Posts from our progressive community

Things fall apart: or, Scotland rising

Dawg's Blawg - il y a 3 heures 29 min
[NOTE: Be sure to read co-blogger Mandos’ succinct and trenchant piece on Iraq just below this. We finished our pieces at about the same time. ~DD] Good grief, here they go again. Any nation roughly east of the Oder-Neisse line... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

FIPA coming down the pipeline ...

The Winnipeg RAG Review - il y a 5 heures 56 min
... and, as the Vancouver Observer's Jenny Uechi points out, it should raise many red flags. For example, because there wasn't consultation with First Nations the Canada-China trade deal might be unconstitutional.

Free, prior and informed consent has never been a strong suit of the Harper MisGovernment, though.

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Sound Familiar?

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 7 heures 50 min


The current decline of the United States from global economic hegemon re-enacts the same path that brought low the previous dominant economies of Spain, the Netherlands and Great Britain.  Here's a brief account of what happened to Spain from Le Monde.

In the 16th century, Spain pillaged the New World and the gold and other precious metals that flooded into Spain turned its merchants into rich rentiers. Their wealth benefitted the nascent industries of the rest of Europe but Spain’s manufacturing sector declined, as did its empire. As the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano wrote, “Spain owned the cow, but others drank the milk.”

It's the same dynamic at play today between the United States and China.  America, flush with wealth and with an appetite for quick, big returns for its rentier class, has abandoned its manufacturing sector and used its wealth to grow the economy of its successor, China.  It's deja vu all over again.

The Le Monde article also has an insightful examination of China's resource rampage underway in Latin America.  It should provide an object lesson for what could lie in store for Canada thanks to the unfortunate trade pact by which Stephen Harper this week indentured Canada to China for decades.

Latin America is still largely missing out on the added value created by industrial processes. The relationship with China is heightening the re-primarisation of economies in the region, now more dependent on the global market and on the primary sector, which creates little wealth and few jobs. Latin America now owns the cow, but it still isn’t getting much of the milk. The growing demand for primary products is exacerbating another problem in Latin America. Andrés Velasco, former Chilean finance minister, recently said: “You look out the window and what you see is a tremendous tsunami of wealth coming your way. And this, which once upon a time might have been welcomed, I view ... as a terrifying sight ... Because this tsunami is going to make your politics very difficult ... and your macro trade-offs very sharp” (5).

He was referring to “Dutch disease”, coined after the discovery of the world’s largest deposit of natural gas in the Dutch province of Groningen, in 1959. Dutch gas exports soared, bringing in huge amounts of foreign currency and causing the value of the florin to rise sharply. The prices of Dutch products on foreign markets rose, while the cost of imports fell, and Dutch industry declined. Latin America today is in a similar position. The influx of foreign currency (linked to exports, but also to investment) has caused regional currencies to appreciate significantly. The value of the Brazilian real rose by 25% from 2010 to 2011, and the finance minister, Guido Mantega talked of a “currency war”, fuelled by China (6). On a trip to Beijing in 2011, President Dilma Rousseff urged China to rebalance trade between the two countries.

For What It's Worth - Ignatieff on ISIS

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 8 heures 5 min
Der Spiegel interviews Harvard professor, Michael Ignatieff, on ISIS, Obama, the Middle East generally, Israel and Palestine.  Some interesting thoughts, some banal and predictable.  You be the judge.

Swallowing spiders

Dawg's Blawg - il y a 8 heures 31 min
Not all genocidal bad guys are Adolf Hitler. Even when/if they reach that level of industrial death. It should be obvious that historical analogy gets you only so far. Our favorite failed PM candidate, Iggy, built a good chunk... Mandos http://politblogo.typepad.com/

Why Getting Our Arab Allies Off Their Fat, Pampered Asses Matters

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 9 heures 3 min

Since Obama started this 'get ISIS' coalition-building business, the Sunni Arab world has been conspicuous by its absence.

The Sydney Morning Herald's chief foreign correspondent, Paul McGeough, weighs in on Australian prime minister Tony Abbott's decision to jump in with both boots.

The smart thing for Western leaders in the wake of John Kerry's session with Arab leaders in Jeddah on Thursday last, would have been to bide their time. And it would have been smart too to bide their time a bit more after Sunday's grim reports of another Westerner beheaded by these crazed thugs who strut as Islamic freedom fighters in the deserts of Syria and Iraq.

