Posts from our progressive community

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - 1 hour 19 min ago
Here, on how precarity is a serious concern in far more areas than the workplace alone - and how we should think about public policy as a means of eliminating precarity (whether it be in work, housing, food or other necessities of life) wherever possible.

For further reading...
- Once again, there's been plenty of discussion about the hazards of precarious work. But for a few examples see pieces from Emily Fister (interviewing Andrew Longhurst), Margaret Simms, and Nora Loreto.
- And it's also been well documented that other aspects of poverty also cause enormous and avoidable personal stress - with the commentary linked here offering some examples.
- But Janelle Vandergrift observes that food banks and other supposed charitable stopgaps have instead turned into permanent fixtures due to our failure to address the root causes of poverty. And the Housing First program looks to be a far-too-rare case of our starting to change that pattern.
- Finally, Joan Bryden reports that rather than trying to develop more stable lives for Canadians (and particularly those who need it most), the Cons are instead continuing to punch down at Canada's most vulnerable residents - this time by eliminating social supports for refugees.

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 2 hours 30 min ago
This and that for your weekend reading.

- Geoff Stiles writes that instead of providing massive subsidies to dirty energy industries which don't need them (and which will only have more incentive to cause environmental damage as a result), we should be investing in a sustainable renewable energy plan:
(W)hereas countries such as Norway have gradually reduced...subsidies as their oil industry matured, at the same time maintaining one of the highest royalty rates in the world, Canada has allowed its subsidies to remain at a relatively high level while many provinces have actually decreased royalties on oil company profits.

There is a clear need to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. But this is only the first step. A second step is to develop comparable subsidies and incentive programs for renewable energy and energy efficiency, to stimulate development of innovative green technologies.
...
There are relatively few examples of true subsidies for green technologies or industries in Canada at the federal level. There is an accelerated capital cost allowance (ACCA), which in addition to covering fossil fuel technologies, also covers “investments that produce heat for use in an industrial process or electricity by using fossil fuel efficiently or by using renewable energy sources”; and there is a tax benefit enabling use of flow-through shares, by which expenses incurred during the development and start-up of renewable energy and energy conservation projects can be fully deducted or financed. Current federal policy, however, is to gradually phase out ACCA for all energy forms.

Several federal subsidy programs that supported clean energy investments have actually been discontinued by the Harper government. The popular ecoENERGY program that provided grants to homeowners towards energy efficient retrofits was discontinued in 2011, and the EcoEnergy for Renewable Power program that provided per kWh supplements for wind energy systems was ended in 2013.

Restoring these subsidies is crucial if producers of low-carbon technologies and energy are to compete in a nascent market and offer consumers a fair choice of energy sources.

There are plenty of ways to incentivize a green transition. Increasing innovation-focused grants to research institutions, universities and manufacturers in the green technology field through Sustainable Technology Development Canada for example; or expanding the use of green technologies and green power in government buildings, using weighted scoring systems which favour green options over conventional fossil fuel options in government supply contracts.

What we are short on is not ideas of how to transition to a green economy, but the political will to make it happen. - Carlo Fanelli points out how Ontario's provincial government - like many others - has forced municipalities into costly and ineffective privatization schemes. And Ryan Meili contrasts the availability of MRIs in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and questions why Brad Wall would be eager to triple the wait times patients currently face in Saskatchewan just to allow profiteers to make more money.

- James Baxter and Rick Salutin both have serious doubts about the claim that Canada lost any innocence based on this week's tragic shootings in Ottawa.

- Meanwhile, CBC highlights the role that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's mental health issues played in the shootings. And Jon Woodward reports on Zehaf-Bibeau's own confused - and rebuffed - attempts to get treatment.

- Finally, Ricochet and Stuart Trew both comment on on the importance of taking a reasoned and thorough look at what can be done to prevent future incidents. But to nobody's surprise, the Cons are refusing to let our security policy be shaped by anything other than Stephen Harper's political whims. And Stephen Maher is rightly concerned about what that means:
(T)here is little reason to have confidence that the Harper government will strike the right balance between our safety and our freedom.

