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Tuesday Evening Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 15:29
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Star argues that Canada can't afford to leave tax loopholes wide open for the rich - as the Libs are doing in violation of their campaign promises. And Martin Lukacs notes that obscene giveaways to the rich seem to be the top priority for Justin Trudeau and company:
The politicians prattle about the private sector covering the risk of projects: the enabling lie that cannot for its life find evidence. Time and again, the costs of these public-private partnerships have instead been borne by the public. In Ontario over the last decade alone, their cost-overruns burdened citizens with an extra $8bn and racked up $30bn in public liabilities—the equivalent of $6000 per household. But perhaps Canadians are just too stupid to understand their merits. Stupid enough that 75 percent of them surveyed now oppose such privatization schemes. So stupid, indeed, that in many cases they have clamoured successfully for these services to be returned to public control.
 Trudeau’s plan for a privatization bank would expand these local disasters to a national scale. Corporate and pension-fund backers have already announced they expect returns of 7 to 9 percent on their investments. How do you think that will happen? The only way that skimping ever does: higher bills, user fees, and hidden government subsidies. Diminishment in quality of service. Cuts in jobs and pay. No wonder some of Trudeau’s corporate advisors are offering their helpful advice free of charge: it’s regular people who will end up carrying the cost.

These costs are not an oversight of privatization but their objective: the inevitable result of opening up the public sphere to private profit-making. For more than thirty years in Canada, such measures have been a tool of an elite agenda promoted by successive Liberal and Tory governments: the transfer of wealth from the poorer to the wealthy, from the public trust to the private clutch. Is it any wonder why most people’s incomes and standard of living have stagnated, while those of millionaires has skyrocketed?
Because privatization serves the elite, it always spawns contempt for democracy. Take this revelatory example from a decade ago: a slide-show used by a Canadian legal firm as they promoted privatization projects in British Columbia. One slide describing the obstacles to privatization is entitled “Inherent diseases.” The obstacles? “Stakeholders,” “transparency,” and “public justification.” For corporations chasing endless profits, the basic value of democracy are not essential to a healthy, thriving society. They are a scourge to be avoided.

All this secrecy, euphemism and dismissive rhetoric is meant to obscure a single, glaring fact: the arguments in favour of privatization are rubbish.- Sunil Johal and Jordann Thirgood examine the type of social safety net needed to keep workers secure in the face of increasingly precarious employment. And Valerie Tarasuk interviews Jim Oldfield about the effects of a basic income - including relieving against food insecurity and boosting individual health.

- Dale Maharidge chronicles some of the working poor people who are all too often cut out of any analysis of public policy choices. And Jose Ucelo rightly notes that wage theft against immigrants (and other vulnerable groups) winds up suppressing wages for everybody.

- Alex Hemingway points out that the most costly and inefficient parts of Canada's health care system are the ones that rely on for-profit and privately-funded goods and services. And Daniel Tencer points out that the Libs seem perfectly happy to exacerbate the problem out of sheer ignorance, as trade negotiators dealing with issues of drug prices have failed to take into account any additional costs arising out of giveaways to big pharma.

- Elizabeth McSheffrey reports on the causes of the Husky oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River, and finds that it could likely have been prevented.

- Finally, Althia Raj comments on the Libs' glaringly misleading spin on electoral reform.

The Many Faces of Donald Trump and Company

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 12:03

Apparently the video of the Alt-Right gathering with the "Heil Trump" and Nazi salutes was just too much for America's president-elect. Trump now says he denounces the Alt-Right movement. The only problem is that he's keeping Alt-Right champion, former Breitbart chief and white supremacist, Steve Bannon as his chief political strategist. Sorry, Donald, but words are cheap especially the "best words" that come out of your mouth.

Then there's Trump's choice for attorney-general, a man with a racist track record going back decades, Jeff Sessions.

