Posts from our progressive community

Is It Time to Rename the Cons the Canadian Convict Party?

Montreal Simon - mar, 06/30/2015 - 02:15

As you probably know, I've written hundreds if not thousands of posts about the nefarious activities of Boss Harper and his Con mob.

And for more information please consult the latest version of Alison's Perps with Perks. 

Because you can't find a better group mugshot anywhere.

But sometimes a simple cartoon can sum up the situation better than a thousand words.

And this is one of them...
Read more »

The Confederate Flag, the Redneck Parade, and the Warrior Queen

Montreal Simon - lun, 06/29/2015 - 23:59

I haven't written anything on this blog about the controversy over whether the confederate flag should be banned, like the one flying outside the South Carolina legislature, for two reasons:

One, the racism and the gun violence of America makes me sick to my stomach.

And two, I made my feelings pretty clear on Twitter.

Obama says the confederate flag belongs in a museum. But I prefer this option. #cdnpoli— Simon (@montrealsimon) June 20, 2015
But I thought I should share this video about a redneck parade in Georgia, because while it's horrifying and outrageous, the end is hilarious.
Read more »

Just When I Thought the Left Had Collapsed, This. A Must Read.

The Disaffected Lib - lun, 06/29/2015 - 22:53
Many thanks for this from Emily Dee.  Read it, take it all in, remember what we Canadians used to be, what we believed in, what once made us great.  There is still hope.

Robert Reich's Warning About the Trans Pacific Partnership

Politics and its Discontents - lun, 06/29/2015 - 18:27
Although directed to an American audience, these warnings are equally applicable to Canada:

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The Trans Pacific Partnership is a zombie that refuses to die no matter how many stakes are driven through its heart. Today the Senate voted 60 to 37 in favor of “fast track” negotiating authority, and final passage of fast track is expected tomorrow – laying the groundwork for an up-or-down vote on the TPP without amendment or full discussion. The big global corporations and Wall Street banks that initiated and have lobbied hard for this anti-worker deal smell victory. Don’t let them have it. Please call your senators and representative now, even if you’ve phoned before, and tell them: No to fast-track and no to the Trans Pacific Partnership. Congressional switchboard: 202-225-3121. Here, again, is what’s at stake:

Posted by Robert Reich on Tuesday, June 23, 2015Recommend this Post

On delay tactics

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 06/29/2015 - 16:04
Following up on this post, let's look in a bit more detail as to how the Cons might try to make excuses for a delay in this fall's expected federal election - and why they might be happy to use the more questionable means to do so.

As noted in the previous post, the fixed election date set in October was set by an act of Parliament, and could easily be changed through the same process given the Cons' well-whipped majorities in both chambers. So why then might Stephen Harper prefer to ignore or flout legislation rather than changing it?

Let's start by asking what factors might stand to work in the Cons' favour during a campaign whenever it arises.

From an issue standpoint, there doesn't seem to be much room for doubt that barring some miraculous, pork-based turnaround on the economy, the Cons' lone remaining perceived strong point is security. Their only extended stay atop public opinion polls in the last few years came about in the wake of security concerns last fall. And if they do decide to delay the election, I'd expect that plan to be based on either the hope that somebody will hand them a crisis to be seen responding to, or the expectation that they can manufacture a threat.

But given that the Cons' message (embodied in C-51 among other actions) that democratically-elected officials can't be trusted with security, I'm not sure they'd want to send the message that Parliament should make the call as to what trumped-up threat would explain a delayed election. Nor would they likely want to saddle their MPs with having to explain votes against the same election date they previously approved.

Instead, any decision to delay the election would fit best with the Cons' expected core message if it's made solely by Stephen Harper, coupled with the theme that Canadians should take his word for what's best for them.

Of course, there would surely be a backlash against a decision to delay an election that way. But I'm not sure the Cons would much object to that: in fact they'd likely point to easily-foreseen protests as evidence of instability to rationalize the delay after the fact, and also focus further public attention on the Cons' issue of choice.

Again, it will likely be some time before we see whether Harper decides to follow his own law. But it's not hard to see how a legally-dubious executive action to ignore it could fit into the Cons' wider strategy - and we should be prepared to make sure that course of action isn't rewarded.