It’s likely that Harper, Blaney and the people around them want to find that balance, but we’re left to guess at that, because the government’s recent record — in particular with the online surveillance bill — is of misdirection and stealth, hiding behind a smokescreen of disingenuous talking points.

There is reason to worry about this lack of forthrightness, the government’s mixed feelings about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, its attacks on the courts and its flirtation with anti-Muslim messaging.

It would be comforting if new powers are coupled with new oversight, as they should be.
...
But the record of this government is of moving in the other direction, toward less oversight, not more.

We Could All Be Joseph K.

Politics and its Discontents - 4 hours 22 min ago


"Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning."
- The opening sentence of Franz Kafka's The Trial

Having read The Trial many years ago, I remember being initially struck by the patent absurdity of the novel's premise, that a man could be under arrest, allowed to move about with certain restrictions, and yet never learn the nature of the charges against him. The story does not end well for Josepsh K.

After reading it, of course, I realized that it was a metaphor for the totalitarian state, a state in which the innocent are swept up by the state after a murky process by which they are identified as enemies of the country.

Without wishing to be melodramatic, we are clearly moving closer to that state.

After the events of last week, tragedies that at this point appear to have been perpetrated by mentally disturbed individuals and not organized terrorism, the Harper regime seems to be edging closer towards measures that would allow for a much wider definition of 'preventative arrests,' already toughened up last year, as well as a shielding of the identities of those who accuse others of being terrorists, neither of which would likely have prevented the deaths of two Canadian soldiers. Limits to freedom of speech, as noted yesterday, are also being considered.

Today, The Globe and Mail reports:
Measures now under consideration include changing the so-called threshold for preventative arrests and more closely tracking and monitoring people who may pose a threat, such as requiring them to check in with an officer regularly even without any charges against them. Being looked at, too, is potential legislation that would make it a crime to support terrorists’ acts online, says a senior government source.
Perhaps most ominously, a measure that brings us closer to the nightmare world of Joseph K., is the fact that
legislation giving the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) the ability to better hide the identities of its informants (italics mine)...is to be tabled in the House of Commons as early as Monday or Tuesday, according to a senior government source.
Warns security expert Wesley Wark:
“Let’s be sure we know everything that was done and everything that was missed before we come up with fixes.”

Mr. Wark said that he “would be very cautious about deciding that the real fix is in extending legal powers or the real fix is in let’s go and use those preventive arrest measures … I would hesitate to advocate for that until we know what really went wrong.”
Secret trials, anonymous accusers, mass surveillance: strange ways indeed to protect our sacred democracy.

I'll leave the final word to Star letter-writer Brigitte Nowak of Toronto:
The authorities have not yet stated whether the attack in Ottawa was made by one of the 90 or so “radicalized” persons under surveillance by authorities, but already, there are calls for “increased security.”

Average Canadians are already being videotaped wherever they go, subjected to demeaning scrutiny before accessing public buildings, airplanes, etc. Any more security, reduced freedom, additional surveillance, and the “jihadists,” bent on changing our way of life, will have won.Recommend this Post

Down For A Bit

Northern Reflections - 5 hours 56 min ago

                                         http://subjectguides.fortlewis.edu/

I haven't blogged much over the last few days. We are currently involved in moving my ninety-one year old mother into an assisted living facility in Montreal. For today, all I wish to say is that, while cancer is a viscous disease, and diabetes is a horrific disease, the most tragic disease is the one that results in the body outliving the mind.

I will be back in -- hopefully --  at a not too distant date. There is plenty to write about.


Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 20:10
Black Box - Everybody Everybody

Stephen Harper's Sinister Plan to Suppress Our Freedoms

Montreal Simon - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 19:08


I knew Stephen Harper wouldn't waste any time exploiting the senseless tragedy on Parliament Hill.

