Posts from our progressive community

On Harper's Reign of Terror

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 08:20


Last week, Owen wrote a post he entitled Corrupting Civil Society, a reflection on the Harper war on non-profits that stand in opposition to any of his regime's agenda. I recommend reading it for a good overview of the situation.

In yesterday's Star, three letters articulated three excellent perspectives on this shameful war:

Tories intimidate charities into silence. Who's next? Opinion July 16

One way to deal with the Harperites’ bullying of charities might be for all charitable organizations to renounce their charitable status. Personally, I make most of my donations to non-charities. I figure they are doing the most-needed advocacy work. The deduction I get on my income tax for charitable donations is hardly enough to bother.

Of course, for multi-millionaire Stephen Harper supporters, this would be anathema. They like donating a chunk of money, getting a massive tax rebate from you and me, and having their names in lights on some university or hospital.

It’s time this type of selfish “philanthropy” is stopped. It costs taxpayers huge sums of money, while allowing the 1 per cent to dictate how that money is spent. Let’s end this distortion, and return to real charity. And let’s make the 1 per cent pay their fair share of taxes, while we’re at it.

Kate Chung, Toronto

The Harper government suddenly detects rampant subversion of the charitable tax exemption. Oddly, the concern appears to be less about the extravagant lifestyle of religious charlatans or about politicians siphoning tax free dollars into their campaign chests than about organizations whose good works are not aligned with the government’s agenda. This, according to the government, is illegal political activity.

Wake up Stephen Harper! All charity is 100 per cent political. Charity is voluntary action by citizens to correct the failings of our society. Charities support the needy and disabled at home, fight disease and starvation abroad and work to free political prisoners precisely because government policy is not to act on these urgent social problems.

It is time to acknowledge that charities provide an immeasurable service by patching the policy holes in our social safety net which the government so cheerfully cuts.


Paul Collier, Toronto

Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay trots out the old warhorse of “good stewardship over taxpayer dollars” to excuse the government’s latest crackdown on advocacy by charitable groups. “The CRA has a legal responsibility to ensure that charitable dollars, donated by charitable Canadians, are used for charitable purposes,” she says.

Whether we identify as “taxpayers” or “charitable Canadians” — and probably most of us are both — we can all figure out that it makes more economic sense to address the causes of poverty and injustice than to try to remedy the effects.

Susan Warden, Scarborough

As well, a Star editorial applauds the fact that the NDP is finally speaking up about this misuse of the CRA:

The New Democratic Party, worried that voluntary agencies are being silenced, sent a sharply-worded letter to Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay this past week. “This program has the appearance of blatantly abusing CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) resources to target those who do not agree with government and compromises the very integrity of CRA,” wrote NDP revenue critic Murray Rankin and environment critic Megan Leslie.

They called for an independent, external review to determine whether the government is using the muscle of the tax department to crack down on human rights advocates, environmentalists and anti-poverty activists.


While this demand is likely to be met with the Harper cabal's usual disdainful disregard of opposing views, it is at least heartening that with both the press and some politicians speaking up, more of the general public will learn of the profoundly anti-democratic and cowardly nature of their national government.Recommend this Post

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 07:45
Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Paul Krugman calls out the U.S.' deficit scolds for continuing to invent a crisis to distract from the real problems with middling growth and high unemployment. And Bruce Johnstone singles out a few of the Cons' talking points which have somehow become conventional wisdom without having an iota of truth to them. But in case there was any doubt why the Cons aren't being exposed to their own patent wrongness, William Watson's (hardly people-friendly) column explains why - as Jack Mintz manages to qualify as the least corporate-biased member of a hand-picked budget advisory group.

- David Cay Johnston discusses how California is thoroughly disproving the claim that high-end tax increases have any negative impact on growth, as the state is actually thriving after passing significant tax increases through a referendum. And David Climenhaga points to the astroturf groups lobbying for increased exploitation of temporary foreign workers as a prime example of how zombie lies are kept undead:
(I)t cannot be mere coincidence that in almost every case the main groups calling for more TFWs turn out to have a long history of anti-union advocacy. In some cases, before the TFW issue came along, their sole purpose was attacking the right of working people to bargain collectively.

This web of anti-union advocacy groups includes the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Restaurants Canada, the Workplace Democracy Institute of Canada, the Merit Contractors Association, “Working Canadians,” and the Canadian Labour Watch Association.

