’s birth certificate is a forgery.
Katherine Jackson at the centre of the family feud
You are racist if you criticize President Obama, you are a communist if you support him.

For a little comic relief, the Jackson Family flipped out this week over Michael Jackson’s estate, with rumours of the kidnapping of Katherine Jackson and videos of squabbles at the Jackson compound.

There is no in between anymore. That’s where reality actually lives but nobody goes there these days. Everyone is too busy exploring the outer edges of the twin universes of self-delusion and paranoid fantasy. Any day now I expect to read somewhere on Twitter that Al Qaeda has joined forces with the Klingons and the Romulans to fight democracies around the world.

We demand more entitlements even though our governments had to borrow money to pay for the ones we already have and can’t afford. Environmentalists push to devastate our economies with oppressive and irresponsible environmental policies and adolescent dreams about sustainable energy. A modern, industrial society is not going to be powered by wind and sunlight. Even James Lovelock, the scientist who started the whole global warming hysteria, has acknowledged that. He now supports nuclear power and power derived from fracking. I’m relieve. I would hate to be aboard a solar-powered Boeing trans-Atlantic jet on a rainy or cloudy day.

School boards and departments ban Christmas and Halloween, eradicate words like dinosaur and dancing while introducing curriculuums that teach grade-school children about oral sex. Boards of health fight to ban smoking everywhere while they throw their support to safe injection and inhalation facilities for the use of devastating illegal drugs like heroin and crack.

And conspiracy theories abound. If it isn’t terrorists who are trying to kill us, it’s our government, the left, the right or the guy who lives down the street. Whoever it is, God damn it! Somebody is trying to kill us.

This was further underscored for me this week in a very long article (yes, someone actually writes even longer articles than mine) in which the author lays out an entire case for the Colorado shooting as being a conspiracy orchestrated by the FBI.
The article makes all kinds of assumptions about the acquisition of weapons being too expensive for the shooter, the body armour being too sophisticated for a novice to purchase and then links it all to the pending UN Small Arms treaty. In the writer’s mind, the FBI approached the Colorado shooter, convinced him to shoot as many people as possible, booby trapped his home for him and then had him meekly give himself up so that the government could disarm Americans.
He referred to it as Fast & Furious II.
There are many realities it appears but none as distant as the one that is devoid of anything even closely resembling common sense and which is filled with nothing but paranoia. With all the fear of government these days, I’m amazed that so many millions have so much to say against the candidate they oppose and in favour of the candidate they support.  One would have thought that the people would have given up on the system and politicians we have now and simply united and risen up to tear it all down and start again but then, that would take effort and incessant tweeting and televised commentary is just so much easier.
Here’s a reality check for the Official Opposition to….well….Reality.
There are terrorists out there but there aren’t terrorists under every rock and behind every tree and not every Muslim is a terrorist. Government does meddle in our lives, is ineffective, inept, sometimes dishonest and too often just plain stupid but it is not a unified, focused organization intent on enslaving people. Democratic governments have a proven track record of not being able to accomplish much of anything very efficiently so I see little reason to suddenly believe they’d be any good at enslaving the population. You need a dictator with focus for that, not a politician who can’t focus beyond the next campaign photo op.
The mainstream media are not the be all and end all to the truth, neither is social media. It’s mostly a lot of chatter signifying nothing and accomplishing even less. Facebook and Google are not your friends and Twitter is not a democracy. 
We live in a dangerous world. That is a reality.

We have serious economic problems thanks to pandering politicians and special interest groups who fund election campaigns and who rape our econimies. We have poverty in countries that are wealthy, child abuse in countries that have all the law and civilization required to eradicate it. That is reality.

We are free to speak our minds without understanding that it isn’t government that blocks us; it is our fellow citizens who trample our right to freedom of speech. That too is a reality.

It is also reality that too many of us have resisted the responsibility to defend that freedom for all that is demanded from each of us.

