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The King of Mean and the Bullying of Harperman's Tony Turner

Montreal Simon - 2 hours 47 min ago


It has been several days since the Harper regime suspended the federal scientist Tony Turner for writing and singing the song Harperman.

And as expected it has triggered a debate over whether public servants can be political activists.

And while some Cons claim they can't, and that they must remain loyal to their monstrous master.

The Supreme Court settled that question twenty-four years ago. 
Read more »

Give It a Try

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 21:49

Some times our views aren't really compatible with the political party we choose to support.

If you want to see how your views line up, check out the  CBC's Vote Compass. All you have to do is answer a number of multiple choice questions and the programme figures out where you fit.

BTW - I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive but it turns out I'm solidly aligned with the Green Party. Joy.

Stop the Endless Whining. It's the Deal You Made. Live With It.

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 19:53
It's like stepping into a next of vipers. Point out the obvious, that NDP leader Tom Mulcair, like his rivals, embraces neoliberalism (his support for CETA alone puts that beyond doubt) and Dippers come pouring out to angrily defend Tom's virtue as though he was a virginal 16-year old at the Debutante's Ball.

Sorry kids but you chose the guy and you're going to have to live with him, warts and all. He's an ex-Liberal, Thatcherite, Harper courtin', market fundamentalist neoliberal, Likudnik, petro-pol with a reputation for bursts of ill-temper and those creepy, serial killer eyes.

You're not a party of the Left any more. That's over. At the very best you're centrist, deliberately so, but that takes on a different connotation when you factor in how far Canada's political centre has been shifted to the Right with the Tories now far beyond anything really conservative, the Liberals having morphed into Conservative-Lites and the NDP filling in as Latter Day Liberals having abandoned the Left to its own devices. Sure you're still well to the left of Harper but to an outsider the distinction between the Libs and the New Dems can sometimes be a bit blurry.

You can't leave the Left and pretend that you haven't. You have. You've kept the name but you're no longer the party of Douglas and Lewis. That's over. You jettisoned that. You felt it was baggage that would frustrate your grab for the brass ring.

Perhaps to keep your heads from exploding you keep drawing tenuous comparisons between what you suppose your party will do and how you perceive the Libs performed in the past. It tends to border on childishness.

Let's get one thing straight. I'm not saying the New Dems are neo-conservative. They're not but neither are the Liberals. The Tories, however, have clear neo-con instincts and appetites. I am saying you're neoliberal, all of you.

Socialism is a political ideology. Social democracy is a more social ideology. Neoliberalism is a primarily economic ideology.  Your party was conceived in socialism and, for decades, fiercely defended those principles. For Canada there was great service in that. Among other things it kept the political spectrum open and healthy, affording plenty of room for ideas and vision.  It was a great position from which to challenge Liberal and Conservative governments, keeping them a lot more honest than they would have been otherwise.

Now the political spectrum stands truncated. There is far less room for ideas and vision but what remains is ideal for those who would rather rule than lead. For the voting public, this narrowing of the spectrum restricts choice. The party faithful don't see it that way because they can't. They're rallying behind their brand, politically lobotomized. What the brand wants is good and pure. What other brands want is wanton, duplicitous, self-serving and just plain bad.

As for the election it becomes a bauble here, a bauble there, bold promises only loosely connected to reality and all heavily larded with lies. It comes with the territory for winners.

As a thoroughly disaffected, former Liberal, I should not greatly begrudge the NDP their success. They've given their all to get where they are.






Does Stephen Harper Agree With the Republican Loon Scott Walker?

Montreal Simon - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 15:04


Scott Walker is one of the most reactionary Republican candidates, a union basher, an anti-gay bigot, and a fascist if ever there was one.

And now he's trying to out trump Donald Trump.

For while Trump wants to build a wall along the U.S.- Mexico border,

Walker thinks it might be a good idea to build a wall along the Canada-U.S. border. 
Read more »

Where Is the Exit Door?

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 11:55

How long will Canada remain under the boot of market fundamentalism? This is the laissez faire face of modern neoliberalism that has taken hold throughout the developed world, Canada included.

It manifests itself most directly in free trade agreements and associated institutions such as the IMF, the World Trade Organization, and the World Bank. Rarely seen is its presence in parallel or "deep government."

Neoliberalism is an ideology and, like most ideologies, it's anchored in both fact and plenty of belief. It's sort of faith-based. Its disciples believe neoliberalism is itself an ethic, in fact the best and preferred ethic to achieve solutions to our problems using the power of the marketplace. It holds that many of the functions ordinarily associated with government can be better undertaken through market forces.