But Tony Abbott leapt straight in – committing 600 Australian military personnel and more aircraft to the conflict, thereby giving the Arab leaders good reason to believe that if they sit on their hands for long enough, the West will fight their war for them.

Even as Abbott made his announcement in Darwin, the US Secretary of State was trailing his coat-tails in Cairo, making little headway with pleas for assistance from a murderous military regime that will shoot its own people, but seemingly dares not volunteer to face the so-called Islamic State on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq.
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Either collectively in Jeddah or in one-on-one meetings with Kerry as in Cairo, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Lebanon all have baulked at making explicit military commitments to confront a force that they all see as a direct threat to their thrones, bunkers and, in one or two cases, tissue-thin democracies. With the exception of Iraq, which has no option because it is under attack at home, none has publicly committed military support.

McGeough warns that, despite Obama's assurances that we'll only be dropping bombs on Islamic State forces, it's a formula for failure.

...An air war cannot succeed without a substantial boots-on-the-ground accompaniment – and that part of what Obama calls a strategy is very much on a wing and a prayer.

The Kurdish Peshmerga can fight, but they can't defend all of Iraq. The Iraqi army, trained and equipped by Washington at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, is erratic and more likely to cut and run than to stand and fight. Next door in Syria, Obama is banking of the ranks of the Free Syrian Army – which for years he has complained could not be counted on, and which Washington now tries to convince us can be taken to Saudi Arabia, retrained and sent home to win the war.

More than a decade trying to wave a magic wand over the security forces of Iraq and Afghanistan should have convinced the White House that relying on these newly trained forces qualifies for dismissal under the Obama dictum of "don't do stupid stuff!"

 Meanwhile McGeough questions what makes fools rush in.

Oddly, the Prime Minister warned Australians to prepare for a fight that might last "months rather than weeks, perhaps many, many months indeed…" Seems he's in as much of a hurry to get into this war, as he seemingly thinks he will get out of it.

It's not clear why. This "we must do something right now" response is likely to create a bigger mess than already exists in the region. Consider: the death of 200,000 locals in Syria failed to rouse much of a reaction in the West; but the deaths of two Americans – and now a Briton – has raised a crescendo for international war when it might have made more sense to tackle regional politicking and feuding first.  He might be right.  Random acts of warfare might just be the political Viagara for ailing, flaccid heads of state who can't find any other way to get their peckers up. 

Daffy's In Charge

Northern Reflections - il y a 9 heures 24 min

                                                        http://www.poxteer.com/

Last week was a banner week for the Harper government. It announced the ratification of FIPPA. And it also announced a reduction in EI premiums -- not for employees, but for employers. David MacDonald writes:

The idea is that small businesses with a payroll of under about $550,000 a year will have a portion of what they paid in EI refunded to them. Only the employers get some of their money back, not any of the workers. Also, this is at a time when EI is so restricted that six out of 10 unemployed Canadians can't even get it.

This is going to cost half a billion dollars a year, but will only amount to a maximum of $2,200 per business. Even with this miniscule amount, Minister Oliver is flogging this as a job-creation strategy. Well if $2,200 is going to incentivize behaviour that can go either way and you don't even have to hire anyone -- you can get it by doing nothing.

It might help a bit if that money went into the hands of employees -- who would spend it -- and create some demand in the economy. But it won't do much for business. And, in fact, it will restrain job creation:

Say you're a business just over the $550,000 payroll cap. Why not just fire your summer student or cut back her hours to get yourself under the cap? Your reward for firing a student…a tax break! What if you pay minimum wage and don't want to invest in training? Your reward for sitting back and doing nothing…a tax break! Now what if you want to expand your business but you're close to the payroll cap? You may well think twice before hiring that person and losing your tax break.
What will the EI cut do? Simply add to the pile of dead money sitting atop the Canadian economy. Proof yet again that the Harperites are stuck in an ideological trough -- and that Daffy Duck is in charge of the store.


Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 9 heures 54 min
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Naomi Klein discusses how entrenched corporate control through trade and investment agreements will prevent us from making any real progress against climate change. And Cory Doctorow weighs in on the Cons' FIPA sellout of Canadian sovereignty, while highlighting the NDP's petition to stop it.

