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Dawg's Blawg - 4 hours 4 min ago
I kept meaning to write about the events going on around Greek membership in the Eurozone, but events kept happening so often that the post that I usually write first in my head kept getting out of date. And... Mandos http://politblogo.typepad.com/

What you know in the PMO

accidentaldeliberations - 6 hours 14 min ago
Obviously, the revelation that Mike Duffy saw his job in the Senate as including a role as a publicly-funded lobbyist for the climate denial movement raises a whole new set of questions about the Cons' misuse of public resources. And if, say Enbridge is being at all honest in its own public spin, Stephen Harper was well aware of what was going on:
Duffy's conversations with Enbridge officials [between January and June 2012] aren't listed in the company's lobbying registrations. However, in an email to CBC News, Enbridge's vice-president of enterprise communications called those conversations "unsolicited."

"Senator Duffy made a number of unsolicited contacts to Enbridge representatives offering advice regarding Northern Gateway, as well as to recommend that Enbridge consider hiring his communications colleague, Bill Rodgers. I personally interviewed Mr. Rodgers but elected not to retain him," D'Arcy Levesque said through a spokesman.

"At no time did Enbridge solicit Senator Duffy's help to lobby the federal government. In the interest of clarity, we also took the extra step to notify the Prime Minister's Office at the time, that Senator Duffy did not represent Enbridge or our interests."That, of course, would be the same Prime Minister's Office which continued to defend Duffy at every turn for a year and a half afterward. So it's well worth asking what it did - and didn't do - to follow up if it had been warned far earlier that Duffy was misusing his position.

From beyond the grave

accidentaldeliberations - 7 hours 10 min ago
Andrew Coyne wants to pretend we shouldn't worry what legislation gets passed by the Harper Cons on the theory that there's absolutely nothing stopping a future elected government from reversing course.

Which means it's a good thing there's no antiquated, undemocratic chamber of Parliament where regardless of the results of any federal election, a Conservative majority will continue to hold the power to unilaterally negate the decisions of elected representatives.

Oh, wait.

Meanwhile, Back At Campaign Central

Politics and its Discontents - 8 hours 25 min ago
Hate campaign, that is. True to form, the Harper regime wasted no time in denouncing the decision to release Omar Khadr on bail pending his appeal. And in addition to playing to their rabid base, they took the opportunity to excoriate both Trudeau and Mulcair with some verbal prestidigitation:




Meanwhile, Thomas Walkom offers a good analysis of the government's strategy:
Conservative Roxanne James, [seen in the above video] the government’s designated spokesperson, said Ottawa opposes Khadr’s release because he has been convicted of “heinous crimes.”

What she should have said is that, in the lead-up to this fall’s election, the Conservatives hope to use the Khadr affair as a political wedge issue.A polarizing figure since his arrest in Afghanistan, the former child soldier is viewed in rather absolutist terms by the Canadian public. There are those who believe he is an inveterate terrorist who deserves no mercy, while others see him as a victim of his parents' jihadist zeal and a political football very useful when governments want to vent their demagogic spleen and manipulate the masses.
He is, in short, a perfect political vehicle for a Conservative prime minister hoping to use crime and national security as defining elements in the election campaign.Khadr's political usefulness began with the Americans:
The Americans, meanwhile, were desperate to have their much-maligned military tribunal system score a judicial victory. Khadr seemed to fit the bill. The U.S. had already decided to ignore the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan. Instead, captives like Khadr would be labelled “unlawful combatants” and accorded none of the usual rights of soldiers at war.Not far behind, the Canadian government picked up the ball:
... by then, Harper had discovered Khadr’s political usefulness. The organizations that the Conservative base loves to hate — including human rights groups, liberal churches and lawyers — were all clamouring for Ottawa to bring Khadr home, where he could have a chance at parole.

So the prime minister resisted. The more the critics clamoured, the more strident his resistance became.

Last year, the Conservatives castigated Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for suggesting that Khadr be treated fairly.Clearly, in contrast to the take-no-prisoners approach the Conservatives usually employ in their politicking for the hearts of Canadians, they are making an exception for Omar Khadr.Recommend this Post

Turnabout Is Fair Play

Politics and its Discontents - 8 hours 58 min ago
Thanks to Ed Tanas for bringing the following to my attention:

Taking its cue from the Conservative Party, the Liberals Party is attempting to turn the tables on reckless, unjustified and overtly partisan political ads masquerading simply as useful public information (meted out to the public at taxpayer expense, of course).



