Zorg Report: Extreme Entitlement, Alberta Style: Conservative Christine Cusanelli Pounces on the Public Teat

Extreme Entitlement, Alberta Style: Conservative Christine Cusanelli Pounces on the Public Teat

Oh well, I’ve had little to say on the Alberta election—who ever would, since governments change in Alberta in more or less the same way as they did in the Soviet Union or under the PRI in Mexico.  No dictator, anywhere, could ever look down more fondly and patronizingly (“math is hard, Miss Notchley”) upon the Albertaelectorate than a Tory leader.  Even Robert Mugabe must have taken a lot of notes, over time.

Still, I’m writing this post because I just have to say that it really stuck in my craw, big time, when I actually got a call from a semi-English speaking member of Cusanelli’s “team.”  Oh I’d like to believe that he was just one great big idealist who loved Cusanelli, but, after nearly ½ century, I think I can be excused for kind of doubting that he was just there for the stale doughnuts and warm coffee (sorry, scotch and steak, if you’re a PC).

Tory robo-calling is all-out now, with voters in Alberta getting nearly constant taped fright calls (what, couldn’t they actually find a warm body?) about the possibility of electing a party other than the PCs.  If you know you’re losing, and you have no volunteers, and you resort to canned scare calls. . .well, just sayin.’

Cusanelli, though, of Calgary-Currie, probably will win on May 5, and thus score her lifetime pension by being elected twice.  She could face a bit of opposition from the right, but it’s not all that likely.  No, all probability suggests that she will be re-elected (visit her site, I guess, to find out what she did in her first elected term) and score that automatic lifetime entitlement that comes automatically along with being elected twice for the PCs.  Frankly, I’m amazed the PCs would have elected her to run as their candidate again, but so they did, for entitlement runs deep.

You wouldn’t have heard of Cusanelli, because, well, why would you have, unless you’d noted her very first actions in public office: to start sucking madly, voraciously, like some kind of bionic polyp, on the public teat.  She instantly took her mother and daughter to the London Olympics on taxpayer money (yours and mine), and charged up an astounding amount of expenses billed to—you and me—taxpayers, including a $100 Starbucks gift card.  I kinda doubt Christine ever bought a $100 Starbucks gift card for herself, or anyone else, before she was elected as a PC and instantly introduced into cabinet by Alison Redford, but as soon as she could start sucking on the public teat like a crazed woman, she let loose with all barrels.  It’s all there in black and white, or at least the parts the public are allowed to see:


I think Cusanelli’s actions say things about her, and her party. 


First, it is amazing to me that anyone would be elected to public office and so instantly start sucking on the public teat as urgently and as vigorously as she did.  Yes, I guess it happens, especially in entitled Conservative circles, and especially in Alberta ones, where winning the nomination to be a PC candidate is infinitely more important than anything you’ll ever go on to do afterwards.  Christine knew that.  I’ve worked in at least quasi-political circles, and I know how careful I and my colleagues were to avoid even the slightest hint of spending others’ money.  But we knew people could come in and go over our files—Cusanelli, and her backer Alison Redford, clearly never had such thoughts on their minds—Redford wouldn’t have instantly begun building her sky-palace (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/alberta/alison-redfords-sky-palace-unveiled-but-as-humbler-meeting-rooms/article22731201/), once elected, if she had thought otherwise.  Who knows, maybe Alison was just, as Christine suggested she herself was, a little dumb, and didn’t really “get” the rules.  I suspect, though, that if you asked them, both Christine and Alison would react a little vociferously to the suggestion that they were somehow a bit slow on the uptake, on anything.  Oh, I’m sure they aren’t.  The evidence is in, well in; they knew exactly what they were doing, and if they want to prove, in a court of law, that they were just momentarily, serially, brainless idiots, then they are free to pursue their cases.


[Funny thing, Cusanelli was supposedly a school administrator before she sought the Tories.  Interesting.  She might have had a good pension in that job, but the allure of the public teat and Tory entitlement must have been overwhelming—the carte blanche of the PCs was irresistible even to someone who _had_  what would look like a fulfilling and well-pensioned position.  So much for smelly, runny-nosed kids—Christine had her eye on a much bigger prize she could bag in 8 years or less, forget 25.]