- Meanwhile, Les Whittington writes that CETA will severely limit Canada's ability to regulate banks - which, as Barry Ritholz observes, only sets us up for predictable financial abuse which will never be properly investigated or punished:
Political access and lobbying go part way toward explaining the absence of prosecutions and, therefore, the lack of convictions [for financial sector criminality]. To understand why there were no convictions of senior bankers, you need to understand a bit of criminal law in the U.S. The American form of jurisprudence requires a criminal indictment to bring someone to trial. No indictment, no trial, no conviction. Where bankers and their lawyers have been so successful is stopping prosecutions before they begin. You don’t get to the conviction part if prosecutors don’t bring indictments.

As we have repeatedly shown, Treasury Department officials, including former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, had convinced prosecutors in the Justice Department of the dangers of prosecuting banks and bankers for the economy. This showed up in the news coverage over the years, and is still going on. Just consider this recent Bloomberg News article with the headline “Criminal Charges Against Banks Risk Sparking Crisis.”

So what crimes could we imagine? How about fraudulent mortgage underwriting; robo-signing and foreclosure perjury; falsifying Libor rates; manipulating gold and other metal prices; money laundering for drug kingpins and terrorists; and participating in Ponzi schemes. This is hardly an all-inclusive list and I could certainly make it longer.

If only the list of attempted prosecutions was as long.- Bruce Johnstone points out the limitations of a government which insists on its own impotence in cultivating genuine economic development. But unfortunately, the Leader-Post's editorial board undercuts a rare effort to build an alternative to total dependence on the corporate sector - in this case, when it comes to a municipal development agency.

- Katie Raso reminds us why we need to fight against for-profit health care which discriminates based on the ability to pay. And Mollie Reilly offers a galling example of what happens when that discrimination rears its ugly head.

- Finally, Andrew Cash highlights the fight against "pay-to-pay" rackets as an example of how public pressure can result in at least some policy changes.

Oh Hell, There Goes the NATO Neighbourhood

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 10 heures 54 min


The allegation:  our longtime NATO partner, Turkey, has been supporting al-Qaeda in Syria.  The accuser, Francis Ricciardone, until late June the American ambassador to Turkey.

"Turkey has directly supported al-QAeda's wing in Syria, in defiance of America, the former US ambassador has disclosed.

"The Turkish authorities thought they could work with extremist Islamist groups in the Syrian civil war and at the same time push them to become more moderate, Ricciardone told journalists in a briefing.  That led them to work with Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda offshoot, as well as hardline Salafi Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham.  Mr. Ricciardone said that he tried to persuade the Turks to close their borders to the groups, but to no avail.

Turkey has declined to join Obama's coalition to beat back the ISIS threat in Iraq and Syria and has prohibited US forces from launching missions against ISIS from bases inside Turkey. In another, "whose side are you on anyway?" moment, it's reported that Turkey has failed to interfere with ISIS' oil marketing by which ISIS has become one of the wealthiest terror groups ever.


Pope Warns We May Already Be In "Piecemeal WWIII"

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 12 heures 14 min


Has the world already stumbled into a third world war?  Pope Francis thinks that could well be the case.  Denouncing war as "madness", the Pope made his remarks while visiting Italy's largest military cemetery.

In Saturday's homily, standing at the altar beneath Italy's fascist-era Redipuglia memorial - where 100,000 Italian soldiers killed during WWI are buried, 60,000 of them unnamed, the Pope paid tribute to the victims of all wars."Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep," he said.

"Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction," he said.I don't know about you but I'm thinking Francis might just be right.  What's going on today around the world, the brutal chaos, the clash of state and non-state actors, the "new war" type of warfare is very much in keeping with the models of warfare for the 21st century canvased in a recent course I took from the war studies department of Kings College London.

Gone are the days of Haig and Kitchener, Rommel and Patton.  Gone are the days of massive armies clashing over reasonably understood objectives.
Gone are the days of victors and vanquished, of declarations of war and treaties of peace.

Today's warfare sees parties mix and blur, sometimes drifting in and out of conflict, with often ill-defined objectives or no particular purposes at all. Conflict has become more fluid, actors are apt to change sides or vary allegiances.  The distinctions that once separated crime, terrorism, and insurgency are increasingly meaningless.