Then there's Trump's pick for national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. This guy's as bent as a two penny nail. His involvement in the attempted coup of Turkey's Recep Erdogan tells you all you need to know:

Flynn has feted Russian propaganda efforts alongside President Vladimir Putin; offered initial support for the attempted July coup against Turkey’s president — before changing his position after being hired as a lobbyist for an Ankara-linked outfit — and has described the United States and the West as participants in an apocalyptic clash with Islam, which he has called “a cancer.”

On the same day the Turkish military was launching its failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Flynn praised the putsch in a July 15 speech. The Turkish military, Flynn said, wanted to build a “secular nation,” in contrast to Erdogan’s Islamist tendencies. As the crowd began to applaud, Flynn chimed in: “That is worth clapping for.”

Flynn described Erdogan as “actually very close” to U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration quickly sided with the sitting government against the putschists. By vaguely backing the Turkish generals behind the coup, and neglecting to offer support for Erdogan’s democratically-elected government, Flynn challenged a bulwark of the Obama administration’s Middle East diplomacy, and left a NATO ally hanging.

But by a few months later, Flynn had changed his tune. In an Election Day op-ed, Flynn urged the United States to lend more support to Erdogan’s government and to surrender to its top demand: the extradition of its chief political rival, Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania.

...The change of heart may be explained by Flynn’s business interests. In September, Dutch firm Inovo BV, which has apparent ties to the Erdogan government, hired Flynn’s consulting company, Flynn Intel Group. Flynn founded the Virginia-based lobbying and consulting firm after retiring from the Army in 2014.
Flynn should fit in perfectly in Trump's cabinet. He's as dishonest as he is morally vacuous.

The Smart Move - Yes, From the Trudeau Government at That.

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 12:03

The federal government will order 18 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets from Boeing to bridge the gap while it awaits the next wave of new generation fighters for the Royal Canadian Air Force. They're following an idea that Australia implemented a couple of years ago.

Most of America's allies are going for Lockheed's troubled F-35 which, by the time it is fully cleared for service, will be 20-years old. Over those two decades many of its supposed stealth secrets have been hacked by the very adversaries it is designed to attack. That has assisted them in the development of technologies to defeat the F-35's technology while giving them a leg up on constructing and deploying their own stealth fighter aircraft. To this Lockheed would say that the Russian and Chinese stealth aircraft aren't as good as America's. They could be right but they don't have to be nearly as good when used in defensive roles supported by their own advanced ground detection and missile systems.

The Americans are all too aware of the F-35's limitations and vulnerabilities which is why US naval and air force commanders are pressing for the early development of new, 6th generation aircraft to replace Lockheed's offering even before it achieves full operational status.

Obama Admits Defeat on TPP

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 10:41

We'll have to see what the Dauphin has to say about this but as far as Barack Obama is concerned, the Trans Pacific Partnership is as dead as a dodo.

Is Anybody Listening?

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 10:41

Judging by the petro-posture of our prime minister and America's "clean coal" president, it doesn't sound like there's anybody on our side of the Atlantic listening to the alarms being sounded by science types in the Arctic. The scientific community calls it a climate emergency.

When atmospheric temperatures are 20 degrees Celsius, roughly 36 degrees Fahrenheit above normal that's massively abnormal. When ocean temperatures are 4 degrees Celsius above normal that too is massively abnormal. That's precisely the situation in the Arctic today. When it happens two years in a row maybe, just maybe, there's something going on in the Arctic and maybe that something heralds a looming threat we should be preparing to deal with.

As professor of thermal sciences John Abraham wrote in The Guardian last week, "At the risk of losing objectiveness but keeping candor, we are fucked."

That's a pretty strong descriptor. Reminds me of when the Danish government's chief glaciologist for the Greenland Ice Sheet, American Jason Box, carelessly tweeted to a friend, "We're so fucked."