I knew he'd strike when many people were still in shock, emotions were still raw, the MSM in Ottawa was still making it sound like it was Canada's 911. 

And he could still scare some Canadians into believing that our country, and its values, were under attack.

And that only he can save us... 
Read more »

Keep Calm and Carry On, Canada

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 15:29
Harvard prof Stephen Walt says Canada's MPs are delusional if they think doubling down on counterterrorism will make the country one bit safer.  In a Foreign Policy op-ed, "Keep Calm and Carry On, Stephen Harper", Dr. Walt sums up our situation succinctly: "the blowback powerful states experience needs to be understood as part of the price they pay for an active, interventionist foreign policy."

This basic reality also undercuts the illusion that the United States and its allies could run an ambitious but cost-free foreign policy: that it could use military force to shape the internal politics of various foreign countries without suffering any real harm. After 9/11, Americans were told they were attacked because terrorists "hate our freedoms," as if the history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East had nothing whatsoever to do with al Qaeda's motivations.

Given the related assumption that foreign intervention will be welcomed by the entire local population of whichever country we happen to be bombing, we still tend to be shocked when some local elements rebel or when sympathizers elsewhere rally to our opponents' banner and try to enact some form of revenge. We shouldn't be surprised at all: No state can attack or occupy another country without pissing off a lot of people, even if the disaffected remain a minority. And a few of those people will try to hit us back here at home. Most who try will fail, either because they are incompetent or unlucky, or because our law enforcement and intelligence agencies work pretty well. But as the Ottawa attack reminds us, a handful of our opponents will occasionally succeed. 

...Even when the loss of life or damage is small -- thankfully -- each new terrorist incident tends to magnify public concern and is used to justify increasingly stringent counterterrorism measures.

...Whenever there is some kind of terrorist incident (including failed plots), politicians seem compelled to enact more extensive surveillance regimes and promise more assertive efforts to go after the bad guys, in order to show that they can't be cowed. But unlike security measures enacted during conventional wars, which are normally lifted once the war is over, the various measures imposed since 9/11 remain firmly in place, even after years go by without another incident. Over time, these measures keep ratcheting up, because every now and then another incident will occur and whoever is then in power will feel they have to "do something," too. It also reinforces the rhetoric of terrorismthat increasingly dominates our public discourse and makes it harder to develop a coherent set of strategic priorities.


If Prime Minister Harper wanted to show real leadership and do his fellow citizens a real favor, therefore, he would have begun by simultaneously mourning the dead soldier's sacrifice and by putting that loss in perspective. It is perfectly OK to say that Canada "won't be intimidated," but he should have gone on to explain why. The real reason is that the actual threat Canada faces is far too small to intimidate a wealthy, powerful, and cohesive country. The occasional isolated gunman (or even a whole flock of them) isn't a truly mortal threat to the overwhelming majority of Canadians.If Harper cares to be more than just an opportunistic politician, he might ask himself if following America's lead in the Middle East was such a smart idea. The six F-18 aircraft that Canada has assigned to the war on the Islamic State (IS) aren't going to tip the balance in that fight; the challenge we face isn't a shortage of tactical aircraft.Canada's contribution is a purely symbolic gesture of alliance solidarity rather than a meaningful military contribution, and it is far from obvious that bombing IS militants is the right approach to defeating them anyway. No matter how awful we think this movement is, killing more Muslims just plays into the extremists' narrative about Western violence and oppression. It may actually strengthen their political appeal. If you want to defeat extremism over the longer term, you need to defeat and discredit their ideas. Needless to say, F-18s are not designed for that particular job.If Prime Minister Harper is genuinely interested in helping make Canada more secure, a bit of reflection on the efficacy of Canada's response is in order. The issue isn't about whether our leaders are being "intimidated"; it is simply about the efficacy of their reflexive response. A responsible leader ought to consider whether intervening in the turbulent and far-reaching convulsions now roiling the Arab and Islamic world is going to improve that situation -- and make his or her fellow citizens safer. Or is military intervention likely to make those convulsions worse and increase the very slight risk that his or her country now faces?Unfortunately, sensible considerations such as these tend to get lost in the patriotic bluster that typically follows violent and dramatic events, and the overly muscular responses that we're already seeing in Ottawa make it more likely they will happen again.