If you’re life is so devoid of meaning that it requires flights of fantasy, paranoid delusions or just sheer stupidity to give it value, you’ve joined the Official Opposition to Reality and you are not part of the problem……you are the problem.
And that, my friends, is the most fundamental reality of all.
“Singin’ The White Boy Blues”

Stand Your Ground (But don’t pee on the electric fence!)

and the winner for managing to avoid reality altogether….

Colorado Batman shooting shows obvious signs of being staged


© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

When Fear Reigns

Hitler, the politician campaigning
for power
One of the ways you can always tell when someone has run out of facts to support their argument is when they trot out some comparative reference to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime of the 1930’s and 40’s. 
Even though most of us didn’t personally live through that evil hell, we are well-enough acquainted with what took place to recognize it for what it was; a regime of single-minded brutality and oppression that resulted in the deaths of more than 13 million people including the outright senseless, systematic slaughter of more than 6 million Jews.
Two students being humiliated by
fellow German students simply because
they were Jewish.
One would think that any comparison to Nazi Germany and anyone today would pretty much be reserved for the likes of the Syrian or North Korean regimes or that of the former Iraqi dictator Salaam Hussein. Typically it isn’t.

Typically it is used in democratic countries by one group of citizens against another group with whom they disagree but don’t really have much in the way of facts to support their argument.
Glen Beck, an American television personality, is constantly comparing people to Hitler and sometimes in very contradictory ways. American and Canadian politicians have used it quite freely at times, including Canada’ own prime minister who used it recently against the leader of the official opposition party’s new leader, Thomas Mulcair and of course, you see it almost every day on social media. Susan Sarandan called the current pope a Nazi because he was forced to be a member of the Hitler Youth as a child. It is a comparison that lacks substance when it is used so fatuously.
What got me thinking about all of this was that I saw it again the other day on Twitter. I had written a piece in which I criticized Michelle Bachmann in passing and that led to an argument in the comments section below the post. The tweet was to the point that those who criticized Michelle Bachmann were no different than those who had allowed the Nazis to come to power. I wasn’t offended; I was bemused that someone could have so little knowledge of history.
Early in his rise to power, Hitler received the support of
big business, the Catholic Church and special interest
The Nazis came to power for two reasons. The first was that not enough people opposed them in the beginning when they were weak. Some sided with the fledgling Nazi party because it offered a perverse kind of hope to people who were impoverished, crushed by what had been imposed on their country by the Treaty of Versailles. They were fed scapegoats to blame for their poverty, runaway inflation, high unemployment and an overwhelming sense of frustration with the continual failure of the Weimar Republic. National pride had been devastated and the once powerful nation reduced to third world living conditions. 
Others sided with the Nazis because the party appealed to their misogynist and xenophobic views of society and the Nazis provided convenient targets for their prejudice including: liberals, socialists, communists, gypsies, the mentally infirm and, of course, Jews who were identified as the root cause of all of Germany’s problems.
Some sided with the Nazis in the ridiculous notion that Hitler could be controlled and that they would find some advantage in supporting him while keeping him on a short leash.
The autobiography of Adolf Hitler,
required reading for every
German during the Nazi years
After a failed coup d’état and a bit of time in prison where he wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle) Hitler rose to power and he did it by turning the citizens of his own country against each other. Although he initially paid lip-service to blaming the reparations imposed by the allies after the First World War, his real success resulted from appealing to people within his own country only too willing to see other citizens of their country as the enemy.
He played on people’s fears, prejudices and anger. He provided convenient and easy targets to blame and invariably those scapegoats were fellow German citizens. In the end, when it was too late to stop Hitler, he simplified the enemies list to define anyone that didn’t support the Nazis as an enemy of Germany.
Michelle Bachmann is not a Nazi. She isn’t even close but she shares one thing in common with them. She is only too willing to trample over the reputations and rights of other American citizens using suspicion and fear to garner support for her simplistic politics.
The United States is a country that takes individual rights and freedom seriously and I have always admired Americans for that. Too many people in other countries, including my own, are too willing to trade away their freedoms and personal liberties for what they think of as order and good government. Because there is no such thing as good government, it is a bad trade.
Lately, however, I have been saddened by how many in the United States have allowed their fears and prejudices to interfere with that singular dedication to the right of all to pursue their lives in freedom and to both hold and voice their opinion openly and without fear. There was a time when America’s unofficial motto was “I may not agree with you or what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Now, the unofficial motto seems to be, “If you aren’t like us or what we perceive to be us, you are the enemy or an agent of the enemy.”
Where once the United States embraced the politics of liberty, it is now ruled by the politics of fear.
This had led to the American government violating its own constitution through the use of torture and the violation of jurisprudence at Guantanamo. It has resulted in oppressive security measures that have gone far beyond the safety of air travel and even resulted in an American school board imposing absurd security restrictions out of fear of the very people it represents at their public meetings. And it has led to people like Glen Beck and Michelle Bachmann to pointing the finger of suspicion at born and raised American citizens like Huma Aberdin for no other reason than because of an accident of birth.
Ms Aberdin is the daughter of an American citizen who immigrated to the United States from Iran more than forty years ago. She was born, raised and educated in the United States and is as American as Abraham Lincoln. Michelle Bachman has suggested that Ms Aberdin is a possible security threat to the United States because her father had an association with the Muslim Brotherhood when he was young and lived in Iran. It never occurs to people like Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann that someone like Huma Aberdin could have been positively influenced by her life, her education and her career as an American citizen. All they see is the ghosts of the things they fear, hiding in the shadows.
I am not an apologist for extremist or terrorists from any background, including Islamic groups like Hezbolla and Al Qaeda. I fully support attempts to protect ourselves from those who would harm us, including taking the battle to where they live. That does not mean, however, that I am prepared to support an attack on citizens of our democracies simply because they look like the bad guys. If all citizens of our democracies are not entitled to the same rights and protections as I am, then my rights and freedoms are at risk too.