Further, Cusanelli’s sense of entitlement must go back to her family and her upbringing.  It may be that she coveted the Tories and the lifetime pension it brings and is about to bring her, and it may be that her good family just kept supporting her.  Good.  But if I just got a new job, and I told my family, “hey, folks, we’re all going to Disneyland!!  And I’ve kind of maybe got a meeting a little bit related to my new job while we’re there, but we can all go, and I’m paying,” you know what—do you know what—I’m going to say that again—DO YOU KNOW WHAT—MY family probably would have said, “er, Christine, can we afford this?  It sounds fun and we’re grateful, but, uh, can we do this now?  Maybe we can wait a bit and have a nice vacation sometime. . . .”  But oh no, not Christine Cusanelli, and not her family.  They were ALL eager to start sucking on the public teat like crazed maniacs.  Thus, while I do not believe that all parents should always be made to take total responsibility for the actions of their children (even 30-year-olds), I do swell with disgust at Cusanelli’s family, who, if they did not know they were sucking money out of taxpayers’ wallets, at least allowed themselves to go along with Christine’s charade.  They could say they didn’t know, but to say they didn’t know better would, once again, ask them to have to prove, in something like a court of law, just how it was that they so remarkably did not know better what pretty much most all normal working people in the world do.

For shame, for shame.

Second, the Alberta Conservatives took Christine’s attempts to gouge taxpayers in stride.  Sure, she wasn’t in the cabinet anymore, but hey, she’s our gal, is what the Alberta PC government and the good burghers of the Calgary-Currie riding association had to say.  Who knows, maybe the executive of the Calgary-Currie PC riding association had already done, over their lifetimes, a little of the ol’ public “gouging” themselves.  I don’t know.  But it says something about the Calgary-Currie PCs that they’d get behind an MLA whose first actions in office were to start sucking, egregiously, on the taxpayer teat.  Ask yourself—would you have done it?  And if you would have, why?  Had you done it yourself and found it to be enjoyable and rewarding behaviour?  Only PC executives can answer that one.

So anyway, desperate, fearmongering PCs, quit calling me.  I wouldn’t even have been stirred to write this post if I hadn’t gotten so many paranoid PC calls.  Who are the PCs afraid of?  The people? Christine will get in again and get a gold-plated pension for less than 8 years of work (since T-Bird Jim Prentice busted the PCs’s own legislation about “fixed” elections).  When she retires, years and even decades before many, she’ll be able to do many Londonjunkets, on taxpayer money.  Albertans will have reassured themselves, as they have for nearly a half century, that they’d done the right thing, and that, in the interests of investment and job creation, Christine’s flying around the world with her family really and truly were tremendously worth it.  I’m sure Christine Cusanelli’s contributions to public life will, by that time, have been absolutely legendary.


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Zorg Report: Ferguson Jenkins: Best NHL Hall-of-Famer Canada Never Had?

Ferguson Jenkins:  Best NHL Hall-of-Famer Canada Never Had?

Abstract: Baseball has begun again.  The Cubs have a new manager, by any estimation a fine man and fine baseball mind, Joe Maddon.  They also have about seven top shortstop prospects.  Can the Cubs go all the way in 2016 or 2017?  We’ll see.  This post is about the 1974 National Film Board Donald Brittain documentary, King of the Hill, in turn about Ferguson Jenkins and the Cubs in ’72-’73.  Don’t bother with this post; just watch the documentary:  https://www.nfb.ca/film/king_of_the_hill  (You can also find it on youtube, just as you can Dennis Martinez’s Perfect Game, which I wrote about a long time ago on this blog.)  If Frank Mahovolich can become a senator, then how, in the world, didn’t Ferguson Jenkins?


April 2015 – Well, baseball is upon us again; “hope springs eternal” has given way almost already to “the boys of summer.”

For those parched nomadic Expos fans out there. . .there is no relief.  There is none.

Yes, we were the champions in ’94. . . .

By any “metric,” and any non-metric, Chatham, Ontario’s Ferguson Jenkins put up just about the best numbers one could conceivably put up—mostly with the Cubs . (!)


He probably would have won about 360 (ok well, 320-325) with the Cardinals or Dodgers, say.  Numbers kids doing graduate theses should study Jenkins’s numbers to see what a perfect, durable, 4-pitch pitcher he was.  But caution: in the search for someone more metrical than him, they might never finish their dissertations.

