Posts from our progressive community

Victory at Standing Rock?

The Disaffected Lib - 4 hours 1 min ago

The US Army Corps of Engineers has thrown in the towel. After months of determined protests, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been stopped in its tracks.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman Moria Kelley said in a news release Sunday that the administration will not allow the four-state, $3.8-billion pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir where construction had been on hold.

Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said her decision was based on the need to "explore alternate routes" for the pipeline's crossing.

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 8 hours 28 min ago
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Simon Enoch and Christine Saulnier examine how P3s are used to privilege corporate profits over the public interest:
The CCPA has published numerous publications on the question of P3s because they have been so pervasive and so riddled with problems. There have been books written. Our organization has even published helpful guidelines outlining the 10 questions that should be asked AND fully answered before entering into these partnerships. Never are all of these questions asked and rarely are they fully answered.

In November of last year, one such report, Privatization Nation, chronicled some of the most egregious failures of privatization in Canada in recent years. We thought this to be conclusive evidence that despite 30 years of experience governments rarely seem to get privatization right, and more often get it wrong with astonishing regularity.

Despite this record, the potential bonanza awaiting private contractors through the federal government’s public infrastructure bank has brought many of the same, discredited arguments in favour of P3s back into public debate. The most pervasive of late appears to be the argument that P3 contracts provide the requisite discipline for all players to ensure on-time and on-budget completion, while constraining politicians from meddling in project design and management. However, a recent study in the UK by the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants  found no evidence that P3s were more successful at delivering projects on time because they were P3s; rather they succeeded because of the detailed way the contracts were written. There is no reason why the same sort of pre-negotiations and safeguards could not be applied to projects financed in the conventional public build model. Indeed, it begs the question of why such conditions were not previously made in traditional public procurement contracts.
...
The bottom-line is this: public services and infrastructure are best financed and delivered by the public sector. Private industry has a key part to play in the design and construction of public infrastructure under contract. The ‘partnerships’ become much more complex and fraught when those contracts are expanded to include private financing and operations.

P3 contracts are by their nature undemocratic — commercial confidentiality and the protection of a private corporation’s private interests are convenient political tools used to trump the public interest EVERY TIME.- Rich Puchalsky questions how neoliberalism has become a dominant economic and social paradigm when only a few (however well-resourced) people have any attachment to it, while lamenting the lack of an obvious left alternative. And Andrew Jackson argues that any changes from private-sector digital technology will fall short of leading to economic benefits that are either fairly shared or particularly substantial.  

- Meanwhile, Barry Ritholtz follows up on Seattle's increased minimum wage and finds - as pointed out by Jackson - that improved wages at the bottom of the income spectrum led to economic growth.

- Brett Norman reports on a Baltimore pediatric clinic's noteworthy work in systematically checking and applying social determinants of health as a basis for patient care.

- Finally, Chris Welzel and Russell Dalton examine the effects of citizen allegiance and assertiveness - and find that while both contribute to improved governance, citizens can achieve more improvement in policy outcomes through critical thinking and questioning than through passive obedience.

An Easy-To-Use Weapon Against Fake News

Politics and its Discontents - 11 hours 27 min ago


People of a certain 'vintage' will well remember the above commercial, in which a family appears to take great delight in fooling dad about the spread he is using. All in all, a humorous and harmless deception, one with no lasting consequences. Today, however, we face challenges to truth that the people of that commercial's era could never have imagined, challenges that are not the least bit amusing: the proliferation of fake news, aided and abetted by the ubiquitous Internet.

What defences do we have against such manipulations? Actually, there are many, only one of which I shall address in today's post.

