Posts from our progressive community

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - mar, 10/25/2016 - 05:55
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Dani Rodrik discusses the growing public opposition to new corporate-dominated trade deals based on the lessons we've learned from previous ones:
Instead of decrying people’s stupidity and ignorance in rejecting trade deals, we should try to understand why such deals lost legitimacy in the first place. I’d put a large part of the blame on mainstream elites and trade technocrats who pooh-poohed ordinary people’s concerns with earlier trade agreements.

The elites minimized distributional concerns, though they turned out to be significant for the most directly affected communities. They oversold aggregate gains from trade deals, though they have been smallish since at least NAFTA. They said sovereignty would not be diminished though it clearly was in some instances. They claimed democratic principles would not be undermined, though they are in places. They said there’d be no social dumping though there clearly is at times. They advertised trade deals (and continue to do so) as “free trade” agreements, even though Adam Smith and David Ricardo would turn over in their graves if they read, say, any of the TPP chapters.

And because they failed to provide those distinctions and caveats, now trade gets tarred with all kinds of ills even when it’s not deserved. If the demagogues and nativists making nonsensical claims about trade are getting a hearing, it is trade’s cheerleaders that deserve some of the blame.

One more thing. The opposition to trade deals is no longer solely about income losses. The standard remedy of compensation won’t be enough — even if carried out. It’s about fairness, loss of control, and elites’ loss of credibility. It hurts the cause of trade to pretend otherwise.- Scott Sinclair and Stuart Trew point out why progressives have reason to oppose the CETA, while Craig Scott rightly questions the Libs' spin on it And Gareth Hutchins reports on Canada's experience with challenges to democratic legislation under NAFTA as a cautionary tale for other countries.

- Jeremy Gilbert writes about the need for a social movement (going far beyond the partisan political scene) to provide a meaningful alternative to neoliberalism.

- Bob Mackin reports that the Vancouver International Airport Authority's CEO is highlighting the dangers of a selloff of airport assets. And Bill Curry notes that cities are raising important questions about the Libs' musings about diverting direct infrastructure funding toward an "infrastructure bank".

- Finally, James Wilt examines the utter incoherence of Brad Wall's excuse for a climate change plan.

Donald Trump and Les Deplorables

Montreal Simon - mar, 10/25/2016 - 03:40

I love the musical Les Miserables. I love the songs, and the way the characters  celebrate revolution.

Even if it ends badly.

Because I believe that only a revolution can save us and the world we live in.

But Donald Trump has a version of Les Miserables called Les Deplorables... 
Read more »

What's a Progressive to do?

kirbycairo - lun, 10/24/2016 - 18:41
As much as I would like it to be otherwise, I really think that any optimism that the Liberal government would be significantly different from the Harper government on some of the most substantive issues, has turned out to be misplaced. I understand why a number of progressives are having a hard time letting go of their hope for Trudeau, but that hope is beginning to look increasingly naive. There is no doubt that Trudeau brought a different tone to government, and on foreign policy, though he has yet to face a significant test, he certainly seems like an improvement on Harper in a number of ways. However, on healthcare, energy and the environment, native issues (and this a particularly painful one to face), and on the neo-liberal trade approach, Trudeau is really so close to Harper that there is little to choose between them.

Here are some interesting stories concerning this difficult dilemma -

On the Economy - Thomas Walkom has some interesting observations.

On Progressive politics - Tom Parkin has this to say.

On the Precariate - Bill Morneau (who is married into one of the richest families in Canada) tells the rest of us we just need to suck it up.

On Native issues - Dene Moore reminds us that indigenous leaders are already giving Trudeau a failing grade. And you can hear Murray Sinclair saying that Trudeau is breeching the "Indian residential schools" settlement.

These are just the articles I found in a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, to see a startling example of how the Liberals are mimiking the Conservative's arrogance and total lack of concern for real people's lives, we only have to look at what Liberal MP Nick Whalen had to say.

I know a few progressives are desperately trying to give Trudeau and the Liberals the benefit of the doubt. But in my experience, governments veer further away from their promises as time goes on, not closer. I think it is little short of folly to imagine that Trudeau isn't another neo-liberal who, despite his smiles and selfies, is quickly making it clear that three years from now, working-people, indigenous people, and the environment will be little or no better off than they would have been under the Conservatives. (Granted, of course, that the Conservatives might have gotten considerably worse if they had actually won another election)

I am willing to give kudos to Trudeau for steering us away from the racist rhetoric that the Cons were, and still are, spew. On the issue of democratic reform, we will just have to wait and see.

Justin, Andrew Would Like a Moment of Your Time

The Disaffected Lib - lun, 10/24/2016 - 15:43

Is petro-statehood the path that leads to the Americanization of Canada? It kind of looks that way to Canada's top petro-journo, Andrew Nikiforuk.

The Tyee energy scribe sees Justin as "Harper-lite with a surfboard." Rachel Notley is one who thinks a bad bet can be transformed into a winner if only you double down. As for Brad Wall, he offers this:

In Saskatchewan, Premier Brad Wall has compared pipelines to economic miracle workers even as his petro-province flounders thanks to the overproduction of heavy oil in a glutted market.

(Wall’s subservience to petroleum interests, by the way, has taken on Trump-like proportions. The province’s recent Throne Speech even dubbed proposals to limit climate change as “misguided dogma.”)

For these misguided petro-pols, Nikiforuk offers up "four hard truths."
Numero Uno - first and foremost, there is no way, as in none, to clean up a bitumen spill.