Even the mysterious National Citizens Coalition, the granddaddy of all Canadian far-right AstroTurf groups, once headed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, puts in a cameo appearance in this convoluted tale!

Each of these groups is not forthcoming about its finances and, it is reasonable to conclude given their purported mandates to represent to represent a different segment of the Canadian economy from “taxpayers,” to restaurant owners, to ordinary working stiffs who just want a little “freedom” in their workplace, is deceptive about its true objectives.
...
The links among this well-established network of anti-union agitators have been obvious for many years.

That the same players who hold the most virulently anti-union views and the most offensive opinions about the supposed shortcomings of Canadian workers should turn out to be the loudest advocates, and in some places the only advocates, for the TFW Program suggests the true agenda behind the vociferous TFW lobby.

It is quite apparent the goals of the Canadian Taxpayers Association, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, and the various trade associations involved are to weaken the bargaining power of Canadian families (including many of their own naïve members), keep wages low, keep all workers vulnerable and re-elect the Harper Government.- Meanwhile, Bill Tieleman discusses how the B.C. Liberals are using their latest deliberately-provoked confrontation with teachers to try to push a for-profit education model.

- Abrahm Lustgarten reports that after being told that there are no risks whatsoever to fracking, U.S. residents are learning otherwise the hard way:
Over the past several decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation's geology as an invisible dumping ground.

No company would be allowed to pour such dangerous chemicals into the rivers or onto the soil. But until recently, scientists and environmental officials have assumed that deep layers of rock beneath the earth would safely entomb the waste for millennia.

There are growing signs they were mistaken.
....
The boom in oil and natural gas drilling is deepening the uncertainties, geologists acknowledge. Drilling produces copious amounts of waste, burdening regulators and demanding hundreds of additional disposal wells. Those wells — more holes punched in the ground — are changing the earth's geology, adding man-made fractures that allow water and waste to flow more freely.
...
A ProPublica review of well records, case histories and government summaries of more than 220,000 well inspections found that structural failures inside injection wells are routine. From late 2007 to late 2010, one well integrity violation was issued for every six deep injection wells examined — more than 17,000 violations nationally. More than 7,000 wells showed signs that their walls were leaking. Records also show wells are frequently operated in violation of safety regulations and under conditions that greatly increase the risk of fluid leakage and the threat of water contamination.

Structurally, a disposal well is the same as an oil or gas well. Tubes of concrete and steel extend anywhere from a few hundred feet to two miles into the earth. At the bottom, the well opens into a natural rock formation. There is no container. Waste simply seeps out, filling tiny spaces left between the grains in the rock like the gaps between stacked marbles.- Finally, USA Today rightly questions why we allow big pharma to name its price for needed medications (even as we set up byzantine legal structures to protect the resulting profits).

Sabotaging Responsible Government

Northern Reflections - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 06:16
                                                                                 www.nationalpost.com/

Over at ipolitics, Andrew Mitrovica asks,"Is Mulcair just another Harper with a beard?"  It's an important question, given the evolution -- some would say devolution -- of the New Democratic  Party. There is a nomination battle unfolding in British Columbia. Officials at party headquarters have banned Paul Manly from seeking the party nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith:

This fracas is instructive for a number of reasons. The prickly issue, however, at the core of the dispute – that is fraying so-called party unity and triggering hard questions about Mulcair’s leadership – are the vague, carefully coded reasons NDP brass have proffered to Manly, his parents and supporters for why the accomplished environmentalist, filmmaker and musician has been barred from the party’s nomination in traditionally NDP-friendly British Columbia.
NDP headquarters, Mitrovica writes, is beginning to look and sound like Harper's PMO. Not only that, Mulcair's stand on Gaza is alienating traditional NDP constituencies:

Just read this pointed letter of protest written and signed by nine long-standing Jewish NDP supporters in Toronto to Mulcair in which they demand that he not only finally speak out against “the repression of Palestinians,” but also “rescind” Manly’s ban.

They’re not alone. Among the many other disenchanted party members is a “deeply dismayed” Vancouver rabbi and a “long-time and dedicated NDP member” who has also recently written Muclair, urging him to “reverse [The federal NDP leadership’s] action preventing Mr. Manly from standing to be the candidate from Nanaimo-Ladysmith and its attempt to distance the party from meaningful and forthright action regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.”
All three party leaders have recently assumed a presidential style of leadership, which asserts that MP's serve at the leader's pleasure.Their constituents have no say in the matter.

