Rewriting History? Or History Repeating?

I am unimpressed with our elected officials this week.

(I am using understatement as a rhetorical device and in an attempt to remain calm and keep from spitting pure venom onto the computer screen)

3rd prorogue?!?!? Really?!?! *Update- according to my friends at the CBC and lostandfoundbooks, Harper has actually prorogued FOUR times.  I somehow missed the one in ’07- was buried alive in a dissertation.  Carry on…*

Jebus.

Evidently the political agenda needs ‘updating’, so the reconvening of Parliament is delayed a month.  Just like when the Liberals and NDP threatened to form a coalition that could overthrow the Conservative minority, and again when the Prime Minister was hesitant to answer questions about Afghan detainees (that time he blamed it on the Vancouver Olympics).

I’m sure it has nothing at all to do with the debacle in the Senate at the moment.  Especially since the inquiries and audits are mainly finding issues with Conservative Senators.

Can’t have anything to do with it.  Right?

And he verified that he will be leading the country into the next election.  Was ‘disappointed’ the reporter even had to ask.

Disappointed.

Jebus.

Not as disappointed as I am.

And then there’s Harper’s Canada and Harper’s History.

Granted, he’s not the first politician to attempt to rewrite history.  The cliché that it is the winners who create the stories is all too accurate in most cases, but in a free, democratic society, where we have access to primary documents and first-hand accounts along with significant remains of material artifacts, we also actually have historians who work pretty hard at solving the mysteries of the past.  It’s their job.  And real historians don’t start from a particular political agenda when reconstructing history.

Scholars of Canadian history link events and people and places together, regardless of whether or not the stories are flattering or even, at times, all that pleasant.

Harper would seemingly prefer that his government provide the backdrop and definition of our shared identity and past.

Thanks, but no.

Lest you think that my anger is directed only at the federal (Conservative) ‘leadership’, I also sent a somewhat disgruntled missive to my Provincial (Liberal) MLA last week.  This disgruntlement has only increased with the complete lack of acknowledgement or response.

It wasn’t anything remotely like a letter one would receive from someone in a tin foil hat.  No conspiracy theories.  No mention of the colossal waste of taxpayer money in the decision to shut down the plans for power plants in order to preserve seats and control (albeit as a minority) of the government (and I wouldn’t even think about bringing up what political expediency did to the teachers of this province).  I maintained appropriate decorum and language throughout the letter.

I just plainly and clearly expressed my concern about value-for-money in the context of a reallyreally unacceptable response to my (taxpaying) inquiry about resources for job searches from an employment centre that is funded by the Ontario government.  As I have said before, I am aware that I am fortunate to have any job at all in this market/economy/recession.  But does that mean that I should be completely shut down and out in my request for direction and access to government resources?

I didn’t think so.

So I asked my MLA if there is another tack I should be taking, since my tax dollars funded employment centres have no help at all to offer to me.

No response.

It seems as if both levels of government (all three, really.  But I’m trying to forget that Mayor McCheese exists right now.  I can only handle so much political depression at one time) are paying all kinds of lip service to this story of economic recovery and powering forward as the envy of the world.

Harper shifted the discussion away from his prorogation suggestion stating that he prefers to discuss economic recovery and job development in the North.

Ontario politics have been so messed up- what with by-elections (one riding won by Mayor McCheese’s now-former deputy) and hearings about the power station controversy, that there has been little coherence to any message at all coming out of Queen’s Park.

It’s Summertime.  In Canada.  Everyone is moving at Cottage Speed.  I get that.

But these people were elected to fix uncountable issues that impact the everyday lives of millions of citizens (and residents) of this country.

In ancient Rome Prorogatio extended the power to command beyond the one-year mandate of the magistracy in cases when there weren’t enough elected officials to govern newly acquired land.  In theory, this was intended to ensure that these territories would continue to be governed by men who knew the area and its local conditions.  Because ancient Roman politicians were humans (and politicians) and therefore inclined to corruption and greed, in actual practice prorogatio of provincial assignments became the norm- allowing those who ascended to power to extend that power and to command extraordinary military power and personal wealth.

This well-intentioned political device, originally something that had to be voted on by the citizens of Rome, became usurped by the powers of an unscrupulous Senate and led to the breakdown of the governmental system and to the civil wars that eventually ended with the collapse of the Roman Republic.

Unscrupulous Senate?  That sounds vaguely contemporary and familiar doesn’t it?

According to Canada’s constitution, the monarch has the ability and royal prerogative to prorogue Parliament.  In practice (as we’ve seen oh-so-frequently of late), the leader of parliament (or the legislature- Dalton McGuinty did it too), in this case the Prime Minister, asks the Governor General, the Queen’s representative, to cease all legislative business until such time as he decides to recall the members to get back to work.  At his convenience and according to his control-freak agenda.

Rick Mercer summed it up a few years ago.

Proroguing IS for children.  The CNE has started, summer is almost over.  Get the hell back to work.  I’ve had more than enough of the taxation without representation that Rick talks about.