It isn't "terrorism", its mental illness

Cathie from Canada - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 13:55
What Canada should always remember about Wednesday was the courage of our politicians -- hearing a fusillade of gunfire right outside their meeting room, they armed themselves with flagpoles and prepared to defend Parliament and their colleagues against what they must have believed at the time to be an invading force.
But to me, it inflates the importance and significance of Wednesday's attack in Ottawa to continue to call it "terrorism" or even "micro-terrorism".
It actually appears to be an almost-random outburst by a mentally ill man.
While Michael Zehaf-Bibeau may well have thought of himself as an "ISIS terrorist", the attack he made was apparently not planned out in any particular fashion nor was it pointed towards any real goal -- according to the Globe and Mail, he first shot an unarmed soldier who was out in the open, standing still, then he ran crazily down the street, hijacked a car, drove to the Centre Block, and ran inside the Parliament Building. If he was thinking to shoot up the caucus meetings or kill politicians, he didn't even seem to know exactly where they were, apparently running right past the caucus meeting rooms before he was shot down.
Even if he was wearing a ghutra, this doesn't make it terrorism; its mental illness.
Rather than worrying too much about terrorism in Canada, we would do better to make sure a person this delusional doesn't have access to a rifle.
Oh, wait...
As Montreal Simon says about both this attack and the running down of two soldiers in Quebec:
For the day we allow some deranged gunman, or some ISIS wannabe from small town Quebec, or just two pathetic losers like these...To scare us, and change our Canadian way of life, is the day we lose our last shred of self respect.
It's the day the crazies WIN.

Ottawa City Council candidates worth voting for!

Trashy's World - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 13:00
I have already endorsed some of these candidates in past posts, but being that it is only a few days till E Day, I thought I’d go over some of them again. Jean Cloutier will be a fine representative for Alta Vista on Council. Jean and I have worked together at the Canterbury Community Association for […]

1984 Has Come and Gone . . . .

Moved to Vancouver - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 12:54
or has it ? ? ? ?

A Divided World that Pits Fact Against Fantasy

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 11:13
It's the battle line between conservatives and everyone else.  It's incredibly divisive and it is powerfully corrosive of social cohesion.  It's a war to control the national narrative between those who embrace fact and those who prefer fiction.