Originally founded as a religious social organization, the Muslim Brotherhood was pan-Arabic and had the stated objective of political reform, democracy, freedom of the press and it officially opposes violence as a means to achieving its objectives. It is banned and repressed in countries like Syria and the former Egypt regime and is condemned by Al Qaeda for its belief in democracy as the means to achieving a successful society.

Because it is a very large, loosely connected organization that spans many countries, there have been some within the Muslim Brotherhood who have resorted to violence and extremism to make their point. It is not, however, the original intent or purpose of that organization. It is also something with which many organizations, including those in democratic countries have struggled. The lunatic fringe sometimes undermines the good work and intentions of the broader organization. Timothy McVey comes to mind.
At the time Ms Aberdeen’s father immigrated to the United States, terrorism of the magnitude we see today didn’t exist. The Shah ruled Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood was accepted world-wide as a benign organization with democratic objectives and strong family values.
People like Ms Bachman look back on history through the distorted lens of what is happening today. They accuse based on a history that doesn’t exist but which they replace with the political prejudice and fears of what is happening now.  It’s an old political trick and it is how the Nazis were able to overcome political opposition within their own country. 
Ms Bachmann does not have a monopoly on defining what makes a good and patriotic American, no one does. In a free society, every citizen has the democratic right to bring their own ideas, heritage and understanding to what they believe constitutes being a good citizen. The only provision is that it is not a violation of the constitution or the law.
This brouhaha started by Ms Bachman specifically mentioned Ms Aberdin and had no basis in fact. It was just more innuendo and accusations based on prejudice and political opportunism. 
That is not the America the founders envisioned and it is not what made America once the strongest and freest nation in the world. It is what built the Third Reich and led to the virtual destruction of much of Europe. It is the same uninformed paranoia that allowed both the Canadian and American governments to round up and imprison in concentration camps, all American and Canadian citizens of Japanese descent after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour. Some of those citizens had fought alongside fellow citizens during the war in Europe in defense of a liberty their own country would soon take from them.
It was then, as it is now, the politics of fear driven by careless and sometimes racist but always irrational and poorly informed anxiety that allow one group to trample the rights of another group of citizens. It is not prudent democracy; it is democracy at its most cowardly.
It isn’t the people who criticize people like Michelle Bachman that are like those who allowed the Nazis to come to power, it is those who allow their prejudice and their fear to suppress the rights of fellow citizens who are innocent of anything other than having a different racial heritage. Rather than defend their fellow citizens from specious and unfounded attacks and defend the principles they claim to embrace, they buy into the paranoid attacks on the innocent and that has always allowed regimes like Hitler’s to flourish.
People gave their lives so that citizens like those in the United States could be free to live their lives openly and without fear of repression from government, from other nations and from each other.  When people forget that and react out of fear to trample the same rights of other citizens that they demand for themselves, they dishonor that sacrifice and undermine the very principles and values of their own constitution. They will too soon learn, as many did in Nazi Germany, that when they support those who attack the innocent, there will be no one left to defend them when it is their turn to be attacked and oppressed.
There can be no united nation when its citizens live in fear of each other. There can be no freedom or liberty when fear reigns. 
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