We live in a very rushed world, one in which people often do not take the time to properly assess the information they access. Now, thanks to an exciting software innovation, that task has been made easier. Daniel Sieradski has created a browser plug-in that, with an extensive data base, flashes a warning at the top of one's screen alerting users to the questionable provenance of any given site. Interviewed on CBC's As It Happens, he explained why he created it:
It was in response to Mark Zuckerberg's statement that Facebook couldn't really handle the problem of fake news without a massive effort requiring the development of an algorithm and all these other things. I was able to work out a solution in just about an hour that showed that that was nonsense and that this issue could be easily addressed, if they really wanted to invest their energy in it.Its principle seems elegantly simple:
Basically, it scans a given web page for the presence of links and then checks the links against a database that has been compiled of fake news sites, satire sites, conspiracy theory sites and so on and then it inserts a warning label adjacent to the link letting the user know that it is not exactly a reliable source of information.The beauty of this approach is that it censors nothing; it simply issues a warning of unreliable content, and it is then up to the readers as to what they do with that information.


I strongly recommend that readers give it a try. Compatible with the majority of web browsers, I installed it on Chrome, and then tested it by consulting a list of fake news sites. It worked flawlessly on the ones I went to.

If you are interested, here is the link to the software. A further explanation as to its operating basis is supplied there as well:
The list of domains powering the B.S. Detector was somewhat indiscriminately compiled from various sources around the web. We are actively reviewing this dataset, categorizing entries, and removing misidentified domains. We thus cannot guarantee complete accuracy of our data at the moment. You can view the complete list here.

Domain classifications include:

Fake News: Sources that fabricate stories out of whole cloth with the intent of pranking the public.
Satire: Sources that provide humorous commentary on current events in the form of fake news.
Extreme Bias: Sources that traffic in political propaganda and gross distortions of fact.
Conspiracy Theory: Sources that are well-known promoters of kooky conspiracy theories.
Rumor Mill: Sources that traffic in rumors, innuendo, and unverified claims.
State News: Sources in repressive states operating under government sanction.
Junk Science: Sources that promote scientifically dubious claims.
Hate Group: Sources that actively promote racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination.Incorporating the plug-in is one defence against the increasingly strong assaults on truth and accuracy being mounted by those who seek to impose their distorted and indefensible views on the world. In a future post, I shall discuss the hard work that is also required if this battle is ever to be won.Recommend this Post

Donald Trump and the Betrayal of the Working Class

Montreal Simon - 11 hours 38 min ago


I used to stare at those pictures of Donald Trump preaching to his white working class supporters, and wonder how that old con artist managed to fool so many of them.

Make them believe that a billionaire who sits on a gold plated toilet seat was on THEIR side.

And that he would bring back their lost jobs, fight the elites and the special interests, go after the Big Banks, and Make America Great Again.

I didn't believe a word he said, but his faithful followers did, and now they're already looking like suckers.
Read more »

Not With A Bang But A Whimper

Northern Reflections - 15 hours 13 min ago


It's beginning to look like electoral reform is dead in the water. In the end, Chantal Hebert writes, our political parties could not rise above partisan self interest:

The Conservatives came into this discussion riding the referendum horse, and they come out of it more firmly in the saddle.
They have not budged an inch from their sense that the first-past-the-post system remains the best option. But they have found support from the other opposition parties for their contention that any change should clear the hurdle of a national vote.
That support is more tactical than principled.
Even as they are part of a pro-referendum consensus, the New Democrats, for instance, continue to argue that it is not necessarily essential to put a reform to a national vote prior to its implementation. If the Liberals set out to put in place the more proportional voting system the New Democrats crave, the government could find support on their benches for dispensing with a referendum.

But it's the Liberals who have truly bungled this file:

As for the Liberals, they have managed to turn a secondary policy front into a field of ruins.
With the logistical clock ticking on moving to a different voting system in time for 2019, the government waited eight months to set up a process to follow up on the prime minister’s election promise.
It never articulated a set of principles that might guide its management of the file.
The Liberals went into the debate with a known preference for a ranked ballot but could not be bothered or could not find a critical mass of intervenors to advance that option.
The Liberal committee members ended up rejecting the time frame set by their own leader to achieve a reform as unrealistic and the notion of a more proportional system as too radical. 
Electoral reform is an idea whose time has come. But it looks like it's an idea that will end, not with a bang, but a whimper. 
Image: Ottawa Citizen

Saturday Afternoon #ERRE Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 14:06
A bit of electoral reform material for your weekend reading.

