Posts from our progressive community

Mark Blyth : Trumpism and Brexit

Creekside - 2 hours 19 min ago

"The Hamptons is not a defensible position."
Mark Blyth, professor of Political Economy at Brown University, author of "Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea" on Trumpism and Brexit
The above is an excerpt. Full 23 minute interview here.

h/t Antonia Zerbisias.

Jason Kenney and the Brexit Racist Horror Show

Montreal Simon - 4 hours 13 min ago

As you may remember the ghastly uber right-wing Con Jason Kenney couldn't wait to trumpet his joy at the Brexit result.

Calling it a triumph of hope over fear, even though it was exactly the opposite.

As well as a triumph of bigotry over decency.

So now I'd like him to try to explain this monstrous horror show.
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we still like lists: recipe for effective activism

we move to canada - 5 hours 54 min ago
What it takes to be an effective activist:

1. Hopefulness

2. Persistence, perseverance

3. Reliability

4. Enjoyment of teamwork

5. Willingness to take direction from others

6. Willingness to make space and time in your life for your cause

7. Good listening skills

8. A long view

9. Boundaries

10. Passion for your cause

Could Scotland Block Brexit?

The Disaffected Lib - 8 hours 11 min ago
Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says the UK can't leave the EU without the consent of the Scotland's parliament. Sturgeon added that the odds are slim to none of the Scottish parliament approving such a legislative consent motion.

p.s. I'm still on hiatus. Just spotted this and thought you might want to see it.

Kool-Aid, Anyone?

Politics and its Discontents - 12 hours 51 min ago
Unless you have taken a strong slug of a particular Kool-Aid, I suspect you will be suitably appalled by the following. Indeed, the responses of the folks who were asked what it would take for Donald Trump to lose their vote reminds me of an old tune sung by Tammy Wynette.

Recommend this Post

Civil war on the Right

Dawg's Blawg - 12 hours 56 min ago
Brexit is one of those historical phenomena that is a mosaic of sub-phenomena; or, if you prefer, a forest with a number of diverting trees. Step back. We’re watching a civil war within ruling classes unfold before our eyes. Look... Dr.Dawg

we movie to canada 2015-16. this year there's a part 2.

we move to canada - 16 hours 24 min ago
From the I Have Too Much Going On, Systems Are Breaking Down department, this year's we move to canada awards omitted a big chunk of viewing. I was very surprised -- and a bit disturbed -- to discover this!

Leaving aside questions about my mental competence, I'm reviewing the omitted films and series here, and I'll also update the main post. I'm also using this as an opportunity to move some of my binge watching to the main categories.

In the Muhammad Ali category:

The Duke of Burgundy
-- This darkly erotic love story is kind of the anti- Blue Is the Warmest Colour: crackling with sexual tension, and not a bit of skin exposed. A tender love story about love that is not tender.

In the David Bowie category:

-- I was skeptical about this Buffy spinoff, but ended up liking it more than Buffy -- the characters are more varied, the interplay and overlap of good and evil is even more complex. It's also funnier. Great stuff, with huge thanks to my Facebook friends who recommended it.

Series Noire
-- This French-language series from Quebec begins as a clever self-referential comedy, then deepens to a wry, bittersweet comedy-drama. Like BoJack Horseman, How I Met Your Mother, and -- my favourite TV comedy of all time -- The Larry Sanders Show, thos comedy improved when it tapped into pain. Really worth watching.

In the Allen Toussaint / Maurice White / Merle Haggard category:

Longmire, Season 4
-- This detective-western hybrid is still going strong.

Badults, Season 1
-- If you're old enough to remember The Young Ones, this is an updated version of the slacker-dudes-on-their-own motif, featuring members of a comedy troupe called Pappy's. The first season is funny. Please stop there.

-- Could it be we've discovered a replacement for Kids in the Hall? I doubt this Scottish sketch comedy show will sustain itself as long as KITH, but Season 1 was hilarious.

Mike Tyson Mysteries
-- Are you watching this? It's funny, bizarre, occasionally hilarious, and episodes are only 10 minutes long. If you're a fan of Robert Smigel, you'll want to check this out.

-- I started re-watching this detective show from my youth half as a joke, then discovered it was brilliant. More specifically, Peter Falk was brilliant. Lieutenant Columbo must be one of the greatest television characters of all time. The show was an absolute pleasure.