There's a reason the Harper government and now the Trudeau government have resolutely dodged this issue. They know it can't be cleaned up. If they could the easiest way to respond to opponents would be to demonstrate that they can clean it up. 
Yet our bitumen-besotted politicians would have British Columbia gamble with its fisheries, tourism and coast on the bold lie that diluted bitumen, a dirtier product than crude, can be cleaned up in a timely and tidy fashion.

Because the low-grade heavy oil must be diluted with a gasoline-like product to move through a pipeline, it presents an even graver logistical challenge than a conventional spill.

A 2015 report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences summed up the nature of the dirty problem: “Spills of diluted bitumen into a body of water initially float and spread while evaporation of volatile compounds may present health and explosion hazards, as occurs with nearly all crude oils. It is the subsequent weathering effects, unique to diluted bitumen, that merit special response strategies and tactics.

So what do Justin and his enviromin, Dame Cathy, have in mind for a bitumen spill on the B.C. coast? They've authorized the use of Corexit for chrissake! Corexit, the thalidomide for marine habitats. It's promoted as an oil dispersant but it's really a highly toxic, persistent chemical brew that causes oil to sink, out of sight/out of mind. And, once stuck to the bottom, which around here can be 600 feet or more below the surface, it can leach out its heavy metals, acids and carcinogens for decades, possibly generations, fouling the marine habitat.
Numero Dos - the economic case for pipelines has totally collapsed.
According to the lovestruck politicians, bitumen exports to China will make Canadians rich, and the sulfur-rich crude will miraculously command a higher dollar with marine access.

But bitumen will always require higher transportation costs and more upgrading and processing due to its appalling quality. As a consequence, it has always sold at a price differential of around $6 to $7 dollars to conventional oil.

This historic differential widened when the Alberta government rubber-stamped so many projects that industry flooded the North American market with bitumen between 2000 and 2008. The differential dropped again to historic norms as more and more refineries in the U.S. retrofitted to process heavy oil.

The Parliamentary Budget Office explained these elementary facts in 2013, but politicians beset by hydrocarbon hallucinations have trouble reading. The PBO emphasized that eliminating the discount paid for bitumen relative to conventional oil “is not realistic, as there is a significant difference in the quality of these crude oil benchmarks that is reflected in the price difference.”

Now you have to ask yourself why would oil companies keep pushing bitumen if it has become uneconomic? A corporate finance guy explained that they have to keep it going, even at a loss. That allows them to keep harvesting executive salaries and bonuses. It allows them to avoid having to tell shareholders that bitumen is no longer really viable, especially without massive government subsidies. That could lead to greater problems - a bursting of the carbon bubble foremost among them. All of those hard truths may come out, just not on their watch. Leave it to the next guy or the one after him. Let them take the heat.

Numero Tres - bitumen cannibalizes the economy.

Nearly 100 years ago, it cost but one barrel of conventional crude to find and pump another 100 barrels. Today those energy returns now average about one to 20. In the U.S., they’ve fallen to one to 10 and in the oil sands they have collapsed to one to three, or in some cases close to zero. In simple terms, bitumen doesn’t bring home the bacon.

Our world was built on easy energy returns the same way, say, grizzly bears once depended on easy salmon fishing for comfortable winter living. Abundant energy returns from cheap oil fed the growth of government, funded healthcare and encouraged much civility. Expensive energy constricts that flow and shrinks the public sphere.

Unfortunately, mined bitumen and fracked oil aren’t easy, cheap or carbon neutral. Companies extracting fracked oil from Texas and North Dakota typically spend four times more than what they make. Bitumen miners aren’t much better. They burn more energy and capital, and all to deliver fewer returns and surpluses to society. It’s like cycling backwards.

Yet no one in Alberta or Ottawa talks about declining energy returns or its political and economic implications. The consequences generally include words like collapse, ruin and volatility.

Numero Quatro"Climate disruption and carbon anarchy aren’t a distant threat... they’re here now."How many times must ordinary people be slapped in the face before our politicians grasp the gravity of the insult?

Climate disruption, driven by oil consumption and forest destruction, has become a global insurgency that can only be combated by rapidly changing patterns of energy consumption. That means using less energy and living locally. Pipelines and their political champions now look and behave like horsemen of the apocalypse.

The emissions math on climate change in Canada is now pretty simple. Environment Canada states it boldly: “Emissions of GHGs from the oil and gas sector have increased 79 per cent from 107 megatonnes (Mt) in 1990 to 192 Mt CO2 in 2014. This increase is mostly attributable to the increased production of crude oil and the expansion of the oil sands industry."

What this all boils down to is that Harper stuck Canada with a lousy bet on bitumen. He's gone but now the new guy, Trudeau, along with Alberta's Notley and Saskatchewan's Wall, want to double down on that same lousy bet.

From my perspective on the west coast the fact that these hucksters - Trudeau, Notley and Wall - know that there's no way to clean up a bitumen spill off our coast is enough for me to see them, not as fellow Canadians, but as a threat. They know that if they had a shred of decency and consideration for the coast and for the territory between the Tar Sands and "tidewater" they want pipelines to cross, the very least they could do to even partly reduce the catastrophic damage of an oil spill is to refine that bitumen into synthetic crude oil on site in Alberta. They won't entertain the idea and that's why we've got nothing to talk about.

From the perspective of central and eastern Canada, it's still a lousy deal. It's an economic boondoggle and an enormous waste of federal and provincial subsidies, money that could be put to something, anything useful.

In the context of climate change, it's lousy for the nation and lousy for the world. Even for today's already sullied Canada, it's a disgraceful thing for us to do.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 10/24/2016 - 08:07
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Thomas Walkom writes that the federal Libs' idea of "real change" for the economy reflects nothing more than the same old stale neoliberal playbook:
At its core, the federal government’s “bold” new plan for economic growth is strikingly familiar.