That may be Stephen Harper's real legacy -- sabotaging the parliamentary form of responsible government



Richard Dawkins Says "Mild Pedophilia" Does No Harm

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 05:06


Scientist and atheist campaigner, Richard Dawkins, says it was “no harm, no foul” when a school master pulled young Dawkins onto his lap, shoved his hands down the boy’s pants and fondled him.

“Richard Dawkins attempted to defend what he called ‘mild pedophilia,’ which, he says, he personally experienced as a young child and does not believe causes ‘lasting harm.’

“Dawkins went on to say that one of his former school masters ‘pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts,’ and that to condemn this ‘mild touching up’ as sexual abuse today would somehow be unfair.

“’I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism. I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,’ he said.

“Plus, he added, though his other classmates also experienced abuse at the hands of this teacher, ‘I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.’”



MoS, the Disaffected Lib
Recommend this Post

A True Critical Thinker

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 14:08
For many decades Noam Chomsky has been fearlessly fighting for truth. His capacity for incisive critical thinking and unwillingness to submit to the bluster of the right is much in evidence in this excerpt from a 1969 edition of William Buckley's Firing Line. Would that today's progressives were as tenacious.

Enjoy:



h/t The Knowledge MovementRecommend this Post

Getting an education

Dawg's Blawg - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 11:12
I’ve been following the whole saga of education reform in the USA off and on but have never really written about it. It’s a kind of hot spot where the retail politics I’ve previously mentioned, and it’s a fascinating... Mandos http://politblogo.typepad.com/

Stuff I didn’t know before…

Trashy's World - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 10:25
Like… New Brunswick is a province that is stuck in the Dark Ages when it comes to access to abortions. An abortion must be be deemed “medically neccesary” before it can be performed. And… that Beelzebub is alive and active in Fredericton. As for the first new piece of knowledge… I learned this upon hearing […]

Best Wishes to Saskboy

Dawg's Blawg - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 10:19
The sense of community that linked progressive bloggers seems to have faded a bit, perhaps a victim of Twitter, Facebook and our inexorable and rapid achievement of global domination. But many of you will remember Saskboy, a moderate, funny and... Balbulican http://stageleft.info

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 08:34
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Mariana Mazzucato writes about the need for governments to shape markets through their own investments, rather than acting only to serve existing business interests:
The idea that at best the public sector can fix "market failures" and "de-risk" business, means that when the banks become too active in an area, they are accused of "crowding out" the private sector. That is, of taking up too big of a share of total investments (all of which in the end must be financed from savings). While some Keynesians defend such investments by arguing they actually "crowd in" – ie, government investments increase the total pie through the spending multiplier – this defence only captures half the story. Even in the boom there are plenty of areas that private finance does not dare tread. The internet was funded by public money in boom times, as were biotech and nanotech. And even if we were in a boom today, there would still be little private finance in those capital-intensive high-risk areas of clean tech.

There is a more interesting argument to justify such banks. What public spending/investment is needed for is not to fix markets but to actively shape and create them. As Keynes argued in 1926: "The important thing for government is not to do things which individuals are doing already, and to do them a little better or a little worse; but to do those things which at present are not done at all."

Rather than judge public investments as if they are acting upon existing markets, we must admit that this is their role: to create and shape markets. This should lead to indicators of performance for such public investments that capture their "mission-oriented" role.

Today's challenge is thus not only to activate the public sector, but rethink its role. I have organised practitioners from public R&D agencies and public financial institutions from all over the world to meet this week to discuss this challenge in the Commons, hosted by Vince Cable. Hopefully, it will help change the conversation. The problem is not about "fixing finance" while leaving the real economy sick, but how to change the framework to one in which socio-economic challenges can be addressed, by public and private actors alike. And key to all is admitting that the public side can be transformational. But only once it is released from the shackles of defunct thinking. - David Atkins calls out business groups for threatening to discard employees who dare to ask for a living wage, while highlighting how that campaign only shows that we shouldn't make a reasonable standard of living contingent on serving a corporate master at all:
The fact remains that within one year a bunch of server jobs will be gone because restaurants will replace order-taking with tablets. Within a decade or two we won't need truck or cab drivers anymore. IBM can already diagnose cancer five times better than doctors. The flattening of the teaching profession will continue apace as the technology and techniques behind MOOCs continue to improve. 3D printing will render much of what manufacturing remains obsolete. Anything requiring mid-level management or analysis will be done better by computer within two decades at the max, and probably sooner.

