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Wednesday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 12:00
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Thomas Frank writes that a progressive party can only expect to succeed if it places principles of equality and workers' interests at the core of everything it does - rather than serving mostly as the voice of a wealthy professional class:
Somewhere in a sunny corner of the country, either right now or very shortly, a group of tech tycoons or well-meaning private equity investors will meet to discuss what went wrong in this election cycle. They will consider many things: the sexism and racism of Trump voters, the fundamental foreignness of the flyover, the problems one encounters when dealing with evangelicals. They will celebrate some activist they learned about from NPR, they will enjoy some certified artisanal cuisine, they will hand out prizes to the same people that got prizes at the last event they attended, and they will go back to their comfortable rooms at the resort and sleep ever so soundly.

These people think they know what liberalism includes and what it doesn’t include. And in the latter category fall the concerns that made up the heart and soul of liberal politics a few decades ago: labor and work and exploitation and economic equality.

To dedicate your life to concerns like these today is to sign up for obscurity and frustration. It’s to enter a world without foundation grants, without appearances on MSNBC, and without much job security. Nothing about this sphere of liberal activism is fashionable or attractive. Books on its subjects go unreviewed and unread. Strikes drag on for weeks before they are noticed by the national media. Labor organizers are some of the hardest-working but least-thanked people I know. Labor reporters are just about extinct. Promises to labor unions are voided almost as soon as they leave a politician’s lips.- Meanwhile, Tom Parkin discusses how the NDP - and Jagmeet Singh in particular - may serve as Canada's antidote to the Trump brand of politics.

- Chuck Collins, Helen Flannery and Josh Hoxie examine the toxic effects of relying on gilded giving from a small number of extremely wealthy individuals to support services, rather than being able to build a base of broader funding (whether public or charitable). And Cathy Crowe makes the case for a push toward building affordable housing.

- Daniel Leblanc reports on the CRA's long-awaited progress in cracking down on offshore tax havens.

- Kevin Metcalf discusses how the new surveillance state established by C-51 is only criminalizing and isolating youth while offering no real security benefit. And Justin Ling notes that the RCMP's response to the repeated rejection of "lawful access" legislation is to push for the same powers under a different name - with Ralph Goodale and the Libs only enabling them in the cause.

- Finally, John Doyle writes about the blatant elitism behind Kellie Leitch's drive to destroy Canada's only major media outlet which isn't ultimately answerable to corporate interests.

The World Needs More People Like This

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 07:32
Living in Texas, I doubt this man will have endeared himself to many. All the more reason to laud his courage and integrity in displaying this sign outside of the Islamic Center of Irving, Texas.

Recommend this Post

Donald Trump and the Cabinet from Hell

Montreal Simon - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 07:05

Some people believe that Donald Trump tweets compulsively just to confuse and distract his enemies.

But I don't. I think he just can't help himself...

Can't help sounding like a maniac, or a dictator.

Still, it can't be denied that Trump has good reason to try to distract Americans from taking a good hard look at the kind of people he is appointing to his cabinet.

Because they couldn't be more monstrous...
Read more »

He's Beginning To Stumble

Northern Reflections - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 05:37

Lawrence Martin writes in today's Globe that Justin Trudeau is beginning to falter. First, there was the sound and fury over Castro -- although  much of the noise was the consequence of short historical memory. Beyond that, today's media is decidedly right-wing. Forty years ago,

there was no giant conservative chain like Postmedia, which is the preponderant print voice in many of the country’s big cities and which fields conservative commentators in greater number than progressives. Today the right side has the balance of power in the print media and has gained ground at the CBC where a conservative has been appointed to head up its new on-line commentary service.
More serious is the unfolding cash for access story:

The other rhubarb, the cash-for-access story, is one that stings because although it’s an age-old political practice it contravenes the clearly worded pledge Mr. Trudeau made before coming to power. To wit: “There should be no preferential access or appearance of preferential access accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties.”
There is as yet no direct evidence of kickbacks or quid pro quos in what the PM and his ministers have done. On the question of openness and integrity, this government has shown more of it than their predecessors, who last we looked were embroiled in a cover-up scandal on Senate expenses that saw them trying to falsify a Senate report, misleading the House of Commons and offering testimony at the trial of Mike Duffy that was risible.
That said, the cash-for-access story could have legs, lots of them. Examples keep popping up. Liberals’ heads keep popping down. The Conservatives have them on the defensive and with Mr. Trudeau facing difficult decisions on upcoming nettlesome files, they are likely to keep them there.
And, yesterday, the Liberals approved Kinder-Morgan and the pipeline to Wisconsin. Both pipelines are on existing routes. Perhaps Trudeau feels that's a safe strategy. But recent events in the U.S. and the UK suggest that, these days, there is no such thing as a safe strategy.
Image: 123RF

Justin Trudeau and the Great Pipeline War

Montreal Simon - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 04:49

The next time Justin Trudeau visits Vancouver he'll have to keep a low profile, or wear plenty of camouflage paint.