The scheme, worked out by Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s hand-picked advisory panel, relies on privatization, deregulation, public-private partnerships and user fees.

It would reserve profitable public infrastructure for the private sector but have governments alone foot the bill for those schemes — such as environmental remediation and First Nations projects — that are destined to lose money.

It would have the government set up a new agency to convince foreign investors that Canada is open for business.
The panel, if I understand it correctly, thinks it insufficient to simply have the government borrow money at rock-bottom interest rates in order to build the things that need to be built.

Rather, it wants private capital to build and own, in whole or in part, these new infrastructure projects.

To make ownership worthwhile to private investors, the government would “attach revenue streams” to both new projects and to some already in existence.

Simply put, this means figuring out way to let private participants reap profits from, say, a bridge or subway line.

This is an old strategy. It is the one that underlies, for example, Ontario’s Highway 407, a toll road built with money raised by the provincial government and owned by private-sector operators.

It is also the strategy behind the current Ontario Liberal government’s baffling plan to sell off most of Hydro One, the provincial electricity transmission monopoly.
The problem with privatization is that it usually ends up costing consumers more. Various auditors general around the world, including Ontario’s, have made that point when examining public-private partnerships. - Michael Harris warns Justin Trudeau about the dangers of breaking his most important promises (in terms of public cynicism as well as partisan outcomes), while Tom Parkin notes that we shouldn't be surprised to see the Libs once again taking progressive support for granted. The Star's editorial board argues that it's particularly important to keep commitments to accountable government, while Dene Moore reports that indigenous leaders are rightly calling out Trudeau's year of failures. And Karl Nerenberg calls Trudeau out for personally undermining his own promise of electoral reform.

- But if there's anything worse than breaking one-time promises, it's a government's inclination to approach all problems from an anti-social perspective - and Lib Finance Minister Bill Morneau's declaration that workers should settle for precarious lives looks particularly telling on that front. Meanwhile, Peter Armstrong reports on the fading prospects for retirement among younger generations of workers.

- Steven Pressman argues that income inequality should be the core test for the U.S.' next president, while Kate Pickett reminds us why it remains a vital issue everywhere.

- Finally, Sam Pizzigati proposes a minimum base tax rate on the wealthy to help rein in inequality at both ends of the income spectrum.

The Art Of The Deal: A Guest Post By John B.

Politics and its Discontents - lun, 10/24/2016 - 06:32

In response to yesterday's post about free trade, John B. provided a detailed commentary that derves a separate posting. Below is what he wrote:

Are any Canadians asking?

I find the current tap dance we are witnessing reminiscent of the public displays of angst and pretense of desperation by Mulroney and Burney a generation ago over the possibility that the Canada-US deal was in peril because of American apprehension. I've always believed that we were the unwitting dupes of a ruse designed to seduce an uninformed public into assuming, without any further analysis and consideration of what it would occasion that, because a negotiating and simultaneously competing business partner had some reservations, the deal must certainly be much more beneficial to Canada than to its supposedly hesitant deal partner at whose expense the anticipated benefit was to be achieved.

On Saturday when I met up socially with a couple of old acquaintances, both university-educated persons, one of them initiated a discussion of the current CETA situation. They're not people who are generally uninformed: one has an honours degree in history; and the other is a retired police chief. Before I had said anything on the subject, one of them introduced a conversation expressing his displeasure that an insignificant region of a country that had been freed from oppression by Canadian efforts during the Second World War would dare to obstruct an enterprise beneficial to Canadian interests. As my grade eight history teacher would have said: "Shades of the CUSFTA." My pal had made the assumption, just as many other Canadians must have done when Mulroney submitted his star performance, that the other side was balking because the relative benefits of the deal were so heavily weighted in Canada's favour. (There must be a term that marketing specialists use for this baloney sales tactic. Maybe it's got its own chapter in "The Art of the Deal" or "Think and Grow Rich".) After listening to the others' comments, I interjected my opinions on the I-SDS and ICS factors, the enhanced corporate opportunity for achieving regulatory capture and the implications of transnational labour mobility, and briefly stated my view that an insignificant component of this and other "trade" deals actually has anything to do with trade and tariffs. Both of them looked at me as though they didn't speak English and then one of them said that he didn't remember whether he had ever even heard of the CETA prior to Friday. The other one then said that he thought he had heard the first mention of he could recall it earlier in the week.

Now consider what they've been putting on the TV regarding this subject since the hiccup in Belgium on broadcasts that purport to be political and economic analysis : Ed Fast lambasting the Liberals for possibly wrecking his deal when all they had to do was to get it signed; Kevin O'Leary, while Evan Solomon grins from the other side of the interview, ranting in full leadership campaign mode that, because of Freeland's apparent failure, we should now question the competence of all of Selfie-Boy Zoolander's cabinet choices; a private equity and derivatives exchange expert telling Michael Serapio that "trade deals are win-win deals" and that the uncertainty in Wallonia is "absolutely appalling"; and, as we should expect, no discussion dealing with the substance of the objections.

So what's my point? It's that there must certainly be some convergence of interests that has willed the Canadian public to be kept in the dark and cooked the pablum we are being served.

What has happened during the CETA negotiations under both political parties seems to have taken it all up a notch. How did Canada become the headwaiter to and chief water carrier for the global investor-rights business lobby? What additional net benefit are we expected to assume will accrue to the country's economy through the adoption of this irregular national policy as a standard practice? Have we become the go-to guy for the transnational commerce management industry? I'll leave it up to someone smarter and better informed to consider those questions. But I'll suggest that an investigation into some revolving doors and the subsequent career choices of former negotiators and political leaders might provide some possible answers. Maybe Dominic Barton could make some explanation that relates to what's happening now under the Sunny Ways Corps.