The Liberals said people are angry about what they view as wasteful government spending, and they wanted to remind Canadians how much the Tories have spent since 2006.

“After 10 years, Stephen Harper thinks he owns the government — he doesn’t. The people of Canada do,” Liberal party spokesman Olivier Duchesneau said.

The party would not disclose how much they are spending on the limited Stanley Cup playoff ad buy.
As usual, the government is showing its egregious contempt for the intelligence of the public:
The Conservative government defended the spending.

“Advertising is a key way for the government to inform Canadians about important issues such as tax credits and public health issues," said Stephanie Rea, spokeswoman for Treasury Board President Tony Clement.Let's hope the above whopper sets everyone's spider sense tingling. Recommend this Post

How Progressives Can Engage Young Canadians in the Election Campaign

Montreal Simon - 10 hours 6 min ago


When Joe Oliver made his outrageous statement about leaving Harper's granddaughter's generation to pay for the Con's revenue killing tax policies, he only said it because he thought he could get away with it.

Because he knows, like we all do, that a lot of young Canadians don't bother to vote.

And it is fashionable in this aging country to blame the young for that troubling democratic deficit.

But as the crusty Globe editorialists point out, all political parties must also share the blame for not making a serious effort to appeal to them, or involve them in the political process 
Read more »

The Liberals Strike Back at the Con's Porky Action Ads

Montreal Simon - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 22:02


Stephen Harper and his  Cons have spent almost a billion dollars of our tax dollars on their Porky Action Ads. 

It's the most outrageous mass brainwashing project this country and any other modern democracy has ever seen.

One you can't escape because those ads are EVERYWHERE. 

And although they are riddled with lies and nothing but partisan propaganda, they are helping the Cons stay competitive, despite their appalling economic record.

So I'm glad to see that one of the progressive parties has finally struck back...
Read more »

Omar Khadr, the "James Bond of Jihad", is granted bail.

Creekside - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 21:02

National Post : "One way or another, Omar Khadr will soon be a free man.
On Friday, moments after judge J.M. Ross of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta granted the 28-year-old Toronto native bail from an Edmonton-area jail pending appeal of his war crimes conviction in the United States, the government announced — as predictably as day follows night — that it would appeal."
The government did not argue that Khadr posed any danger to Canada but rather that his release would show disrespect for the US justice system.     
It's difficult for those of us who are relatively sane to appreciate the pants-pissing opportunistic hysteria Omar Khadr apparently provokes in those who are not.

Two years ago, the office of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews tacked a few additional "terrorism" charges onto Omar Khadr's Canadian file that were not in his original conviction based on a *confession* written by the prosecution at the discredited Guantánamo Bay military tribunal :
"Ottawa’s file on Omar Khadr contains faulty information based on a memo prepared by a senior policy analyst for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews ... Among other things, the government alleges the late terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden was an accomplice of a 15-year-old Khadr, and that the Canadian citizen killed two Afghan militia men.You following along here?  -  the Canadian Public Safety Minister thinks Osama bin Laden was the accomplice of a 15 year old!

“Mr. Khadr engaged U.S. military and coalition personnel with small-arms fire, killing two members of the Afghan militia force. He threw and/or fired grenades at nearby coalition forces, resulting in numerous injuries to them.”Presumably the Ministry of Public Safety's laughable embellishments were garnered from Ezra Levant's appalling book, The Enemy Within: Terror, Lies, and the Whitewashing of Omar Khadr, published the previous year in 2012. Some selections : 
Levant describes the 16-year-old GWOT political prisoner as "the James Bond of Jihad", "the biggest, smartest, most deadly fish in a pond teeming with the most vicious, depraved men on Earth", "a degenerate Agent 007," and a “psychopathic” “degenerate” “gangster,” “deranged … every bit as demented as Paul Bernardo, Canada’s infamous schoolgirl serial killer” who "gave himself a licence to kill Americans and Jews." 
He wrote that Khadr's - as yet still unproven in any reputable court - act of throwing a grenade was part of his plan to rise to the top of AlQaida and become the "biggest, most brutal Godfather ever" and the "top dog of terror".
It's unhinged. 
How, as Boris is wont to ask, did we ever allow ourselves to be governed by such vile, vindictive, tawdry, incompetent, opportunistic fools?
More from Montreal Simon.
The silver lining for Khadr is that upon his release, after the government has exhausted all legal means of betraying common decency, he will be living with his lawyer Dennis Edney.I know -you've seen Edney's 2010 speech before as I like to post it once a year as a reminder of what actual common decency looks like. Edney : "We cannot rely upon governments or others to help us make society better. Each and every one of us has to be our own leader.".