The Afghanistan debacle demonstrates how ill-prepared the West is for this transition in warfare.  Despite our claims to the contrary, we went into Afghanistan to fight a conventional military war - heavy on firepower, weak on troop strength.  It wasn't for lack of bombs or strike fighters, tanks, artillery or any of the other accoutrements of modern warfare that we failed to defeat a bunch of illiterate farm boys equipped with Korean war vintage rifles and light machine guns.  We failed because we stupidly never had remotely enough soldiers to fight their war and because they chose, not stupidly, not to fight ours.   At the end of the day the only war that mattered was theirs, the only one still in play when the clock ran out on our war.

Wars of theology seem to have supplanted wars of ideology as the new expression of nationalism.   The rise of religious fundamentalism as a driving force even in the halls of grand palaces and national legislatures has introduced a new element of zealotry and an acceptance of brutality that might have been unacceptable previously.  Who needs morality when you follow the fierce burning light of religious extremism whether Muslim, Christian, Judaic, Hindu or whatever?

Warlordism and tribalism often frustrate both the ability to conduct an effective war and any prospect for achieving peace from conflict.  We in the West have exacerbated those tensions by the manner in which we carved up so much of the world as our spoils of war, drawing lovely neat borders to suit our convenience and without concern for the ethnic realities of the people we were corralling together.

In contemporary warfare before the turn of the 20th century, fatalities were roughly 85% military, 15% civilian.  A century later those ratios had been reversed.  Today the brunt of warfare is inordinately borne by civilian populations as the laws of war intended to protect them are routinely flouted by non-state actors and state actors alike.  Even in Canada we sit by complacently as our allies deliberately target civilian populations with impunity.  They do it and, by our silence, we condone it and become complicit in it.

Morality has gone straight out the window.  There are more failed and failing states, ever more illiberal democracies (we're not all that far off either) ushering in a new era of authoritarianism.  And we have collectively arrived at this tragic place just at the moment when we must decide if mankind can find some means of equitably and peacefully sharing this biosphere, our one and only habitat, through what promises to be an increasingly challenging and dangerous century.                                        

On Harper's True Loyalties

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 13 heures 31 min
In response to yesterday's post about Stephen Harper's boycott of a major climate change summit hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York on September 23, Anon wrote the following, and offered this video which, I think you will agree, is a most appropriate choice:

Harper, early on, seemed to care about human rights and UN initiatives:

"'I think Canadians want us to promote our trade relations worldwide, and we do that, but I don't think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values,' Harper said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao won't meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Hanoi, which is being seen by some as a snub over Canada's criticism of China's human rights record. 'They don't want us to sell that out to the almighty dollar.'"

After that crazy talk, I think Harper's sponsors sat him down in a boardroom in Calgary and explained the facts of life to him. The fact that he always was, and always would be, an Imperial Oil mail room clerk. I imagine that meeting would have gone something like this:


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Clampetts clownshow distracts from FIPA

Creekside - il y a 13 heures 56 min

Gosh, was it only five years ago that Alberta Energy spokesman Tim Markle said "Chinese takeover is good news for Alberta", even as Harper was blowing off the Kyoto Accord, supposedly due to China's crappy environmental record, and pledging to build a monument to victims of communism? 

Beginning Oct 1 for the next 31 years until 2045, under the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement Harper just ratified on Friday, Chinese corporations will be able to directly sue the Canadian government for any public interest measures that interfere with their ability to make a profit in Canada. 

Do you think China-owned Nexen, Sinopec, and PetroChina just might consider Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline to be somewhat integral to getting their $30B investment in the tarsands home to China for refining?  
Think Steve can count on Christy Clark to ensure no BC environmental protection laws might harm China's assets?
Think it's an accident Steve released this news on a Friday during the Ford brothers' Clampett Dynasty pitch?

Two years ago in Vladivostok, Harper announced his signing of the FIPA deal with China. MP Don Davies introduced a motion in the House to not ratify it. His motion failed. All the Libs and Cons voted against it, including 24 Con MPs from Alberta and 19 from BC.  
You can contact those quislings through this HoC page showing that vote.

NDP Petition : Stop FIPA Now               
LeadNow Petition : Stop the Secretive, Reckless & Binding Canada-China FIPA


Council of Canadians : Harper government sneaks through Canada-China FIPA despite ongoing court challenge

The Tyee : FIPA 'is the price China demanded to open its purse strings for investing in the resource sector in Canada.'

