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John Doyle's Christmas Gift To All Of Us

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 15 heures 59 min


One of the few bright spots on that erstwhile formidable newspaper, The Globe and Mail, is television columnist John Doyle. His trenchant wit and justifiable cynicism about showbiz, along with his capacity to point out shows worth watching, would almost make the paper worth its cost were it not for its abject subservience to its political masters.

A man who refuses to drink the corporate Kool Aid, Doyle maintains an independence that I suspect few are accorded at the Globe. In that spirit, his offers his Top Ten Most Irritating TV-Related Canadians for this year. I reproduce a few that may be of special interest to followers of politics:
Ezra Levant

A truly, truly outstanding year. His supremacy in irritating-ness is unmatched, a fact that must make him proud. His demented ranting about young Mr. Trudeau. An Ontario court ruling that he was guilty of libel and that he demonstrated a “reckless disregard for the truth.” And his bizarre attack on an Ontario school-board memo he alleged was some sort of anti-Canadian, pro-Muslim conspiracy. Still he smiles.

Pastor Mansbridge

Mansbridge should not have accepted money from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers for a speech. It was just a dumb thing to do. Inept and, as such, hugely irritating.If I may make a personal aside here, Mansbridge should also not be doing the devil's work.
The people behind “A message from the Government of Canada”

Specifically, the ad titled Drug Prevention – Marijuana Use, in which over deeply ominous music, it was announced, “Did you know that marijuana is on average 300 to 400 per cent stronger than it was 30 years ago? And that smoking marijuana can seriously harm a teen’s developing brain?” Actually the science is limited and, actually, the commercial is political, not medical. Irritating to think we are taken as fools.Pierre Poilievre

Anyone with the ridiculous job title minister of democratic reform, which sounds like something dreamed up in a satire of North Korea, should be a bit abashed. Poilievre spent the year as a finger-pointing, accusatory bully. Every time he appeared on TV he was outrageously choleric, instantly a ridiculous figure.

Our Glorious Leader (OGL)

The PM, the pianist and singer, whatever you want to call him, or Our Glorious Leader, announced himself to be in “a different headspace” in a year-end TV interview. We knew that.Regarding the last illustrious name on the list, obviously much more could be said. But I guess there are even things that the redoubtable Mr. Doyle knows he cannot say.Recommend this Post

Whose Terrorist?

Northern Reflections - il y a 17 heures 26 min

                                                 http://www.terrorism.com/

The word "terrorist" is everywhere these days. But, Tom Walkom writes, the definition of the word depends as much on domestic considerations as it does on international considerations. And domestic considerations change -- frequently:

Take the most basic question: Who are the terrorists? Until Wednesday, Cuba was listed by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism. Now U.S. President Barack Obama says it is not.
Why? It’s not because Cuba has changed. It’s the same old place. Raul and Fidel Castro are still in charge.
Rather it is because American domestic politics have changed. Now it’s politically useful for Washington to bury the hatchet.Is Hamas itself terrorist? Canada says yes. The European Union’s second highest court says maybe not. The General Court said the EU used improper methods to place Hamas on its terror list.
And, in the lead up to an election, the word "terrorist" becomes a hot button:

For more absurdities, look at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s air war against the Islamic State.

According to Ottawa, it is part of an epic battle for the future of civilization. Yet in almost 50 days of warfare, Canadian fighter jets have released their bombs only nine times.
In part, this is because the U.S.-led coalition can’t find enough enemies of civilization to bomb.But in part, it results from the disjunction between the rhetoric surrounding this conflict and a more mundane reality — which is that Harper needs a war to win the next election, but he needs it to be a war with few Canadian casualties.

Last week, both Peter Mackay and Stephen Harper suggested that the murderers of two Canadian soldiers might be connected to ISIS. To date, no evidence of that connection has emerged -- just as those "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq never materialized.

So whose terrorist are we talking about? A real one -- or one manufactured for political gain?


