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Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Unbearable Lightness of Government

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
George Washington

kingOver the past week or so, the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) has been holding hearings on the future of television. It is, of course, a misnomer because what they are actually holding are hearings on television’s past while luxuriating in having broadcasters come before them in supplication like noble beggars to the monarch’s court at Christmas.

Continue reading

Take a Pill – The Sky Isn’t Falling

2086518_Scotland-Bagpipes-700Scotland will hold a referendum this week to determine if it will remain part of the United Kingdom or will separate from the Old Girl and become an independent nation. While my personal ancestry is predominantly Scottish, dating back to Flora MacDonald, the truth is that I am Canadian, and as such, I don’t have a dog in this fight and don’t have much invested in its outcome.

Don’t take that to mean that I am indifferent to Scotland or Great Britain; I feel a strong kinship to both because of my heritage and would prefer to see both prosper. It simply means that unlike many media pundits and politicians who suddenly discovered the possibility of Scottish independence, I don’t think of this referendum as an indication that the sky is falling. I consider it an example of democracy in action – you know, that process everyone is always jabbering about on social media and in politics but seldom seem to respect?

I think this entire process has been quite civilized although lately the rhetoric on both sides has been over the top and self-serving but that’s for the Scots to sort out. I respect their right to determine their own future whether or not I happen to agree with their decision.

That is not the case with many in government and the media these days. Having all but ignored the long lead-up to Thursday’s vote, they have suddenly become aware that there is a real possibility of Scotland leaving Britain and that has them clucking like Chicken Little after he got hit on the head by the proverbial acorn.

Inevitably the talk is all about the dire consequences of separation rather than benefits of remaining united. Continue reading

The Kids are Alright

Maggie and I refer to our two dogs as ‘The Kids’. This is not an attempt to humanize them – they’re dogs. It’s simply the acceptance of the fact that regardless of their age, when they’re not eating, pooping or sleeping they behave like a couple of 8-year olds with a sugar high.

Tanya is a five-year old purebred registered German Shepherd and Jasper is an eleven-year old purebred Springer Spaniel. They’re both smart enough and certainly a lot smarter than many of our political leaders but they have the emotional maturity of adolescent teenage girls with an attitude and a new iPhone.

“Whatever!”

I’m a big believer in the pack theory about dogs. They look on whatever family group they’re a part of as a pack – their pack. Breed, gender, political ideology; even species doesn’t matter. The pack is the pack and their affection and loyalty is to the pack. If you’re lucky; they look on you as pack leader.

On second thought, maybe they’re not as smart as I thought they were.

That’s all well and good and we do practice ‘pack theory’ of sorts but the problem with it is that every now and then, The Kids get thinking that while you may be the boss (or the Alpha male as dog trainers like to refer to it), you’re just like them or they’re just like you. That doesn’t mean they forment revolution and an overthrow of the status quo, it means they get thinking that how they do things is how we do things and that, my friends, ain’t how life is. Continue reading

Let 9/11 Stand For This

I haven’t seen much mention of it in the mainstream media but today is the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on North American soil in history. Four jet liners were high jacked; two were flown into the World Trade Centre, one into the Pentagon and the fourth was crashed in a field when passengers rose up to fight the high jackers.

More than 3,000 people died in the original attack, a number of Canadians among them. Almost 400 police officers and fire-fighters sacrificed firetheir lives in the aftermath as they searched for survivors in the rubble.

Canada stood with its closest neighbour and strongest ally. We agreed to accept all aircraft that were currently in flight as the United States shut down its airspace and hundreds, if not a few thousand, Canadians went to New York to help our American friends in any way they could. We were united by tragedy; young and old, Canadian and American, citizens and immigrants; we stood together regardless of race, religion or political ideology.

Those attacks launched the war on terror which led to the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and the long search for Osama Bin Laden. That war is far from over as we prepare to deal with ISIL and other terrorist groups but those are issues and battles for another day.

Today is a day for remembering and honouring those who died on 9/11. It is also a day to remember that 911 symbolizes the best of what we can be when we put aside our differences and stand united in a common cause. Let 9/11 symbolize the strength of who and what we are as a people and not as a sign of weakness for our enemies. Let us always remember that on September 1, 2001 we were knocked down but we were not defeated.

If 9/11 is to have any meaning in our lives; if it is to symbolize anything at all, let it be those things rather than fear or hatred.

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© 2014 Maggie’s Bear

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Twitter: @maggsbear – Facebook: Maggie’s Bear  – ivmaki@sympatico.ca

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Pedaling Furiously to get Nowhere

Globally over the past decade, we’ve experienced a wide range of serious issues. Some have undermined our economic stability others threatened our safety and security. Some were the result of natural disasters; others were man-made. But regardless of the nature of the issue, they all shared one thing in common. They seemed to have caught our global leaders totally by surprise and unprepared.

How is that possible considering the unbelievable amount of time and money these folks put into meeting and discussing and preparing for situations that may confront us?

Consider, for example, the number of international organizations that meet regularly on everything from the economy to the environment; from crime to national security.

un logoThe United Nations – NATO – NORAD – Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – The British Commonwealth (now just The Commonwealth – the Organization of American States – The European Union – INTERPOL – World Health Organization – World Bank – African Development Bank – African Union – Arctic Council – Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation – Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – Arctic Monitoring and Assessment  Program – Commission for Labour Cooperation

Hold on for a moment; I’m getting writer’s cramp. . . Ok, I’m ready again. Let’s continue. Continue reading

Waiting for Leadership that Never Appears

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has been a wake-up call. It has … reminded all of us that our freedom, security and prosperity cannot be taken for granted, that some are trying to redraw dividing lines in Europe with force and in blood.”

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

download (1)Russia’s aggression against Ukraine may have been a wake up call like the clock radio beside your bed  but apparently most of the west’s leadership are sleeping through the alarm. For all intents and purposes, Ukraine is lost. NATO has no intention of using military force to defend that country and, indeed, are not even prepared to provide it with weapons and tactical equipment. Instead, it will continue to provide what Canada’s Stephen Harper refers to as “standing firmly with our allies” by providing non-tactical military equipment, imposing yet more ineffective economic sanctions and, of course, a lot of loud bellicose but pointless rhetoric.

Some have compared Vladimir Putin’s involvement in Ukraine to Hitler’s annexation of Austria before WWII. They are wrong. If Russia is the new Third Reich, then Ukraine is this generation’s Czechoslovakia. The allies talked a good game with Hitler but when push came to shove, they sold out the Czech state in the hope that it would provide peace and security for the rest of Europe.

The invasion of Poland that followed pretty much put the lie to that fantasy.

“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” -Benjamin Franklin

The west has interfered in Ukraine from the beginning of this crisis first throwing its support to opponents of the duly elected Ukrainian government leading to its downfall and then isolating Russia which was a member of the G8 and a NATO partner. The result of this careless and political gamesmanship has been the secession of Crimea to Russia and an ongoing civil war in eastern Ukraine that has cost more than 2000 lives and which threatens the economic and political stability of Europe.

It has demonstrated a leadership vacuum so significant that Hoover and Dyson would be impressed. Continue reading