Because the Great Pipeline War has finally begun in earnest. 

But although the protests will be loud, and you can count me among those who believe that no new pipelines should be built.

As T.S. Elliot wrote in his poem The Hollow Men: "Between the idea and the reality... between the motion and the response...falls the shadow."

So I wouldn't be surprised if Justin wins the Great Pipeline War for the following reasons.
Read more »

This Is Trudeau's Idea of a Bitumen Supertanker Route

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 23:49

"In this recent government-commissioned risk-analysis report on tanker traffic safety in Canada, figure 3 shows in vivid red the “very high risk zone on Southern Vancouver Island. Within that area lie 17 of the province’s 33 Ecological Reserves which have a marine component within their boundaries. The report indicates that the Kinder Morgan proposal would essentially double the volume of oil passing through an already vulnerable marine environment, the area south of Vancouver Island where Washington-bound oil tankers are common. The Trans-Mountain project website indicates there will be up to 34 tanker visits per month in this already crowded marine vessel area by 2017."

"Four marine Ecological Reserves in particular at the Southern tip of Vancouver Island would be directly exposed to contamination in the event of a marine accident in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The most northerly and only colony of breeding and pupping elephant seals in Canada is in the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Also it is a winter haulout site for two species of sea lions, and a birthing colony of harbour seals. . Three seabird species have nesting colonies on the island and the subtidal marine life in the Rockfish Conservation zone has extremely high biodiversity values. The risk for these rare colonies and populations from increased tanker traffic within a few kilometres is very high. Containment of an oil spill in adverse weather conditions and with tidal currents running daily up to 7 knots make clean up in this reserve impossible. Moreover, the population of marine birds and mammals is highest in the winter months."

The supertanker route threads the archipelago formed by BC's Gulf Islands and the adjacent San Juan Islands of Washington State. From there it's out through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, literally scraping American territorial waters. 

Kinder Morgan pipeline spill in Burnaby 2007

Creekside - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 16:55

A 10-meter geyser of crude oil spewed from a broken Kinder Morgan pipeline in a Burnaby neighbourhood in July 2007. Eight homes were flooded and 92 were put on evacuation notice.

Part of the TransMountain Pipeline system, the broken pipeline was carrying crude oil from a pipeline terminal at the foot of Burnaby Mountain to a tanker-loading facility on Burrard Inlet. After four years in court, Kinder Morgan pled guilty.

Justin Trudeau's new Kinder Morgan pipeline will ship 900,000 barrels of dilbit a day from Alberta through the same neighbourhood to the supertankers waiting in Burrard Inlet.

We are currently waiting to see what piece of First Nations apparel Christy Clark will wear to her presser...

Day 3: Thankful

Feminist Christian - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 16:49
Like I said, bad blogger. Missed Day 2. Oh well, pick up and start over! Today's theme is thankful. Here was my post:

Thankful. I'm so thankful. Even on days when I'm railing against the injustices in the world. Even on days when I see the forest around me being cut down for more single family homes. Even when I hear about atrocity after atrocity. All I can say is "Thank you", because I have so much. So much I feel guilty about it. And by the standards of my community, I'm not wealthy. (Funny story: When one of my kids was having various issues, we had a lot of support staff come in from the province. They would bring us gift cards from the local grocery store because they thought we were poor. We also "won" the Christmas raffle that year. Suffice it to say, that all was donated to actual poor people. We just look poor because we don't really give a crap about having "nice things").ANYWAY, I am super blessed with Enough. Enough is one of my favourite concepts. I never pray for abundance. I pray for enough. Enough food, enough clothing, enough money, a house that's good enough, etc. And so often I get even more.I had a hard time narrowing this down to one picture. I was considering a picture of my kids, my husband, my home, my Mom, my Dad, my birth parents for giving me up, the beauty around me, my son's team of doctors ... The list goes on. Finally, I just went through my pictures until something spoke to me.