With respect to Mound's comment on the possibility of abuses in investor claims, it seems that another innovative market has already emerged from the vibrancy and dynamism of the I-SDS protection racket: this Post

Is the Harper Party Becoming the Trump Party?

Montreal Simon - lun, 10/24/2016 - 06:04

As you know I always predicted that the Con leadership race was going to be a real circus.

But who knew there would be so many candidates. Twelve and counting.

Or that it would be such a fascist circus.

For look who just joined the race.
Read more »

Keeping His Word

Northern Reflections - lun, 10/24/2016 - 06:03

Justin Trudeau came to office, claiming he would put an end to the cynicism of the Harper years. Michael Harris writes:

When Justin Trudeau was running to become prime minister, he said that cynicism — about the future, the fate of our kids, and most especially the political establishment — was a serious problem. Somehow, someone just had to win back the public’s faith in the system. Otherwise, we would become a society of malcontents, nay-sayers, and self-seekers divorced from any meaningful sense of community. The national myth for those people would be that the whole shooting match was rigged against them for the benefit of the few.
On two critical files -- electoral reform  and the environment -- Trudeau has been backing away from his promises:

The prime minister found himself in a firestorm of criticism when he suggested in an interview with Le Devoir that he was backing away from his commitment to ending Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system. The implication of his words was that his election had somehow fixed the problem, or made it far less urgent at very least. That sparked one commentator on social media to ask for a retraction of Trudeau’s words or his recall.

Trudeau was supposed to be the antidote to years of Conservative mismanagement on the environment. At best, his record has been spotty, at worst, a betrayal of environmentalists who saw him as their champion.

While it is true Trudeau has finally put a price on carbon emissions, it is also true that he supported the Site C dam project in British Columbia, despite the opposition of environmentalists, First Nations leaders, Amnesty International, and the Royal Society of Canada.

The Trudeau government has also failed to legislate its own moratorium on oil-tanker traffic on the North Coast of the province. Instead, it has given conditional approval to Pacific NorthWest LNG’s massive $39-billion project that will also create five million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually should it ever be built. Not exactly what the summiteers in Paris had in mind — nor a lot of voters in British Columbia who went Liberal. 
South of the border, we are presently witnessing a lesson about the wages of cynicism:

Part of what everyone is witnessing in the U.S. Presidential election is the extent to which “every day Americans” hate the political establishment with a passion once reserved for the country’s foreign enemies. So desperate have these people become, so overwhelming has been the avalanche of lies and betrayals visited on them by politicians of all stripes, that 50 million Americans are about to vote for a man whose preferred form of greeting women is a hearty grope.  
If Justin is wise, he'll keep his word.

Donald Trump and the Women Who Brought Him Down

Montreal Simon - lun, 10/24/2016 - 04:27

With only fifteen days to go before the U.S. election, if we were on a plane this would be about the time when the pilot announces "we're now on final approach."

Or if you're on the Trump plane the pilot screams "Mayday!! Mayday!! Only God can save us!!!! 

Hillary Clinton has vaulted to a double-digit advantage in the inaugural ABC News 2016 election tracking poll, boosted by broad disapproval of Donald Trump on two controversial issues: His treatment of women and his reluctance to endorse the election’s legitimacy.

Unless you're Donald Trump of course, who is still screaming "MAGA!!! MAGA!!! My campaign is not nosediving!!!!"
Read more »

i look forward to the day when no one wears a fitbit anymore

we move to canada - lun, 10/24/2016 - 04:00
What did people do before Fitbit? Without their adorable little bracelets, how did they get enough exercise? Never mind that, how did they manage to live?? All those lonely, barren years, decade upon decade, people running, swimming, cycling, lifting, walking -- without a Fitbit. Can you imagine? It breaks my heart just thinking about it.

Pre-Fitbit, I often didn't know if people were exercising at all! Imagine! I might be speaking to someone who was getting enough exercise, and I wouldn't even know it! Unless the subject came up, I wouldn't know how many steps they had walked that day! What a scary thought.

Why Does the Federal Department of Fisheries Condone This?

The Disaffected Lib - lun, 10/24/2016 - 00:15
I know, I know. So you're in Ontario and you think this doesn't matter to you. Think again. Go to your grocery store and buy that great looking "Atlantic salmon." Only it's not from the Atlantic. It's from a pen along the B.C. coast where this goes on before it gets to your dinner table.

what i'm reading: born to run by bruce springsteen

we move to canada - dim, 10/23/2016 - 08:00
This is a run-don't-walk review. Fans of Bruce Springsteen: run to find a copy of The Boss' memoirs, Born to Run. This book was seven years in the making, and (like Chrissie Hynde's and Patti Smith's memoirs) written by the artist himself. It is by turns hilarious and heart-wrenching, poignant and gripping, and always profoundly insightful and a joy to read.

Springsteen is an intellectual -- a man of great intelligence who, for better and worse, lives in his own head, analyzing and at times over-analyzing the world around him and his own reactions to it. Because of this, he brings a powerful self-awareness to his life story -- an ability to articulate where his art comes from, and how his personal pitfalls have affected the most important relationships in his life.

Born to Run is also noteworthy for what it is not. It's not a tell-all or an exposé; readers looking for dirt will be disappointed. Springsteen protects his closest friends from exposure, and when it comes to blame, usually points the finger only at the man in the mirror. If there are personal disagreements, they remain personal: Steve and I had some issues to work out, so we sat down and had an honest talk, and moved past them is a typical approach. Even about his first manager Mike Appel, whose one-sided contracts hobbled Springsteen for years, and whose idol was the infamous "Colonel" Tom Parker, controller of Elvis Presley, Springsteen is measured, compassionate, and forgiving, professing a deep affection for him. The story is honest and revealing -- what was in those contracts, why Springsteen signed them -- but there is no anger or blame.