On Hope and Fear in the run up to the Elections. . .

kirbycairo - lun, 06/29/2015 - 09:42
Despite wanting to turn off recent political events, an urge that is motivated by a depressed feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, I have kept a careful watch on things over the past few months, almost like a addict who willingly engages in dangerous activity. Like someone addicted to gambling, I think many of us on the left watch political events because we are continually nagged by the hope that things will get better, that the big win is just around the corner, that people are going to wake up to the shocking evil that has become our government and that in the not too distant future we will watch Harper, like Del Mastro, led away in chains the way he really should be. After all, it is not hyperbole to contend that a man who has so consistently and blatantly disregarded the law (and the Constitution is, after all, the highest law that we have) should pay the price for that disregard. And so, despite my instinct to avoid depression and frustration, I watch the news, read the papers, and scour the blogs.

And I admit that I have been plagued by a tantalizing hope. There is, unquestionably, a growing fatigue with Harper's toxicity, his secretive pathological manner, and his continual attacks on everything and everyone that dares question his supreme authority. Even the MSM, which has been so shockingly remiss for so long, seems to be getting weary of a leader that not only refuses to answer any unvetted questions, but who seems to spend all his waking hours attacking everyone even while he seems hopelessly incompetent on every file and his front bench looks like a whose who of lightweight, mealy mouthed, parrots. Even former allies of Harper in the media now openly admit the remarkable weakness of his cabinet and their seeming inability to take on even the simplest issues without sounding misinformed and comically partizan. In the past few months Harper has looked increasingly Nixonian in his isolation and strangely vitriolic pathology. And it is a condition that has not gone unnoticed by almost everyone except the saddest of the hopeless partizans. Under any normal conditions, these realizations would be leading to a overwhelming defeat at the polls, a genuine condemnation of everything into which Harper has transformed our government and our nation.

However, optimism in this regard is still in fairly short supply because commentators are increasingly warning of the danger in events to come as a result of Harper's perceived desperation at his growing unpopularity. Given that the Conservatives have become serial cheaters in elections, and that they very consciously weakened Elections Canada, there is a growing fear that election fraud on a much larger scale is coming, to say nothing of a new level of vitriolic attacks on opponents. The fact that people even in the MSM are anticipating this turn of events speaks volumes about how low our democracy has sunk. We have now gotten to the point at which even Conservative commentators take it as plausible and even likely that our next election might be mired in fraud and will most certainly be awash with intentional misrepresentations that will try to scare and cajole the voters into voting out of fear. This is, in itself, ominous and depressing.

There are, however, some green sprouts of hope here and there. Despite his foolish (perhaps even fatal) support of Bill C-51, Trudeau is offering up a number of progressive possibilities. Although I find it difficult to have much faith in these given the Liberal Party's rather dismal record of keeping certain progressive promises, I think that Trudeau's reforms are serious and could be far reaching. At the very least, if either the Liberals or the NDP win the next election (even with a minority) this will probably be the last Federal election in Canada with a First Past the Post structure. This is not only good news for democracy in general because any significant reforms will widen political discourse, but it de facto means that another Conservative majority is difficult to conceive of in this country. I think any serious electoral reform from full on PR to just weighted voting will mean more progressive government because in the three major nations that doggedly hold on to First Past the Post, the population in general is considerably more progressive than the government on many issues.

Thus I feel at once full of hope and uneasy about our immediate future. I put absolutely NOTHING past Harper and his minions in their desperate desire to stay in power. But if people are weary enough, and angry enough with the ten years of destruction that Harper has wrought, genuine malfeasance or a coup might be something that Canadians are now not willing tolerate. Even if I am rather pessimistic about people, history is so full of surprises that a coup or widespread fraud on the part of Harper might even be met with a genuine popular uprising.

I wait with bated breath.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 06/29/2015 - 09:18
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Emmanuel Saez examines the U.S.' latest income inequality numbers and finds that the gap between the wealthy few and everybody else is still growing. The Equality Trust finds that the UK's tax system is already conspicuously regressive even as the Cameron Cons plan to make it more so. And Tom Clark reviews Anthony Atkinson's Inequality, featuring the observation that even returning to the distribution of the 1970s will require major (if needed) changes to the economic assumptions we've meekly accepted since then.