Pew Research set out to find what’s behind what it considers the increasing political polarization of the United States; why the country is moving away from political moderation and becoming more and more divided between liberals and conservatives. Its first report on the phenomenon, which examines where people are hearing news and opinion in both regular and social media, shows that this is happening for very different reasons among people moving to the right than for people moving to the left.Or that’s the charitable way to put it. The less charitable way is to say Pew discovered that conservatives are consuming a right-wing media full of lies and misinformation, whereas liberals are more interested in media that puts facts before ideology. It’s very much not a “both sides do it” situation. Conservatives are becoming more conservative because of propaganda, whereas liberals are becoming more liberal while staying very much checked into reality....Enter right-wing media, which has a nifty trick of convincing audiences it’s the other guys who are the liars, all while actually being much less trustworthy in reality. From conservative screaming about the “media elite” to Fox News’s old slogan “Fair and Balanced,” conservative media is rife with the message that everyone is out to get you, conservative viewer, and only in the warm blanket of right-wing propaganda will you be safe....Pew researchers gave respondents a list of 36 popular media sources and asked how much they trusted each one. Some were liberal, like The Daily Show or ThinkProgress. Some were conservative, like Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. Most of them are fairly straightforward news organizations with no overt political agenda, like NPR, various network news, CNN, and the New York Times.The findings were astounding. Out of the 36 news sources, consistent liberals trusted 28, a mix of liberal and mainstream news sources. Mostly, liberal respondents generally agreed, holding out a little more skepticism for overtly ideological sources like Daily Kos or ThinkProgress, but not actually distrusting them, either. The only news sources liberals didn’t trust, generally, are overtly right-wing ones, such as Fox News, the Blaze, Breitbart, or Rush Limbaugh’s show.Conservatives, on the other hand, saw betrayers and liars around every corner. Consistent conservatives distrusted a whopping 24 out of 36 outlets and mostly conservative respondents distrusted 15 and were skeptical of quite a few more. The hostility wasn’t just to well-known liberal sources like MSNBC. Strong conservatives hated all the network news, CNN, NPR, and the major national outlets, except the Wall Street Journal.  Respondents who are mostly conservative fared better, but were still hostile to the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as skeptical of mainstream organizations like CBS and NBC News.The fact that conservatives are this paranoid should be alarming enough, but it becomes even more frightening when you consider who conservatives do trust in the media. Consistent conservatives only trusted 8 media sources–compared to the 28 liberals trusted–and of the eight, only one has anything approaching respectable reporting or reliable information. And that one, the Wall Street Journal, has good straight reporting but has an op-ed page that is a train wreck of right-wing distortions and misinformation. Most conservative people were a little more open-minded, trusting USA Today and ABC News, but still were supportive of openly distorting sources like Fox News or the Drudge Report.Once a media source is liberated from fact-based reality, it defaults from news to a more proprietary and lucrative product - messaging.  This is the stock in trade of today's corporate media in Canada and elsewhere.  It is a plague on democracy, societal ebola, for nothing benefits the corporate state more than a divided, and hence weakened, public.  We have to dismantle the corporate media cartel.  This begins by recognizing that concentration of ownership and excessive media cross-ownership are antithetical to healthy democracy.  The only solution is forced divestiture in order to return the mass media to the broadest possible ownership and the broadest possible range of opinion from across the political spectrum.  We're coming into very dangerous times that demand a well-informed public capable of making very tough decisions.

Another Glimmer of Hope, This Time From the European Union.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 10:33


Whilst I, by looking on praise of them,see riot and dishonourstain the brow of my own country.
Sincere apologies to William Shakespeare and Kings Henry IV and V.
Just days after learning that coal consumption seems to be declining in China, the European Union has announced agreement on emissions reductions that will put Harperland to ever more shame.
The agreement calls for emissions cuts of 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 but also targets increases of 27% in both renewable energy and energy efficiency by that same date.
It's good news if it actually happens.  The Poles, for example, love their coal. While it has to be taken as good news, nobody can tell if it'll be even remotely good enough. Yet that doesn't really matter.  The EU is taking the lead and that challenges every other nation to respond in kind.  Canada won't, we know that. Ours is a parliament packed with petro-pols on both sides of the aisle.  It will take a collapse of world oil prices and divestment of high-carbon fossil fuel investments before Canada ever does the right thing.

An Unlikely War Pits the Pentagon Against the GOP

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 10:10

Over the past decade, America's military has raised the climate change threat level until today it stands at a screaming, howlin' red.  The Pentagon's position inflicts a certain degree of cognitive dissonance on those worshipers of military muscle, the Republican Party.

The Pentagon says there's a shit storm looming.  The GOP responds, ignore it. The Republicans control the House of Representatives where, in May, they amended "the annual National Defense Authorization Act forbidding the Defense Department from spending money on any climate-related initiatives, including planning programs."


The Republican congressmen contended they merely wanted to maximize America's military might by preventing funds from being diverted to a "politically motivated agenda."  

Pentagon planners have sounded alarms about their climate concerns for at least a decade. In 2004, Fortune reported the existence of a secret document that warned climate change could push powers such as China, India, and Pakistan into nuclear war over fresh water supplies. Until now the military has been relatively quiet about its climate concerns, partly “because the Department of Defense gets its money from Congress, and we know where the House is on this issue,” says David Titley, a retired rear admiral and member of CNA’s military advisory board. Hagel’s personal involvement in releasing the 2014 road map suggests the Pentagon has decided it can’t wait any longer.