Born to Run is also not a memoir of a fast life through the great trinity of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Springsteen was 22 years old when he had his first drink of alcohol, and has never used recreational drugs. He mentions the rocker's on-the-road sex life, but only obliquely, to let the reader know it existed, and was then outgrown. That leaves rock and roll, and plenty of it.

In the musicians' memoirs that I've read, the most exciting writing has been their recollection of their moment of discovery. Keith Richards, Patti Smith, and Chrissie Hynde were all able to articulate how music -- literally -- changed their lives, how the discovery of a certain music at a certain time altered their chosen path forever. Springsteen can also pinpoint those moments, and his great self-insight and writing talents make it fairly leap from the page into the reader's heart.

Springsteen's writing style itself is deeply evocative. Sometimes his writing takes off on a flight of fancy.
Conditions were generally horrific, but compared to what?! The dumpiest motel on the road was step up from my home digs. I was twenty-three and I was making a living playing music! Friends, there's a reason they don't call it "working," it's called PLAYING! I've left enough sweat on stages around the world to fill at least one of the seven seas; I've driven myself and my band to the limit and over the edge for more than forty years. We continue to do so, but it's still "playing". It's a life-giving, joyful, sweat-drenched, muscle-aching, voice-blowing, mind-clearing, exhausting, soul-invigorating, cathartic pleasure and privilege every night. You can sing about your misery, the world's misery, your most devastating experiences, but there is something in the gathering of souls that blows the blues away.Other times, there's a sparking turn of phrase: "He had the shortest highway between his fingers and his heart I'd ever heard". Or a metaphor that brings the truth home.
We'd navigated the treacherous part of the river, the part Mike and I couldn't make, where the current changes and the landscape will never be the same. So, breaking into the open I looked behind me in our boat and I still had my Clark. Up front, he still had Lewis. We still had our own musical country to chart, many miles of frontier to travel, and music to make.I have been a diehard Bruce Springsteen fan since my teenage years, one of the millions who grew up in the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia area who feel a special kinship with Springsteen and a special ownership of his music. I've been amazed and thrilled that his music has matured along with his fans. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, I wondered if the latter half of Born to Run might be a let-down. The story of how a working-class New Jersey boy discovered his talents and navigated the treacherous waters to rise to fame -- that's a gripping tale. But how that now-famous musician lives the rest of his life -- is that going to be interesting, too?

Yes. Emphatically yes. In the second half of Born to Run, Springsteen explores his ongoing relationship with his parents, his struggles to free his himself from the patterns of his father, and the struggles, challenges, and joys of learning how to parent. The E Street Band broke up, then reformed, and two of the original members died. There's a long, restorative motorcycle journey through the American desert, and a cross-country road trip of self-discovery. There are fascinating details about Springsteen's writing process. There is poetry in all of it.

Throughout, Springsteen is honest about his struggles with anxiety and depression. He relates the roots of his own issues to those of his father's, whose mental illness, like so many from his generation, was undiagnosed and untreated. Interestingly, Springsteen never says "mental health" or "mental illness" -- simply illness. I thought that was a very interesting and positive choice -- making no distinction between mind and body. Springsteen writes about how he found relief, from both talk therapy and medication, pulling no punches: these drugs saved his life.

Fans may also be interested in the companion CD, Chapter and Verse, which chronicles the music written about in the book, and includes five previously unreleased songs.

I'll close this already-long review with a telling passage that speaks to the style and depth of Born to Run.
I learned many a rough lesson from my father. The rigidity and blue-collar narcissism of "manhood" 1950’s style. An inner yearning for isolation, for the world on your terms or not at all. A deep attraction to silence, secrets and secretiveness. The distorted idea that the beautiful things in your life, the love you struggled so hard to win, will turn and possess you, robbing you of your imagined hard-fought-for freedoms. The hard blues of constant disaffection. The rituals of the barroom. A misogyny grown from the fear of all the dangerous, beautiful, strong women in our lives, crossed with the carrying of an underlying physical threat, a psychological bullying that is meant to frighten and communicate that the dark thing inside you is barely contained. You use it to intimidate those you love. And of course . . . the disappearing act; you’re there but not there, not really present; inaccessibility, its pleasures and its discontents. All leading ultimately to the black seductive fantasy of a wreck of a life, the maddening boil lanced, the masks dropped and the long endless free fall into the chasm that at certain moments can smell so sweet from a distance. Of course, once you stop romanticizing it, more likely you're just another chaos-sowing schmuck on the block, sacrificing your treasured family's trust to your "issues." You're a dime a dozen in every burb across America. I can't lay it all at my pop's feet; plenty of it is my own weakness and inability at this late date to put it all away, my favorite harpies, the ones I count on to return to flit and nibble around the edges of my beautiful reward. Through hard work and Patti's great love I have overcome much of this, though not all of it. I have days when my boundaries wobble, my darkness and the blues seem to beckon and I seek to medicate myself in whatever way I can. But on my best days, I can freely enjoy the slow passing of time, the tenderness that is my life; I can feel the love I'm a part of surrounding me and flowing through me; I am near home and I am standing hand in hand with those I love, past and present, in the sun, on the outskirts of something that feels, almost . . . like being free.

Taking Over Riding Associations For Life

Dammit Janet - dim, 10/23/2016 - 07:29

Remember Liberals for Life?