- Andrew Mitrovica comments on the Cons' pandering to - and repetition of - anti-Muslim prejudice. And Rick Salutin notes that Canada's shameful treatment of aboriginal people arose out of exactly the same view that cultural difference should be treated as barbarism:
If you opt for zero tolerance, you may destroy something that could be useful now or later. The way to handle "barbaric" practices like forced marriage isn't with a cultural blunderbuss; it's by outlawing particular acts like kidnapping and child marriage, which are already illegal here without attacking any specific cultures.

The point isn't who has the better culture. It's that you never know what challenges you may face in the future and what cultural resources might prove useful and adaptable in facing them. If Scott and Macdonald had succeeded in killing the Indian in the child, through the schools program, we'd be without the resources which First Nations cultures afford us now -- and for whatever crises get thrown up by the always ornery future.

On the other hand, the precedents for declaring what's culturally barbaric and therefore dispensable, are pretty scary, as the exhaustive, heart-rending and indeed poetic work of the TRC on the residential schools program, sadly shows.- Meanwhile, Michelle Shephard reminds us that what little terrorist risk there is to Canadian safety comes primarily from the bigoted right rather than the people they're so eager to dehumanize.

- Amy Minsky reports on the hundreds of millions of dollars the Cons have spent detaining refugee claimants - as they'd prefer to spend a guaranteed $292 per day per immigrant to lock people up than allow anybody to participate in Canadian society.

- Finally, Jeremy Nuttall looks into a single photo op which offers a galling indication of how much public money is being wasted on the Cons' self-aggrandizement. And John Barber reports on Stephen Harper's latest monument to poor taste, while Bill Waiser slams their disregard for history and truth.

Seniors! Sweet Serfdom Awaits!

Left Over - lun, 06/29/2015 - 07:59
Seniors going bankrupt in soaring numbers More Canadians are outliving their savings and spending their golden years in debt

By Sophia Harris, CBC News Posted: Jun 29, 2015 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Jun 29, 2015 6:54 AM ET


This is a great article for those seniors lucky enough to have owned their own homes..wait until the seniors who rent are left homeless due to ever rising costs (including rent..)
If the powers that be were interested in anything besides their corporate donors, subsidized housing would be in the forefront..and nationalization of municipal and provincial as well as federally- owned property would be the way to go..if our governments built (invested in..) stable cost-effective housing for seniors things might be looking up a bit..we are the single largest group population-wise, and the biggest group of voters..think about it, politicians…

Consider the nightmare for our  medical services if soaring numbers of seniors were clogging up the system due to  homelessness, exposure, random violence from the  haves against the have-nots, and gasp! worst of all, having to move your senior  relatives in with you because they had no where to go..Consider the revisionist principle of  people once again having to work until they dropped – so many modern serfs in today’s corporate paradise,   the new reality flying in the face of the promises of  the First World for  a good, rewarding retirement… or instead, becoming  a drain, financially and emotionally, on  your  younger relatives…

That would be the definition of karma, right?  All those  young people who stayed long past their welcome birthday of 18, now in a position of having to  support and sustain aged parents with no alternatives..

Of course there are alternatives, if the powers that be choose to implement them…and I would suggest that if you  want my vote, some movement in the direction of sustaining seniors in their ‘golden years’  better be  prominent on  your  list of promises as  hopefuls for election..

Reprobate Redux

Politics and its Discontents - lun, 06/29/2015 - 06:49

For your Monday discernment, I offer this volley of wise observations about that unrepentant felon, Dean Del Mastro, from the usual suspects - Toronto Star readers:

Re: Ex-Tory MP Del Mastro sentenced to month in jail, June 26
Finally a crooked Conservative gets a jail sentence, proclaiming his innocence all the way. In fact, he has the nerve to say, “that’s her opinion,” when the judge declared him guilty of election fraud. Yes, Dean Del Mastro, that is her opinion, her legal opinion, that is.

When is Stephen Harper going to learn that blind loyalty to him isn’t half as important as being honest? I also wonder when all members of the press are going to stop slavishly following Harper around, hoping for some little crumb of a quote when most of us don’t care where he is or what he says.

In fact, since he seems to have a personal vendetta against the general public, why not just ignore him altogether and let his own spin doctors continue to spew the B.S. that he thinks we’re all going to believe.

I am really tired of the deterioration of my country’s standards and the chipping away of our democracy so that one person can wake up every day feeling in control. Mr. Harper, I can hardly wait until October when you face all of the voters whose jobs and rights you have so easily destroyed.