Not all Republicans are as wedded to climate-change denial as their public statements suggest, according to retired military officials and Republican Hill staff. “If you talk with them privately, without any media around, the vast majority of congressional Republicans know perfectly well that climate change is real,” Titley says. “But they won’t say so publicly because they don’t want to end up like Bob Inglis.”Inglis, a Republican, represented South Carolina’s 4th congressional district for six terms, amassing a perfect voting record in the eyes of the National Rifle Association and other conservative groups. In 2010, a Tea Party challenger ousted him after seizing on what Inglis has half-jokingly referred to in the press as his “heresy”: insisting that climate change is real. He’s now executive director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, a nonprofit based at George Mason University that advocates a free-market approach to addressing climate change. “A lot of people on Capitol Hill are down in their foxholes” on the climate issue, Inglis says. “They’re afraid of getting their heads blown off if they head up the hill.”Hagel's cadre of retired general and admirals are moving to outflank the GOP recalcitrants, travelling around America to take the message of the danger their country faces from climate change directly to the public and officials at state and local levels.

Will the Opposition Capitulate to Harper's Police State?

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 09:29

Steve Harper is taking a page, maybe a chapter, out of Dick Cheney's neocon playbook to exploit a couple of relatively minor incidents to plunge Canada into a deeper form of surveillance state.

A report in Foreign Policy magazine warns that Canada - the Canadian public, you and me - could be headed for NSA-style surveillance sooner than anyone imagined.

When Harper proclaimed that Canadians would not be intimidated by this week's killings he was lying through his teeth.  He's counting on Canadians being fearful and intimidated enough to let him shred our rights and freedoms in the name of national security.

The measures that Harper wants enacted aren't strictly targeting terrorists, domestic and foreign.  They're multi-purpose powers that could as easily be used by the unscrupulous against opponents and dissenters.

You need to ask yourself whether you want these powers vested in Stephen Harper.  You've only had 8+ years to observe how deceitful, manipulative, how secretive this lowlife can be and is.  You know that he rejects all notions of accountability and transparency, the bait he used to lure voters into trusting him to govern.  This is a man less principled than any we've had in Sussex Drive.  He even considers himself and his government above the law, a law unto himself.


"This may be just the start of souped-up spy legislation, not the finish," said Colin Freeze, a reporter with the Globe and Mail who has written extensively about Canada's shadowy signals intelligence agency, the Communications Security Establishment Canada, which is the counterpart to the American NSA.

...But in light of the shooting, as well as another attack this week in which a suspected Islamic radical drove his car into two Canadian soldiers, killing one, the proposals look to fall on more receptive ears in parliament. The members who may soon be voting on expanding the powers were among those hiding in their offices as the gunman ran through the halls of Canada's lawmaking body.

As the Globe's reporter, Freeze, puts it, this may be just the start of Harper's designs.  He'd like nothing better than to roll Canada back to the days of 9/11 and reinstate the panic-fueled measures, including secret trials, that we succumbed to back then.  The tragic killings of this week may be Harper's Reichstag Fire.

Unless our opposition MPs drag themselves out from under their desks, unlock their office doors and stand up for Canada on this one, you have very little to hope for from Ottawa.  If they roll over now chances are they'll roll over the next time Harper comes knocking, demanding new powers.

It's time that progressive Canadians listen to Elizabeth May.




Aftermath

Dawg's Blawg - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 09:05
This past week, there have been two lethal attacks on Canadian soldiers right here at home, the two perpetrators are dead, and we’re drowning in words. The shootings in Ottawa, taking place as they did in areas so familiar to... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

Verdict on the Bowman Victory

The Winnipeg RAG Review - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 08:30
Outcomes of a Bowman mayoralty remain
uncertain.