Whether you realize it or not, we've been eating, sleeping and breathing this stuff for forty years. That's been long enough to realize that a lot of the promise of neoliberalism has been hogwash.

Neoliberalism often works at cross purposes to the public interest. Income stagnation is a function of market fundamentalism. Inequality of wealth, income and opportunity is likewise the outcome of adherence to market fundamentalism. It is the engine for transferring wealth from the many to the few and, as so plainly demonstrated by the United States, with that wholesale shift in economic power comes a commensurate shift in political power. This is the rise of illiberal democracy which, unfortunately, is not an outcome but merely an early onset symptom of a darker order to follow.


The problem with illiberal democracy is that many of us see it as genuine democracy. We don't see it for what it is, democracy with a potentially terminal disease. If we did we might be less tolerant of market fundamentalism, globalization and free trade that demand the surrendering of various incidents of our national sovereignty. We might reject the rise of state corporatism.

When your highest court holds that a corporation, itself a "legal fiction", is a person with political rights - you have a real problem. When that same top court holds that corporations cannot be restrained from dominating the political process with massive infusions of money for election advertising and campaign contributions - you have a real problem.

As Stiglitz powerfully chronicles in "The Price of Inequality" the great preponderance of inequality in the U.S. is neither merit- nor market-based. It is legislated, enacted by the people elected to represent the people but instead serving the contrary interests of the few and their corporations. This sort of inequality takes many forms - tax breaks and outright exemptions, subsidies, grants, deferrals and, quite regularly, the transfer of national assets such as water either for free or far below value.  This is a "trickle up" economy where wealth finally crystallizes in the accounts of the investor or rentier class.

America has been our laboratory for this experiment in free market fundamentalism, neoliberalism. What are the observed results? A gutted middle class no longer empowered economically or politically; wage stagnation; inequality of all forms; the collapse of social mobility; the rise of the precariat; the formation of the narrowly held, corporate media cartel becoming an instrument of conditioning and distracting the populace; transactional governance (the "bought and paid for" Congress) and illiberal democracy; and the wholesale, unearned transfer of wealth from the many and from the state, to the few.

So, remind me why Canadians want to go down this road? Make no mistake, that is what we are doing.

We're trapped and so long as we submit to political leadership in thrall to market fundamentalism, we'll become ever more tightly trapped. Tom Mulcair caught hell for his support of both Thatcherism and the Canada-Europe free trade deal, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). One NDP apologist came to Mulcair's defence saying it was preferrable that we trade with Europe because of its social democracy. Oh I know - they're thinking of old Klaus with his alpine hat and lederhosen toiling away in the Black Forest banging out cuckoo clocks.

I guess that person didn't notice that Europe is on fire with discontent triggering uprisings from Athens to London. There's not a lot of social democracy on display in the U.K. and it's being ruthlessly suppressed in Greece with Spain, Portugal and Italy soon to follow. They didn't notice the rise of fascism in Britain, France, Germany and as far east as Hungary where it holds power. Neo-nationalism is on the march and it is very angry.

Is there no way out? Sure there is but we'll never find the exit door until we get up and look for it, something for which our political caste shows no appetite.

We need motivation to demand something better.  That begins by recognizing everything we're giving up and what's being steadily drained from us in every context - economically, socially, politically, democratically - through free market fundamentalism. This is not theoretical. It is not hypothetical. It is real. We are living it and we all know that we're feeling it.

A good way to start is to read a few books.  Here are some I would recommend.


David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism.

Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality.

Gar Alperovitz, What Then Must We Do?

Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything.

Thomas Prugh, Natural Capital and Human Economic Survival.

Paul Craig Roberts, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism.

Herman Daly, Beyond Growth.

Fareed Zakaria, The Future of Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad.

Roubini and Mihm, Crisis Economics.

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine.

If you read those ten books you'll see market fundamentalism in the raw and you'll grasp what will befall us, and especially our kids and grandkids, if we don't get out from under it.

It all begins by understanding what we're up against.