Pushing for a higher minimum wage is important. But ultimately we're going to have to decouple human dignity from "having a job." There just won't be enough jobs to go around, and tweaking the tax rates of super-wealthy just won't cut it at a certain point.- Meanwhile, Lauren Sandler discusses the U.S.' (damaging) fall to the bottom of the developed world in the availability of paid parental leave - even as evidence accumulates that such leave is ultimately a valuable investment.

- CBC reports that the City of Regina's consistent neglect of its pension obligations might result in retirees having their livelihood pulled out from under them. And Michael Smyth points out that while B.C. imposes wage limits on the vast majority of public-sector workers, it has no trouble finding money to fund under-the-table giveaways to top executives.

- Finally, Dean Beeby reports on the continued disconnect between the Cons' austerity agenda and the views of Canadians - including the ones specifically asked for their input into the federal budget, whose desire to prioritize health care and education over pipeline cheerleading was once again ignored.

A Conspiracy Of One

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 06:11

It’s not uncommon for an RCMP Commissioner to jump through hoops at Stephen Harper’s bequest.

We saw that when Zaccardelli gave Harper a leg up to victory by conjuring up an empty scandal about Ralph Goodale in mid-election campaign. Ominously for a country based on the rule of law, Zac refused to explain his actions afterwards, defying the demands of Parliament for answers.

Now we have Commish Paulson who seized the Duffy-Wright-Harper scandal at the outset with an iron fist. Paulson’s leaked e-mail in which he absolutely forbade his senior officers from having contact with opposition parliamentarians without his express prior consent pretty much established that the investigation and any eventual prosecutions were going to be decided from the top, no questions asked.

Then the circus began. First, RCMP investigators opined that the $90,000 ‘gifted’ by Nigel Wright to Mike Duffy was a bribe. Then they announced that Nigel Wright, who put up the money for the bribe, would not be charged. Then, after a suitable interval and in the middle of the summer recess (Stephen Harper’s preferred time for doing these things), it was announced that, while Wright was still off the hook, Mike Duffy would be charged with accepting a bribe.

Paulson hasn’t explained how he jumped through that hoop. It’s been left to others to speculate that investigators could not conclude that Wright had given Duffy the money with a “corrupt intent” but were satisfied that Duffy accepted the gift with a “corrupt intent.”

Wait a minute. On what possible basis did the Royal Conservative Mounted Police absolve Nigel Wright of any corrupt intent? They had to have done it by isolating all the surrounding circumstances. They excluded the other elements of the “deal” from the cash payment. We know what that deal was because Duffy was foolish enough to put it all in an e-mail to his confidantes. It was that e-mail, leaked to a reporter, that triggered the scandal. We know what that deal was because the elements of the deal Duffy described all came to pass.

Wright didn’t just hand Duffy $90,000. The money came with strings attached, bundled into a deal. Duffy was ordered to keep his mouth shut and to refuse to cooperate with the auditors appointed by the Senate to report on expense irregularities. There’s the corruption the RCMP doesn’t want to acknowledge. But wait, there’s more. Duffy wasn’t just getting cash. The guys who conjured up what the cops say, in respect of Duffy was a bribe, also promised to see to it that the Senate audit report on Duffy would be laundered. They did and it was. There’s the corruption that the RCMP has to do backflips to ignore. The bribe was the whole deal.

That Nigel Wright wrote a cheque on his personal account is irrelevant. The PMO gang tried to get the money elsewhere – from the Conservative Party’s cache - and they almost succeeded. Only when that fell through did Wright step in with his own cheque after clearing the deal with Stephen Harper. Would it have been a bribe if the cash came from CPC funds but not when Wright had to step in with his own money?

By looking at Wright’s cheque in isolation, the Royal Conservative Mounted Police are blatantly whitewashing the involvement and culpability of everyone except Stephen Harper’s target, Mike Duffy. No wonder Paulson put his senior officers under a gag order.

This deal oozes corruption throughout the PMO to the prime minister to the Tory Senate leadership to the Senate audit committee to the Conservative Party. The measure of the integrity of the RCMP lies in its ability to sweep all of that under the carpet even after the facts are out in the public.

We know better. We know this prosecution has been tailored to take Nigel Wright, Benjamin Perrin, Stephen Harper, Senators Gerstein, LeBreton, Tkachuk and Stewart-Olsen, and Arthur Hamilton off the hook. This is the doing of the prime minister’s partisan state police apparatus and it harkens back to another time on another continent.