P.S. Feeling a little revolutionary today.  Anyone feel like joining me down at Harbourfront for a little party?  I’ll bring the tea.

Media Goo Goo, Media Ga Ga

Last week I wrote a couple of posts (which will not, for some arcane reason, be linked into this one- Moss Grows Fat… Parts 1 and 2, if you’re interested) that could, in part, be construed as a defence of media- in particular, investigative print (and online) journalism.  This week I honestly feel like rescinding even that tentative support.

Holy cows.

Yes.  A couple had a baby.  They are experiencing the joys of first-time parenthood and seem to be handling it all beautifully.  In this case ‘it all’ includes constant and invasive and ridiculous media presence.

Seriously.

I have absolutely nothing against William and Kate- or the British monarchy, for that matter.  I am Canadian, and I’m okay with our historical connection to Britain and its kings and queens.

My issue lies completely with the media (speaking in BROAD generalizations here)- and the way it is allowing itself to be used by our political establishments.  And since it’s not the first time- even very recently- that this has come up, I can’t not comment on what’s going on.

Even the venerable CBC has spent an inordinate amount of time discussing this child (it was a topic on Power and Politics with Evan last evening.  Sigh).  The morning show on CBC News Network (which is, admittedly, more about headlines than stories with any depth) was all about the Royals going home and the first visit of Her Majesty, Great-Grandma.

Jebus.

Enough already.

A friend of mine recently commented that the media is completely responsible for the fluff that dominates our airwaves these days.  While I would never consider myself a conspiracy theorist, I have to say that there is insidious behind-the-scenes governmental/social leadership culpability when you boil the phenomenon (this domination of non-news in our news feeds) down to its source.

The powers that be- Municipal, Provincial (or State), Federal and religious- ALL benefit from an ignorant populace.  The more that we are sedated by mind-numbingly terrible television shows and junky celebrity magazines, the less attention we tend to pay to issues of any import.

My personal beef is with the fact that no one seems to read anymore.  Granted, complaining about non-readers (and lack of reading comprehension) on a writing site seems counterintuitive at best.  Venting about such things in a forum that features writers -often writing about the great things that they’ve read- does amount to preaching to the choir.  But it is my hope that there are choristers among us who may be in positions to positively influence change in this regard.

Teachers, speakers, political leaders, pundits and writers with a larger readership than little ol’ me can (and should) speak out about the lack of critical reading skills- and, by extension, listening skills (for those who still refuse to look at anything in print format)- and encourage those closest to them to actually think about the stuff they are exposed to (in whichever forum that they prefer).

We have myriad means of communicating with one another.  I have spent most of a lifetime examining the ways in which we communicate with one another, and the ways in which those methods of communication are often controlled and manipulated.

Humanity’s myths are frequently propagandist.  Propagandist techniques include such things as scapegoating and demonizing the enemy (for a full list see that bastion of all knowledge, Wikipedia) Such myths are means of establishing and maintaining order and are designed to be intentional societal scripts.  Some of these stories are self-aware and clear in this intent.  Others are more insidious.  We have to remain vigilant in order that we not fall under the lulling spell of some of our imposed scripts- including the idea that mindlessly watching television programs about hillbillies and rich ‘celebutantes’ is a deserved reward for how hard we have to work each day to keep body and soul with roofs over our heads and food in our bellies.

There are people speaking out about this manipulation of the media as a means of continuing the imposition of willful ignorance that seems to be the norm these days.  Bill Moyers is among my favourite voices crying in the wilderness of this reality.  With Marty Kaplan (the founder and Director of the Norman Lear Centre which studies the impact of entertainment on society) he frequently discusses such topics as media and political systems as ‘Weapons of Mass Distraction’, and how the mainstream media purposely avoids discussions of important issues such as climate change, and the lack of general outcry as the distance and divide between the very wealthy and everyone else continues to grow at an alarming rate.

There are others.  Not all television or journalism is skewed toward the ridiculous or inconsequential in the grander scheme of things.  Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart (and lately, in his absence, John Oliver), Louis C.K., Lewis Black, Rick Mercer, the cast of This Hour Has 22 Minutes… all these good folks illustrate the folly of drinking the Kool-Aid our mainstream media is trying to force-feed us on a moment-by-moment basis.  Our comedians are providing us with more coverage of important local and world events than our news outlets.

We are being manipulated.

Of this there can be no doubt.

We have to pay closer, critical attention to the mythological scripts that are being presented to us, and make informed decisions about what we are willing to stand for from our media and our leaders.  We can’t sit in apathy and complacency while allowing the propaganda to distract us from taking stands and making changes when they are required.

An arguably important baby has been born.  Let’s react to this bit of news by ridding ourselves of the infantilizing effects of media and political propaganda.

Time to grow up.

(All that said, a very Happy Birthday to young Master ‘no name as yet’  (update: George Alexander Louis) of Cambridge.  May he grow up to become a leader worthy of his history and a positive force in the world he will inherit).