Small Dreams: The Decline Of Democracy

2012 U. S. presidential candidates
Mitt Romney and Barrack Obama
As the world watches the United States spend its way through another presidential election campaign, I look at what is being offered for so much expense and scratch my head.
Billions are being spent in a war of words between a Democrat and a Republican, a barrage of rhetoric that is so meaningless that it is little more than adolescent schoolyard bickering.

This isn’t leadership. There is no higher morality or vision being offered, no quiet dignity and sense of connection to the people. It is politics at it most cynical, policies made on the fly in response to polls and the opponent’s mistakes and weaknesses.

Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper
It is not peculiar to the United States.
Canada hasn’t produced a true leader in decades or maybe even longer. The current crop of political hacks is bereft of new ideas and little more than different faces in the same tired suits and ideas of the guys that came and went before them. It is a sad commentary that the best one can say about our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is that he is merely a little more competent than most. There is no inspiration or vision, just a narrow-minded management of the day-to-day activities of government as if the country was not much more than a large accounting firm.
Germany’s Angela Merkel, Italy’s former
PM Belusconi and France’s former
President Sarkozy
In recent years, Europe hasn’t offered up much in the way of leadership either. Whether it was Italy’s over-sexed clown Berlusconi, France’s Sarkozy or the crowd of inept and faceless politicians that contributed to sink Greece, Europe has elevated mediocre political leadership to an art form. Even the hapless Angela Merkel of Germany has floundered around trying to buy Europe out of a debt crisis not of Germany’s making and without much hope of success. She just doesn’t really know what else to do.
In the end, none of them really know what to do so they spend more money; money we don’t have and can’t afford. 
There is no dignity, no vision and no ability to inspire and unite a nation. It is all about polls, photo ops and the next election. More strategic planning goes into organizing a G-20 meeting than most politicians put into planning the governing of their countries.
South Africa’s Nelson Mandela,
an inspiring and uniting leader
with great integrity and quiet dignity
There are no Nelson Mandelas or Mahatma Ghandis leading our nations now, only those who thirst for power for its own sake. They are aided by those who lack the ability to obtain that power for themselves and so content themselves with being a part of the great person’s entourage and war room.  They flutter around the politicians like moths around a porch light and contribute even less. There is no sense of common purpose to unite a people and lead them forward. There is only more of the same senseless dithering and pandering that has become the mainstream of politics in modern democracies.
Is all of this working? Are our democracies becoming stronger and more successful? I would suggest it is not working and that most democratic nations are floundering as a result of a lack true leadership.  
Our nations are divided and the people polarized, angry and frustrated. We are overwhelmed by a level of global debt that is staggering and our infrastructures continue to crumble as politicians dither, squandering money on failed but trendy ideas like wind farms and solar energy companies.  They talk about fiscal responsiblity while throwing more money at special interest and election campaigns. They raise taxes only to squander the additional money on corrupt ideas, poor fiscal management and outright incompetence.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of Iran
The world is less safe today than it was twenty years ago and our political leadership has failed to understand why or how to address the threats.  Democratic governments are inconsistent. They intervene in Libya but stand back and watch the slaughter in Syria. Our leadership is so poor it is unable to effectively address the threat of terrorism and so impose oppressive security measures on their own citizens while failing to deal with the root causes of terrorism at its source.