Liberals for Life was a pro-life advocacy group that worked within the Liberal Party of Canada during the 1980s and early 1990s. Some of its members were also affiliated with the Campaign Life Coalition, and, as such, the group was often accused of entryism.

According to its members, Liberals for Life was created after the national victory of Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative Party in the 1984 federal election. The organization attracted little attention until the early 1990s, when it endorsed Tom Wappel in his bid for the party leadership, and gained control of several riding associations.

The Liberal Party's constitution was amended to allow the leader to appoint candidates in certain ridings in 1992. Jean Chrétien defended the change as necessary to prevent "single-issue groups" from taking over the Liberal Party. It was generally understood that Liberals for Life was the primary target of this remark.

The movement effectively dissolved in 1993 after the Liberal Party formed government.We do.

It's a favourite tactic of fetus fetishists. And it's happening again.

Here's the mission of a gang called
Right Now.
RightNow exists to nominate and elect pro-life politicians by mobilizing Canadians on the ground level to vote at local nomination meetings, and provide training to volunteers across the country to create effective campaign teams in every riding across Canada. It is only when we have a majority of pro-life politicians in our legislatures, that we’ll see pro-life legislation passed in our country.They admit that they're sick of losing. *snerk*

In addition to stacking nomination votes, they have a list of anti-choice laws they want passed.

All the usual anti-choice restrictions: outright criminalization, term limits, "unborn" victims of crime, defunding, parental consent, and a new one on me, a law requiring pre-abortion ultrasound. (Which might not work out the way they think. See More Ultrasounds = More Abortions.)

So, last night a 19-year-old in Niagara West-Glanbrook, named Sam Oosterhoff, stunned the Ontario Conservative Party by beating out party president and former MP Rick Dykstra to take the the nomination. (It's Tim Hudak's old stomping ground.)

The only supporter listed on his campaign page is
Dominionist MP and anti-choicer Arnold Viersen.

Sam spouts the usual blahblah about family, but we strongly suspect he is a fetus freak.

Here's Right Now's co-founder Alissa Golob crowing last night:

Niagara West-Glanbrook trending on Twitter.

— Alissa Golob (@alissagolob) October 23, 2016

... and Sam Oosterhoff....

— Alissa Golob (@alissagolob) October 22, 2016

And Right Now's account:

Congratulations @samoosterhoff for beating two heavy hitters @RickDykstra & Tony Quirk for the PC Nomination!

— Right Now (@RightNowHQ) October 23, 2016

And Campaign Life:

Congratulations to @samoosterhoff for winning the @OntarioPCParty nomination for #NWG #youngblood

— CampgnLifeCoalition (@CampaignLife) October 23, 2016

Would someone in the media please ask him about his Dominionist ties and his position on abortion, sex education?

Free Trade Is Never Free

Politics and its Discontents - dim, 10/23/2016 - 06:28
While it is beginning to look like International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland's departure from CETA negotiations was more of a ploy than the end of talks, the hiatus at least gives Canadians the opportunity to once more reflect on its dangers, the same dangers that afflict other so-called free trade deals.

The fact is, free trade is never free. The surrender of sovereignty rights, about which I have written previously, is probably the most insidious aspect of such deals, given that corporations are granted the right to sue if national or subnational governments pass legislation that affects a corporation's right to make money. That includes legislation to protect the environment or mitigate climate change.

An analysis of the Trans Pacific Partnership yields this chilling truth:
"The Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism included in the TPP investment chapter grants foreign investors access to a secret tribunal if they believe actions taken by a government will affect their future profits. This provision is a ticking time-bomb for climate policy, because many government policies needed to address global warming are subject to suits brought before international investment tribunals. ...Other TPP chapters like the one covering trade in goods can be the basis for state-to-state suits challenging climate policies."Here in Ontario, citizens were recently reminded of the consequences of corporate displeasure via the NAFTA investor dispute settlement provisions. Opting for some sober second thoughts, the province decided to put a moratorium on offshore wind turbine development, a pause that did not sit well with Windstream Energy LLC, the American company that had signed a $5.2 billion with Ontario. A fine of $25 million has been imposed after Windstream invoked its investor rights that were granted under under NAFTA, but the fine is a mere precursor to future action.
At the end of September, a panel convened by the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration awarded $25.2-million in damages and almost $3-million in legal costs to Windstream, saying the province broke rules under the North American free-trade agreement when it put a moratorium on offshore wind developments in February, 2011, effectively scuttling the Windstream project.The deal is still considered to be in force, and Windstream has every intention of making sure it comes to fruition:
“We have a contract here, and contracts don’t go away,” [Windstream director David] Mars said, even though the moratorium on offshore wind is still in effect.In other words, taxpayers will have to brace themselves for further, much deeper compensation to the company in the future, unless Ontario gives in to the extortion NAFTA has made possible.

And despite free-trade cheerleader Freeland's ceaseless chatter about making the investor dispute settlement process more transparent, the unalterable fact is that the rights of corporations to sue governments remains solidly intact.

I'll leave the final word to Noam Chomsky who, in this brief video, reminds us of of some inconvenient truths we would do well to never, ever forget:

Recommend this Post

The Dangerous Demonization of Justin Trudeau

Montreal Simon - dim, 10/23/2016 - 05:33

It's a strange thing about Justin Trudeau. He may be the most popular Prime Minister in recent Canadian history, and a nice guy.

But nobody is hated and demonized by some Canadians as much as he is, and now that hatred is out of control.

For what else can explain that some crazy from the Green Party should throw pumpkin seeds at Trudeau.
Read more »

Donald Trump, the Anti-Lincoln, and the Nightmarish Election

Montreal Simon - dim, 10/23/2016 - 05:25

There are now only sixteen days to go before the U.S. election, but they promise to be   some of the scariest days of our lives. 