Well, if we are indeed fucked, as these two climate scientists (and many others using more gentile language) suggest, you might expect some hint of acknowledgement of the fact from our political caste, the Brahmans we elect and empower to look after our wellbeing, our security, our land.

Trump is obviously too focused on bending people to his will than safeguarding his people against looming threats and ensuring the survival of future generations. What's Trudeau's excuse?

Trudeau pledged that his government, unlike his predecessor's, would follow scientific knowledge. Not belief, knowledge. Apparently he left out the bit about "when that suits our purposes." He also pledged to take Harper's gags off federal government scientists, again leaving out the bit about "when that suits our purposes." Of course there's that weasel word/wiggle room thing again. Trudeau didn't actually promise to use science to shape policy.  He merely promised that scientific analyses would "be considered" when the Liberal government makes policy. Sort of like how Steffie Dion "considered" Saudi human rights when approving the Death Wagon deal. Yeah, right.

Now the Trudeau government has promised to shutter provincial coal-fueled electricity generation by 2030 except that we know that Trudeau won't still be around by then. He's making promises another prime minister will have to carry. What he is doing now is preparing to approve major bitumen pipeline projects that will put paid to his green energy laurels. Once again it comes down to weasel words and wiggle room, this government's default operating system.

Back to the Arctic, is anybody listening? Not a chance. That's science that they don't want to hear, not in legislatures beholden to fossil energy giants. And that, kids, is why we are well and truly screwed.

Can They Do It Without Him?

Northern Reflections - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 05:41

When George W. Bush was elected president, he withdrew the United States from the Kyoto Protocol. Canada followed suit. Now, sixteen years later, Donald Trump vows to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord. But this time, Justin Trudeau says that Canada will back the accord. In fact, yesterday he vowed that by 2030 coal would no longer be a source of Canadian energy. Tom Walkom writes:

Still, the world carries on. At an international climate-change summit in Marrakesh, Morocco last week, delegates issued a proclamation confirming the Paris accord and pledging that the battle against global warming would continue to be a matter of “urgent priority.”
Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Ottawa will forge ahead with its plans to reduce carbon emissions by, in one way or another, taxing them.
China’s delegate to the conference said tackling climate change is “a global trend that is irreversible.” His remarks were echoed by delegates from all the big emitters, including India, the European Union, Japan, the Middle Eastern oil states and Brazil.
It's true that the accord does not do enough.  And the commitments are promises. they're not binding. But that makes it easier for the rest of the world to not knuckle under to Trump. And he's a man who measures success by his ability to get others to knuckle under.  Then there's China:
More to the point, there is China. It wants to be recognized as a world leader. It is willing to spend money to achieve that goal. It is attracted to renewable energy in part to deal with its own coal-based smog pollution. But it also sees renewable energy as part of a long-run industrial strategy.
Trump believes he can get China to knuckle under by imposing stiff tariffs on Chinese goods. He's a fool, of course. Can the rest of the world prove him a fool on climate change? We'll see. Still, Walkom advises his readers not to buy ocean front property in Florida. 
Image: Peace Palace Library

Donald Trump and the Kakistocracy

Montreal Simon - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 05:29

Like so many people all over the world, I sometimes can't decide what to call Donald Trump.

Is he just a vulgar hustler who conned a nation into believing he was fit to be president? Or is he a deranged demagogue, or a budding fascist, or a would be dictator?

Or all of the above?

But at least now we all know what to call some of his most enthusiastic supporters: 

Read more »

Would That Our Prime Minister Had the Courage of this Irish Senator.

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 02:10
Senator Aodhan O Riordain says what we should be hearing from our own government.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 09:46
Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Paul Krugman writes about the dangers of Donald Trump's crony capitalist infrastructure plan. And Tom Parkin warns us that Justin Trudeau's Canadian equivalent is headed toward exactly the same results:
A private infrastructure bank means paying more for financing. It means getting less infrastructure. Fewer construction jobs. Less for land, materials and equipment. Lower economic spin-off.

