Canadian Senate Scandals, Another Malaysian Jet Down, and Troubles in the Middle East

Monday, 21 July, 2014.

Looks like another crazy week in the ‘Real World’.

—Dishonoured (& unseated) ex-Canadian Senator Mike Duffy had 31 criminal charges read to him related to his alleged misuse of taxpayers’ dollars.

—Somebody apparently shot down a Malaysian passenger jet over Ukraine.

— Israel launched a ‘ground offensive’ into Palastinian Gaza, because they were  tired of dodging rockets launched from what may have been cynically chosen spots in Gaza, showed the world drone video of what they said were Hamas insurgents entering tunnels to sneak into Israel, intending to emerge and create havoc, kill innocent people and sneak back underground before they got caught.

I think John Oliver showed archive footage of Anderson Cooper giving basically the same report from Israel 4 times in the past 8 years. I like John Oliver, he makes me laugh and then feel guilty for laughing, but he hits newsworthy nails on their newsworthy heads when he says stuff something like, “CNN could save a lot of money if they told Anderson Cooper to just stay home and played the old footage as if it was new.” (Not quite a word for word quote, but it is true to his intent, I think…)

I’m still not sure why all the news broadcasts on all the networks I’m able to get went so crazy about covering the search for the first Malaysian Jet that resonated so deeply with news addicts’ consciousness, every night for much longer than would have seemed reasonable to me a couple years ago. And now that everybody is in shock again about what may have been a mistakenly shot down passenger jet over a war zone (in an area where I’m wondering why would they fly that close to danger in the first place?) We’re hearing that Russian Backed militias in Ukraine are grabbing evidence that might tell investigators what really happened and the Russians are hearing that Ukrainians caused this to happen. ((((( If what we ‘ve been told that Vladimir Putin say is true, I get the impression that what he is actually saying is along the lines of, “If those stupid Ukrainians would just pull down their pants and bend over for us we wouldn’t have to be training insurgents and sending goons and high-tech weaponry { and maybe skilled technicians to use that stuff } into their country, kill Ukrainian citizens and blame it on their government…” )))))

More and more every day, I get the feeling that we can’t trust the news we’re getting. “Bubble headed bleached blonds” smiling as they read scripts that sound to me like 85% propaganda, 10% B.S. and less than 5% actual ‘news’ grates on my nerves.

My best guess, if we can believe anything we’ve heard and seen on teevee and on the web, coming to us through ‘main stream media’ is Russian-sympathizing rebels in Ukraine thought they saw a blip on radar that looked like a military target and had well trained technicians shoot a couple high tech missiles at it, hit it and bring it down and then went, “Oops- Not a good military target…”

And the timing- having a major propaganda opportunity “Ooops” happen while Israel would be really happy if the world press was focused elsewhere ( “Anywhere but Gaza… please”) – that could seem more than a little bit suspicious. Ya think? )

But then again, somebody suggested that the real down and dirty manipulators on this planet have been successfully driving wedges between peoples, stirring up hornets’ nests and keeping everybody off centre and easily pushed in fear and anger, and if Israel has always been one of their targets, they (if ‘they’ actually exist) certainly have done their jobs well.

(((( And, on the subject of hornets’ nests, the mayor of a Quebec town or city south of Montreal stepped on a hornets’ nest and died from the shock of being stung numerous times, that made today’s news up here. ))))

& Back to John Oliver, his comment on the downing of the Malaysian Jet was something like “You get this list of surcharges whenever you fly, $35.00 for this and $39.00 for that- Why not offer another option, “$35.00 per person to stay the [ eff ] out of air space near a war zone.”?

On a kind of round table discussion of current hot news topics today on the CBC one participant answered a question about the controversy in the Ukraine with, “— I am glad that our Prime Minister —” Another participant in this discussion immediately tore a strip off this with “We don’t need any cheap shots like that clouding this issue, this is a serious subject and-” And the first speaker in this paragraph responded with, “I was just trying to say that we need leadership-” —And the sirens went off in my head, screaming, “If a politician opens his or her mouth and you hear words like “jobs”, “leadership”, “taxpayers dollars” or any one of a dozen party line catch phrases- you might as well plug your ears, because you aren’t going to hear anything like the truth-”

Senator Duffy:

The (Conservative) Prime Minister of Canada has gone on the record as saying he would like to get rid of the Canadian Senate. He appointed Mr Duffy, who was originally from Prince Edward Island, but hadn’t had a real primary residence there in years, as the Senator from P.E.I. I think the other two Senators who were humiliated in public and thrown to the wolves were also appointed by the current Prime Minister. When the fit hit the shan, Duffy was accused of falsifying his residence and accepting a travel allowance that he never used because his primary residence was in Ottawa, he didn’t have to fly home on weekends. When the RCMP came out with formal charges against Mr Duffy last week (Friday?) He was accused of accepting a bribe (the $90,000.00 ((Canadian $’s)) check written by the Prime Minister’s right hand guy) But the guy who wrote the check was not accused of bribing a Senator. (He was allowed to resign over the incident.) Some of the 31 charges in the list sound a lot like bargaining chips to be used in a legal chess match, something like, “If you plead guilty to the lesser charges and keep this out of the courts (( and don’t spoil the Prime Minister’s bid for re-election coming up soon )) we’ll spank you on the wrist and say, ‘Shame on you for defrauding the taxpayers out of their hard earned tax money…’ and you can sneak off to some resort and enjoy your life. If you drag this through the courts we’ll do everything we can to make you look like an evil child eating monster who needs to be drawn and quartered on prime time television…”