Of course then you will move on to all those oil and mining company boards whose stock holders you have so nicely taken care of. As long as you are not in Ottawa anymore.

Roseanne Quinn, Trenton

I find Dean Del Mastro’s behaviour in actively and most wilfully attempting to suborn the Canadian electoral process by committing electoral fraud and his failure to accept responsibility for his actions profoundly unsettling. Elections are a civic matter grounded in civic social trust and any breach in this trust is indeed most profoundly appalling.

Monte McMurchy, LL.D., Toronto

During his trial, and afterwards, Dean Del Mastro was not repentant and has shown no remorse for breaking the country’s election laws. His stupid, illegal behaviour has caused irrevocable damage to himself, his constituents, Parliament and the country.

That said, he should have been given a conditional sentence. The conditional sentence of imprisonment (or CSI) was introduced in Canada in 1996 as an alternate form of incarceration subject to specific criteria. It is not, as some assume, the same as probation.

In 2000, the Supreme Court clarified its use and differentiated it from probation. When the sentence is a term of imprisonment of less than two years, an offender deemed not to pose a danger to society is allowed to remain in the community, but with a more stringent set of conditions than offenders on parole. The offender must abide by a number of typically punitive conditions, such as house arrest and a strict curfew. If a condition is broken without a lawful excuse, the offender may well serve out the rest of the sentence in prison.

House arrest conditions can be designed to address the factors that led to the offence in the first place. Moreover, some conditional sentences force the offender to make reparations to the victim and the community while living under tight controls. Conditional sentences sustain Canada’s tradition of granting discretion and independence to the judiciary.

Canada’s growing prison population, mounting evidence that jail time does not reduce the chances of re-offending and other factors gave way to an increasing use of conditional sentences.

The illegal, stupid and irresponsible behaviour that Del Mastro indulged in that led to the charges can only be described as “tragic and senseless.” But the question must be asked: what would jail time accomplish that a conditional sentence could not accomplish?

In 2008-09, according to Statistics Canada, the number of offenders serving conditional sentences was 13,500 — a not insignificant number.

Denunciation and imprisonment satisfy society’s desire to punish offenders and reinforce shared values by deterring crime. However, there is little evidence to support the general deterrence argument — that is, that the more severe the punishment, the greater the deterrent effect. Research simply does not support that proposition.

Emile Therien, Ottawa

The Conservative law and order plan finally kicks in.

Bob Larocque, Carrying PlaceRecommend this Post

Better Than The News

Northern Reflections - lun, 06/29/2015 - 05:14

HarperPAC had a lifespan of one week. Given Mr. Harper's use of American political consultants and tactics, it's passing strange that an idea which has so much currency south of the border should die so quickly in the Great White North. If you wonder why the political action committee did not make it into the prime minister's arsenal, Michael Harris writes, remember that Mr. Harper seeks control -- of everything:

In less than a week, three of Harper’s old buddies, one of whom shared a past with him at the National Citizens’ Coalition, pulled the plug on HarperPAC. Not only that, but they promised to return all the money they had collected. (I would like to see the list of donors.)

Why did they do that?

In a word, they were poaching the Harper brand and Himself was not pleased. It was like stealing the formula for Coca-Cola. In fact, Harper was reportedly so displeased that the party and the prime minister were plotting a legal battle to force the shutdown before the group voluntarily disbanded.
It's all rather bizarre. When he was head of the National Citizens Coalition, Stephen Harper went all the way to the Supreme Court to argue for third party advertising. But that was then. This is now. And now:

It is all about controlling the message. As his political woes deepen, Harper has a habit of moving away from substantive discourse and doubling down on the emotional and irrational. He is a master channel changer and his success begins where debate ends.

The last thing Harper and his apparatchiks want is a reasoned discussion about the Iraq Mission against ISIS. Literally everything being done in Iraq and Syria has been done before — there and elsewhere — and failed; sending in the trainers, boots on the ground, partnering with Iran, arming the Kurds, and hoping for a political alliance between Shia and Sunni factions forged by the government in Baghdad.
Here is a number to keep in mind. At the peak of the second Iraq War, the U.S. had 505 bases manned by 166,000 troops in country. A total of $25 billion U.S. was spent training and equipping of the Iraqis with virtually nothing to show for it. 
Mr. Harper is doing  everything he can to make sure the facts don't get out -- whether on Iraq or climate change.  He proclaims -- in the words of Kory Teneyche -- that, "We're better than the news. We're truthful."