Montreal Simon : Stephen Harper and the Great Chinese Betrayal 

Rick Mercer : China Trade Agreement 
.

The Harper Regime and the Buying of the Next Election

Montreal Simon - il y a 15 heures 20 min


We know how many millions the Cons have spent on their ghastly porky propaganda designed to brainwash into believing that Stephen Harper is a great leader.

And that they are a great government instead of the worst one in Canadian history.

We know how much of our money Harper has spent pursuing the ethnic vote, in Ukraine, Israel, and soon China.

Even if that means selling this country down the river.

But when you see how much money they spent trying to buy votes on this summer's BBQ circuit it's absolutely shocking. 
Read more »

The Scottish Referendum and the Attack of the NO Side Bullies

Montreal Simon - il y a 17 heures 44 min


There couldn't have been an uglier sight. Thousands of members of the anti-Catholic Orange Lodge marching through Edinburgh to show their support for the NO side.

Or one more representative of the NO side's attempt to bully the YES side into submission.



For by now the combined forces of Big Business, the corporate media, and the Westminster political establishment have tried everything to crush this peaceful people's revolt.

The crudest threats, the most absurd predictions of doom like this latest one...



All designed to scare people into voting NO.

And the good news is that at this point at least it isn't working. 
Read more »

On redemocratization

accidentaldeliberations - sam, 09/13/2014 - 16:57
Adrian Morrow reports on Andrea Horwath's speech to the Ontario NDP's provincial council. And there's certainly plenty of reason for relative optimism about a message which both reflects a clear argument for big-picture progressive thinking, and recognizes at least part of the importance of the NDP's base. That said, I'll note that there's still one area which leaves something to be desired in Horwath's message:
Party sources say the election campaign was too undemocratic, run by a handful of people close to Ms. Horwath who decreed there would be no big picture pledges. The campaign also focused too strongly on winning Southwest Ontario – a region hard-hit with the decline of the manufacturing sector – at the expense of Toronto and the GTA, the sources said. The populist approach, they contend, made it harder for some in the party to feel they were fighting for anything important and consequently led to a lack of motivation.

Ms. Horwath made a bid to correct both problems Saturday.

In a speech that bordered on liturgy, she rhymed off example after example of progressive values – from universal health care to fighting poverty to better pensions to public transit – that she would embrace over the next four years. And she tugged at NDP heartstrings, at one point referencing the party’s revered late federal leader, Jack Layton.

“Love is better than anger, as a good friend reminded us a few years ago. We are the party of hope. We are the party of optimism,” she said. “In a time when the very, very few continue to amass so much for themselves while everyone else is falling behind, we have never been more relevant.” She also promised to make the party more internally democratic.

“Every single New Democrat should be able to see themselves in our campaigns,” Ms. Horwath said. “We must reach out as broadly as possible, both within our party and to our allies in our movement, when crafting both our commitments and our campaigns.”So what's wrong with that past passage in particular?

It's surely a must for any leader to be willing to speak to the values favoured by party supporters, and to design policy consistent with those values. But Horwath still appears to be taking the position that the crucial actor is "we" in the sense of the party leader and her (or his) closest advisers - reflecting a commitment to an increased baseline for consultation, but not necessarily an interest in true democratic decision-making at the party level.

Put another way, while we should be able to expect at least future campaigns and policy proposals (and hopefully general decision-making) from the Ontario NDP to better reflect members' values with Horwath as leader, her intention is still to decide personally where that commitment begins and ends.

That view of the relationship between a commanding leader and a subservient party is of course entirely consistent with the practices of the NDP's competitors. But unlike the Libs (who will generally follow their leader anywhere for lack of any coherent value structure) and the PCs/Cons (who count deference to authority as a key component of their actual value structure), the NDP actually has something to lose in settling for a top-down model.

In effect, the concession that politics must be practiced along the lines preferred by the other parties only helps the Libs and Cons to argue that the NDP doesn't live up to its own values, and thus doesn't offer an improvement on what we're stuck with now. And to avoid validating that line of attack, we should expect the NDP at all levels to advocate for - and offer - decision-making mechanisms which allow for grassroots debates and decision-making, rather than treating party members as just one more focus group to be taken into account by a leader who exercises sole control.