In the Glenn Frey category:

-- Apparently we're the only people who didn't like this movie. Please don't explain it to me. I understood it. I did not enjoy it.

-- This spoof starts out with great promise, then reveals it contains only one note, played over and over and over.

In the Antonin Scalia category:

Badults, Season 2
-- Stop after Season 1.

The Harper Legacy and the Canada Revenue Agency

Montreal Simon - 16 hours 42 min ago

As we all know Stephen Harper used the Canada Revenue Agency for his own foul purposes.

To try to intimidate his enemies, and harass environmentalists, and even humble birdwatchers.

But although Harper has left the building, it seems the CRA is still haunted by his foul legacy.

Read more »

Lessons Learned

Northern Reflections - 17 hours 55 min ago

We don't know what the long term consequences of Britain's decision to leave the EU will be. But, Tom Walkom writes, there are already lessons to be learned:

First, democracy and advanced capitalism aren’t always compatible. Britain’s voters were asked whether they wanted to stick with a globalized system designed to increase wealth in the aggregate. The majority looked at what they were getting out of the arrangement and said no.
Second, nationalism is alive. There was a time, not so long ago, when the nation-state was viewed as passé. It is not. When Britain’s leavers said they didn’t want to be governed by bureaucrats in Brussels, they meant it.
Third, full labour mobility is, politically, a step too far. The conceit of the European Union was that it had erased borders — that EU citizens could travel, work and live anywhere. Thursday’s referendum showed that a lot of Britons simply don’t agree. If the polls are right, a lot of other Europeans don’t agree either. They fear an unrestricted flood of newcomers will drive down wages. Sometimes, these fears are justified.
Fourth, the refusal of centre and left parties to deal with any of this has allowed the hard right to monopolize antiglobalization sentiment. In Britain, the right dominated the leave campaign in part because there was no one else.
In the United States, would-be presidential nominee Bernie Sanders articulated a centre-left critique of globalization. But his Democratic party didn’t agree. Now demagogue Republican Donald Trump has the field to himself.
The United States has its critics of globalization on both the Left and on the Right. In Britain, it was the Right that won the day. And there are lessons, too, about the kind of leadership the Right espouses:
The motives of those who voted to leave the EU in Thursday’s referendum were not always noble.
Racism played a role as did plain old xenophobia. Those leading the leave campaign were hardly Churchillian. They included Nigel Farage, the odious leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party as well as former London mayor Boris Johnson, a buffoonish toff who may well end up being the country’s next prime minister.
But the most important lesson was simply this:
Global integration may serve that abstraction known as the economy. But it doesn’t always help real, flesh-and-blood people.
The lessons are there. We'll have to wait and see if people around the world are paying attention. 

The Brexit Fiasco: Now Some Say They're Sorry

Montreal Simon - 18 hours 24 min ago

It's been barely two days since the Brexit referendum, and no doubt some LEAVE supporters are still celebrating their big victory.

But not all of them. Some of them it seems are now having sober second thoughts.

And what with the pound having fallen to a thirty-year low, the stock markets shuddering, and the country split down the middle, and in danger of falling apart.

Now some of them are saying they're sorry.
Read more »

Saturday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 06/25/2016 - 15:22
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Albert van Senvoort points out that poverty is more difficult to escape in Canada today than it was two decades ago. And Jean Swanson discusses the desperate need for more action from all levels of government to ensure the right to housing is met in British Columbia.

- Danielle Ivory, Ben Protess and Kitty Bennett shed light on the U.S.' widespread privatization of emergency services - with its obvious implication of putting profit before the most urgent needs of citizens:
The business of driving ambulances and operating fire brigades represents just one facet of a profound shift on Wall Street and Main Street alike, a New York Times investigation has found. Since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms, the “corporate raiders” of an earlier era, have increasingly taken over a wide array of civic and financial services that are central to American life.
Today, people interact with private equity when they dial 911, pay their mortgage, play a round of golf or turn on the kitchen tap for a glass of water.
Private equity put a unique stamp on these businesses. Unlike other for-profit companies, which often have years of experience making a product or offering a service, private equity is primarily skilled in making money. And in many of these businesses, The Times found, private equity firms applied a sophisticated moneymaking playbook: a mix of cost cuts, price increases, lobbying and litigation.
In emergency care and firefighting, this approach creates a fundamental tension: the push to turn a profit while caring for people in their most vulnerable moments.
For governments and their citizens, the effects have often been dire. Under private equity ownership, some ambulance response times worsened, heart monitors failed and companies slid into bankruptcy, according to a Times examination of thousands of pages of internal documents and government records, as well as interviews with dozens of former employees. In at least two cases, lawsuits contend, poor service led to patient deaths. - Michal Rozworski points out that a combination of corporate tax slashing and generous treatment of tax havens has led to massive amounts of cash being stashed offshore rather than being invested in