For any baseball fans out there, check out King of the Hill (1974), an hour-long documentary about Fergie, following him from spring training to. . .well, it’s the Cubs, off-season hunting and fishing (in NL!!!).  It’s an NFB (National Film Board) production, made and narrated by the redoubtable Donald Brittain, who also brought you unforgettable portraits of people like Leonard Cohen, if you weren’t watching (https://www.nfb.ca/film/mesdames_et_messieurs_m_leonard_cohen). Brittain’s dry, repressed, “I’m-almost-afraid-of-doing/saying-this-on-film” narration actually works well, all these decades down the road, for those of us who still love baseball love the dry and wry, nostalgic and modern-weary delivery, just like we like the canny Woody Fryman or Doyle Alexander pulling the string on those kids, just one more time.  It isn’t that we’re old farts; we just appreciate it more, each time it happens, because it reminds us that we aren’t old farts, and once upon a time, we didn’t have to pull that string.  In a way that never could have been grasped in 1974, Donald Brittain actually makes a great throwback commentator for today—the same ones you Cardinals and Padres fans of today, and ye old Tigers fans of yesteryear, clutch so close.  No, for anyone who watches this documentary and finds the voiceover silly, I say this to you: “Yes, it is incredibly silly.  It was incontestably silly in 1974, when there were helicopter shirt collars and bell bottoms that could make you Mary Poppins on a steam-grate, but now, in our petticoated age of mass porn and invented heritage, it strikes. . .just. . .the right. . .note. . .for baseball.”

And if you listen (and watch) carefully, of course, Brittain is very sly and ironic, in a way those who love and appreciate the game will grin at, rather than rebuke.


It’s crucial to remember, here, that the Harper Conservatives have cut the NFB and will probably cut it again, within weeks of this post; the erasure of Canadian history, and its replacement with “values” (code: “mine: not yours”) is just one more reason for this post.  When slaves were transported to North America, one of the first things slavebuyers did was try to break those slaves down, according to language, so that slaves from Africacouldn’t communicate with each other.  The Harper government, using taxpayer money, is doing precisely the same thing, trying to break down national, shared, communal and family-generational institutions by breaking them up and degrading them so that they can be replaced with blanket media advertising propounding shared “Harper” values that will instill fear and greed leading to greater class separation and greater entitlements for the already entitled.  If you were to say to me, “oh, come on, come off it, Dan, you’re way too cynical,” all I could say would be, “ok, how?”  Watched the hockey playoffs and YOUR money being used by the Conservatives to promote themselves, lately?  Dictators could only hope for such freedom and access to public money and airwaves.

I’m kinda starting to feel it, so should stop.  The ways I could conflate baseball and society and morality are almost limitless.  Therefore, I’ll draw it down to three (all probably related) things that really stood out for me in the documentary (other than Joe Pepitone at first, for you ball fans out there):

1) NHL star–about 17:20, Fergie’s dad talking about what a great hockey player Fergie was, and about his mom.  We sports fans, we all live in the world of what-ifs, especially in baseball, but if you can imagine Fergie’s frame and touch and talent, and pacethe Herb Carnegies and Will O’Ree’s and Mike Marstons, well, it’s hard, so very hard not to think that Ferguson Jenkins would have been a once-in-a-generation winger, warding off bodies and settling pucks for goals or assists like few others of his time.  Odd that, although we congratulate ourselves, in Canada, that Jackie Robinson could play for the Montreal Royals, we (our “values”?) elide what others might have done.  (To read more about Herb Carnegie, see: http://www.amazon.ca/Fly-Pail-Milk-Carnegie-Story/dp/0889626049).  It’s a sad reflection, but based on any evidence, probably a true one, that Ferguson Jenkins had a lot more opportunity to pursue his athletic talents in the U.S.than he did in Canada.  Oh, it’s complicated, but maybe not that much.


2) Composure—about 22:00 and throughout the documentary, you see the reserved and guarded and mature nature of the black ballplayers, Fergie with Billy Williams in probably a hotel room.  Players like Fergie and Billy and Cito Gaston came up through times when they had to stay at different hotels, eat in different restaurants, etc.  That no doubt instilled a certain guardedness, maybe even a “secret code,” like the one Harper is trying to instill in us now—a sense that we’re not all humans, but that others are somehow less human than us.  Anyway, it will strike anyone who watches Donald Brittain’s documentary just how much fun and yakkety-yak and haw-haw the white guys are having, while the black guys are all pretty business, at least off the field—they’ve got much more on the line, and that’s largely counter to any stereotypes, then or now. (If anyone wants to argue re: Ernie Banks, who we see briefly, then ok, let’s talk.)  I could be wrong about this, but only a bit.  You tell me.  It’s a blog.