How Stephen Harper Changed the Face of Canada

Montreal Simon - lun, 06/29/2015 - 04:34

It still looks like the Canada I first saw on a glorious fall day long ago, through the window of a plane coming into land at Montreal airport.

As I bounced up and down in my seat with excitement, and looked down to see if I could spot any bears on Mount Royal.

A country so big and so beautiful, it took my breath away.

But sadly it isn't the same country. For as Carol Goar points out, Stephen Harper has altered it almost beyond recognition. 
Read more »

Stephen Harper, the Terrorists, and the Canadian Demockery

Montreal Simon - lun, 06/29/2015 - 01:21

Well it's been three days since Stephen Harper and his Cons teamed up with the beasts from ISIS to make that ghastly attack ad.

And even though it starts with the sinister ISIS national anthem, and goes downhill from there, they still haven't been arrested for promoting terrorist propaganda. 

The Anti-terrorism Act makes it an indictable offence to knowingly advocate or promote terrorism in general, and allows a judge to issue a warrant to seize terrorist propaganda. Under the law, “terrorist propaganda” means any writing, video or audio that promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general or counsels the commission of an offence.

Even though Harper is a repeat offender.
Read more »

Canadian Bonehead Response to Charleston Church Murders

Anti-Racist Canada - dim, 06/28/2015 - 12:20
When the "National Post" published the article focusing on Paulie's involvement with the Council of Conservative Citizens (CoCC), the hate group that inspired the murder of 9 men and women at Mother Emanel, his friend and fellow CoCC supporter Jared Taylor noted that the story wasn't so bad:

This led to one of the more "out there" exchanges on Facebook that we've experienced in a while:

While it is pretty funny to witness just how disconnected with reality that boneheads can be, the murders in Charleston really did bring out the worst in a lot of those who we cover here on the blog.

Read more »

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - dim, 06/28/2015 - 10:21
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Carol Goar discusses the contrasting messages being sent to Canada's middle class in the lead up to Canada's federal election campaign - and notes that the real decision for voters to make is whether they're happy with marginally higher nominal incomes at the expense of greater inequality and more precarious lives. Mark Goldring makes the case for an economy oriented toward what's best for people rather than short-term profits:
Tackling inequality requires that people, not profit constitute the bottom line. We need everyone who is in a position of influence - business leaders, financiers, politicians, civil servants - to put the interests of ordinary citizens back at the heart of every decision he or she makes. To borrow from Steve Hilton, David Cameron's former adviser, we need an economy that is "more human".

After all, what's the point of building a prosperous economy but to ensure a prosperous future for all who live in it? The American political philosopher John Rawls suggests that we encourage those most able to generate wealth so that it can be used to help those who are less fortunate. Call it wealth for a greater purpose. Oxfam wholeheartedly agrees.

We are looking to our leaders - here in the UK and around the world, public and private sector, to find ways to break down structures that perpetuate poverty and keep individuals from realising their full potential in life. That means fair wages to ensure people can live dignified lives and find pride in their work, and investment in essential public services that poor people in particular, depend on. It means more progressive tax systems and cracking down on big companies and billionaires who avoid paying their fair share of tax - here and in poor countries - through complex accounting tricks. It's about properly regulated financial markets that behave with integrity to spur innovation, commerce and enterprise, rather than simply multiply individual bonus pots.

Reducing inequality may seem an impossible task but the rewards are potentially huge - in tackling poverty, improving social cohesion and human well-being. - Kelly Foley and David Green write (PDF) that for all the benefits we can expect from improved education, we shouldn't pretend that it serves as a magic bullet against inequality. And Andrew Jackson points out that the same strength in organized labour needed to fight inequality is itself a key to educational achievement.

- Peter Poschen argues we can create good jobs and fight climate change at the same time. And Paul Solotaroff reports on widespread child health problems in one Utah fracking town as a microcosm of the choices we face in weighing oil money against our health. 

- Finally, Les Whittington writes about the Cons' efforts to escape accountability for their actions from the media which is supposed to report in the public interest. And Michael Harris wonders what will happen to the Harper Cons if Canadians stop buying the fear they're so focused on peddling.