On transitions

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 11:07
Bob Hepburn makes clear that while the Libs may still be in denial about the importance of cooperating to remove the Harper Cons from power, their best friends in the media are under no such illusions. But the most noteworthy contribution to Canada's discussion about post-election options comes from Aaron Wherry - particularly in highlighting what factors have, and have not, been taken into account in determining who gets a chance to form government:
(A) Progressive Conservative government in Ontario in 1985 was defeated in the legislature and replaced by a Liberal government that had signed a governing accord with the NDP caucus. Interestingly, it is recounted in this piece for Canadian Parliamentary Review that when the defeated premier, Frank Miller, tendered his resignation with Ontario’s lieutenant-governor, he advised that an alternative was prepared to govern: “It would appear that the Honourable Leader of the Opposition is able to gain the confidence of the House at this time.”

The lieutenant-governor of the day, John Black Aird, then issued a statement to explain the change:
In my capacity as Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario and as the representative of Her Majesty the Queen in Ontario, I have this day asked Mr. David Peterson to form a government, he having assured me that he can form a government which will have the confidence of the Legislative Assembly for a reasonable length of time. On the advice of counsel with whose opinions I agree, I have advised Mr. Peterson that the agreement between the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party, a copy of which had been delivered to me, has no legal force or effect and that it should be considered solely as a joint political statement of intent and that the agreement cannot affect or impair the powers or privileges of the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario nor of the members of the Legislative Assembly.Wherry goes on to note that there are also two precedents in which alternative governments might have had the opportunity to form government without the consent of the incumbent: the federal Parliament in 1980 when other parties did not seek the opportunity to replace Joe Clark's PCs (who had already won a confidence vote), and again in 2004 when no confidence vote was brought against Paul Martin's Libs. And there's one example of a party actually finishing second in seats and forming government over the objections of the incumbent which had lost a confidence vote (that being Saskatchewan's legislature in 1929).

But the review of the historical record suggests a few points to keep in mind. The Governor General actually holds a great deal of discretion in determining what factors matter in assessing an incumbent's request for dissolution and/or the right to continue governing - with a previous confidence vote and a signed agreement encompassing a majority of representatives being less than determinative (if significant at all) on their own. And the transition process (like so many other aspects of our system of governance) relies in substantial part on the good faith of the leaders involved in assessing their prospects of winning Parliament's support, which we can't take for granted from Harper.

All of which means that we shouldn't consider a seeming defeat for the Cons - whether the loss of a majority or a drop in the party standings - to completely close the door on Harper clinging to power. And we should thus stay motivated to make sure the electorate's verdict leaves Harper and the Governor General no choice but to allow for a transfer of power.

Donald Trump and friend

LeDaro - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 10:25
Chatting!

Inseparable friends

LeDaro - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 10:00
Donald Trump and owl.

The secret platform

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 09:58
It never figured to take long for the Cons to start making up numbers for lack of any legitimate criticism of the NDP's platform - and Jason Kenney has charged into the breach. But it's worth noting the source of many of the supposedly-costed items, which consist of NDP MPs' committee reports.

To be clear, committee reports represent an important contribution in Parliament's governance of public policy. And what makes them stand out is that fact that they offer independent review by representatives tasked with assessing particular issues - who can then be expected to reach their own conclusions on the optimal solutions for those issues in a vacuum.

But because reports are necessarily focused on specific areas of review, they can't generally be taken as a statement of the decisions which a party might make in balancing competing priorities. And that's exactly where voters normally have reason to look to a party's platform as an integrated set of policy choices for the next term of office - and to ignore any attempt to let opposition parties treat committee reports as a substitute.

That said, there is one exception which is only highlighted by Kenney's stance.

It's well-known (and recently confirmed) that due to the meddling of Stephen Harper's PMO, Conservative caucus members - MPs and Senators alike - don't have the freedom to conduct independent reviews of legislation or policy choices that we'd expect from the rest of our parliamentarians. And so it's probably fair to treat the Cons' committee reports as reflecting Stephen Harper's judgment - a conclusion which is only reinforced by his right hand man in saying he consideres other parties' representatives' reports to be party policy.

That means that Harper is on the hook to answer for, say, the proposals from his Senate caucus to pursue government certification of imams, or to gut the CBC. And the opposition parties may want to take a far closer look at the Cons' committee reports as the campaign progresses - since no less a figure than Jason Kenney considers them to be part of his party's platform.

Why Didn't We Think of That?

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 09:48
He's one of the frontrunners for the Republican presidential nomination and he thinks America should consider building a wall along its border - with Canada. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker thinks the wall idea should be studied.

Republican candidates for president have often taken a get-tough approach on deterring illegal immigration, but they usually focus on the border with Mexico. Walker was asked Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether he wanted to build a wall on the northern border, too. Walker said some people in New Hampshire have asked the campaign about the topic.