If it was valid to jettison the Canadian Airborne Regiment after the Somalia scandal (and, for the record, I’m not convinced it was), then this sorry affair surely warrants dismantling the RCMP. There’s no place in a democracy for a partisan political state police agency. From the barn burnings in Quebec in the 60s to this I’ve certainly had my fill of these rogue operators.

MoS, the Disaffected LibRecommend this Post

We Need Duffy's Emails

Northern Reflections - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 06:02


There has been a lot of public befuddlement -- including from  Mike Duffy's lawyer -- as to why the senator has been charged with accepting a bribe, while Nigel Wright has been given a free ride. The official explanation seems to be that everything hangs on one word --"corruptly." To be convicted, Wright would have to have acted in a corrupt manner. It's a difficult standard of proof, because it assumes corrupt intention -- something which runs against the grain of Wright's public persona. He is seen as a man who sees, hears and does no evil.

Michael Spratt writes that the decision to not charge Wright may be tactical, not legal:

Duffy’s case is headed to trial; Wright will surely be a star witness. By choosing to not charge Wright, the case against Duffy is made stronger. If Wright and Duffy were jointly charged, Wright would not be a compellable witness for the Crown and essential evidence could be lost.

Further, if Wright and Duffy had been jointly charged, any statements made by Wright and adduced into evidence could not be used against Duffy.

Most important, by declining to lay charges against Wright the RCMP limits damage to his credibility — which can only increase his value as a witness.
Clearly, the powers that be are out to get Duffy. Given his past behaviour, it's hard to feel sympathy for the man. But one cannot escape the suspicion that the RCMP -- like the civil service and the military --  has been politicized by the Harper government.

Everything will hinge on Duffy's stash of emails -- which the Harper cabal will seek to declare inadmissible. I would be helpful, at this point, if the press could get their hands on some of those emails.


I’m increasingly concerned….

Trashy's World - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 04:44
…about what we are going to see as an end game of the Ukraine crisis. The States is upping the rhetoric, as is the UK. But other European leaders are remaining fairly quiet for fear of Russian repercussions – economic or otherwise. Putin is in the regional expansion game for the long haul, kids. This […]

Stephen Harper and the Scandal that Will Destroy Him

Montreal Simon - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 02:48


Well there I was today in the north of Scotland, when I thought I saw a mysterious creature in this little bay.

At first I thought it was another kind of Nessie. Or a big fat dolphin.

But then I realized it wasn't eh?

It was only Moby Duff...



Getting ready to dive dive dive !!!!  And take down  Stephen Harper. 
Read more »

The Iron Dome is a Scam

Rusty Idols - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 17:57
The Iron Dome is a scam according to experts inside and outside of Israel.

According to defence experts - plural - its a public relations exercise and it follows that both Israel and Hamas play along with it with because it suits both their interests for Hamas to seem more dangerous and effective than it actually is.

If the Iron Dome is actually stopping NOTHING and  if the 10% of sputtering rockets barely better than those you could buy from a roadside stand across the border before the fourth of July, that land randomly and have so far killed only one Israeli bringing supplies to the front line, if those pitiful few are actually the ENTIRETY of what is fired and each one is magnified automatically into multiple attacks....

Then you've got a combination appropriations scam, propaganda psyop and false or at least inflated justification for an attack that has taken hundreds of civilian lives including scores of children.

sdnxry5z7g

More On Duffy

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:33
Like many others, I have been trying to fathom how Nigel Wright has escaped without charges for the cheque he wrote to Mike Duffy, while the latter has been charged with accepting a bribe. I have also been attempting to get video of two programs, Power and Politics and last Thursday's At Issue Panel, which discuss this mystery in some detail. Unfortunately, CBC no long seems to offer the embed code for their shows, but you can watch the P&P show by clicking here. I was able to find the second show on You Tube, and you can view it below.

Perhaps, like me, you will find the proffered explanations for Wright's 'get-out-of-jail-free card' less than edifying.

Recommend this Post

Don't tell me how to behave

Feminist Christian - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:14
The news of last couple of weeks has been astoundingly bad. Israel invading Gaza. A plane carrying almost 300 people is shot down, likely by Russia, and now rebels won't let investigators near it. Another girl was roofied, raped, and mocked on social media for it.

And I've been happy. I know, according to the internet quiz I took on a whim, this makes me a terrible person. Only being utterly miserable in the face of others misery is acceptable. Especially for a woman.