Stephen Harper and the Hidden Story of the Anti-Gay Judge

Montreal Simon - il y a 18 heures 41 min


The other day I wrote about how appalled I was to see that Stephen Harper, and his ghastly stooge Peter MacKay, had appointed an anti-gay judge. 

A law professor named an Ontario judge this week wrote two years ago for a conservative, U.S.-based institute that the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada has harmed religious freedom and free speech, and led to the “indoctrination” of children in public schools.

Who sounded like he had sprung from the bowels of bigot America.

But then I decided to find out more about Bradley Miller. 

And now I'm even more DISGUSTED.
Read more »

The War on Christmas is Over Somebody Tell Nina Grewal

Montreal Simon - sam, 12/20/2014 - 22:52


Well I know it may be hard to believe, but it seems like that old Con favourite, the imaginary War on Christmas, is finally over.

The Fox News nutbar Bill O'Reilly has declared victory. Again.

"I won the 'War on Christmas!'" he said. "I've been doing this for about 10 years and this is the only year we have not had a store that commanded its employees not to say 'Merry Christmas.'" "It's over, we won," he proclaimed.

And this time he may actually be right. 
Read more »

Accused in Home Invasion and Attempted Murder of WWII Veteran Not What Boneheads Expected

Anti-Racist Canada - sam, 12/20/2014 - 20:25
Yesterday our newest friend Jonathan Kotyk posted the following on Stormfront:


Thankfully, the victim Ernest Côté is still tough as nails and was able to free himself from his bonds once the suspect had left; Mr. Côté was otherwise unharmed physically. Not surprisingly though, the folks on Stormfront jumped to what they thought to be an obvious conclusion:

Yep, has to be a person of color. 
Except that it wasn't.

Meet Ian Bush, currently in custody and suspected of the home invasion and attempted murder of Ernest Côté. It should be noted that Bush is currently accused but has not been convicted, thus any time we will refer to him in relation to the crime that took place we will be certain to use the word "alleged" liberally.
Ian Bush is the president of Bush and Associates Consulting, though given how shitty the company's website is (and considering how shitty ours looks, we kind of think we write from a position of some authority on this matter) we aren't sure we would be very confident in Mr. Bush and co. Then again, the company is registered through on a federal government website, so there is that. We guess.
We also found that Mr. Bush led a fairly active life online through Twitter:


We spent some time reading through his tweets of the last month, and found some that are rather ironic considering Mr. Bush's alleged conduct:
Real soldiers.... like Ernest Côté    The alleged home invasion occurred on December
18, the day before this particular tweet.
We didn't go through every single tweet, but we did look at a month's worth of messages. If the boneheads had hoped that Mr. Bush was a leftist commie hippy, we think these messages might put a bit of a damper on that hope:

Read more »

In Character

Rusty Idols - sam, 12/20/2014 - 09:43
Honestly anyone surprised by Danielle Smith's craven rat paddle away from the sinking Wildrose ship just hasn't been paying attention. When she couldn't control the Calgary school board with the the sheer self evident perfection of her Fraser institute indoctrinated ideology she blew it up in a display of juvenile mean girl behaviour that has typified her career. 

When it became clear that her deeply held passionate conviction that global warming was just a nasty fraud perpetrated by the 99% of scientists who belive in it meant a permanent exile in the electoral wasteland she abandoned it - publicly at least - with barely a moments delay. When it became obvious that good, moral gay hate clutched close to the withered hearts of her bigoted supporters had inexplicably become a barrier to her ambition she suddenly began pretending to be a lifelong defender of diversity and proud friend of Dorothy.

She's one of Canadian politic's most calculating, chameleon like, weather vanes to ever leave principle lying in a pool of its own roadkill blood as she tools down the highway to the bright future of power in devoted service to the elite.

Don't these mewling whiners understand her needs are what really matter?


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Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - sam, 12/20/2014 - 08:22
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Thomas Walkom discusses why politicians have thus far failed to take any meaningful action on climate change. But it's also worth noting that the question of whether voters are pushing for change may not be the only determining factor in government decision-making.