- Finally, Robert Reich argues that the key issue for Hillary Clinton in the midst of a tumultuous presidential campaign should be to clean up the mess that is the U.S.' political system and make democracy work for citizens. And James Wood examines the proposals on tap from Alberta's political parties to do the same at the provincial level.

And Now, Another Word From The Truly Insane

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 06/25/2016 - 12:22
Stephen Anderson, I see, is back at it. You may remember the hate-filled screed that this truly insane evangelical launched into following the Orlando massacre, one that was subsequently taken down from YouTube for violating its policy on hate speech.

Not to be silenced, Raw Story reports that this unhinged pastor launched into a new tirade after businesses began severing their relationships with his and other like-minded churches. As I mentioned in my previous post on this obscene parody of God's love, he is difficult to listen to.

The sickest part is that this ding-dong truly feels he is a persecuted Christian. Recommend this Post

The EU dilemma; A Socialist Perspective. . . .

kirbycairo - Sat, 06/25/2016 - 07:30
From a socialist point of view, the EU has always presented something of a dilemma. The idea of the EU represented some important aspects of our socialist hopes: more international cooperation, less nationalist competition between workers, the idea of international labour and safety regulations, etc. In a globalizing world, a world where things like labour laws, environmental protections, and health and safety regulations all have international implications and impacts, the more international cooperation we can get the better.

Years ago when I lived in England, I was shocked to find out just how lax labour rights were in that country. And because England had opted out of the labour portion of the Maastricht Treaty, there seemed to be little that British workers could do. At the time you could be compelled to work 80 hours a week with no overtime pay, and if you refused you could be summarily dismissed and receive no unemployment money. The only way that workers partially overcame this terrible aspect of the labour market was by taking the British government to the EU and arguing that such condition violated the health and safety aspects of European law, which included aspects that the British Government had not opted out of. I don't know where things stand now because those events occurred nearly 25 years ago and I am sure that much has happened since, but this is an example of why the left held out a great deal of hope for what the European Union represented.

On the other hand, from a socialist point of view, the EU is also problematic, as demonstrated in the Morning Star's call for a leave vote. The Morning Star (once known as The Daily Worker) is a long standing socialist paper in Britain which, though once tainted with Stalinism, is the only Socialist daily in Britain. In the lead up to the Brexit vote the editors at the Morning Star reminded its readers that the EU hardly represents socialist ideals. In fact, as they also remind us, the great Tony Benn once said that the treaties of the EU are the "only constitution in the world committed to capitalism." If a genuinely socialist government were elected in any of the EU states, it would be largely unable to undertake a socialist legislative commitment. The Morning Star further points out that though there is a European Parliament, it is a largely "toothless" body and a great deal of what the EU does it does through de facto executive orders and a central bank. Perhaps the most troubling and telling actions of the EU in recent years, from a socialist point of view, is the way a democratically elected, left-wing government in Greece was treated. Instead of being able to enact socialist policies, the EU forced onto Greece one of the most horrendous austerity package in the world, a decision that has lead to terrible poverty, suffering, and even death.

These events led the editors at the Morning Star to say this - "Those who argue that austerity is a choice being made at a national level should ask why it is that governments ostensibly on the left in France and Italy are attacking worker's rights and public spending just as viciously as governments on the right. Seemingly it doesn't matter who we Europeans elect any more: austerity is what we get."

One of the primary problems with the EU is that it has been designed to resist reform. It's primary regulatory systems are enacted through treaties and those treaties require unanimous agreement to change. Economic treaties are fundamentally problematic from a socialist point of view, as anyone familiar with the TPP and NAFTA know. Many international treaties are designed to rob national governments the ability to undertake legislative protections of their workers and environment and often give corporations the power to force governments to do things that are against the national interests. This is why rightwing governments have been so eager to undertake these treaties; they know that they can tie the hands of future governments, which might be of a more leftwing persuasion, from undertaking legislative reforms of capitalism.