This is a picture I took at the Autism Treatment Center of America, near Sheffield, Massachusetts. I was lucky enough to go there three times, to learn how to train people to work with my kids. These three trips changed my life in so many ways, I can't even begin to tell you how transforming it was. At the ATCA and Option Institute (they're part of the same thing), I learned that happiness is my choice, and more importantly *how* to choose it. I learned to view Autism as a blessing in my life. Everything about my life changed for the better when I went there. Bears Kaufman (Barry Neil Kaufman, should you want to find his books) and his amazing wife Samahria developed the Son-Rise program and the Option Process, and for that and them, I will always be grateful. If you're considering who to donate to this Christmas, consider them. They're a registered charity, and they do a lot of good work helping people come to their programs.


The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 14:57

That's it. Prime minister Slick has greenlighted the Kinder Morgan pipeline initiative that will ship 900,000 barrels of toxic, lethal dilbit a day across British Columbia, through the Lower Mainland municipalities, and into an armada of supertankers that will become a daily feature as they ply the waters of Burrard Inlet, Coal Harbour, English Bay and coastal British Columbia.

All that business about First Nations approval and social licence, like just about everything else that has come from Trudeau, was a pack of lies. All that bold talk about fighting climate change - more lies. Bastard.

Day 2: Longing ... to be better at challenges

Feminist Christian - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 11:07
So evidently I suck at x-a-day challenges. I missed Day 2. It was "longing". I had nothing. I long for the end of greed. Not sure how to photograph that.

Anyway, stay tuned. I have an idea for today's theme!

Trump Has Germans Thinking a Lot About Democracy

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 10:33

The German people have not forgotten their past and president-elect Donald J. Trump has them revisiting those painful memories of a darker time.

An article in Der Spiegel asks "How Much Mussolini Is There in Donald Trump?" The writer reviews a number of fascism checklists and the results aren't promising for American democracy. He concludes that Americans should wait - and hope.

The article was obviously written before Trump's latest tweet on protesters who may burn the American flag:

"Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!

"— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016"

Of course, since 1989 the US Supreme Court has held that burning the Stars and Stripes is protected under the First Amendment. Trump, however, has repeatedly shown how little he cares for the First Amendment or dissent generally. 
Which brings us to former justice Robert Jackson's warning:

Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 09:51

Executive pay might be the biggest scandal of the day in Big Business. We regularly read of CEOs earning five to six hundred times the average wage of their employees.

The Brits are tossing about the idea of having shareholders decide matters such as executive compensation. Take the decision-making out of the hands of the bloated boards of directors and transfer that power to where it belongs - those who own the companies.

Monbiot Tackles Neoliberalism's Death Grip on the West

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 09:28

Neoliberalism has been the default operating system of western governments, Canada included, since it was ushered in during the Thatcher/Reagan/Mulroney era.

Justin Trudeau is a neoliberal as were his predecessors over the last three decades.  Canada remains in the clutches of neoliberalism and no one, no leader, no party is putting forward an alternative vision.

We see the muddy footprints of neoliberalism in the latest news about how most of the new jobs in Canada are low wage, real precariat stuff and how huge our monthly trade deficits have become. We make increasingly less of the stuff we want to buy and foreign demand for the stuff we do make isn't great enough to even the books. No wonder Slick is so desperate to build bitumen pipelines to the coast. Silly bugger.

In today's Guardian, George Monbiot argues that neoliberalism is what has put America's democracy in such dire peril.

The events that led to Donald Trump’s election started in England in 1975. At a meeting a few months after Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative party, one of her colleagues, or so the story goes, was explaining what he saw as the core beliefs of conservatism. She snapped open her handbag, pulled out a dog-eared book, and slammed it on the table. “This is what we believe,” she said. A political revolution that would sweep the world had begun.

The book was The Constitution of Liberty by Frederick Hayek. Its publication, in 1960, marked the transition from an honest, if extreme, philosophy to an outright racket. The philosophy was called neoliberalism. It saw competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. The market would discover a natural hierarchy of winners and losers, creating a more efficient system than could ever be devised through planning or by design. Anything that impeded this process, such as significant tax, regulation, trade union activity or state provision, was counter-productive. Unrestricted entrepreneurs would create the wealth that would trickle down to everyone.

[Hayek] begins the book by advancing the narrowest possible conception of liberty: an absence of coercion. He rejects such notions as political freedom, universal rights, human equality and the distribution of wealth, all of which, by restricting the behaviour of the wealthy and powerful, intrude on the absolute freedom from coercion he demands.

Democracy, by contrast, “is not an ultimate or absolute value”. In fact, liberty depends on preventing the majority from exercising choice over the direction that politics and society might take.