If Today's Youth Care About Their Future, They Would Do Well to Keep Their Distance From Us.

The Disaffected Lib - dim, 06/28/2015 - 08:33
We're used to drought out here.  Every summer the Rain Festival takes a break for two to three months and the place dries out.  It's great for the tourist operators as visitors flock to the place to enjoy the vast beaches and ocean breezes, warm and sunny days and delightfully cool and comfortable evenings.

Not this year.

The drought arrived, months earlier than usual, and its brought what, for us, is a grinding heatwave that shows no sign of breaking anytime soon.  That's very worrisome indeed.  We didn't really have a winter this year so next to no snowpack on the local mountains.  That translates into a disastrous salmon spawning season and increased likelihood of major forest fires this summer.  It's not the same drought and heatwave conditions that are hammering the prairies but, hey, this is supposed to be the rainforest.

This brings to mind a couple of items I've recently read about the need for Canada's youth to embrace our political process, to make their voices heard, and lay claim to their fair share of political influence.  To me, that sounds like calling for our young people to capitulate, throw in with us and sit quietly in the corner while we mete out what will remain of their future.

The pre-Millennial generations have done a masterful job on today's young.  Our parents bequeathed us a much better world than they had known.  We never had to endure the turmoil they endured during the first half of the 20th century.  No, we got the second half, the really good half.  We got the half our parents built and forged and handed us on a silver platter.  We got the half of ease and comfort that eclipsed anything in the entire history of mankind.

Compare what we got to what we are bequeathing to these poor buggers over the balance of this century.  For we not only took everything we got from our parents and grandparents but we helped ourselves to everything we could steal from the future.

Bill Moyers did a series on posterity that is gathering dust in some tape vault somewhere.  I do so wish that could be aired again.  It traced the role of posterity in building the great society through the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and the abrupt extinction of posterity in the postwar era.  Leaders, believe it or not, used to plan for the future, a better future for the generations to follow them.  What a fucking crazy idea, eh?

When was the last time anybody did that?  When was the last time some pol declared this is what we'll need to go into a better future?  I suppose you could argue the last time was Trudeau introducing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the instrument intended to secure liberal democracy for Canada.  He just squeaked that in with almost no time left.

Look at Harper today.  He and his absolutely despise that Charter because - well because it's doing its job, it's reining them in, limiting their powers against the individual.  Take a second, think about this.  Bad as Harper unquestionably is, what would the damage he's caused the country be like if he wasn't repeatedly rebuffed by the Charter? Absent the Charter, how much further would he have been encouraged to go? How much more of his darkness would have bubbled to the surface? The Harper so many of us loathe is the moderate one, the Harper who has been wrestled to the ground by the Charter and our Supreme Court. Keep that in your mind.

Do you think Harper gives a good goddamn about posterity, about future generations?  He dreamt of Canada becoming an energy superpower and it remains his abiding obsession.  He envisioned Canada as an American "Mini-Me."  No more peacekeeping for us, we bomb shit now.  Yeah, that's what we do - muscular (in a ripped, oiled up and bronzed, bikini-brief sort of way).  We're no longer in the business of making friends. Got all the friends we need, that book is closed. There are, however, still plenty of vacancies for new enemies.  Bring'em on.

To today's young people, we're the gift that just keeps on giving.  Long after we're gone we'll be giving them more and more cause to hate us.  Here's just one example. Today we're already getting the brunt of early onset climate change - more hot, more cold; more dry, more wet, that sort of thing. Sea level rise is accelerating, our oceans are steadily acidifying.  Our once pristine waterways are becoming polluted and clogged with blue-green algae.

The thing is, we've got all this and we're only just at 0.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.  You won't see it when you look up into that big blue sky today but up there is a carbon bomb waiting for today's young people.  The atmospheric CO2 already up there has locked in for them 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels.  Even if we all threw our car keys in the sewer today that's already up there just waiting to wreak havoc on our kids.

Okay, maybe we really didn't know better in time to prevent that 1.5C result. Maybe we didn't know but we damn well know now. We know our grandkids are going to take it in the neck.  So what are we doing about it? Well, we're going to raise carbon taxes.  Isn't that nice? What a thoughtful gesture, an open hand extended to the future.