Most obviously, debt and deficits (which are no less distant from the immediate interests of voters than climate change) are seen as demanding constant and immediate action even at the expense of anybody's apparent short-term political interests - with unpopular and destructive policy choices regularly defended based on the accepted belief that no responsible government can ignore a greater issue. And while the fiscal scolding may be based all too much on a general aversion to government rather than any sane ranking of priorities, a similar and more positive principle might develop in the area of climate change: leaving aside the exact means chosen, there's surely some value in arguing that the end of not damaging our planet should be part of any reasonable set of governing principles.

- Of course, "a secure living for all" would also fit neatly into that category. On that front, Guy Standing makes the case for a basic income, while Neil Irwin points out that (contrary to the spin of the right) strong social programs strongly encourage workforce participation:
(M)ore people may work when countries offer public services that directly make working easier, such as subsidized care for children and the old; generous sick leave policies; and cheap and accessible transportation. If the goal is to get more people working, what’s important about a social welfare plan may be more about what the money is spent on than how much is spent.

That is the argument that Henrik Jacobsen Kleven, a professor at the London School of Economics, offers to explain the exceptional rates of participation in the work force among citizens of Sweden, Norway and his native Denmark....
There is a solid correlation, by Mr. Kleven’s calculations, between what countries spend on employment subsidies — like child care, preschool and care for older adults — and what percentage of their working-age population is in the labor force.
Consider Marianne Hillestad of Steinberg, Norway. She teaches kindergarten; her husband, Ruben Sanchez, installs heating and ventilation systems. Day care for their three children, ages 4, 7, and 9, works out to about $1,100 a month; Ms. Hillestad estimates that if she had to pay a market rate, it would be nearly twice that, eating up most of her paycheck....Collectively, these policies and subsidies create flexibility such that a person on the fence between taking a job versus staying at home to care for children or parents may be more likely to take a job.- Following up on Thursday's column, Don Cayo chimes in on Canadians' broad public support to fight inequality. And Dennis Howlett makes the case for strong enforcement against tax cheats to ensure wealthier citizens pay their fair share.

- Finally, Brent Patterson notes that the Cons managed to prevent a toothless NAFTA panel from even examining the effect of fish farms on B.C. salmon stocks by voting against any review. And ThinkProgress highlights Enbridge's recent Regina spill as yet more reason to be dubious of pipeline promises.

What's The Conventional Wisdom?

Northern Reflections - sam, 12/20/2014 - 06:48

                                                   http://www.slideshare.net/

Parliamentary government is rooted in a series of conventions. The problem, Andrew Coyne writes, is that our political parties are no longer paying attention to those conventions. And if -- as seems likely -- we elect a minority government the next time around, what, he wonders, will happen in the wake of no political consensus:

We are notably lacking in consensus in this country on even the most basic rules of the game. We flirted with an all-out constitutional crisis on more than one occasion then. The next time we might not be so lucky.

Suppose, for starters, the Conservatives win a plurality of the seats in the election, and suppose, as seems likely, they are defeated in the Commons shortly thereafter on a matter of confidence: the Throne Speech, for example. What then? Would the prime minister go to the governor general and demand that he dissolve the House, triggering another election so soon after the last?

Would the governor general be obliged to do as he was told, or could he call upon some other party, perhaps even a coalition, to try to form a government? Mr. Harper has been adept at presenting this as dirty pool, an attempt by “the losers” to steal the election. Traditionalists like me insist that’s precisely how our system is supposed to work. We do not elect governments in this country: we elect Parliaments. The prime minister is whoever commands the confidence of the House, full stop.

All three parties now operate on the principle that we elect leaders, not parliaments. And it appears that most Canadians think that's the new convention. What happens when the conventional wisdom no longer applies?



Stephen Harper: Merry Christmas And Bah, Humbug!