Winnicki Donates to Free Dominion's Warman Appeal: Part II

Anti-Racist Canada - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 19:43
There are a few things in life that are predictable.
Death. Taxes. And Tomasz Winnicki will respond to a blog post in which he is explicitly referred to.
A few days ago we had noted that Winnicki had made a donation to the Fourniers' legal fund established to appeal the defamation suit they had lost. As a result of having been found to have defamed Richard Warman, the Fourniers/Free Dominion and two other posters were assessed a considerable penalty. We mentioned that the Fourniers had yet to repudiate the donation at that time, though we suggested we would give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they hadn't heard of Tom Winnicki (though he did post on their forum occasionally if memory serves; he may or may not have been banned) or perhaps they had not yet noticed his contribution. Certainly they wouldn't take money from someone like Tomasz Winnicki if they knew better, would they?
Though we did send a link to the article to the Fourniers via twitter, we didn't expect to hear from them regarding the matter. We were sure that we would eventually hear from Tommy.
And we did hear from him.

The first one in response to a comment Winnicki made regarding his belief that it should be perfectly fine for underage children to engage in sexting and for any accompanying harassment that might follow isn't exactly germane to his contributions to the Free Dominion legal fund, but it does say a great deal about a man who still lives at home with his elderly mother and who will be turning 40 in November. But he soon does get to the main point:Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 17:51
Little May - Boardwalks (Sonny Alven Remix)

Omar Khadr and the Grubby Con Hogs

Montreal Simon - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 16:11


Over the last eight years I have written almost a hundred posts about the case of Omar Khadr, Canada's child soldier.

For I consider it one of the greatest cases of injustice in the history of this country, a shameful episode that should haunt us forever.

So you can imagine how I felt today when I read that he may finally be free. 
Read more »

The Struggle Ahead for a Decent Future for our Youth

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 13:16

It's sometimes hard to read a Henry Giroux essay without coming away feeling like you've been dragged into a dark alley and bludgeoned.  In his latest essay, this American intellectual explores what we've allowed ourselves to become, how we've been complicit in our own orchestrated economic, social and political degradation.  Brace yourself.

"The danger is that a global, universally interrelated civilization may produce barbarians from its own midst by forcing millions of people into conditions which, despite all appearances, are the conditions of savages."

- Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
 (1951)Following Hannah Arendt, a dark cloud of political and ethical ignorance has descended on the United States. Thoughtlessness has become something that now occupies a privileged, if not celebrated, place in the political landscape and the mainstream cultural apparatuses. A new kind of infantilism now shapes daily life as adults gleefully take on the role of unthinking children and children are taught to be adults, stripped of their innocence and subject to a range of disciplinary pressures designed to cripple their ability to be imaginative.Under such circumstances, agency devolves into a kind of anti-intellectual cretinism evident in the babble of banality produced by Fox News, celebrity culture, schools modeled after prisons and politicians who support creationism, argue against climate change and denounce almost any form of reason. The citizen now becomes a consumer; the politician, a slave to corporate money and power; and the burgeoning army of anti-public intellectuals in the mainstream media present themselves as unapologetic enemies of anything that suggests compassion, a respect for the commons and democracy itself.

Education is no longer a public good but a private right, just as critical thinking is no longer a fundamental necessity for creating an engaged and socially responsible citizenship. Neoliberalism's disdain for the social is no longer a quote made famous by Margaret Thatcher. The public sphere is now replaced by private interests, and unbridled individualism rails against any viable notion of solidarity that might inform the vibrancy of struggle, change, and an expansion of an enlightened and democratic body politic.