Carbon taxes are great, don't get me wrong. They encourage consumers to cut down on their use of fossil fuels which is obviously a good thing.  Carbon taxes might have been an answer back in the 60s.  Just not today.  Every tonne of CO2 we release into the atmosphere today is going right atop that pile that now stands at 1.5C.    Every tonne we add to the 1.5C is going to make our grandkids' lives just that little bit more hellish.

Carbon taxes are sort of like taking a knife to a gunfight.  We need to commit to decarbonizing our society, our economy and we should be doing that, not for us but for the grandkids.  Here's the thing. We need to do it now because there's a lead time to this of at least twenty years, probably more like thirty and that's time we may not even have any longer.  We're already at 1.5C (deferred) so we have to get this happening, now.  This carbon tax initiative may actually doom us to failure because it makes us think we're dealing with this existential problem when we're really just kicking it down a very short, dead end road.

Carbon taxes are the ideal solution for people who believe they won't be around to experience that 1.5C world anyway.  It's a dandy solution for us, just not so good for the kids. It's really like asking the band on the Titanic to play something livelier, more jovial.  Carbon taxes, without more, are just a dangerous smokescreen.  They're all today's young people need to know to grasp that we're still just having them on and that's not about to stop especially not if they toss in with us.

It's delusional to believe that the "political process" offers solutions to the problems that confront our youth.  It's the source of their problems and it takes people like us, the generation of comfort and ease, to conjure up bullshit that rank.

If they're to have a hope they need to circumvent and overcome our atrophied, unresponsive and oh so neoliberal political process.  Fortunately - for us - we've got them right where we want them - disaffected, distracted, uncoordinated and, frankly, very weakened, at least for now.  I think it's quite possible that the day may come when that changes, when young people come together, unite and get political.  But if and when that day comes I don't think they'll be uniting to participate in our political process.  No, they'll have something quite different in mind - collecting their due.

In keeping with this theme, I'd like not to share a photo a friend sent along taken at the recent Pride parade in Dublin.

Revisiting Honduran resistance

Trapped In a Whirlpool - dim, 06/28/2015 - 08:09
It's been some time since I've written on the situation in Honduras and Canada's complicity in the events there
Read more »

some thoughts on the u.s. moving a bit closer to equality (#lovewins)

we move to canada - dim, 06/28/2015 - 08:00
At last, it has happened. With Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex marriage has been declared legal and constitutional in the United States. Same-sex couples can legally marry, just as opposite-sex couples have always had the right to do. Most importantly, laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are now unconstitutional.*

For some years on this blog, I used to note every country that joined the equal marriage club, but about two years ago, I stopped counting. More than 20 countries now recognize same-sex marriage as a right, and that number continues to climb.

This issue has always been, is, and always should be a complete no-brainer. Equality is equality. Rights are rights. We can't have rights for some and not others. That couldn't be more obvious. The debate in the US, especially the displays of extreme homophobia and bigotry from the other side, has helped the vast middle of the road to adjust to the idea.

That's why yesterday's SCOTUS decision, although incredibly wonderful, is tinged with a sad after-taste. I fully expected this ruling, but I imagined something more like 7-2 or 6-3. The 5-4 majority, and the small-minded bigotry embedded in the dissenting opinions, are disturbing evidence of the deep and frightening divisions that exist at every level of US society.

Right now it's Pride, and we're all celebrating, and we're not fretting over this close call. That's as it should be. But reading quotes from Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion makes my flesh crawl. This is a Supreme Court Justice, one of the most powerful positions in a country that claims to be a modern democracy. Say no more.

Shortly after the Harper Government was elected, the new Prime Minister brought a motion before Parliament to re-open the issue of same-sex marriage. Equal marriage had been the law in Ontario since 2003, then became legal in eight provinces and one territory, and finally was enshrined nationally on July 20, 2005. But Harper had promised his socially conservative backers this one re-visit. This would be a "free vote," where all Members of Parliament could vote according to their individual consciences, rather than voting as a party, the way the Parliamentary system normally works. The motion to re-open the issue was defeated 175 to 123.

Allan and I had moved to Canada only a few months before this, and were still getting up to speed on how the system works. We expressed surprise and dismay at the closeness of the vote... and learned that the previous votes, the second and third readings of the Civil Marriage Act, were carried by 164-137 and 158-133, respectively. That 175-123, the last stand of the backwards thinkers, was actually an improvement.