Politics and its Discontents - sam, 12/20/2014 - 05:55


My fellow Canadians,

If the above doesn't not warm the cockles of your Christmas hearts, please check out these, a small portion of this year's 'gifts':

Something for your digestive consideration.

Something for the greenie on your seasonal list.

And, for those workers both domestic and foreign, one of my perennial favourites.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. ;)

If you still need an infusion of seasonal spirit, click here for a special treat that will leave you demanding more.

Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper's Monstrous Propaganda War on Canadians

Montreal Simon - sam, 12/20/2014 - 05:32


We know that Stephen Harper and his ghastly Con regime run the biggest propaganda machine this country has ever seen.

And that they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to brainwash us with our own money.

But who knew they're also spending a fortune trying to pass off propaganda as NEWS? 
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 12/19/2014 - 17:57
Emma Hewitt - Rewind (Mikkas Remix)

The Ghastly Con Nightmare Before Christmas

Montreal Simon - ven, 12/19/2014 - 17:02


Golly. When I think of the Cons reciting "Twas the Night Before Christmas" all I can think of is "The Nightmare before Christmas."

Because Christmas and the brutish Harperland were definitely not made for each other.

But believe it or not, the real version, is even SCARIER !!!!
Read more »

Setting The Record Straight

Politics and its Discontents - ven, 12/19/2014 - 12:41
Weakly constituted as I am when it comes to tolerating disingenuous and dishonest political theatre, I was unable to watch the Chief Prevaricator, a.k.a. the Prime Minister, while his chief courtier and media enabler, the most Reverend (and reverent) Peter Mansbridge, performed what Michael Harris described as his Yuletide foot massage during their year-end chatfest.

However, I was able to muster up the strength to watch this snippet, after which follows a critical analysis on the CBC website of Mr. Harper's claims:



Harper Whopper Number One:
"We’ve got more work to do, but our emissions are falling," Harper said on Wednesday.

"Other countries’ emissions for the most part are going up. World emissions are going up. Canada’s have not been going up."

But the government's own report suggests emissions will go up dramatically by the end of the decade because of oil and gas production, Canada's emissions will be 22 per cent higher than its Copenhagen target of reducing greenhouse gases by 17 per cent below their 2005 levels by 2020.Harper Whopper Number Two:

Harper says he'd be open to using a carbon-pricing system like Alberta's for the entire continent, a concept he's previously opposed.

"I think it’s a model on which you could, on which you could go broader," Harper said in Wednesday's interview.Says David McLaughlin, an adviser at the University of Waterloo’s school of environment,
... emissions continue to rise under Alberta's system of carbon pricing.

"The price of $15 a tonne is too low to actually get the emissions reductions we want from these big emitters. So it would not do the job of reducing emissions in Canada."Harper Whopper Number Three
The prime minister also took credit for getting tough on coal.

"We are phasing out in Canada through regulations, we are phasing out the use of traditional dirty coal. It’s going to go to zero in the next 15 years or so," Harper said.Alas, as with most pronouncements by the Prime Minister, there is less here than meets the eye:
New federal coal regulations apply to new plants built after 2015. Existing plants built in the last 50 years are grandfathered, meaning they would have up to 2030 to close or introduce carbon capture and storage technology to reduce emissions.And Ontario's Environment Minister Glen Murray points out an inconvenient truth:
...the province closed coal plants with no help from Ottawa.

[I]"f the federal government wants to start taking credit for provincially funded initiatives, they could at least have the decency to make a commitment to support those initiatives in the future."Thanks for taking a few moments to see through the Emperor's diaphanous attire.Recommend this Post

My Name Is Ozymandias

Politics and its Discontents - ven, 12/19/2014 - 11:47
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'

Recommend this Post

On satire

Dawg's Blawg - ven, 12/19/2014 - 07:25
Most folks can tell an Onion-like piece when they see it, although we keep saying satire is dead, but we don’t really mean it, right? Deep down we figure there is still room to send up this already exaggerated, crazed... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

On representative units

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 12/19/2014 - 06:57
Does anybody remember which particularly prominent political pundit went far out his way to trumpet the idea that basic unit of political legitimacy is the caucus - to the point of repeatedly advocating a legislated requirement that a caucus vote override the decisions made by the whole of a party's membership?