Canadian Economist Toby Sanger recently compared 30 year private and public finance costs on a $100 million construction project. Public financing would cost $31 million. Private financing would add $164 million to costs. Who pays that money? Who gets it?
Privatization could mean airports and sea ports sold to consortiums from Abu Dhabi and China. And Trudeau’s bank would further concentrate wealth as money from Canadians is pipelined up to global investors.

Economist Thomas Piketty has made the case that excessive concentration of wealth isn’t just “economically useless,” it may lead to “political capture of our democratic institutions.” In 2014 he worried that, when institutions can’t address inequality and social problems, “it's always tempting to find other people responsible for our problems.”

Wall Street captured the Democrats and Republicans decades ago. [Piketty’s] next worry couldn’t have been more prescient.- Jordan Press reports on Trudeau's attempt to soften the image of corporatism in order to push through still more concessions to big business. But Jen Moore's review of Todd Gordon and Jeffery Webber's The Blood of Extraction: Canadian Imperialism in Latin America reminds us of the damage being done to people and the planet by the mining industry with the assistance of Canadian governments.

- Meanwhile, Konrad Yakabuski notes that we should be looking to facilitate sustainable trade while eliminating giveaways to the corporate sector - not following Trump and Nigel Farage toward insularity and deglobalization.

- Adnan Al-Daini is right to highlight the good which can be done by a well-organized government. But he shouldn't crediting Theresa May as an example - particularly when she's furiously backtracking on her previous statements about including citizens and workers in corporate governance

-Finally, Kathy Vandergrift responds to the Trudeau Libs' obsession with deliverology by arguing that instead of focusing on narrow short-term measurements, we should be pursuing progressive realization which puts those types of goals in a far wider context.

No One Escapes Blame: A Guest Post

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 09:45

In this guest post, my good friend Dom offers a point of view worth serious consideration. In contrast to my post yesterday, in which I heaped scorn on those who either voted for Donald Trump or absented themselves from the electoral process, Dom argues that there is plenty of blame to be borne by everyone, included the progressives.

In the spirit of a good rant:

If Americans want to take a long hard look at the reason Donald Trump won the election, I would suggest the left and centre in the U.S. get a mirror. Have a good look. They are the reason that a pussy-grabbing, tax-dodging, bankruptcy-profiteering, climate-denying, war-mongering, white-supremacy-supporting, health-care-abolishing demagogue and narcissist won the presidency of the United States. That’s right. The left is responsible.


Because of their arrogance. Because of their sanctimonious dismissiveness of the right. Because of their seeming cultural superiority over the right. Because of their unwillingness to have meaningful conversation with the right. Because of their constant insults of the right. Because of their “club-left” and exclusionary attitudes the right. That’s why.

How can any rational person think that the U.S. Democrats were going to win an election when their platform was to insult the right? “Trump”et across the country that the only answer is theirs. Remind right-wing voters on a daily basis that the Washington Elite is the only answer and that their concerns are secondary to those of every other special interest group on the planet. Divide and leave out of the equation. That was the platform Hillary Clinton and her Democratic party put forward.

Hillary Clinton: a corporate-supporting elite who pretends to have the interest of the working class. That is the leader the Democrats chose to represent the middle and working class? The U.S. citizens were supposed to go to the polls and chant, “Well, at least she’s not Trump.” This is what the “the land of the free and the brave” boldly offered its citizens: a woman who stands for nothing, and a man who stands for the 15th century. But I digress.… the right put forth the man that represents their interests. Yes, a fearful-to-your-bones interest, but nevertheless a clear choice. What the hell did Hillary stand for? You would never know, for it was buried so deep, I doubt she would be able to find it with a soul-searching GPS.