- Nathan Cullen points out how the Special Committee on Electoral Reform's report (PDF) serves as an effective road map to make every vote count in Canada.

- PressProgress highlights how the Libs are attacking their own campaign promises in order to preserve an unfair electoral system, while Jonathan Sas compares the Libs' scorched-earth approach and incoherent response to the remarkable level of consensus and success achieved by members of all parties on the committee.

- Craig Scott generously calls the Libs' approach one of "noble failure" - and that may have been the intention initially. 

- But the "noble" part seems to have been sorely lacking, as Michael Stewart calls out the Libs' mockery of both the MPs who worked on a broad consultation process, and the tens of thousands of Canadians who participated in it. Althia Raj notes that the Trudeau government's insults are particularly egregious since they're directed at people trying to fulfil their own promises - while also reporting that Trudeau and his inner circle would likely have been happy to accept a committee recommendation for a ranked ballot which was rejected by all parties. And Ryan Maloney points out the Libs' aversion to inconvenient math when it would help to achieve improved representation.

A Nation Without Vision

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 12:45


Little attention was paid when Justin Trudeau proclaimed Canada the world's "first post-national state." The New York Times reporter interviewing our prime minister found the remark "radical." It was, it is, and by all signs it will continue into our future under Trudeau.

How to make sense of it? What does it mean to be a Canadian in Trudeau's Canada? Well, how did it feel to be Canadian under Lester Pearson? How wonderful did it feel to be Canadian under Pierre Elliott Trudeau? Why does it feel so wretched to be a Canadian under Justin's premiership? Does it ever.

I remember when Pearson made us proud as he earned the Nobel Peace Prize for our nation's development of peacekeeping. We were doing good around the world. And then he gave us our distinct maple leaf flag, devoid of the symbols of another land.

Then came Pierre Trudeau, just in time for our Centennial, who made us prouder of our nation than we ever had been. He pursued Pearson's vision and strengthened it with his own. He fought back the separatists in Quebec. He patriated our constitution. Best of all, Pierre Trudeau bequeathed Canadians the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that has preserved our liberal democracy against the assaults on our democratic rights by subsequent prime ministers, most recently his own son.

Those were prime ministers of courage and vision and belief in Canada and her people. It is by them that we must measure those who follow them, including Justin Trudeau.

In many ways the Dauphin is a smiley-faced continuation of the guy he displaced. Harper had the personality of a cancerous lung. Justin is easier on the eyes, friendlier, nicer and always holding out a welcome promise of sunny ways and better times.

If we were to judge Justin Trudeau by his promises and his assurances he'd be an amazing prime minister but we should never hold those promises and comforting words at higher value than he himself does and that is not at all.

Justin has made a mockery of the Canada of Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. It began with his sale of $15 billion worth of armoured death wagons to the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East; the state that unleashed the most murderous, virulent strain of radical Sunni Islam that it continues to spread in madrassas around the world today; the nation directly responsible for so much suffering and death in Iraq, Syria and Yemen that remains ongoing today. That's not the Canada of Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. That's the Canada of Stephen Harper and, now, Justin.

I had thought Justin would be Canada's last, best chance to implement real action in the fight to contain climate change. He promised we would slash emissions. He promised to clean house at the industry captured National Energy Board. He promised no pipelines without First Nations support and "social licence" which he said could only come from communities. Yet in the span of his first year what has he done? Harper's rigged National Energy Board is now Justin's rigged National Energy Board. First Nations oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline and we hope that their court action will prevail over Trudeau. As for social licence, the communities this pipeline will pass through and where it will terminate and those communities exposed to the risk of an ocean spill have spoken - loudly and clearly - and they stand opposed to it.