...Under market fundamentalism, there is a separation of market values, behavior and practices from ethical considerations and social costs giving rise to a growing theater of cruelty and abuse throughout North America. Public spheres that once encouraged progressive ideas, enlightened social policies, democratic values, critical dialogue and exchange have been increasingly commercialized. Or, they have been replaced by corporate settings whose ultimate fidelity is to increasing profit margins and producing a vast commercial and celebrity culture "that tends to function so as to erase everything that matters." Since the 1980s, the scale of human suffering, immiseration and hardship has intensified, accompanied by a theater of cruelty in which violence, especially the daily spectacle of Black men being brutalized or killed by the police, feeds the 24-hour news cycle. The tentacles of barbarism appear to be reaching into every aspect of daily life. Domestic terrorism has come home and it increasingly targets the young.

Given these conditions, an overwhelming catalogue of evidence has come into view that indicates that nation-states organized by neoliberal priorities have implicitly declared war on their children, offering a disturbing index of societies in the midst of a deep moral and political catastrophe. Too many young people today live in an era of foreclosed hope, an era in which it is difficult either to imagine a life beyond the dictates of a market-driven society or to transcend the fear that any attempt to do so can only result in a more dreadful nightmare.

Youth today are not only plagued by the fragility and uncertainty of the present; they are "the first post war generation facing the prospect of downward mobility [in which the] plight of the outcast stretches to embrace a generation as a whole." It is little wonder that "these youngsters are called Generation Zero: A generation with Zero opportunities, Zero future" and Zero expectations. Or to use Guy Standing's term, "the precariat," which he defines as "a growing proportion of our total society" forced to "accept a life of unstable labour and unstable living."


...The war on youth emerged when the social contract, however compromised and feeble, came crashing to the ground around the time Margaret Thatcher "married" Ronald Reagan. Both were hard-line advocates of a market fundamentalism, and announced respectively that there was no such thing as society and that government was the problem, not the solution to citizens' woes. Within a short time, democracy and the political process were hijacked by corporations and the call for austerity policies became cheap copy for weakening the welfare state, public values and public goods. The results of this emerging neoliberal regime included a widening gap between the rich and the poor, a growing culture of cruelty and the dismantling of social provisions. One result has been that the promise of youth has given way to an age of market-induced angst, and a view of many young people as a threat to short-term investments, privatization, untrammeled self-interest and quick profits.

Under such circumstances, all bets are off regarding the future of democracy. Besides a growing inability to translate private troubles into social issues, what is also being lost in the current historical conjuncture is the very idea of the public good, the notion of connecting learning to social change and developing modes of civic courage infused by the principles of social justice. Under the regime of a ruthless economic Darwinism, we are witnessing the crumbling of social bonds and the triumph of individual desires over social rights, nowhere more exemplified than in the gated communities, gated intellectuals and gated values that have become symptomatic of a society that has lost all claims to democracy or for that matter any modestly progressive vision for the future.


Giroux continues with a discourse on the "soft" and "hard" war being waged by neoliberals on North American youth.
In Canada, one child in six lives in poverty, but for Aboriginal and immigrant children that figure rises to 25 percent or more, respectively. By all accounts, the rate of incarceration for Aboriginal youth - already eight times higher than for non-Aboriginal youth - will continue to skyrocket as a result of the Harper government's so-called Safe Streets and Community Act, which emulates the failed policies of the US system by, among other things, strengthening requirements to detain and sentence more youth to custody in juvenile detention centers. Surely one conclusion that can be drawn from the inquest into the tragic suicide of 19-year-old Ashley Smith, who spent five years of her life in and out of detention facilities, is that incarceration for young people can be equivalent to a death sentence.

...Politics and power are now on the side of lawlessness as is obvious in the state's endless violations of civil liberties, freedom of speech and most constitutional rights, mostly done in the name of national security. Lawlessness now wraps itself in government dictates. In Canada, it is evident in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's support for Bill C-51, an anti-terrorist bill that further limits civil rights through a pedagogy of fear and racist demonization. It is also apparent in the United Sates in such policies as the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, the Military Commissions Act and a host of other legal illegalities. These would include the right of the president "to order the assassination of any citizen whom he considers allied with terrorists."

...Current protests among young people in the United States, Canada and elsewhere in the world make clear that demonstrations are not - indeed, cannot be - only a short-term project for reform. Young people need to enlist all generations to develop a truly global political movement that is accompanied by the reclaiming of public spaces, the progressive use of digital technologies, the development of new public spheres, the production of new modes of education and the safeguarding of places where democratic expression, new civic values, democratic public spheres, new modes of identification and collective hope can be nurtured and developed. A formative culture must be put in place pedagogically and institutionally in a variety of spheres extending from churches and public and higher education to all those cultural apparatuses engaged in the production of collective knowledge, desire, identities and democratic values.