3) Expos—former champions, 1994.  Jarry Park. 34:40 As the Cubs were (of course) collapsing, Ron Santo made it to first base on a walk.  The following is his conversation with Ron Fairly, a man who had a heck of a career and played a heck of a lot of ball in Canada.


Santo: I don’t git it.

Fairly: It’s a tough fuckin’ ballpark.


Santo: Damn right it is.  Bad.  Tough to hit, tough to field, tough to do everything.


–It’s a nice town, though.


Fairly: Oh yeah.





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Zorg Report: Always Join a Club of Which You Weren’t a Member: Mike Duffy and the Senate

Abstract:  Whatever happens in the Mike Duffy trial, let’s not forget one thing: Duffy watched the Senate for decades, and he wanted a part of it.  Whatever might be said of his actions, or of the (comically alleged) hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil, see-no-evil members of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s most intimate inner circle, the Duffster knew, from long, long experience, that the Senate was the place to be for easy money.  That the Duffster, an ultimate insider, knew what the Senate was like for so long, and so desperately longed to get into it, should make all Liberal and Conservative supporters wonder why they so enthusiastically support, for purely partisan reasons, the red chamber.  That’s red as in your money disappearing.

 No-one seems to be all that preoccupied by the fact that a guy who reported on politicians for decades so desperately wanted to be an unelected one.  I submit that that is a problem.

Sure the Duffy trial is annoying, but let’s not forget that the Duffster was watching it for decades; he knew what was going on, and he knew what he could get, and he wanted it, badly.  Mix in some party work, and the “Senate” becomes a taxpayer-funded propaganda instrument, even more expensive than the $75 million you already spent (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/that-75-million-in-ads-you-paid-for/article23824771/).  To what extent are Peter Mansbridge and Lisa LaFlamme already sizing up their opportunities, solidifying their contacts, making sure they’re at the head of the line?  You’d have to be mentally absent to think that Mansbridge and LaFlamme are not going to be your handsomely-paid and expensed senatorial representatives just a few years from now.


Key thing to remember about the Duffster, lest we all lose sight of it, is that the Duffster was a Hill veteran for years.  He knew the ins ands outs, and the in-and-outs.  He angled like an obsessed man for his appointment, even launching lawsuits against those he thought hurt his entitlement opportunities (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Duffy).   Now, you could say, well, Mike was just tired of being a journalist and wanted to get in on the real political action in a partisan way his “journalistic” profession had “technically” always denied him.  I’d almost respect him for that—Mike Duffy waking up one day and saying, “Gee, I’m a Conservative, and I’m going to dedicate the rest of my life to that cause.”

But no, that’s not how it works.  Mike Duffy was there, all the time, and though he may have been more craven than most, he admired and was utterly smitten by the lawlessness of the entire Senate, the easy access to taxpayer money, the unashamed and mock-serious gloating of the party hack appointees.  He watched it for decades, and he wanted a part of that moral- and tax- and cost-free zone.  Who wouldn’t?  It says much, much indeed that Liberal and Conservative supporters have cherished, for partisan and publicly extortionate reasons, a body that, from its origins, was intended to preserve privilege, as opposed to initiative (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_senate).  Good ol’ Bertie Brown, the great Conservative farmer-senate-reformer Senator, was able to ring up over $330 000 in expenses in just one year (http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadas-only-elected-senator-also-the-most-expensive).  I’ve never met Bert Brown, but I know kinfolk like his, and all of them would be ashamed and disgusted to know that they had ever known such an individual as him.  His family will for generations be remembered as the one that used Canadian taxpayers for massive personal emolument while pretending to be on their sides.

The occasional jurisdiction has eliminated senatorial entitlement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_abolished_upper_houses), and not necessarily for altruistic reasons.