My gut feeling is, Mr Duffy did nothing that a whole lot of other politicians haven’t done up here for years. He even claims to have checked with party officials to be sure he was not committing anything unethical. If you remember the speech he gave on the Senate Floor, he told us he’d asked for advice and was assured that he was doing the right things in the right way and there should be no problems here.

Mr Duffy had been a reporter for the CBC for many years and had covered political things and political scandals before the current Prime Minister appointed him to the Senate. While he was in the Senate, he was useful to the Prime Minister et al as a fund raiser, a real money maker for the Conservative Party.

We may never know what went on behind closed doors and all that, and why the Prime Minister and his staff went after Mr Duffy and two other Senators and saw that they were summarily shown the door from the privileged areas of the Canadian Senate and told never to come back.

But I know what I saw on the fringes of “The Greater Ottawa Area”. I was employed by a news gathering organization there, outside of Ottawa, in an area that was a little too rural for Rogers Cable Executives to support with their presence. I worked for the company that Rogers sold their rights to in that area. I didn’t do much news gathering, but my friends and co-workers did. I was more or less a back up reporter whose main job was to program the local access channel and record and play back Town Council Meetings and make sure the station was on the air if any one of our numerous black outs happened. (I’d have to run or drive in and restart a couple computers, make sure the clocks were all in sync, make sure the radio station that played along with the bulletin board was on the correct station and tuned in as well as it could be.) I was asked to put together one 30 minute video per month for about a year and then asked to drop that and concentrate on keeping the web site up to date, take new still photographs to cycle through with the bulletin board and make sure everything ran smoothly. Once every blue moon I would be asked to get a couple minutes of interview with somebody or get a bit of video if a major fire broke out or something. I was part time and frankly, I hardly had enough time to do the “Master Control”  taping, editing and rebroadcasting the council meetings with introductions and PSAs and sometimes Army News and Local News Programming that was done in the two other stations in our area, and keeping the web stuff current and covering the few special events we had to cover every year (like the Santa Claus Parade, Youth Athletic Awards, Volunteer Appreciation Dinners, and things like that.)

Okay, now for you in the “Lower 48”:  MPs are more or less the Canadian equivalent of Members elected to the House of Representatives in the USA. The area I lived and worked in had an MP who was often described as a loose cannon. A minor loose cannon, nowhere near the caliber of the current Toronto Mayor, but still apt to blurt out truths that made the Prime Minister uncomfortable.

A local lawyer who may have had “Conservative Party” brightly printed on his underwear, described our MP as “An [ effing ] idiot, but definitely ‘Our’ effing idiot.” One close friend of mine said, “The people around here would elect a dead goat if it ran under the Conservative Party of Canada banner.”

But when elections were coming around. The Prime Minister had a hand picked ‘handler’ traveling around with the MP, keeping that MP from televised debates in front of an audience that just might have an interesting question that the MP might blurt out the ‘wrong’ answer to. Local Mayors would get a phone call saying, “The MP will be at your facility in an hour, these are the reporters we will allow to be there, we will be there for twenty minutes, have a good photo op and then be gone. No questions from the Press-”

How do you spell “Micro-Manager”? { “S-t-e-p-h-e-n H-a-r-p-e-r” }

Last week’s tweets and comments from News Professionals included a lot of things along the lines of reminders that the person who wrote the infamous cheque (en USA = ‘check’ ) had said something like “I have to clear this with the top people first” and then something else like, “I got the okay to go ahead from the top-” before he wrote that cheque/check.

We probably would not be dealing with this as a news story if a CBC reporter hadn’t gotten wind of this and broke the story on National Television. It would have happily been swept under a rug somewhere.

We also heard, last week, that Mr Duffy is indicating that he will stick to his guns, and if he gives blockbuster testimony under oath, it’s my gut feeling that there will not be many Conservative MPs coming to Ottawa after next year’s election.

I’m not alone. A lot of respected news people up here and several of my respectable friends, have said that this looks like a no win situation for the Conservatives in the next election.

One of the things the Conservative Party of Canada does best up here is IMPLODE. After a couple Conservative Administrations in recent memory of people over 30, only one or two Conservative MPs politically survived election day.

So who might actually emerge victorious from all this?

John Oliver has my vote.

——— Aerendel ——

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