For Donald Trump and his Trumplings are still a nightmare in progress.

And there was Trump yesterday, on what he called the "hollowed ground" of Gettysburg.

Where the great Abraham Lincoln so famously tried to heal the wounds of a nation.

Delivering the anti-Gettysburg address.
Read more »

It's Over

Northern Reflections - dim, 10/23/2016 - 04:11

Andrew Nikiforuk has been writing for sometime that bitumen's heyday is over. There are four reasons that account for the decline and fall of black goo:

1. There is no way to clean up bitumen spills.

Basic science shows that neither industry nor government has developed an effective spill response for conventional oil on the high seas. As a consequence, marine oil spill response remains a public relations sham that does not remove spilled oil or fully restore damaged marine ecosystems.

Because the low-grade heavy oil must be diluted with a gasoline-like product to move through a pipeline, it presents an even graver logistical challenge than a conventional spill. 

2. The economic case for pipelines has totally collapsed.

Bitumen will always require higher transportation costs and more upgrading and processing due to its appalling quality. As a consequence, it has always sold at a price differential of around $6 to $7 dollars to conventional oil.

This historic differential widened when the Alberta government rubber-stamped so many projects that industry flooded the North American market with bitumen between 2000 and 2008. The differential dropped again to historic norms as more and more refineries in the U.S. retrofitted to process heavy oil.

 Art Berman, a reliable Houston-based oil analyst, calculates that industry is pumping about half a million barrels a day more than what the world can burn or afford. Most of this overproduction has come from Canada, the U.S. or Iraq.

At the same time, demand is not really growing due to profound global economic stagnation — a lasting legacy of incredibly high oil prices from 2010 to 2014.

But overproduction has now depressed prices to the point that many bitumen miners and American frackers continue to pump oil solely to generate enough cash to service their increasing debt loads or keep their creditors at bay. The world economy, as Berman notes, has become a volatile casino.

“The oil industry is damaged and higher prices won’t fix it because the economy cannot bear them,” Berman adds. “It is unlikely that sustained prices will reach $70 in the next few years and possibly, ever.

3. Bitumen cannibalizes the economy.

Nearly 100 years ago, it cost but one barrel of conventional crude to find and pump another 100 barrels. Today those energy returns now average about one to 20. In the U.S., they’ve fallen to one to 10 and in the oil sands they have collapsed to one to three, or in some cases close to zero. In simple terms, bitumen doesn’t bring home the bacon.

Unfortunately, mined bitumen and fracked oil aren’t easy, cheap or carbon neutral. Companies extracting fracked oil from Texas and North Dakota typically spend four times more than what they make. Bitumen miners aren’t much better. They burn more energy and capital, and all to deliver fewer returns and surpluses to society. It’s like cycling backwards.

4. Climate disruption and carbon anarchy aren’t a distant threat... they’re here now.

 Every day the science spells out some new horror: thinner Arctic ice; acidic oceans; record hot spells; flooded cities; drought-stricken crops. And every day, the economic costs grow dearer. The Fort McMurray wildfire cost $3.5 billion and was determinedly fuelled by petroleum production. The mega-flood that submerged Louisiana cost more than $8 billion and was also primed by oil extraction.
The emissions math on climate change in Canada is now pretty simple. Environment Canada states it boldly: “Emissions of GHGs from the oil and gas sector have increased 79 per cent from 107 megatonnes (Mt) in 1990 to 192 Mt CO2 in 2014. This increase is mostly attributable to the increased production of crude oil and the expansion of the oil sands industry.”
Canada can’t meet any reasonable target to decrease its climate-disrupting emissions by digging up more bitumen.
The writing is on the wall. The Bitumen Boom is over.

Image: Youtube

Wham! Bam!

Dammit Janet - sam, 10/22/2016 - 12:25
Oh boy, we've really got to work harder to raise awareness of what fake clinics are and do.

In August this year, a group of generous community-minded guys in Yarmouth, NS, got together to bestow money on a local charity.

Sadly, the winner of the windfall $11,600 was a fake clinic, called Tri-County Pregnancy Care Centre.

Here's how it works:
The 100 Guys Who Share – Yarmouth County, is one of more than 350 similar groups located worldwide that focus on coordinating funding for local, community charitable organizations. The group gathers for one-hour quarterly meetings to hear three short presentations on local charitable organizations. Members vote then each person writes their check for $100 directly to the winning non-profit chosen for a collective, impactful donation.

The three charities that presented at the first meeting were Parents Place, South End Community Youth Garden, and the Tri-County Pregnancy Centre.

The men’s group has grown to 116 members at last count. They have scheduled their quarterly event so that combined with the women’s initiative there will be good news in the community every six weeks throughout the entire year.Members of the group can nominate any local charity. Three are chosen at random to make presentations.

From the website of the Halifax group, 100 Men Who Give a Damn.

"Bam!" indeed.

There might be drinking involved. More from the Halifax chapter.

under 60 minutes
Start the quarterly meeting with some heroic conversation, maybe visit the cash bar and be out the door in under 60 minutes. 

We’re all about giving smarter, not harder.

we don’t exist
We are a non-organization – no bank account, no fixed address, no opinion. Everything goes to the charity. 100%. Always. 

Otherwise, what are we doing this for?So, it's fast -- and manly.

Too bad there's no vetting to ensure that their hard-earned dough is going to a real community asset and not an operation whose sole mission is to shame, guilt-trip, lie, and manipulate vulnerable people out of asserting their human right to autonomy and privacy.