What of all those promises that Trudeau's most ardent followers seem to have quickly forgotten? Trudeau's word, so solemnly given, meant nothing. He lied and in lying he betrayed those who believed him and degraded Canada.

We in British Columbia have had quite a year of Trudeau. From the Site C dam, to the disastrous Woodfibre LNG project, to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, Justin Trudeau and his clown car full of cabinet ministers have supported the environmental degradation of British Columbia. They are Stephen Harper's and Joe Oliver's wet dream. Sitting on our side of the Rockies it's easy to see the other side, Canada, as a predator.

I'm pretty sure that the pipeline secret police Harper created are still in business, that incestuous merger of private pipeline security and intelligence operatives and their federal collaborators in the RCMP and CSIS. Pierre Trudeau fought to protect the privacy of Canadians. Justin continues Harper's work to eliminate those protections.

The assisted dying law, remember that? The Supreme Court of Canada, relying on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was crystal clear in the Carter case. It was a per curiam decision, all nine judges speaking with one voice. And what did Justin do when it came time to embody that clear decision in legislation? He placed his government above the law. He put his government at odds with, outside the law. He decided that the rule of law only applies when he chooses to follow it.

Yes, we live in a post-national Canada. That much was made clear when Morneau announced that young Canadians should accept a future of "job churn" and life in the precariat. Why? Because that's the price inevitably demanded of neoliberalist globalization. Any doubt about that was put to rest when the governor of the Bank of Canada said that the old jobs, the good jobs that built our once robust and broadbased middle class, are gone for good. Poloz said that Canada's future was in the services sector competing with poverty wage India for outsourced IT work or filling vacancies as chambermaids, restaurant servers and tour guides for the tourism industry.

That isn't accidental. It's not inadvertent. It's the direct and perfectly foreseeable result of globalization that underlies Trudeau's post-national Canada.

I don't know if Justin has taken a good, hard look at the world around him, the world to which he wants to shackle Canada in his post-national nightmare. It's a world in social, political, economic and environmental turmoil and upheaval. Liberal democracy, in nations once beguiled into swallowing the same elixir that has taken hold in Justin, is in retreat.

Dark nationalism (as opposed to the positive, progressive nationalism we knew under our great prime ministers of the past), is taking hold from America to Europe to the Middle East and into Asia Pacific. One response to this is the wave of rearmament spreading through the Middle East and Asia.

Meanwhile dark winter heatwaves underway in the Arctic reveal that we may have crossed or on the verge of crossing no fewer than 19 climate tipping points that, collectively, may launch the world into unstoppable, runaway global warming.

Military commanders from around the world including groups within the United States itself are frantically warning of imminent climate crises that dramatically raise the risks of uncontainable warfare.

Even though we're having a hell of a time in the Arctic, Canada is one of just a handful of countries, all of them northern, that are uniquely advantaged to sustain what is coming. Yet Justin is oblivious to that and, instead, wants to bind us ever tighter to the world of turmoil and conflict.

That Justin Trudeau has shown his hand so blatantly, so quickly is remarkable. That too is a warning. Those who ignore it may come to regret it and sooner than they imagine.

Justin has no vision. Those who embrace globalisation and the post-national state eschew vision. Like cattle swept away by a raging river, they just have to go with the flow.

Many of us smugly dismissed Harper as an aberration. We were wrong.



Here's One You Might Not Have Heard Of - the "Technosphere"

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 10:52


Think of it as everything man has built on Earth that's still standing. That includes the pyramids and everything older provided it's still around.

Now I'm going to throw out a number that's pretty hard to digest - thirty - trillion - tons. That's the estimated weight of the stuff we've built. Those pyramids, sure, but also the Trump Tower, all our roads and houses and bridges and airports, your car, your kid's bike, everything manmade.

But how is one to make sense of 30 trillion tons. This might help. 30 trillion tons represents 50 kilograms of stuff for each square metre of the Earth's surface.