Nancy Ruth, who objected to cold cheese and crumbled crackers on airplanes, raised a valid point when she said that “flying around the world” (in her case, for basic Senate purposes, Toronto to Ottawa), was something that others “just didn’t understand” (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/04/01/liberal-nancy-ruth-says-auditors-dont-understand-what-being-senator-is-like.html).  When you’re accustomed to such entitlement, you just go with the flow and take it as it comes, and it does become very easy to blend the private with the professional.  Yet it *can*, pace entitled Nancy Ruth, be hard to differentiate between legitimate personal expenses and professional ones.  They *can* blend. And sometimes, there *are* grey areas.  But, by appointing only party hacks and promoters, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has clearly upped the game—to be a Senator now, as Pamela Wallin and Duffy have shown, is not really about not being very clear on the already rather fuzzy rules; it’s about exploiting whatever fuzziness there is (Dean del Mastro, anyone?) for partisan Conservative purposes to indebt Canadian taxpayers for ideological reasons.

And there, really, is the rub.  Mike Duffy, who knew what was going on for decades, wanted a piece of the action.  Stephen Harper, operating in a personal moral-free zone with respect to taxpayers, liked the cut of the Duffster’s jib, and wanted some of the Duffster’s ample influence for his own: hence, the Senate. 

Plus ca change, ou est-ce qu’on peut change?




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Zorg Report: Zorg Report 2015-03-27 07:56:00

Germanwings 9525 = Al-Qaeda Triumphs Again  Abstract: Fear and paranoia enabled the conditions and killing of the passengers on Germanwings 9525; in honour of the victims of that flight, and for all future fliers, sensible policies, that do not replace reasonable prudence with get-tough politically-expedient reactions and expressions of fear,

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Zorg Report: Germanwings 9525 = Al-Qaeda Triumphs Again

Germanwings 9525 = Al-Qaeda Triumphs Again


Abstract: Fear and paranoia enabled the conditions and killing of the passengers on Germanwings 9525; in honour of the victims of that flight, and for all future fliers, sensible policies, that do not replace reasonable prudence with get-tough politically-expedient reactions and expressions of fear, nor place sole power in the hands of One person or agency, should be enacted.


Surely I’m far from the first (1000, 10 000?) people to make this simple point, but fear and paranoia and obsession with “security” appear to have led to another disaster and mass loss of human life.  That the 9/11 attackers de facto created a policy that made much of the world place collective fates in the hands of one extreme or potentially wingnut person no doubt gratifies them immensely in their exquisite afterlives—surely such terror, or infidel reduction, was key amongst their goals.

The tragedy occurred because one pilot was allowed to stay in the cockpit, and prevent entry from anyone else.

(I’m a little uncomfortable that now, barely two–three days after the crash, we’re being asked to trust officials who tell us it was an intentional downing by a sole-acting young co-pilot.  A little more time for the public revelation of evidence and something emulating some sort of legal process would be more reassuring.)


I’m struck by how former pilots and aviation talking heads are expressing shock and amazement that pilots would do something so horrible, when of course there are many examples of pilots embracing their godlike roles and taking many lives other than their own into their hands not for professional reasons, but for their own personal use and/or destruction (Ethiopian Airlines 702 and Egypt Air 990 are a couple of recent examples amongst numerous instances).  On CTV News, an “aviation expert” named Phyl Durdey offered: “You know, who would think that, y’know, an aircraft would be put into a descent by the co-pilot?”  I can’t speak for Phyl, but I don’t care if there’s 4 passengers or 400—I sure wouldn’t want to be on board an aircraft if one of the pilots found out that, say, he was being canned, or his co-pilot was sleeping with his wife, or something.  Phyl seems to attribute godlike non-humanity to pilots, and with reference to the black box in the German pilot’s head, Phyl’s views are terrifyingly ironic, indeed. 

(And Phyl, dude, if you’re out there, flying somewhere, I was initially with you.  I really didn’t buy that a pilot, wishing to commit suicide and mass murder, would do it so slowly and deliberately.  I would have thought he’d just have done a nosedive.  So far, we have only what “officials” tell us—heavy breathing and no contact—and for me that’s not total circumstantial incrimination enough—but that does not take away from the fact that there have been numerous instances of pilots taking themselves and their passengers down with them in recent years. Dan Zorg has been acquainted with several pilots, and one very close pilot acquaintance in particular has expressed greater mystification than this post does.)