This is so hard to get my mind around. More than 100 elected representatives to the Canadian House of Commons believed it should be legal to deny a same-sex couple the same rights afforded an opposite-sex couple. I think this is what the over-used word mind-boggling refers to.

Mind you, I could care less about legal marriage personally. To me it's an antiquated and meaningless institution. Not love. Love is The Most Important Force in the World. Not commitment, and partnership, and dedication, and chosen family. But legal marriage. That choice has been my privilege as a woman partnered with a man. If I was partnered with a woman, the choice would have been made for me. I would be a second-class citizen, with fewer options, protections, rights, and privileges than if I had a male partner. So duh. No-brainer.

Yet four out of nine Justices on the Supreme Court of the United States disagree.

Thank you to Justices Kennedy, Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, and Breyer. Thank you to every lower-court judge, every lawyer, every state legislator and mayor, who made this possible.

Thank you especially to every same-sex couple who didn't take no for an answer.

* * * * *

Vanity Fair: The Bitchiest Quotes from Scalia’s Gay Marriage Dissent

ThinkProgress: 19 Hysterical Passages From Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Dissenters

Gawker: The Craziest Lines in Every Dissenting Gay Marriage Opinion

* Many states continue to enforce anti-abortion laws that have been ruled unconstitutional, so there are still battles ahead.

On inevitable abuses

accidentaldeliberations - dim, 06/28/2015 - 07:47
Justice James Stribopoulos sees the G20 human rights abuses as highlighting the problems with handing over poorly-defined powers to law enforcement:
In an essay published in a new book on policing during the summit, Justice James Stribopoulos blames the abuses that took place on an absence of specific legislation to “confine, structure and check police discretion” during large events, which he says is “long overdue.”“Unfortunately, without that, the legal framework that helped facilitate the civil liberties abuses that marked the G20 Summit in Toronto will persist,” he writes in Putting the State on Trial. “And that, I fear, will make a repeat appearance somewhat inevitable.”And surely the need for checks and balances is even more obvious when it comes to secret police. So let's see how the terror bill passed by the Cons and the Libs does on that front (emphasis added):Bill C-51 erodes the distinction between CSIS’s traditional intelligence gathering role by giving it broad new powers to engage in law enforcement–type activities. Under Bill C-51, CSIS would be able to take “measures” to reduce threats to the security of Canada. For example, s. 12.1(1) of the proposed act states,
If there are reasonable grounds to believe that a particular activity constitutes a threat to the security of Canada, the Service may take measures, within or outside Canada, to reduce the threat. The power under s. 12.1 is broadly defined, giving CSIS virtually unfettered authority to conduct any operation it thinks is in the interest of Canadian security. The definitions are so broad that they could apply to almost anything...Of course, it may take far more time for any "measures" to become known given that they can be carried out in secret. But we can safely say that C-51 is based on exactly the same philosophy of unfettered authoritarianism that led to the G20 abuses - and it's entirely foreseeable that we'll see the same results.

The Incredibly Dangerous Delusions of the Corrupt Con Regime

Montreal Simon - dim, 06/28/2015 - 07:06

I must admit that when I first read that Kory Teneycke was defending the Con's latest disgusting attack ad, by claiming: "We’re better than news, because we’re truthful." 

After a moment of shock and disbelief, I practically fell out of my chair laughing.

Even though as I later pointed out, him and his Cons should be arrested, for spreading terrorist propaganda.

But then, just a few hours after I wrote that post, I had a terrifying thought. 

What if Teneycke and the other little monsters in the PMO really believe what they're saying?

What if it isn't naked hypocrisy? It's terrifying self DELUSION !!!!
Read more »

Like A Festering Pustule That Refuses To Heal

Politics and its Discontents - dim, 06/28/2015 - 06:15
Perennial posterior pain K(T)ory Teneycke just won't go away. Currently a Conservative Party campaign spokesman, he once again appears to be out of his depth.

In the following video, which gets really interesting at the four-minute mark, a principled Tom Clark pursues the irritating gnat over his party's use of terrorist imagery in its latest political ad, an apparent contravention of his leader's Bill C-51 anti-terror legislation. You will see that Teneycke is no match for the tenacious Clark.

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