The struggles here are myriad and urgent and point to the call for a living wage, food security, accessible education, jobs programs (especially for the young), the democratization of power, economic equality and a massive shift in funds away from the machinery of war and big banks. Any collective struggle that matters has to embrace education as the center of politics and the source of an embryonic vision of the good life outside of the imperatives of unfettered "free-market" capitalism. In addition, too many progressives and people on the left are stuck in the discourse of foreclosure and cynicism and need to develop what Stuart Hall calls a "sense of politics being educative, of politics changing the way people see things."


...The issue of who gets to define the future, share in the nation's wealth, shape the parameters of the social state, steward and protect the globe's resources and create a formative culture for producing engaged and socially responsible citizens is no longer a rhetorical issue. This challenge offers up new categories for defining how matters of representation, education, economic justice and politics are to be defined and fought over. This is a difficult task, but what we are seeing in cities such as Chicago, Athens, Quebec, Paris, Madrid and other sites of massive inequality throughout the world is the beginning of a long struggle for the institutions, values and infrastructures that make communities the center of a robust, radical democracy. I realize this sounds a bit utopian, but we have few choices if we are going to struggle for a future that does a great deal more than endlessly repeat the present. We may live in dark times, but as Slavoj Žižek rightly insists, "The only realist option is to do what appears impossible within this system. This is how the impossible becomes possible."

You'll Never See Vlad Putin the Same Way Again

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 12:22
If there's one guy who doesn't get any slack from the Western media, it's Russian strongman, Vlad Putin.  We vilify Putin at every turn and, while he certainly brings some of it down on himself, we make sure to depict ourselves as the guys in the white hats while we heap scorn on him.

It's time to reset our compass and there's no one better to do that than Princeton prof Stephen F. Cohen who has been involved with post-Soviet Russia since he served as an advisor to George H.W. Bush during the fall of East Germany. According to Cohen, Putin is as much our creation as his own.

As Russia’s leader, Putin has changed over the years, especially in foreign policy but also at home. His first impulse was toward more free-market reforms, anti-progressive taxes. He enacted a 13 percent flat tax—Steve Forbes would’ve been ecstatic, right? He offers [George W.] Bush what Clinton never really offered Yeltsin: a full partnership. And what does he do? On September 11, 2001, he called George and said, Whatever you want, we’re with you. Bush says, Well, I think we’re going to have to go to war in Afghanistan. And Putin said, I can help you. We’ve got major resources and assets in Afghanistan. I even have an army over there called the Northern Alliance. I’ll give it to you! You want overflight? It’s all yours!

How many American lives did Putin save during our land war in Afghanistan? And do you know what a political price he paid in Russia for that? Because his security people were completely against it.

...Oh, yeah. You think they minded seeing America being brought to its knees? They’d been invaded so often; let America get a taste of it! But Putin assumes he’s achieved what Yeltsin couldn’t and that this benefits the Russian state. He has a real strategic partnership with America. Now, remember, he’s already worried about his radical Islamic problem because Russia has nearly 20 million Muslim citizens of its own. Russia sits in the East and in the West; it’s on the front lines.

What does Bush give him in return? He expands NATO again and he unilaterally withdraws the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the bedrock of Russia’s nuclear security— it’s a complete betrayal. Is that how you repay somebody who’s helped you save the lives of your citizens? This is where the word “betrayal” begins to enter into the discourse.

...I’ve heard him called, among right-wing Russian intellectuals, an appeaser of the West. Soft. You can hear this today: Mariupol? Odessa? Should’ve taken them a year ago; they belong to us. What’s he thinking? Why is he discussing it? [Mariupol and Odessa are two contested cities in the southeastern region of Ukraine.]

So Putin sets his course, and then comes this famous speech he gives in 2007 in Munich, with McCain sitting in the front row. Putin says just what I told you. He says, Look, we want to be your partner; this is what we’ve wanted to be since Gorbachev. We believe in the common European home. But every time we turn to you or we negotiate with you or we think we have an agreement with you, you act like a hegemon and everybody has to do exactly what you say if they want to to be on your side.