And don’t even think of getting me started on the protesting abstainers. Their arrogance and narcissism is beyond anything I have witnessed of Donald Trump. To think that abdicating responsibility for voting makes a statement is beyond comprehension. Votes “count”. “Count.” Arithmetic, simple arithmetic. When you don’t vote, you don’t count! There is no 'greater cause' in abstaining from a vote. There is no point to be made in choosing not to vote. The only point you are making is that you are a narcissist. You choose not to participate because you believe you’re special and your sacred vote should not be tainted. What you really are is irresponsible and self-indulgent.

Trump was elected by the left. He was rocketed to power because of an unwillingness to adopt inclusiveness of the right by the left. There is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. has been put on a path toward oligarchy, and it has the majority of its people to blame.

There can only be one thing left to say: “You get the government you deserve.”Recommend this Post

Tel Aviv and Washington: All the masks drop

Dawg's Blawg - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 08:42
No more safe spaces, my fellow progressives. The world is one vast trigger warning. And my heart goes out to Jews and Muslims in particular. They’re coming for them. Who’s next? The dichotomy that folks like me have always claimed—between... Dr.Dawg

A Tall Order

Northern Reflections - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 06:12

It's tempting, after Donald Trump's election, to think magically. If you're an evangelical, why worry about climate change if you're convinced that The Rapture is just around the corner? And, if you're a desperate coal miner or steel worker, why not think magically when Trump promises that he'll bring your jobs back? But bringing those jobs back won't be as easy as settling a $25 million suit against Trump University.

But Trump's opponents are making a mistake if they, too, begin to think magically. Chris Hedges writes that Trump's opposition must focus on economic justice:

We cannot battle the racism, bigotry and hate crimes that will be stoked by the Donald Trump presidency without first battling for economic justice. This is not a gap between the tolerant and the intolerant. It is a gap between most of the American population and our oligarchic and corporate elites, which Trump epitomizes. It is a gap that is understood only in the light of the demand for economic justice. And when we start to speak in the language of justice first, and the language of inclusiveness second, we will begin to blunt the protofascism being embraced by many Trump supporters.
You will not find the fight for economic justice on the Christian Right:

Those enthralled by such thinking are Christian heretics—Jesus did not come to make us rich and powerful and bless America’s empire—and potential fascists. They have fused the iconography and symbols of the American state with the iconography and symbols of the Christian religion. They believe they can create a “Christian” America. The American flag is given the same sacred value as the Christian cross. The Pledge of Allegiance has the religious power of the Lord’s Prayer. That a sleazy developer and con artist was chosen as their vehicle—81 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump—for achieving this goal is startling, to say the least. But this is not a reality-based movement. Most of those who profit from this culture of despair, many wrapped in the halo of the ministry, are, like Trump, slick, amoral trolls.  
But, more importantly, those who Hedges has labelled "the liberal class" must realize that their place is on the side of the economically dispossessed:

The liberal class has no hope of defeating the rise of American fascism until it unites with the dispossessed white working class. It has no hope of being an effective force in politics until it articulates a viable socialism. Corporate capitalism cannot be regulated, reformed or corrected. A socialist movement dedicated to demolishing the cruelty of the corporate state will do more to curb the racism of the white underclass than lessons by liberals in moral purity. Preaching multiculturalism and gender and identity politics will not save us from the rising sadism in American society. It will only fuel the anti-politics that has replaced politics. 
Convincing Americans to buy socialism is going to be a tall order.

Image: Always On Watch

The Horror of Trump and the Amazing Rise of the Resistance

Montreal Simon - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 04:13

I must say I really enjoyed what happened to Mike Pence, the sinister man from GLAD or MAGA, when went to the theatre the other night to take in a performance of the Broadway musical Hamilton.

And got a stirring message from the cast, urging him to restrain his bigot instincts and respect the human rights of all Americans. As well as a rousing chorus of boos.

And I can only hope that somebody asked him that old and tragic question: 

"Apart from that Mrs Lincoln Mr Pence how did you like the show?"
Read more »


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