Technosphere is a new term and according to the study published in journal The Anthropocene Review, it comprises of all the human-made structures including houses, factories and farms to airplanes, rockets, computer systems, tablets, smartphones and CDs, to the waste in landfills and spoil heaps that have been built to keep humans alive.

Humans have been having a huge impact on the planet through their activities and that’s where the Anthropocene concept has its roots in. It is an epoch that highlights the impact humans have made to the planet and it provides an understanding of how we have greatly changed the planet ever since our species started dominating.

Technosphere has its roots in the biosphere, but over the years it has gained so much of ‘weight’ and development that it has become a phenomenon of its own. Further, it is having a parasitic effect on the biosphere – like all human activities have on our planet.

Professor Mark Williams at the University of Leicester says “Compared with the biosphere, though, it is remarkably poor at recycling its own materials, as our burgeoning landfill sites show. This might be a barrier to its further success — or halt it altogether.”


According to Wiki, the average human body weight is just over 80 kilos which adds an extra 600-billion kilos of insatiable, voracious consumers all on its own. Maybe Elon Musk is right. Maybe we should get ourselves a new planet.

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 08:36
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Stephen Hawking discusses the urgent need to address inequality and environmental destruction as people are both more fearful for their futures, and more aware of what's being taken away from them:
(T)he lives of the richest people in the most prosperous parts of the world are agonisingly visible to anyone, however poor, who has access to a phone. And since there are now more people with a telephone than access to clean water in sub-Saharan Africa, this will shortly mean nearly everyone on our increasingly crowded planet will not be able to escape the inequality.

The consequences of this are plain to see: the rural poor flock to cities, to shanty towns, driven by hope. And then often, finding that the Instagram nirvana is not available there, they seek it overseas, joining the ever greater numbers of economic migrants in search of a better life. These migrants in turn place new demands on the infrastructures and economies of the countries in which they arrive, undermining tolerance and further fuelling political populism.

For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans.

Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it. Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.

To do that, we need to break down, not build up, barriers within and between nations. If we are to stand a chance of doing that, the world’s leaders need to acknowledge that they have failed and are failing the many. With resources increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, we are going to have to learn to share far more than at present.- Adnan Al-Daini discusses how market dogmatism is affecting every facet of our society. And Noah Smith reminds us that some the economic theories used have been entirely falsified by real-world evidence.

- Roderick Benns highlights how a well-designed basic income could substantially improve the personal security of the people now at the most risk. But John Clarke warns against settling for an austerian model which treats an insufficient basic income as a substitute for fair wages and needed social supports.

- Bruce Cheadle reports on the International Institute for Sustainable Development's new research showing that Canada's economy is grossly overreliant on fossil fuels, as nearly all of our development has been oriented toward extracting dirty and limited resources rather than developing and applying human capital.

- Finally, Janyce McGregor reports on how the CETA and other trade agreements are designed to increase prescription drug costs - without any effort being made to assess what the price tag will be. But Kelly Crowe and Darryl Hol do note that without much fanfare, Parliament is studying a national pharmacare plan which could both reduce direct drug costs, and significantly improve health outcomes.

The Great Annual Christmas Ad Competition

Montreal Simon - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 07:04


Well now that it's starting to look a lot like Christmas, even in Ottawa.

And now that the party leaders have sent out their seasonal greetings. 

And Rona Ambroses' card sent shivers down my spine...



I thought I'd take a break from the grim world of politics, and the horror of Harper and Trump. 

And get into the spirit of the holiday season.
Read more »

Beguiling Words

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 06:37


The propaganda machine of the extreme right has scored a double hit, it would seem. Not only do they and their racist brethren have Breibart-founder Steve Bannon warmly ensconced in the White House as chief strategist and Senior Counselor to Donald Trump (whether he will also be keeping the president's seat warm in the Oval office in what are certain to be frequent presidential absences is anyone's guess), but many in Congress now appear to be conduits for Breitbart propaganda.