But you know what? No. I can be happy while still saying none of these things is okay. While still recognising the tragedy and pain that others are experiencing. And in fact, I think I can do it better, because I'm not caught up in my own pain about it.

TOOT TOOT. Sorry. That was my horn. I was blowing it.

I believe in happiness. I think it's the only way to make the world a better place. I also believe that many people use anger as a motivator, and think they need to. More power to you if it works for you! No judgments here. I was an angry person for a lot of years, and I'm not judging myself for it either. Nor for the times when I still get angry! I've just decided I'm done with it, and if others want to be done with it too, that would be lovely. If not, cool. Go about your business. :)

It just seems to me that angry people make mistakes when they act in anger, not quiet determination. Of course, I could be projecting. I have made a number of truly spectacular fuckups when acting out of anger. The kind that I suspect people might still be talking about 20 years later when they have those "What's the weirdest thing that ever happened to you..." conversations. "Well, this one time, this crazy lady stomped past my secretary into my office while I was in a meeting with the university president and the board of directors, and yelled at me over a parking pass problem. She started throwing things at me, and I had to remove her, without making it look to the board like I couldn't handle a 19 year old woman without violence. She was CRAZY." -- University Director of Security

It seems to me that the vast majority of the shit that happens in the world happens because people are scared or angry (and I still think anger comes from fear). Russia shot down the plane out of fear that it was a Ukrainian jet coming to kill them. Or because they needed to assert their power and dominance. And now the rebels are blocking access, to do the same. Because any opportunity for a warring faction to show power and dominance is taken. To do anything but is to appear weak.

Those boys raped that girl not so much out of anger or fear, but out of an inability to see her as a human. That's a different kettle of fish. That's patriarchy, and the societal need to hold on to it. The system is designed to give power to men, and one of the best ways to do that is to make women so utterly invaluable as to be worthless as a human, but rather a thing to play with, a toy. They weren't consciously thinking that when they did it (I assume!) They'd just been taught via our society that women have no worth. That's societal fear. Patriarchal fear that if women are treated fairly, equitably, or even as human, that they might take some of the male power. And that fear is bred into boys without there ever being any real feeling of fear or anger on the boys' part. It's incredibly insidious.

Israel invaded Gaza... I don't know why. I don't know what in the hell they could be afraid of. Not having all the land in the region? I have no idea. But it's certainly happening because they're angry. Look at the rhetoric floating around. They hate the people of Gaza. And why? They can't be particularly afraid of the rocket attacks. They've got them so blockaded they won't ever manage to build power. So what the hell? I don't know.

What I do know is I refuse to hate them for hating. They're a bunch of angry people doing angry shitty things. And while I'm a wee bit afraid of the world devolving into another world war over this, with my ridiculous Prime Minister choosing what I think is the wrong side, I refuse to be miserable. I refuse to add to the misery of the planet with my own.

And you know what? I'm tired of being told how I "should" behave or react to things. We women get this more than men, but men get it too. We're told by both men and women to be "classy" (see @lindywest's Twitter feed last night). We're told that we should smile more. That we should swear less. That we shouldn't talk so much. Should talk more. Shouldn't interrupt. Should interrupt more. Should be nice when we say no. Should be more forceful when we say no. That we should mourn differently than we do. That we should joke differently than we do. (Women comedians aren't funny, you know! Pfft.) That we should lighten up. That we shouldn't lighten up.

To hell with it all. I will swear when I want. I will fart when I want. I will eat what I want. I will wear what I want. I will brag when I do something awesome. And I will joke about my shortcomings when I don't. I will believe whatever I want to believe, rational or not, because if it makes me happy, I don't give a shit if it's true. And especially, I will feel how I want to feel and I will make no apologies for it. I will be happy even if the world is going to hell around me. Or I will rail and scream and stomp into the office of ... okay, maybe not that one unless it's significantly more important than a parking pass clusterfuck. But I will rail and scream and swear if I fucking feel like it. And fuck decorum. Fuck classy. Fuck patriarchy. Fuck the so-called feminists who want to tell me how to behave. I will laugh at that sexist joke if I find it funny. I will tell someone I found their joke disgusting if I find it disgusting.

I guess I'm just not that nice. Or so Buzzfeed tells me.