Putin has come to tell them that America is risking a new Cold War with more than a decade of bad behavior towards post-Soviet Russia. John McCain interprets this as the declaration of a new Cold War.
Cohen argues that America is massively damaging its own national security by its bellicose approach to Putin over Ukraine.
I think the Ukranian crisis is the greatest blow to American national security— even greater than the Iraq war in its long-term implications— for a simple reason: The road to American national security still runs through Moscow. There is not a single major regional or issue-related national security problem we can solve without the full cooperation of whoever sits in the Kremlin, period, end of story.

Name your poison: We’re talking the Middle East, we’re talking Afghanistan, we’re talking energy, we’re talking climate, we’re talking nuclear proliferation, terrorism, shooting airplanes out of the sky, we’re talking about the two terrorist brothers in Boston.

Look: I mean American national security of the kind I care about—that makes my kids and grandkids and myself safe—in an era that’s much more dangerous than the Cold War because there’s less structure, more nonstate players, and more loose nuclear know-how and materials…. Security can only be partial, but that partial security depends on a full-scale American-Russian cooperation, period. We are losing Russia for American national security in Ukraine as we talk, and even if it were to end tomorrow Russia will never, for at least a generation, be as willing to cooperate with Washington on security matters as it was before this crisis began.

Therefore, the architects of the American policy towards Russia and Ukraine are destroying American national security—and therefore I am the patriot and they are the saboteurs of American security. That’s the whole story, and any sensible person who doesn’t suffer from Putin-phobia can see it plainly.
...The truth is, not everything depends on the president of the United States. Not everything, but an awful lot does, and when it comes to international affairs we haven’t really had a president who acted as an actual statesman in regard to Russia since Reagan in 1985-88. Clinton certainly didn’t; his Russia policy was clownish and ultimately detrimental to U.S. national security interests. Bush’s was reckless and lost one opportunity after another, and Obama’s is either uninformed or completely out to lunch. We have not had a statesman in the White House when it comes to Russia since Reagan, and I am utterly, totally, 1000 percent convinced that before November 2013, when we tried to impose an ultimatum on Yanukovych—and even right now, today—that a statesman in the White House could end this in 48 hours with Putin. What Putin wants in the Ukraine crisis is what we ought to want; that’s the reality.
Maybe it's time we realized that the West, led by an increasingly bellicose Permanent Warfare State, has some fence-mending to do for our sake as much as anyone's.  

This Deserves To Be Watched Regularly Until October

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 11:50
Journalist Michael Harris (Party of One) recently appeared on Steve Paikin's TVO show, The Agenda. People should watch this on a regular basis to be reminded regularly of Stephen Harper's anti-democratic and contemptuous ways.

brightcove.createExperiences();Recommend this Post

They're Calling It "World War O"

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 11:12



It seems pretty clear that Barack Obama came into the presidency intending to extricate the United States from its foreign wars.  There were two at the time, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Today there are five.

From Politico:

Obama pledged in his 2013 inaugural address that “a decade of war is now ending,” but the numbers suggest otherwise. The U.S. takes regular lethal action in at least five countries. U.S. troops are deployed in three conflict zones. And America is directly involved in a pair of Arab civil wars.

Some administration officials fear that things will get worse before they get better, particularly in Ukraine and Iraq. But they are divided on how best to proceed, people familiar with the Obama team’s internal debates say — with top officials like Secretary of State John Kerry urging measures like arming Ukrainian government forces with Javelin anti-tank missiles, which can ostensibly be called defensive.

The goal, as one administration official put it, would be that “dead Russians will come back across the border and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will feel a greater price for his escalation.”

But the roster of violence is sobering, and the president’s more cautious advisers fret about how much more military risk America should take on as global conflicts multiply.



We’re sort of seeing the world order cracking around the edges,” says Robert Kagan, a conservative author and historian whose writing has caught the president’s attention. “The only thing Obama can hope is that it doesn’t completely collapse while he’s still president.”
The administration’s allies challenge such assessments, saying there’s only so much America can do to directly influence the chaos now spanning three continents.


...Obama seemed to set a higher bar as recently as two years ago — suggesting that he could demilitarize America’s foreign presence more dramatically.

“America is at a crossroads,” Obama said in a May 2013 address at the National Defense University. “We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us.”

Obama was speaking specifically about the fight against terrorism before it cranked into a new gear with ISIL’s rise last year.

Obama's allies, especially European leaders and Angela Merkel in particular, are becoming wary of America's war without end.  They're leery of the American idea of empowering Ukrainian forces to make a gift of dead Russians for Vladimir Putin.  And, of course, the Politico essay doesn't even touch on Washington's pivot to Asia and America's sometimes contradictory approach to China.