I ask only because he seems to have been replaced with a far more reasonable impostor.

By the majority-of-caucus standard set under Michael Chong's Reform Act (or the stronger forms suggested by Andrew Coyne among others), the decision of a majority of Wildrose Party MLAs to join up with Jim Prentice's PCs following a caucus vote should be seen as having been fully validated.

So why then is Coyne among the people rightly lambasting Danielle Smith and company for their move? Well, that has to do with the flaws in the original theory behind the Reform Act.

Elected representatives are (and should be) only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to determining the direction of any political party. And we're right to consider it illegitimate when those representatives make choices which run contrary to the underlying basis for their elected positions - even if a majority of their caucus-mates happen to agree.

What's more, an undue focus on a narrow set of representatives rather than the broader populations they represent can make it far too easy for politicians to bargain away their votes or seats, rationalizing the action on the theory that the trust reposed in a representative through the ballot box represents a mandate to use an elected position for personal gain. And that can happen just as easily on a group basis as an individual one.

Of course, the question of how to then check top-down power remains open. (Though it's worth noting that exactly one party has respected the ethical principle that a mandate to serve one party can't simply be passed to another in both law and practice.)

And it's doubtful that any legislated structure can do the job in the absence of a strong and active membership which can ensure that self-serving actions are met with an appropriate response in the next election cycle.

But at the very least, nobody should hold any illusion that handing special power to party caucuses will resolve the problem.

The Curse of Petro-Politics

Northern Reflections - ven, 12/19/2014 - 06:35

                                                          http://thetyee.ca/

Stephen Harper has made no secret that it is his intention to transform Canada into a petro-state.  Stanford professor Terry Lynn Karl has devoted her academic career to the study of petro-states. And she has concluded that petro-politics lead to self immolation. In an interview with Andrew Nikiforuk she predicts that falling oil prices will have catasrophic consequences for several petro-states:

"The effects of falling oil prices will be quickly felt in Venezuela, which is extremely vulnerable. If oil keeps dropping, the country's employment, standard of living and GDP will be affected. This tends to make people not like their government.

"Venezuela, which is already extremely polarized, is in big trouble. In this respect, there is a big difference between how oil prices affect Canada and the U.S. and how they affect countries where the politics have become totally petrolized. Where there is simply no difference at all between wealth and power, where corruption and rent seeking have taken over the whole enterprise or where conflict is already very high, these are the most vulnerable countries.

Russia isn't quite as vulnerable as Venezuela, but because it is a global power its fate is more important. In the face of both sanctions and low prices, the ruble has plummeted, debt is rising, living standards are declining, and food prices are up sharply. With oil prices high, Putin took certain actions in the Ukraine and elsewhere because he felt untouchable; his popularity remains very high.

"But this could change very quickly if prices remain low.

"Most people don't understand that the decline of the former Soviet Union was closely linked to the 1986 collapse in oil prices. Putin later took advantage of high prices to build his own personal power. That could be at stake if prices stay low."
And for all petro-states:

"Debt is the Achilles heel of this picture. If prices remain low for several years, a lot of U.S. shale producers have high debt loads, especially in junk bonds. Today, energy debt currently accounts for a substantial 16 per cent of the U.S. junk bond market. If these producers start going bust, investors in junk bonds will be in for a shock.

 "Dropping oil prices affect international debt as well, creating a high risk of default by countries like Venezuela. Around the world two sets of debt are coming in -- from the high cost bitumen and shale oil producers who borrowed to help create the current supply glut and oil exporting producers who have borrowed heavily. Both affect the entire financial system.
So, just as the financial system almost brought the house down in 2008, oil could be the cause of the next global economic collapse. And Stephen Harper happily assumes oil will lead to national Nirvana.

Who would you believe -- Karl of Harper?

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