In making that observation about the need for the NDP's leadership to value something more than their own power, however, I'll also note that far too many political activists have been willing to reinforce the same dichotomy from the opposite side.

I've yet to hear anybody offer a reasonable explanation as to how frustration with a single leader justifies abandoning exactly the party system which should provide an alternate and more democratic source of policy ideas and strategic direction. In fact, a trigger-happy view of one's own membership based on dissatisfaction with a leader both diminishes the stability of a party's general value system, and further entrenches the view that the leader is solely responsible for defining the party.

And that's especially counterproductive within a party whose extensive (and growing) progressive network still offers by far the strongest opportunity for activists to shape both electoral results and governing priorities.

In sum, while Horwath has taken some important steps in speaking to core New Democratic values, there's still plenty of work to be done in better putting them into effect. And we'll only see the best possible results at all levels if both the leaders who have centralized power and the critics who have responded by turning their back on party involvement are willing to work toward that end.

No Surprise Here

Politics and its Discontents - sam, 09/13/2014 - 11:34
Rather typical, wouldn't you say?

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is hosting a major climate summit in New York on September 23, “to mobilize political will” towards reducing global emissions.

U.S. President Barack Obama will be attending, as will U.K. Prime Minster David Cameron.

In fact, 125 heads of state will be there.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, will not.

And please remember:


This message not brought to you by the Committee to Re-elect Stephen Harper.

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A Welcome Visit from God

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 09/13/2014 - 10:22

God exists.  I know this because He's on Twitter.

From the "Tweet of God":

I'm restoring the world to factory settings.

Life is sexually transmitted.

The great thing about sarcasm is, no one ever misunderstands it.

The answer to the question "can people really be that stupid?" is always yes.

Thank you for praying.  All available angels are currently assisting other prayers. Stay on your knees. We will be with you vaguely.

Because of Rob Ford and Justin Bieber I am officially revoking Ontario's provincial licence.  From now on it will be known as East Manitoba.

I am God.  I had a son.  He was also Me.  He was a man, though.  I had him killed.  He came back. I did it to save you from how I made you.

Always remember that, in times of trouble, I am right there at your side, throwing the trouble at you.

11.  Thou shalt not take nude pics.

I apologize to some of you for the rest of you.

"World's largest ice sheets melting at fastest rate ever recorded."  You like ice challenges?  There you go.

I created the entire universe on behalf of one group of one species on one planet in one solar system in one galaxy.

I wish I'd had room to outlaw rape in the Ten Commandments but obviously working on Saturday and neighbourhood donkey-coveting had priority.

When a sentence begins "The unarmed black man was" and ends "at least six times"  the verb in the middle is usually not "hugged." 

No matter how difficult it looks, no matter how impossible the challenge seems, if you believe you have God on your side, that's nice.

Most of you are why the rest of you have no faith in any or all of you.

Remember good news?  Man, that takes Me back!

I giveth and I taketh away and it sucketh.

If it's any consolation, the nine quintillion other universes I oversee are all going to shit too.

Texas Republicans are arguing that marriage equality could lead to incest.  You know what DEFINITELY leads to incest?  Creating Adam and Eve.

Food and clean water are so awesome I somethings think everybody should have them.

Science is true whether or not you believe it, but religion is true whether or not it's true.

Why can't you all just get along?  Oh yeah, Me.

Religions Ranked by Truth.  1.  Yours,  2.  All Others.

When Jesus said "Love Thy Neighbour," the "when it's politically convenient and they look like you" was implied.

Have a great weekend!

Naomi Klein's Confession - Is It Yours, Too?

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 09/13/2014 - 09:47
In the run-up to the release of her new book, "This Changes Everything," Naomi Klein has come clean.  For far too long she was in what she describes as a "soft denial" about climate change.  Does this sound familiar?

"A great many of us engage in this kind of denial.  We look for a split second and then we look away.  Or maybe we really do look, but then we forget.  We engage in this odd form of on-again-off-again ecological amnesia for perfectly rational reasons.  We deny because we fear that letting in the full reality of this crisis will change everything.