 

Fetus Freaks: They're Slow But They're Stupid

Dammit Janet - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 10:35
Good gord. Regular readers of DJ! know how highly we esteem the intelligence and moral compass of the fetus freaks, but this should be embarrassing even for them.

Let's hop into the Way Back Machine. On November 8 last year, we reported that the Trillium Foundation, the granting agency for Ontario's gaming proceeds, rescinded the second year of a two-year $84K grant to a fake clinic.

There was some squealing from the predictable sources, who amusingly decided collectively that this blog was to be unnamed as the culprit.

On November 25, SUZY ALLCAPS linked to Our Number One Fan (Bertha Wilson Motion, now sadly defunct, aww) who had uncovered the shocking fact that the CEO of the Trillium Foundation, Andrea Cohen Barrack, also serves as volunteer Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Western Hemisphere Region.

Here's SUZY's plain-text URL: http://www.bigbluewave.ca/2014/11/todays-link-dump-abortion-catholic.html#idc-container

And my reaction, dated November 26.

That's about as far as that went, until last week when Patricia Maloney, who is "Canada's pro-life investigator" according to Focus on the Family's Astroturf blog, finally twigged to Ms Cohen Barrack's dedication to public service. (More on Canada's pro-life investigator in a future post.)

As is the custom in the antichoice echo chamber, LifeShite picked up the SCOOP on April 23.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation has denied that CEO Andrea Cohen Barrack is in a conflict of interest after alert bloggers noted that while she is a member of International Planned Parenthood Federation’s governing council, her foundation recently cut funding to a pro-life pregnancy center and approved a grant for Planned Parenthood Toronto.
The fetus freaks are trying hard -- if ridiculously late -- to spin some shit out of this, even contacting Ontario's Conflict of Interest Commissioner, whose lawyer Heather Popliger said:

Popliger told LifeSiteNews in an email the following day that “our understanding is that the President & CEO of the Ontario Trillium Foundation plays no role regarding grant decisions. There is a process for evaluating which entities receive grants, and the Board of Directors of the Ontario Trillium Foundation makes all decisions regarding grants.  The President & CEO has no involvement.”

When questioned about Cohen Barrack’s involvement with IPPF creating the appearance of preferential treatment, Popliger only reiterated that, “the President & CEO has no involvement in the grant process at the Ontario Trillium Foundation.  Accordingly, she is not in a position to, nor is she in fact, providing one entity with preferential treatment.”Ominously, LifeShite ends with:
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport did not respond to enquiries from LifeSiteNews by deadline.
Oooh, I bet the Ministry is peeing its pants.

When you've got your Outrage-O-Meter cranked to MASSIVE allatime, I guess it's hard to remember that you've already hit a particularly dipshit note previously.

How Is Steve Supposed to Compete With This?

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 09:31


The Prince of Darkness, Steve Harper, loves to send Canadian fighter pilots to distant corners of the world to bomb the living Hell out of people who don't go to his church.  Why, then, won't he pay those gallant airmen, those Knights of the Air, the going rate?

So, what is the going rate?  You have to factor in salary plus bonus these days. The bonus part comes via Saudi Arabia where a prince of the royal House of Saud is going to buy 100-Bentleys for 100-Saudi pilots currently dropping bombs on Yemeni Houthi rebels.

The cost for a nicely-equipped Bentley Continental GT hovers around $200-grand US (roughly $270,000 in Harper bucks).  However, based on the number of missions flown, Steve owes our Canadian pilots a lot more than some cheesy Bentley.  They deserve something more along the lines of the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse 16.4.  It costs about 2.25 mill but Steve can probably cut a bulk deal.


When it comes to dealing Death from Above and you want to say "thank you" loud and clear, nothing says it like a Veyron.



Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 06:47
Assorted content to end your week.

- Jordan Brennan discusses the utter failure of past trade agreements to live up to their promises, making it all the more unclear why we should be prepared to accept a new wave of even more inflexible restrictions against democratic decision-making.
The trade and investment liberalization regime led to rapid and relentless restructuring of North American corporate ownership by opening the door to the two largest merger waves in Canadian history. On the world stage, these merger waves led to higher levels of Canadian corporate ownership abroad. Domestically, heightened amalgamation activity created larger Canadian-based corporations — and the attendant market power that greater size bestows.