As with most people, this crash caused me to reflect on some of my own flying experiences.  I remember being becalmed at the sleepy little Dusseldorfairport for hours on a bright sunny morning.  I remember being young—not that young—and being on an Air New Zealand flight. . .somehow, and surely not through anything anyone said with intention, the flight crew must have learned that it was my birthday, and an elderly pilot came right down to my seat and asked me if I’d like to see the flight deck.  Imagine (!).  I’m pretty sure I can remember, not just imagine, times when the flight deck was actually open during the flight and I could glimpse it.


Or then there’s good ol’ Air Canada.  One time, just after 9/11, I was coming home from the U.S., and it was one bizarre flight.  The flight crew brought our food, late at night, and then disappeared to sulk, never to return.  We all sat there with our trays for an hour or so, and then began shifting them into bulkheads and under seats and into the aisles and so on; the attendants weren’t coming back.  This wasn’t prior to any kind of strike or major job action or anything.  I still don’t know what was up.  But what’s so chilling to think of now was how the Air Canada pilot (was he alone?) came on during that inky night at 35 000 feet or more and embarked on this long and incomprehensible diatribe about things in general.  He invoked Christ (Preston—“Presto”—‘no government is good but if we just follow God it’ll be great!!’–Manning, seated a few rows behind me, was perhaps comforted, but I sure as heck wasn’t).  The pilot talked about holidays and work and unfairness and so on, but I do remember he didn’t say anything explicit to explain what was going on behind him, as the flight crew basically vanished and refused to work.  He definitely didn’t support them or explain anything.  He really only referred to himself, not crew or passengers. But he talked religion and fumed and rambled disconnectedly as though he were playing a video game or poking a mobile device at the same time.  I suppose he was—I hope he was.  To be truthful, my most exact recollection of this flight was exchanging looks with my flight partner, looking up and around in the darkened cabin (I still have the beige mental images, to be sure), and just thinking to myself (praying?), “Christ, I wish he’d just shut up, because the longer he keeps talking and keeps working himself into this lather, the more dangerous it gets for all of us and the more likely it will be for all of us that something catastrophic could happen because of his distractedness and anger.”  Only when he quit rambling, and nothing radical ensued, did I start to breathe easier.  Thank goodness I didn’t have a heart condition and was flying, say, to see family for an almost last time—the Air Canada pilot’s irresponsibility could have caused a death in and of itself.  Was there anyone with him?  Maybe there was and it finally caused him to glance over and take a nod and settle down.  Or maybe there wasn’t and he took advantage of his godlike moments to berate the world in general as we soared through the black night in his hands.  Something like the Germanwings flight sure makes you recollect and ponder.

How in the world could a responsible company, or government, allow a situation in which a pilot, who could experience a medical difficulty (say, cabin depression?) be allowed to be in sole “control”?  The news says that someone who tries the correct password from outside the cabin can try again in five minutes if the password doesn’t go through.  Can a correct password be forgotten? Is five minutes not enough to crash a plane?  Unbelievable. 

This is what fear and paranoia have done to us: cause us to place godlike powers in the hands of one person.  In order to act tough against our fears, we seek out fear and establish rules to protect ourselves from fears that, ironically, can lead to our destruction.  In no sane jurisdiction would it be possible for one person to completely shut out the world and take the lives of others—this is what the 9/11 pilots did, and their actions constitute the response much of the world came up with in turn—a carbon copy of the 9/11 killers’ gambit. Yet in the Germanwings case, of course, allegedly, unlike with that of the 9/11 pilots, there wasn’t even any need for accomplices with box cutters; the only things required, like Chinese or North Korean self-censorship, were abstract–generalized fear and paranoid public representatives, infinite mistrust, and the infantile ability to flick a switch shutting out the real world of/to other human beings. 

Sure fine, I’m all for security; I have no wish to die on an airplane.  I’ll stand in line forever—whatever.  I just want public representatives to be sensible.  I’ll stand in an airport forever and take off my shoes and belt and hat and have my computer sprayed and my travel toothpaste taken away and go through a body scanner and all that—sure fine; but I expect public representatives not to endanger my life by putting in place measures that transfer godlike powers to sole individuals who can never be held accountable for their actions.  If the German pilot (is guilty, and if he lived), I wouldn’t want to act like God myself and determine that he should be killed; I’d want to keep him alive for his life so that he could be studied and so that he could ponder his actions until fate took those powers away from him.  I think it’s fair to say that, if most of Canada’s Conservative caucus had their choice, if the pilot had lived, they’d have killed him with capital punishment.  Only problem is, they wouldn’t even have had that option because of their fear and paranoia that enabled him in the first place—the Conservatives elected to place sole power in the hands of one pilot (it might be said that many of them are used to that, metaphorically if not literally, as with Presto).  The Germanwings flight could have happened over the Canadian Shield; the deaths of the Germanwings passengers could have happened to anyone on a plane flown by a Canadian carrier—all because the Harper government, cherishing its fear and paranoia about someone (other than God or the pilot God) gaining access to the cockpit, chose to endanger passengers on the flights of Canadian carriers by ensuring that there could be no God but the Pilot in the cockpit—not rational or life-cherishing, capable crew–or even passengers–just the Pilot/God.