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 08:44
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz writes that while we should expect natural resources to result in broad-based prosperity, Australia (much like Canada) is now turning toward the U.S. model of instead directing as much shared wealth as possible toward the privileged few:
There is something deeply ironic about Abbott’s reverence for the American model in defending many of his government’s proposed “reforms.” After all, America’s economic model has not been working for most Americans. Median income in the US is lower today than it was a quarter-century ago – not because productivity has been stagnating, but because wages have.
The Australian model has performed far better. Indeed, Australia is one of the few commodity-based economies that has not suffered from the natural-resource curse. Prosperity has been relatively widely shared. Median household income has grown at an average annual rate above 3% in the last decades – almost twice the OECD average.
To be sure, given its abundance of natural resources, Australia should have far greater equality than it does. After all, a country’s natural resources should belong to all of its people, and the “rents” that they generate provide a source of revenue that could be used to reduce inequality. And taxing natural-resource rents at high rates does not cause the adverse consequences that follow from taxing savings or work (reserves of iron ore and natural gas cannot move to another country to avoid taxation). But Australia’s Gini coefficient, a standard measure of inequality, is one-third higher than that of Norway, a resource-rich country that has done a particularly good job of managing its wealth for the benefit of all citizens....Australia should be proud of its successes, from which the rest of the world can learn a great deal. It would be a shame if a misunderstanding of what has happened in the US, combined with a strong dose of ideology, caused its leaders to fix what is not broken.    - Meanwhile, Julian Beltrame reports that Canada's combination of corporate tax giveaways and gutting regulations has done nothing to change stagnant business investment. (Though as Armine Yalnizyan notes, that's sadly accompanied by the C.D. Howe Institute insisting on more of the same failed corporatist policies.) Don Pittis writes that stagnant wages are leaving Canadian workers with nothing to show for economic growth. And Dennis Howlett's mild optimism about Ontario's single-year budget is more than outweighed by his recognition that Ontarians are far worse off for decades of austerity and tax slashing:
For years now, Ontario governments (both Liberal and Progressive Conservative) have been inflicting austerity policies while failing to comprehensively collect revenue from large corporations and the wealthy. This sloppy fiscal management persisted - long after it was obvious that it just doesn't work.

Cuts to public services have caused a lot of pain and not much gain in terms of reducing deficits. Those cuts also boosted unemployment, slowed economic recovery and reduced tax revenue.

We can no longer afford the steep price tag that comes with avoiding revenue side solutions. Governments need to be clear about the real costs of tax cuts and loopholes.
...
After so much tax cutting, Ontario kick starting a $1 billion reversal is a pretty small step. But it is a step in the right direction. But further steps in this direction are needed in the next budget, including possibly some modest but broader income tax increases.

There's a caveat though.

Boosting taxes on the rich and on corporations will not result in more revenue if governments don't close tax loopholes and take stronger measures to go after tax cheats. On this front too, though there were some encouraging words in the Ontario budget:

"Reducing corporate tax avoidance and closing tax loopholes is a priority for the Ontario government. The government supports the principle that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes, including corporations."

Word is that Ontario government will be pushing the federal government and the Canada Revenue Agency to step up their efforts. This is welcome news. Each and every Canadian province loses revenue from corporate tax avoidance schemes that take advantage of tax loopholes and offshore tax havens. It is time for a strong stand by all provinces at the premiers meeting scheduled for August. They can no longer avoid tackling what has become a chronic problem. - Stephan Lefebvre points out how yet another set of free-trade spin is based on flat-out lies about the effect of NAFTA.

- Ethel Tungohan highlights the absurdity of the Cons' temporary foreign worker tinkering which does nothing at all to help actual workers of any kind:
If Kenney and Alexander truly want to protect temporary foreign workers from abuse, they would include robust measures that take into account the reality of these workers’ lives.

Workplace audits should be accompanied by a guarantee that abused temporary foreign workers will not be deported and will be given jobs in other companies for the duration of their stay in Canada.

Temporary foreign workers should be given open work permits that tie them to a specific industry, but not to a specific employer to mitigate abuse.

And, most importantly, the Canadian government should recognize that temporary foreign workers provide important economic contributions to Canada. Like other immigrants, they come to provide for themselves and their families. They should be provided pathways to Canadian citizenship.

If they are good enough to work, they are good enough to stay.- Finally, today is another NDP Day of Action - this time focusing on climate change to celebrate Jack Layton's birthday. You can search for an event here - and I'll point out my home riding's canvass and barbecue in particular for anybody in Regina interested in getting involved.

Holding Our 'Leaders' To Account

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 06:00


It is almost impossible, I think, to feel anything but a dark impotence when it comes to world events today. Wherever we look, be it the Ukraine, Africa, the Middle East or our own backyards, death, despoliation and injustice prevail. At times, it seems assuming the fetal position is the only reasonable response to a world out of control.