“They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at,” Walker said.

The U.S.-Canada boundary is the longest international border in the world at 5,525 miles long.

And thus we see just how batshit crazy those vying for the Republican nomination have to act to come up to the standards of Trump and Tea Party Americans.



Looking Back

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 09:28
Although it was made in 2013, the following 22 Minutes' video has lost none of its relevance:

Recommend this Post

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 09:04
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Dana Flavelle examines how many Canadians are facing serious economic insecurity. And Kevin Campbell discusses how the Cons are vulnerable on the economy due to their obvious failure to deliver on their promises, as well as their misplaced focus on trickle-down ideology:
During this election it is essential to understand that we live in an era of persistent financial insecurity among the majority of the population. Household balance sheets are in a tenuous state throughout the industrialized world, particularly in Canada. This inevitably affects how citizens choose to vote. Healthcare, education, ethics and the environment — they all matter a great deal and undoubtedly influence voter behaviour. But the party that secures economic confidence wins elections in this country.
...
The reality is that the parties of the left actually focus heavily on the well-being of the most vital driver in the economy: you. The household. And by that, I do not mean nuclear families alone. I mean any household, including single people, single parents, childless couples and widowers. I mean everyone who orbits around the average or the median, and certainly those who survive on less. The household is the engine to which the rest of the economy responds. It is a strong foundation of employment, consumption and tax revenue that propels everything else in the system.

Corporations and investors simply respond to demand — and aggregate demand is not powered by the top one per cent or even the top 10 per cent. Disposable income flows when we create the conditions for the average household to adequately feed, clothe and shelter itself, supported by the opportunity to be healthy and educated.
...
A Leger poll released last week placed “stimulating the Canadian economy” as the top issue for the October election, sequentially followed by the related subjects of “helping middle-class families” and “job creation.” The NDP leads on the latter two items and is nipping at Harper’s heels on the first. If recent history is any guide, victory will come to the party that evokes the greatest confidence on such issues.

Progressives can, and must, earn that confidence.- Meanwhile, Roderick Benns talks to Alax mayor Steve Parish about the benefits a basic income can provide in both fighting poverty and ensuring economic security. 

- Martha Friendly highlights the need for child care in Canada - as well as for the federal government to be involved in funding and developing a functional system. And Joey Porter reports on the Cons' gross failure to deliver even approved funding for clean water for First Nations.

- Dave Cournoyer takes a first look at Alberta's royalty review panel and the benefits it should produce for the public. And Mike De Souza reports on what happens when environmental regulators actually do their jobs - as Nexen is being required to demonstrate it can operate pipelines safely in the wake of its spill, rather than being let off with a promise to do better.

- Finally, Harriet Sherwood examines a global crackdown on human rights organizations and other civil society groups. And Sheena Goodyear reports on how Tony Turner's Harperman fits into the wider issue of allowing public servants some voice in the political system in which they work.

Are 30% Of Us Fools?

Northern Reflections - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 05:00
                                               http://www.quotesvalley.com/

Jeffrey Simpson writes that Stephen Harper's core of support is six percent:

After all, Conservative bedrock support is reckoned to be about 30 per cent, or maybe a trifle higher. So if only 6 per cent of respondents said the trial improved their opinion of the government, we’re talking about only a fifth of the core. Yikes.
Consider the picture of this government which has emerged in the wake of the evidence:

The Duffy trial turned reality on its head. The trial was supposed to be about him and his behaviour, and from the point of view of justice it so remains. But the media focus was on the Prime Minister’s Office, whose staffers were cross-examined. What that focus revealed was profoundly disquieting and completely unflattering. No wonder by an almost 9-1 margin their evidence at the trial left negative rather than positive impressions of the government.
Let’s remember that Mr. Duffy was placed in the Senate by the Conservatives because he would help them raise money and good cheer. Period. He would do their political bidding, happily and helpfully. He would shill. He was not there for policy expertise or sober second thought. He was like many senators: appointed to render faithful service to the party that made him a senator.
You would think that the trial would do Harper in:
The majority of Canadians do not find credible the testimony that the Prime Minister remained completely ignorant of what has happening, when everyone around him knew. His chief of staff, his deputy chief of staff, his issues-management guy were all either involved in the scheme or knew about it.
According to sworn testimony, his current chief of staff, Ray Novak, did know about payments to Mr. Duffy, despite various assertions of his ignorance. Indeed, so many contradictions emerged from the evidence that it became almost impossible to know who was telling the truth.
But, if the polls are correct, there are a lot more than 6% of the population that will vote for Mr. Harper. You have to wonder. Are at least 30% of us fools? 