Our democracies have been so poorly led, that it has undermined whatever moral authority they once held in the world and our enemies no longer fear or respect us. Today, our democracies are seen as weak, confused and self-indulgent by those who would do us harm.

For its part, the United Nations has been overrun by repressive regimes to a point of stasis and the leaders of our democracies stand back unable to do anything beyond talk and watch it happen.
Our governments violate our constitutions and break our laws and the greatest threat to our freedom comes from the lack of moral integrity that fuels the political leadership today.  Where once we were led by those who tried to do what was right, we are now led by those who lead based on what is politically expedient regardless of the legality, the morality or the economics of those decisions.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
In the United States, the Attorney General the nation’s chief protector of law, is found in contempt of Congress. In Canada, it is the Prime Minister and his government that are found in contempt of Parliament.

The current Canadian government is in court defending itself from allegations of election fraud while they’re point man on ethics is himself under investigation for possible violation of the elections act. A previous Liberal government just flat out stole more than $1 million from taxpayers and handed it out in brown paper bags to its supporters in Quebec and a Liberal senator was convicted of corruption in 2011 and sent to prison.

In every major democracy in the world, politicians have been charged with and convicted of corruption or some other illegal betrayal of the people’s trust. It is not the left or the right that lack the moral authority to lead with integrity, it is parties on all sides that have violated the oath of office and the laws and constitutions they were sworn to protect.

These are not small issues. When the political leadership is in contempt of the very institutions they lead and are sworn to uphold, it is an indication of a moral vacuum at the heart of our government institutions. When the people take sides to support those who lie to them or steal from them, it underscores that adherence to blind ideology has replaced morality, integrity and even common sense. Together, they are a sign of the erosion of the principles and values upon which all democracies were founded
If a Prime Minister or a President will not defend the constitution and laws of their own nations, who will? If the people of a nation will not stand up and demand their leaders, regardless of political affiliation, uphold the law rather than pervert it for their own purposes, who will?
We are not being defeated by Islamic extremist countries, terrorist groups and other nations that hate us, we are being defeated by politicians that lack the focus of those who threaten our security and our way of life; politicians who place obtaining power far above using that power for the greater good. Our enemies have a strong sense of purpose and are focused. Our governments are unfocused and bloated bureaucracies led by politicians who place obtaining and holding on to power ahead of using that power for the greater benefit of their nations.

We are nations thirsting for inspired leadership. Where once our nations were led by people who dared to dream big dreams, we are now led by politicians who lack the courage and the ability to dream at all.

We perpetuate the erosion of our democracies by supporting those who bring that cynicism and lack of leadership to governing our nations. We enable those politicians who lack the morality and the sense of purpose to lead effectively by allowing them to buy us with borrowed money and with lies and half-truths. 
We are willfully blind and it is that blindness that will ultimately be our undoing. We are, ‘we the people’. It falls to us to decide whether we will continue to participate in the decline of democracy by giving our support to political leaders who betray the very principles upon which our nations were founded or whether we will take off the blinders of ideology, unite as one people and demand something better.
Violating The Oath Of Office
What Ever Happened To Integrity?
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others