Image Source: DraemsTime
Brian Bowman, in many ways an old school Chamber of Commerce conservative, won a landslide victory in the Winnipeg Mayoral Election. Winnipeg City Council has taken a less conservative turn, with quite a few wildcards and unknowns, on the new council.
One of Bowman's major campaign planks was to create, in effect, a two-tiered pension system to the detriment of new (generally young) city workers. This is a troubling development when it comes to fairness and seeing how council responds to any Bowman pension plans will be important.

The new mayor, however, ran a Tory platform much redder than Steeve's with many bold urbanist promises, such as completing all legs of the Bus Rapid Transit system by 2030. These are important initiatives for the future of our city and I hope the mayor can work together with city council to bring these much needed public investments forward.

Overall, however, I am cautiously pessimistic about the prospects for Winnipeg over the next 4 years. Only time will tell whether the urbanist or the Chamber conservative side dominates Bowman's term as he faces our city's big challenges.

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Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 07:00
Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Krugman writes that the ultra-wealthy's contempt for anybody short of their own class is becoming more and more explicit around the globe - even when it comes to basic rights like the ability to vote:
It’s always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn’t their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason pro-democracy demonstrators can’t get what they want: With open voting, “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month. Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies” — policies, presumably, that would make the rich less rich and provide more aid to those with lower incomes.
...
(T)he political right has always been uncomfortable with democracy. No matter how well conservatives do in elections, no matter how thoroughly free-market ideology dominates discourse, there is always an undercurrent of fear that the great unwashed will vote in left-wingers who will tax the rich, hand out largess to the poor, and destroy the economy.
...
(T)hese strategies for protecting plutocrats from the mob are indirect and imperfect. The obvious answer is Mr. Leung’s: Don’t let the bottom half, or maybe even the bottom 90 percent, vote.

And now you understand why there’s so much furor on the right over the alleged but actually almost nonexistent problem of voter fraud, and so much support for voter ID laws that make it hard for the poor and even the working class to cast ballots. American politicians don’t dare say outright that only the wealthy should have political rights — at least not yet. But if you follow the currents of thought now prevalent on the political right to their logical conclusion, that’s where you end up.- Meanwhile, Heather Digby Parton discusses the latest in Republican anti-voting hysteria. And Don Davies points out that a free trade agreement with Honduras represents yet another blow for business against democratic governance and human rights.

- But on the bright side, Poverty Costs highlights the fact that Saskatchewan has finally (if belatedly) joined its provincial counterparts in announcing an outline of a poverty reduction plan.

- Finally, Andrew Coyne notes that this week's tragic shootings in Ottawa resulted in a brief moment of the type of measured political discussion we should expect more often. But Thomas Walkom and Linda McQuaig are rightly concerned about the Cons' easily-anticipated pivot toward fomenting panic for their own partisan gain. And Alison reminds us just how many important causes figure to fall within the Cons' selective definition of dissent to be suppressed.

And Thus It Begins

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:26
One of the misgivings I expressed in yesterday's post seems to be a little closer to reality today.

The National Post headline reads:

Conservatives mulling legislation making it illegal to condone terrorist acts online.

Says John Ivison,
The Conservatives are understood to be considering new legislation that would make it an offence to condone terrorist acts online.

There is frustration in government, and among law enforcement agencies, that the authorities can’t detain or arrest people who express sympathy for atrocities committed overseas and who may pose a threat to public safety, one Conservative MP said. “Do we need new offences? If so which?”

Sources suggest the government is likely to bring in new hate speech legislation that would make it illegal to claim terrorist acts are justified online.

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons on Thursday that Canada’s law and policing powers need to be strengthened in the areas of surveillance, detention and arrest. He said work is already under way to provide law enforcement agencies with “additional tools” and that work will now be expedited.
Hopefully, even the naive and guileless will want to ask themselves, after reading the article, if it is wise to let government decide what constitutes unacceptable speech?

I assume no further comment on my part is needed.

Recommend this Post

On opportunism

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 05:36
Shorter Harper Cons:
In our language, the word for "crisis" is the same as the word for "opportunity to trash civil rights".

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