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, headed by Republican Lamar Smith, has a new weapon in its attack on climate science: Breibart 'science':



The content of this tweet is the same sort of thing you’d get if you fed a bull 20 kilos of Ex-Lax and stood behind it for a while. Global warming, of course, is real. The Breitbart article in question is written by James Delingpole, a flat-out climate change denier who has a history of writing grossly misleading articles about global warming. He gets this information from yet another climate change denier, David Rose, who wrote an article for the execrable Daily Mail claiming that global temperatures have dropped by an entire degree Celsius since this summer. Contrary to what the Daily Mail might have to say, global temperature is indeed increasing.

In a nutshell, Rose is guilty of extreme cherry-picking. He looked at a single temperature data set from a specific layer of the Earth’s atmosphere and only used measurements over land. And to make matters worse, he only used data going back to 1998, a big no-no: That year was unusually warm, so starting there falsely makes it look like temperatures haven’t risen much.

He also is chasing local fluctuations and ignoring the decadeslong trend. And that trend is up. The Earth is heating up. If you want more details, Tamino at Open Mind debunks Rose’s claims quite thoroughly.Somehow, I doubt that the propaganda machine in Washington is going to alter too many people's thinking. The true believers of climate denialism will dismiss the critiques, and those who trust the scientific data will be unmoved by such blatant attempts at manipulation.

But what it does show is that the need for critical thinking is greater now than it ever was. In what I hope will be my next post, I will discuss some of the ways one can vet information for its veracity or falseness.
Recommend this Post

The Post Truth Era

Northern Reflections - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 05:56
 
Several commentators have suggested that the ascension of Donald Trump marks the beginning of the Post Truth Era. George Monbiot writes that, in fact, we have been living in the Post Truth Era for some time now. Over the past fifteen years,

I have watched as tobacco, coal, oil, chemicals and biotech companies have poured billions of dollars into an international misinformation machine composed of thinktanks, bloggers and fake citizens’ groups. Its purpose is to portray the interests of billionaires as the interests of the common people, to wage war against trade unions and beat down attempts to regulate business and tax the very rich. Now the people who helped run this machine are shaping the government.
Consider, most particularly, those who have battled the idea that the climate is changing:

The fury and loathing directed at climate scientists and campaigners seemed incomprehensible until I realised they were fake: the hatred had been paid for. The bloggers and institutes whipping up this anger were funded by oil and coal companies.

Among those I clashed with was Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). The CEI calls itself a thinktank, but looks to me like a corporate lobbying group. It is not transparent about its funding, but we now know it has received $2m from ExxonMobil, more than $4m from a group called the Donors Trust (which represents various corporations and billionaires), $800,000 from groups set up by the tycoons Charles and David Koch, and substantial sums from coal, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies.
And then there are those who see organized labour as their mortal enemy:

Charles and David Koch – who for years have funded extreme pro-corporate politics – might not have been enthusiasts for Trump’s candidacy, but their people were all over his campaign. Until June, Trump’s campaign manager was Corey Lewandowski, who like other members of Trump’s team came from a group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

This purports to be a grassroots campaign, but it was founded and funded by the Koch brothers. It set up the first Tea Party Facebook page and organised the first Tea Party events. With a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, AFP has campaigned ferociously on issues that coincide with the Koch brothers’ commercial interests in oil, gas, minerals, timber and chemicals.

In Michigan, it helped force through the “right to work bill”, in pursuit of what AFP’s local director called “taking the unions out at the knees”. It has campaigned nationwide against action on climate change. It has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into unseating the politicians who won’t do its bidding and replacing them with those who will.

Trump portrays himself as the friend of the common man.  His friends, however, are not friends of the common man. But in the Post Truth Era, that fact is irrelevant.


Image: Joe.My.God

Michael Harris On The Demonization of Justin Trudeau

Montreal Simon - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 03:56


The other night Justin Trudeau turned up at an event in Toronto's Distillery District, bearing a bag of gifts to add to a so-called Toy Mountain for poor children.

And I was amazed to see how cheerful and relaxed he looked, after the barrage of criticism he has had to endure in the last two weeks.