Well, as I say, the terrorists won again.  A statesman once said, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  By fearing fear itself, and distrusting one another and enacting ludicrous policies that can put One and only One person in charge, we opened the door for One to perversely and inexplicably take the lives of others.

I was going to draw in other political and domestic issues in this post, but when one writes about something like this, there’s no way to end (because you’re talking about people whose lives have ended, unlike yours, so far), and there are always those who will say “you’re exploiting a tragedy.”  Well, if I had brought in the other issues or shaped a different message, it would have been a bit harder to fling that charge.  Or maybe easier.  How many 9/11s (no, not hijackings) were there before 9/11?


That’s right, 0 (until I stand corrected).  But the world largely reacted with policies that insisted that One godlike person should take control, and that does reflect a lot of our yearnings, whether that One is a person in a uniform or a generalized kind of overlord agency (or obviously a religious proxy/prophet).  And obviously the exact wishes of the terrorists.


I’ve never been fond of flying.  I usually have to overcome physical and physiological fears and work my way into a kind of philosophical-mental zone.  You know how they say that, when you’re about to die, your whole life flashes in front of your eyes?  I thought that was just a phrase—a believable phrase—but just a phrase.  But I know it’s true because I’ve had that dream on airplanes and on airplanes alone—first pet, mother, etc.  You never have dreams like that on the ground.

Long ago I had some fears allayed by reading the French doctor and politician, Bernard Kouchner, saying that dying in a plane crash is probably a great way to go.  I’d never thought of that, I must say. I haven’t looked up that comment, but basically his attitude was that, hey, you’ve only got a few minutes left, and then it’s all over.  Contrasted with months or years of pain through innumerable possible illnesses, involving not just me but anyone associated with me, I’ve thought, yeah, the guy has a point.  Flying over Greenland, I subsequently haven’t necessarily thought: “could we land on that spike if we had to?,” but rather, “if we go on that spike, it’s done and done, full stop, and a few minutes of terror may be a better way to go than the one the One has in store for me (and in any case, I may die of something else first).” 

But this Germanwings 9525 is different—it’s different because our fear and paranoia– pace“Phyl Durdey”–allowed us to put in place a situation in which, if a remedy were even possible, it was taken out of the hands of pilots, crew, passengers, and ground control experts, and all given over to exploitative “get-tough” politicians who dictated that there could only be One in a sealed God-only zone at the front of an airplane.  I have a feeling that that feeling is a little bit like what the 9/11 “pilots” felt.  Smug and in control, never having to answer to other humans for their actions that would be hailed by a “divine” being in the afterlife, ultimately blissfully unconcerned with a world that involved real human beings while they themselves lived.

The emotions of the people on that flight—or Egypt 990 or Swissair 111 or or or—are unimaginable and uncontactable—utterly unapproachable—but some things are, even without divine approbation, certain: amidst all the chaos and screaming and terror, surely people’s lives flashed before their eyes, bringing up the most vivid and important and crucial mental images—a kind of about-to-be-dead homage to the possibly still living.  Surely people embraced one another in the most basic human ways.  In my most tearful moments about this crash, I’d like to think that some of the German high school exchange students were able to express for the first and last times nascent desires or expressions thereof that might or would have sustained them throughout their lives, had they had those lives to live.

I really think we owe it to the fear and terror that those people experienced NOT to create policies based on fear and paranoia which allow sole, godlike powers to be placed in just one person’s hands.  It may be that “the Lord works in mysterious ways,” but the generalized interests of “security” should not be allowed to jeopardize the lives of individuals who may be subject to incomprehensible, cruel, and sometimes, if humans are in charge, avoidable fates.



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