It's hard to believe that in pro-choice Canada all 116 guys are anti-choice. More likely, the majority simply did not know what fake clinics are and do.

I'm going to write to the Yarmouth group and ask them if they understand where their money is going.

I'll report.

h/t Kathy Dawson

The Death March of Donald J Trump

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 10/22/2016 - 11:46

It has been one of the few graces common to American politics that presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican, have been graceful in defeat. John Kerry, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Al Gore are all deservedly known for their concession speeches.

Then there's Donald Trump.

The communications director for Jeb Bush, Tim Miller, writes that the signs that the Trump camp is ending the campaign in Death March mode are everywhere.

Donald Trump is going to lose this election. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is going to lose this election. Even if they would never admit it, they know Donald Trump will never be president. Trump and Conway are on the political death march. (This, to be clear for the Trump fans, is a political metaphor, not an actual death wish.)

This is the part of a losing campaign that exposes the true character of all those involved. So it should come as no shock that Donald Trump and his staff are failing this test in the most shameful and divisive manner imaginable.

...The death march is why Conway has begun to resurrect a time-honored practice: duplicitous political operatives throwing their boss under the bus to try to save face. In an attempt to preserve a lucrative fee on the public speaking circuit after the campaign, Conway has sent a series of tweets over the past week trying to position herself as both in on the joke with Saturday Night Live and the conscience on Trump’s shoulder trying to get him to behave. As a fellow anti-Trump conservative pointed out, Conway is officially playing the role of “punch clock villain.”

To a casual observer, this behavior might seem counterproductive to the goal Trump and Conway share: winning the election. But the reality is the only goal either has in mind now is self-preservation.

Miller has no doubt that Trump won't be a graceful loser. He breaks down Trump's Death March into three sections labelled, Shameful, Despicable, and Pathetic.

In today's Sidney Morning Herald, Nick O'Malley explores the ashes and embers of the final days of Donald Trump, would-be president of the USA.

Speaking with Fairfax Media [former Romney advisor, Avik] Roy notes that Trump is not in any real sense a Republican. He conducted a hostile takeover of the party by identifying and catering to an under-served section of the GOP vote – resentful older whites. It was marketing genius.

As an outsider he had no Republican staff to help build his campaign, and instead hired a crew of mercenaries. They have little loyalty to Trump, and none to the party. So as the death march begins they have little capacity or inclination to curb Trump's excesses, to force him to observe the basic traditions of American presidential politics, such as the gracious acceptance of defeat rather than the dangerous indulgence of claiming a rigged election while exciting racial animosities.

...As the death march goes on the Republican establishment has already started letting blood.

A sign of it was a spat on the MSNBC program Morning Joe on Thursday morning. The guest was Bill Kristol, the leading neoconservative editor of The Weekly Standard, the host was the former Republican Congressman, Joe Scarborough.

Kristol, one of the earliest and staunchest of the Republican's "Never Trump" faction, asserted that Trump was a "fluke candidate" who should be ignored come election night.

Scarborough and his co-host Mika Brzezinski scoffed at the suggestion that Trump was a fluke and declared the Republican Party needed to "come clean" about his candidacy. Kristol, angry, accused Scarborough and Brzezinski of going soft on Trump and giving him free uncritical and very high-rating airtime during the primaries, in effect helping him win. The segment deteriorated into an angry, ugly slanging match, each blaming the other for the rise of Donald Trump.

Back in North Carolina, the young Republicans were divided on who to blame for a candidacy one group's office-holder called "a joke". Some pointed the finger at Paul Ryan, the House Speaker who the establishment hopes will lead them out of the wilderness, some at Ted Cruz, the Tea Party-er who railed for years against the party hierarchy. None had any real idea at what would come next.

...The most optimistic Republicans view the death march as a necessary ordeal.

When other Republicans were calling for Trump to somehow be forced from the Republican ticket earlier this month, the Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist George Will wrote that he must remain in place.

He argued the nation needed the pleasure of seeing Trump being made the thing he most disdains, "a loser," and that his presence would serve as a reminder to the party that "perhaps it is imprudent to nominate a venomous charlatan".

Trump was the GOP's chemotherapy, he said.

If so, Roy is not sure that the death march will be curative.

Still a staunch Republican, he believes that over a period of years his party has lost its way, turning from the tenets of classical liberalism towards a dark nationalism.

Weighed down by the angry old white men that dominate its constituency, he says, the party has no interest in governing a large diverse nation, and therefore has no moral right to.

According to Roy, the Republican Party must first tackle its moral problem before it does its political one.

Greenwald and Snowden Versus Assange

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 10/22/2016 - 11:14

There's not a lot of love going around for WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, these days. It seems his friends list is down to perhaps just Donald Trump.

Even his hosts, the government of Ecuador that has granted Assange refuge in their London embassy, may have had about enough of him. That was clear when they recently cut off their guest's access to the internet to keep him from continuing to dump emails and other documents, supposedly hacked by the Russians, said to be embarrassing - or worse - to Hillary Clinton. Ecuador said it didn't want Assange dragging them into American electoral politics.

Assange might be worried about slipping into obscurity, irrelevance. Since he's gone in hiding he's been somewhat eclipsed by Edward Snowden and journalist, Glenn Greenwald.

Greenwald doesn't think much of Assange's antics.

"You'd have to be a sociopath to think that we ought to just take all of this material and dump it all on the internet without regard to the impact that it will have for innocent people."
For his part, Snowden weighed in on the running battle between Greenwald and Assange with a tweet that noted, in part: "Opportunism won't earn you a pardon from Clinton and curation is not censorship."
I feel almost sympathetic to Assange but he has brought this on himself.


Subscribe to agrégateur - Posts from our progressive community