With the Cons and the right-wing media going after him like rabid hyenas, for calling Fidel Castro a "remarkable leader."

And some progressives blasting him for his pipelines decision, and even calling him another Harper.
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 18:59
Junkhouse - Out Of My Head

Yeah, They Really Were "Gullibillies"

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 12:24


Krugman on Trump, "Millions of Americans have just been sucker punched. They just don't know it yet."

"The white working class is about to be betrayed," Krugman declares in no uncertain terms. "The evidence of that coming betrayal is obvious in the choice of an array of pro-corporate, anti-labor figures for key positions. In particular, the most important story of the week — seriously, people, stop focusing on Trump Twitter — was the selection of Tom Price, an ardent opponent of Obamacare and advocate of Medicare privatization, as secretary of health and human services. This choice probably means that the Affordable Care Act is doomed — and Mr. Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters will be among the biggest losers."
Trump famously promised to "drain the swamp," a phrase the Gullibillies took to mean whatever they wanted. To some it was jailing Hillary for imagined crimes. Others thought he would reform Congress or break up the incestuous relationship between Wall Street and Washington. Guess what? They were had.
So, you don't know my brother John? He lives in San Francisco, he's as smart as a whippet and when I called this week he had a question – "what do George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have in common?"

"Goldman Sachs," he answered his own question, with an implied baboom!

John's right. It seems that no recent aspiring or elected US president dares to broach the White House without their hand being held by someone who has done time at this obscenely rich, multinational corporate behemoth. Still building out his cabinet team, Donald Trump already has recruited three of them and there's speculation more are in the pipeline.

But far from yanking a plug to empty [the Swamp], Trump is happily doing bombshells in the murk, gathering in playmates whose corporate and political credentials, not to mention their multibillion- and multimillion-dollar fortunes, suggest little empathy with the "forgotten men and women" that Candidate Trump promised to protect from rich guys looking after rich guys and, as they go, demolishing the financial regulations that might have prevented the Great Recession – or which were reinstated in its aftermath, in the hope of preventing a repeat of the 2008 financial collapse from which the US is still recovering.
...Not only were they too pally with "crooked" Hillary Clinton, who he claimed was "under their total control", but according to one of Trump's TV ads, Goldman Sachs and its ilk comprised a "global power structure" that was "responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.

"Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people," Trump declared.


...Paul Waldman writes in The American Prospect: "So in order to take on that global power structure, Trump is hiring a bunch of billionaires and Wall Street tycoons, cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy, scaling back regulatory oversight of Wall Street, and offering an infrastructure plan that consists mostly of tax breaks to corporations to encourage them to build projects that they'll then charge the public tolls in order to use."
...America's estimated 500 billionaires might be unlikely candidates for a White House team that working-class Americans were promised would look out for them – at his last campaign rally in Michigan, Trump told supporters: "We're fighting for every citizen that believes that government should serve the people, not the donors and not the special interests."

But already Trump, the first billionaire President-elect, has appointed three more billionaires to a team that, even incomplete, is the richest administration in modern American history – prompting Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank to dub it "Trump's Team of Oligarchs".
Trump got elected on the "stupid" vote and they were warned that he believed he could do anything, even grab them by the p##sy. They didn't have long to wait for their turn.

The Generals - Again - Sound the Warning Siren on Climate Change.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 11:38

Climate change is on the mind of every professional military across the world. They know it impacts the threats they face and multiplies the challenge they must meet to defend their nations.

In the run up to the American election, two "commanders" groups, one made up of US generals and admirals,  the other made up of senior commanders of the US and other nations, warned of the threat climate change posed to world security.

Now, another military warning that, unless we act immediately to eliminate carbon emissions, we will experience mass migration on a scale most a decade ago would have thought unimaginable.

“Climate change is the greatest security threat of the 21st century,” said Maj Gen Munir Muniruzzaman, chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on climate change and a former military adviser to the president of Bangladesh. He said one metre of sea level rise will flood 20% of his nation. “We’re going to see refugee problems on an unimaginable scale, potentially above 30 million people.”