Between 1914 and 1988, for every dollar spent on expanding industrial capacity, Canadian business spent an average of just 23 cents on mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Between 1988 and 2013, an average of 93 cents was spent on M&A for every dollar ploughed into industrial capacity — a four-fold increase. Large firms are spending nearly as much acquiring their rivals as they are on new structures and an expanded workforce.

So what are the consequences of this amalgamation-fuelled concentration? The causes are complex, but the facts suggest that increased corporate concentration — power, in other words — has contributed to both slower GDP growth and heightened income inequality.

Unlike investment in fixed assets, which results in the creation of new structures and expanded employment, M&A is wholly an act of redistribution: It reallocates corporate ownership claims between proprietors, the purpose of which is to gain a larger income share. My research (contained in a recent report for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) confirms that amplified M&A activity has redistributed profit and assets up the corporate hierarchy, towards large firms.
...
(T)he redistribution of business investment away from fixed assets towards M&A has also meant that fewer corporate resources are deployed in the expansion of industrial capacity, with more ‘dead money’ stockpiled on corporate Canada’s balance sheet, both of which put downward pressure on GDP growth.

It may be an unwelcome conclusion, but the enduring significance of free trade and liberalized investment has been an amalgamation-driven increase in corporate power — which has depressed growth and exacerbated inequality. Don’t expect any of this to be mentioned in the 2015 campaign, of course. But if Canadians ever want to overcome these afflictions, we’ll have to stop believing the hype.- Meanwhile, Ian Welsh observes that extreme wealth tends to lead to deliberate efforts to exacerbate inequality - making for a noteworthy addition to the debate between Joseph Heath and Alex Tabarrok as to whether we should respond to weakening democratic systems with more effective neutral states or ever-greater reliance on market forces.

- Adrian Morrow comments on the similarities between the Ontario PC's election message and the austerity now being inflicted by a Lib government which pretended to be progressive just long enough to be able to attack public services. And Hugh MacKenzie sees transit as the only investment that's escaping the chopping block for now.

- Finally, CBC follows up on the health and environmental risks posed by unfettered oil development. And Mychalo Prystupa reports on the Duffy trial's revelations as to the privileged and secret access offered by the Harper Cons (among other governments) to the people profiting from the harm.

A Cudgel Resurrected

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 05:57


To the red-meat crowd (a.k.a. the Harper base et alia), few things can seem more gratifying than an attack on unions. Viewed as the enemy of all that is good and holy (i.e., unfettered profits), unions, we are often told, have had their day and really shouldn't be disrupting our lives anymore. Anything that restrains them can only redound to the public good.

While critical thinkers can see this for the propaganda it is, critical thinkers are not the ones being courted by the Harper regime. And so, in search of yet another divisive and polarizing issue, Tim Harper writes that Bill C-377,
first introduced by British Columbia Conservative backbencher Russ Hiebertin December 2011, has been revived by a Senate committee and there was Hiebert this week, again staking his claim to some type of Conservative medal as the man who has most doggedly pursued his boss’s agenda.

Hiebert is still flogging what must be considered the most fundamentally flawed piece of legislation to come from this majority government, a punitive assault on labour unions which would tip the collective bargaining process in the country to the employer, violate privacy and freedom of association rights of union leaders and tie up unions up with unnecessary, trivial, insulting paper work.While Harper lapdog Hiebert extols the bill as one providing accountability and transparency,
Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff calls it “an unwarranted, unconstitutional, venal and indefensible bill that is inherently flawed and must be withdrawn.”Designed to hobble unions with paperwork and making it easier to decertify them, while simultaneously making union membership more difficult,
...it would force unions to publicize their budgets, their expenditures, how much they would be able to pay workers in the event of a strike and what type of money they would have to promote their cause in the case of a breakdown of a collective agreement.

Employers would not be compelled to disclose any of that.A particular incident is instructive of the obdurate mindset of the bill's backers:
Manitoba Conservative Don Plett showered praise on Hiebert for his hard work and announced it was time to make this bill law.

But when he clashed with Paul Cavalluzzo, a constitutional and labour lawyer with more than four decades of experience, the bombastic Plett insulted the witness by telling him he considered “your time and my time to have been wasted with you here today not answering my questions.”I suspect that what Plett really meant was that Cavalluzzo did not provide the answers that he wanted to hear.


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