The rightwing has very different reasons for rejecting bodies like the EU, and these reasons are often racist and xenophobic. And this is where things get tricky and confusing. Rightwing populist rhetoric often takes a good game around sovereignty and national interests, but rightwing populists almost never follow up on such rhetoric. Politicians like Trump will yell and scream about international treaties and the problems that American workers face because of internationalized labour markets, but once elected, it's business as usual (and in the interests of business). The last thing a man like Trump wants is for working people to democratically decide upon a collective future. In many ways the EU is no different, it does enact certain protections for workers and the environment, but overall it mostly represents the interests of a capitalist elite. The problem is, of course, that many of those who are arguing against the EU are, in fact, so rightwing that they want even more freedom to exploit their workers and their environment than the structure of the EU allows.

It seems to be that any worker who is not confused, doesn't know what's going on.

May This Day Never Come

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 06/25/2016 - 06:45
I pray we never get to the day when scenes like the following become so commonplace that we regard them with only the passing interest we might today express in a rocket launch, and not the shock, awe and humbling that they undoubtedly merit:

Recommend this Post

Brain Damaged

Northern Reflections - Sat, 06/25/2016 - 05:20

 The Harperites have never liked the courts or judges. Michael Harris writes:

Remember Stephen Harper’s attack on Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin — the one that had her squirmin’ in her ermine? And then there was Dean Del Mastro’s assertion that his guilty verdict on four counts of electoral fraud was only Judge Lisa Cameron’s “opinion.”

The CPC crew has always been happiest being judge in its own cause. It treated the judiciary like interfering busybodies good only for rubber-stamping the government’s agenda, constitutional or otherwise.

So on one level, it’s no surprise to see the Harper appointees who control the Standing Committee on Internal Economy returning at warp speed to a scandal that’s a political shade of kryptonite. They are once again in full-throated pursuit of Senator Mike Duffy for — you guessed it — disputed expense money. Nearly $17,000.
The problem is that Justice Charles Vaillancourt found Duffy's expenses allowable under Senate rules -- something Duffy's lawyer, Donald Bayne, has reiterated:

Bayne points out that this amounts to challenging and attacking Justice Vaillancourt’s finding of facts on those very same impugned expense matters now being regurgitated by the Senate. As Bayne reminds the Clerk of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy in a hand-delivered letter dated June 22, “leading evidence which is inconsistent with findings made in the accused’s favour in a previous proceeding” is precluded from subsequent proceedings. “Thus Justice Vaillancourt’s positive factual findings about all of the impugned expense matters cannot be challenged, attacked or contradicted.”

Justice Vaillancourt had all the evidence available to arrive at his decision. There was no new evidence, as the Standing Committee on Internal Economy originally claimed in their June 8, 2016 letter to Duffy asking for repayment of $16,955 in ineligible expenses.
I have written earlier in this space that perseveration is a symptom of brain damage. One has to wonder if the Conservative caucus in the Senate is brain damaged.


Jason Kenney's Obscene Brexit Celebration

Montreal Simon - Sat, 06/25/2016 - 04:48

As you know I've been complaining about how Jason Kenney seems to be everywhere these days. The MSM just can't get enough of him.

One moment he's on his burro preparing to head to Alberta to try to unite the right, and evict the NDP commies from power.

The next moment he's causing some scandal on Twitter.

As he was doing again yesterday.
Read more »

The Brexit Referendum and the Independence of Scotland

Montreal Simon - Sat, 06/25/2016 - 02:30

I knew the LEAVE side was going to win the Brexit referendum hours before the polls closed.

When I heard that the poor who live in the Britain's rundown Council estates were turning out to vote in massive numbers.

And the reason I did is because if you have ever taken the train from London to Edinburgh, as I sometimes like to do.

Only about two hours after you leave the glittering prosperous capital, you enter a very different Britain.
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Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 06/24/2016 - 19:39
Pearson & Hirst - Endor

Donald Trump's Incredibly Idiot Day in Scotland

Montreal Simon - Fri, 06/24/2016 - 16:55

In one of my last posts I tried to explain why most Scots hate Donald Trump so much.

And why so many are planning to protest his visit. 

And now that he has arrived in that country, there was more evidence that Trump just doesn't get it.

And why he is unfit to be President of the United States.
Read more »

Scotland Reacts

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 06/24/2016 - 12:33

Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced there'll be a second independence referendum in the wake of yesterday's Brexit vote.


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