What I Believe This Election Should Be About But So Far Isn't

Montreal Simon - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 03:46


It has to be the strangest election campaign I have ever known. In the condo jungle where I live it's hard to know one is even underway. There are no lawns, so there are no lawn signs.

I have received only one pamphlet, from the local Con candidate. Which I quickly turned into a paper plane, and floated out of my window. 

In the fond hope that it might land on someone's head, and gently remind them that we are in a battle that will determine whether this country lives or dies.
Read more »

Chet and Mark - See You In My Dreams

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 23:27

Seriously, it this doesn't do something to you, find where it should be because that part of you needs resurrecting.



What is rarely understood was that Knopfler sought out Atkins. He wanted to learn. He spent two years during which Atkins taught him what he knew. It's one of the greatest yet virtually unknown moments in modern musical history.

Look at how these two guitarists from two very separate worlds play off against each other.  That, friends, is worth the price of admission.



Knopfler, the great front man for Dire Straits, went to Atkins. He wanted to learn the joyous magic of the acoustic guitar. They did this for two years. Years later they did a command performance in London to the Queen.





Late night ruminations.....The soundtrack.

A Creative Revolution - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 22:43

I am reading a lot of news items that I saved in all my tabs this week. Im still around, you betcha.

Number one on my "fun" list. Wonder how the AM team learned they had been pwned?

This was on their PC's. Now THAT, is fucking class. Of movie proportions.... 

 Yesterday (Aug. 24), journalists attending a Toronto press conference surrounding the Ashley Madison leaks wondered why they were being handed AC/DC lyric sheets. 

The hard rock legends were the unwitting soundtrack of choice for the online criminals. The press conference revealed that when employees of the dating-by-way-of-infidelity website logged into their computers July 12, they were greeted to a message from the hackers accompanied by AC/DC's 1990 song "Thunderstruck." 

 

Number two, the Harperman story. Gotta love it, muzzling those you think that you own. 

Bonus. The actual song....

 

 

Finally.......Because I am in the mood...Always relevant. 

 

 

Get With the Programme

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 14:36

There is so much research and analysis pouring in these days that it can be hard to keep the reality of climate change in clear focus.  There are any number of online course on climate change and related topics such as oceanic changes, water and food security, the political and geopolitical dynamics now undergoing transformation and much more.

Of all that I have experienced, there's one that is particularly informative, insightful and compelling.  The course is entitled, "Turn Down the Heat." It's been produced by Germany's excellent Potsdam Institute and features Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and may other top experts in the field. The programme is sponsored by the World Bank.

Here's a trailer for Turn Down the Heat:



The course is still available through Coursera. It takes about five weeks, about five hours a week.

You can access the course through this link.  Especially at this time when we're exploring competing political options, this is information you might find handy, possibly indispensible.



On balanced options

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 13:36
Dave McGrane offers a historical perspective on how deficits for their own sake shouldn't be seen as an element of left-wing or progressive policy, while Excited Delerium takes a look at the policies on offer in Canada's federal election to see how it's possible to pursue substantive progressive change within a balanced budget. But let's examine more closely why it's wrong to draw any equivalence between the Trudeau Libs' platform, deficits and progressive policies (despite their frantic efforts to pretend there's no difference between the three).

Taking the Libs at their word, their current plan is to engage in deficit spending over the next few years, then balance the budget by 2019. So to the extent one might be inclined to prefer a measure of fiscal health other than balanced budgets (such as keeping debt at a stable proportion of GDP), the Libs aren't offering that choice - only a delayed return to balance, with the additional money spent in the meantime being necessarily limited to short-term projects. 

And once the budget is balanced, the Libs are attacking the very idea of national programs such as the NDP's child care plan - which is designed to fit within balanced budgets while actually building a substantial new social benefit in the longer term.

Fortunately, we don't need to look far to see the Trudeau philosophy in action, as his leading provincial proxy is offering up exactly the mix of unfocused short-term infrastructure spending, privatization in the name of false economies and cuts to actual programs implied by the federal Libs' platform. 

The contrast between the NDP and the Libs then represents a classic case of long-term planning with permanent returns, versus instant but fleeting gratification. And Canadian progressives who have seen the Harper Cons deliberately inflict long-term damage on our federal institutions should be wary of settling for the latter.

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