"And we are right.  If we continue on our current path of allowing emissions to rise year after year, major cities will drown, ancient cultures will be swallowed by the seas; our children will spend much of their lives fleeing and recovering from vicious storms and extreme droughts.  Yet we continue all the same.

"What is wrong with us?  I think the answer is far more simple than many have led us to believe: we have not done the things needed to cut emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have struggled to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck, because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe - and benefit the vast majority - are threatening to an elite minority with a stranglehold over our economy, political process and media." 

Ms. Klein may be late coming to the party but she's right.  We - you and I - are today deciding our children's fate or we're more likely abrogating our responsibility to our children and theirs, handing it over to people with names like Harper, Trudeau and Mulcair.  Of the lot, Harper is obviously the worst but the other two barely manage to hold the distinction of being "less worse."

While I'll wait until next week when my copy of Klein's books is to arrive before passing judgment, I'm curious about her focus on cutting GHG emissions.  That is plainly necessary, abjectly critical, but is it too narrow a focus?  How does it answer our other pressing existential challenges such as over-population, over-consumption; the loss of biodiversity, particularly the collapse of global fisheries; resource depletion including the global, freshwater crisis; food insecurity and all the ills that spawns from the spread of failed states to terrorism and resource wars?

I'm convinced by the considered arguments of Jared Diamond and others that global warming is but one part of a greater problem and that, if we're going to "fix" any of these challenges we'll have to solve them all.   "Winning" has to be something better than mere survival, eking out an existence, and it has to be for everybody not just the advantaged.

Obama Doesn't Have a Clue

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 09/13/2014 - 09:09

Barack Obama has a mess on his hands in Iraq and has no idea what to do to clean it up.  And so he falls back on neo-America's default option - bomb it.

Retired US Army commander turned academic, Andrew Bacevich, offers some insights that reveal how hapless - and hopeless - American policy toward the Middle East has become.  American policy is in a rut reminiscent of the movie, "Groundhog Day."

Even if Obama cobbles together a plan to destroy the Islamic State, the problems bedeviling the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East more broadly won’t be going away anytime soon.

Destroying what Obama calls the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant won’t create an effective and legitimate Iraqi state. It won’t restore the possibility of a democratic Egypt. It won’t dissuade Saudi Arabia from funding jihadists. It won’t pull Libya back from the brink of anarchy. It won’t end the Syrian civil war.  It won’t bring peace and harmony to Somalia and Yemen. It won’t persuade the Taliban to lay down their arms in Afghanistan. It won’t end the perpetual crisis of Pakistan. It certainly won’t resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
All the military power in the world won’t solve those problems. Obama knows that. Yet he is allowing himself to be drawn back into the very war that he once correctly denounced as stupid and unnecessary — mostly because he and his advisers don’t know what else to do. Bombing has become his administration’s default option.
Rudderless and without a compass, the American ship of state continues to drift, guns blazing.
America has fallen captive to its very own game of "Whack-a-Mole".  Bacevich seems to suggest that America and her posse (that's us) need to accept the fact that we can't play wet nurse to every double-dealing Sheikh and Crown Prince and general across the Muslim world.  We're beating our heads against a wall and emptying our treasuries while they're sitting back on their fat arses unwilling to do any heavy lifting.
Whether the president will make good his promise to “degrade and ultimately defeat” Islamic State militants will depend less on the accuracy of U.S. bombs and missiles than on the effectiveness and motivation of surrogate forces fighting on the ground. Identifying willing and able proxies is like to pose a challenge.
The Iraqi security forces, created by the United States at such great cost, have shown neither fight nor skill. Though the Kurdish peshmerga have a better reputation, their primary mission is to defend Kurdistan, not to purge Iraq as a whole of invaders. The Syrian army is otherwise occupied and politically toxic.
The countries that ought to care more than the United States simply because they are more immediately threatened by Islamic State fighters — Iran, Turkey, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia — have not demonstrated a commensurate willingness to act.
There was a brief moment when the Obama administration let slip that the key to defeating ISIS was the formation of a multinational force from the region's Sunni Muslim countries.  A Sunni army to take down a Sunni insurgency.  Makes perfect sense especially as those Sunni countries are drowning in modern military hardware we supplied to them.  But all that hardware sits secure from the harsh desert sun in hangars and arsenals put to use mainly to crush democratic protest movements in countries like Bahrain or on the streets of Cairo.

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