Yet, even when there seems little we can do to ameliorate the world's suffering, there is something all of us can do - refuse to be silent and passive in the face of atrocity - refuse to make it easier for those with power to have their way - refuse to allow them to commit their atrocities in our name.

Clearly, that spirit of defiance is at work in today's letters to The Star, a few of which I reproduce below:

Re: ‘Hamas has no interest in peace,' Baird says, July 16

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s condemnation of Hamas and his unconditional support of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza ought to be appalling for anyone with a modicum of consciousness. What happened to the Canada known internationally known as a soft-power participating in peaceful resolutions for world conflict?

Would Mr. Baird and his boss, Stephen Harper, be as critical of the victims’ struggle for nationhood if they were the ones helplessly watching their hopes for a homeland on just over 20 per cent of what Palestine was before 1948 being progressively confiscated by Israel while living in a concentration camp called Gaza?
Should they, instead, not be working toward brokering ideas for a two-state solution so that Israelis can leave in peace and without collective guilt for the genocide taking place and the Palestinians can once again be a sovereign people as they rightly deserve?


Carmelinda Scian, Islington

One wonders how Baird can walk through the front doors at Foreign Affairs each morning knowing the whole building is laughing at him behind his back. The pantheon of poorly educated cretins appointed by Harper to cabinet has destroyed 105 years of solid partnership and respect with the world.
Now that Canada advocates (and demands others advocate) state murder in Palestine of women and children, are we any different from Vladmir Putin who presides over the deaths of thousands in Syria purely for the purpose of arms dealing.

Surely we’ve murdered enough Arabs for our selfish want of oil and our kook obsession with Israel.


Bryan Charlebois, Toronto

How dare our prime minister give Canada’s pledge of “unequivocal” support to a nation that has in recent days killed over 150 civilians. Israel claims to be defending itself from rocket attacks that have amounted to one civilian death.

Stephen Harper, you do not speak for all Canadians in giving unconditional support to a nation that is okay with home demolitions, bombing residential areas, destroying schools and hospitals, killing children and unarmed civilians. We cannot give unequivocal support to anybody, let alone a nation known for its human rights violations.

Harper represents the citizens of Canada, not his personal political affiliations. He must not put the blood of innocents on the hands of Canadians through unconditional support of this nation.


Arsheen Devjee, Edmonton

Harper and Baird abandoned any pretense of objectivity on the Israel/Palestinians file when they allowed themselves to be feted as Negev Dinner honorees. Their motives in doing so were to keep the generous donations coming to the Conservative Party of Canada from many Canadian Jews who have come to take for granted their knee-jerk praise of Israel, right or wrong.

Ron Charach, TorontoRecommend this Post

Depraved Policy

Northern Reflections - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 05:47


                                                                                  http://www.ctpost.com/

Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza this week -- a move that is loudly supported by the Harper government. And it illustrates, Linda McQuaig writes, the moral disconnect at the heart of Harper's policy towards Israel:

Certain minimal standards are expected of a national leader in what is known as the ‘civilized world’.

One of those standards would seem to be that, when massive numbers of defenceless civilians are being killed, a national leader should call for the killing to stop.

Questions about responsibility, blame, punishment, repercussions, etc., can always follow. But surely the first order of business — the one with moral urgency — is to halt the killing of innocent people.

Harper's simple answer -- there's always a simple answer for him -- is that Hamas is using civilians as human shields. So don't blame the Israelis:

But Paul Heinbecker, a former Canadian ambassador, noted on CBC TV’s Power and Politics on Tuesday that international law prohibits Israel from, for instance, attacking a military target if it is located in a densely populated building.
Anyone who knows anything thing about the Israeli-Palestinian relationship knows that it's fraught with complications:

What is striking about Harper’s intensely one-sided approach is the way he resolutely avoids dealing with the central fact of this decades-old conflict: that millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been living under Israeli military occupation for more than forty-five years, and that Israel has effectively annexed what used to be their land, building settlements on it that now accommodate more than 600,000 Israelis.

Harper’s refusal to take any of this into consideration flies in the face of Canada’s long-standing position on the Mideast conflict — a position that still appears on the Canadian government’s website.
Harper has always been comfortable in his ignorance. Moreover, he has the arrogance to think he's the smartest guy in the room. The result is depraved policy.



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