He's talking 30 million migrants from Bangladesh alone. That's just a fraction of the global figure. A lot of those eyes will be looking for safe refuge, preferrably in some large, relatively unpopulated territory.

He'

Getting It Right - Sadly

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 11:33

He didn't say a word about changing into Harper.

Three years ago Damien Gillis of The Common Sense Canadian speculated that Justin Trudeau might be worse than Harper for Canada's environment. Now it turns out he was right. Three debacles, all of them in British Columbia, show that Trudeau is not the leader he pretended to be.

...barely a year into his reign Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is batting almost .1000 when it comes to approving controversial energy projects, from liquefied natural gas plants in Squamish and Prince Rupert to permits for the Site C dam — and now Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 3.

In that 2013 editorial, my main concern about the new Liberal leader was that his energy and trade policies were nearly identical to those of former prime minister Stephen Harper — they just looked and sounded better coming from Canada’s prodigal son.

Moreover, I already had the sense Trudeau wasn’t guided by a clear set of values, making him vulnerable to persuasive political advisors and powerful lobbies. With Harper, I noted three years ago, at least we had “a sense that his zeal for expanding Canada’s fossil fuel industries through foreign ownership is something in which he believes on a deep, ideological level.” With Harper, you knew exactly what you were getting — he loathed environmentalists and didn’t care much for “radical” First Nations either.


...His first year in office was all about trying to have his cake and eat it, too.

In Paris, he committed Canada to serious climate action. “Canada is back, my friends,” he crowed.

More like right back to where we started.
Since then, we’ve seen him default to Harper’s climate targets and approve pipeline and LNG projects which ensure it is impossible to meet even those low standards.

Trudeau campaigned on rebuilding Canada’s relationship with First Nations, but on respect for Indigenous title and rights, especially when it comes to energy projects, he’s all but forgotten them. His government pledged to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, then earned rebukes from leaders like Grand Chief Stewart Phillip when Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr dismissed one of its key principles: free, prior and informed consent to any development on traditional territories.

Finally, the contorted thesis of the Trudeau government appears to be that it’s possible — even necessary — to grow the fossil fuel economy in order to facilitate the transition to a green economy.


...Though he makes frequent mention of his “B.C. roots,” Trudeau clearly does not understand this place one lick, especially its wild coastline. No one who does believes for a second that it is possible to recover anything from a major spill, especially one involving bitumen.

...Trudeau has proven adept at running from the left and governing from the right.

Yet there is a reckoning headed his way — perhaps bigger than even his predecessor faced. Because while no one expected wine and roses from Harper, Trudeau gave them high hopes.

The disappointment is that much greater when it’s rooted in a deception — just ask former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell about the HST and BC Rail, or look back to the Liberal sponsorship scandal of the early 2000s. Trudeau’s cutesy tweets, shirtless photo-ops and million-dollar smiles will prove no match for this kind of outrage.

The approval of Kinder Morgan has awakened B.C., and there’s no end to the Vancouverites and other supporters ready to stand on the line.

Think Idle No More meets Standing Rock meets Occupy meets the War in the Woods meets Burnaby Mountain — all unfolding in a major urban centre, under the watchful eye of tens of thousands of camera phones, drones and social, grassroots and mainstream media.


At this point I would usually add a para or two of personal thoughts. Not this time. I'm too damned angry with that lying thug of a prime minister and his cheap threats.

Has Kellie Leitch Finally Lost Her Marbles?

Montreal Simon - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 08:09


It's always been a bizarre cabaret act, a real freak show. 

Kellie Leitch's squeaky voiced imitation of Donald Trump, and her xenophobic campaign to make us believe that only she can defend our Canadian values.

Even as she disgraces them.

But now that ghastly drag show is becoming even weirder, with Leitch claiming that the "liberal elites" are calling her supporters deplorables.
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