...Thatcherism and Reaganism were not ideologies in their own right: they were just two faces of neoliberalism. Their massive tax cuts for the rich, crushing of trade unions, reduction in public housing, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services were all proposed by Hayek and his disciples. But the real triumph of this network was not its capture of the right, but its colonisation of parties that once stood for everything Hayek detested.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair did not possess a narrative of their own. Rather than develop a new political story, they thought it was sufficient to triangulate. In other words, they extracted a few elements of what their parties had once believed, mixed them with elements of what their opponents believed, and developed from this unlikely combination a “third way”.

...As I warned in April, the result is first disempowerment then disenfranchisement. If the dominant ideology stops governments from changing social outcomes, they can no longer respond to the needs of the electorate. Politics becomes irrelevant to people’s lives; debate is reduced to the jabber of a remote elite. The disenfranchised turn instead to a virulent anti-politics in which facts and arguments are replaced by slogans, symbols and sensation. The man who sank Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency was not Donald Trump. It was her husband.

The paradoxical result is that the backlash against neoliberalism’s crushing of political choice has elevated just the kind of man that Hayek worshipped. Trump, who has no coherent politics, is not a classic neoliberal. But he is the perfect representation of Hayek’s “independent”; the beneficiary of inherited wealth, unconstrained by common morality, whose gross predilections strike a new path that others may follow. The neoliberal thinktankers are now swarming round this hollow man, this empty vessel waiting to be filled by those who know what they want. The likely result is the demolition of our remaining decencies, beginning with the agreement to limit global warming.

Neoliberalism Out, Neofascism In?

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 09:00

Cornel West says America is in for a makeover, Trump style.

White working- and middle-class fellow citizens – out of anger and anguish – rejected the economic neglect of neoliberal policies and the self-righteous arrogance of elites. Yet these same citizens also supported a candidate who appeared to blame their social misery on minorities, and who alienated Mexican immigrants, Muslims, black people, Jews, gay people, women and China in the process.

This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future.

Look Justin, Cut the Bullshit

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 08:23

Today's the day when we learn whether the federal government will put our north coast in jeopardy or merely threaten our south coast with disaster.

Which pipeline will Trudeau approve? Will it be the Enbridge Northern Gateway or the expanded Kinder Morgan line through the Lower Mainland? Maybe it'll be both. Maybe he'll kill off both, the least likely option.

Whether it's Enbridge or Kinder Morgan or both, the decision will be heavily larded with Trudeau's favourite bullshit line about how it is the federal government's sacred duty to get Canadian resources to market. Sure, fine, but let's take a minute to scrape the crap off that before swallowing it whole.

The devil is in the details and Trudeau's definition of "resources." The resource he'll tell you he wants to move is Athabasca oil. That's a damned lie. What he wants to move is something much more than oil. It's bitumen.,

There's oil in bitumen and with enough processing, refining, it can be extracted and turned into burnable petroleum products. The end product, heavy oil, is bad for the environment, bad for the planet, an affront to Trudeau's promise to cut carbon emissions, but that's only part of the problem.

The bigger problem is what else makes up bitumen. The stuff is jam packed with other goodies such as petcoke, abrasives, acids, heavy metals and various carcinogens.  Even after initial upgrading the sludge has to be mixed with light oil, diluent, just to help it move - with the benefit of added heat and high pressure - through pipelines.

Now if Slick had a shred of honesty in his bones he would admit that the greatest jeopardy comes from getting dilbit to market instead of shipping fully refined heavy crude. He would admit that, when his dilbit reaches Asia, that heavy-carbon petcoke is refined out and also burned for power generation.  He would admit that the heavy metals, acids, and carcinogens no one is willing to refine out on site in Alberta are what pose the gravest risks to BC's marine ecology. He would admit that they're willing to put our coast at such great, long-term (generational) risk because no one wants to foot the refining bill in Alberta.

This is where you see the real face of Justin Trudeau and it's ugly. The rest of Canada may be willing to swallow his bullshit but we can't get past the smell.

Maybe Hillary's Not So Bad After All.

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 07:59
Hubba, Hubba

Hillary Clinton's email scandal cost her heavily in the last election. Trump never went to a rally without feeding the Gullibillies the promise that he would see her in irons.

I'm not sure Trump wasn't just feeding his supporters a load of horseshit on that Hillary business. After all, who did he invite over yesterday to discuss filling the Secretary of State slot? That would be noneother than Dave "Pillow Talk" Petraeus who took time out from his duties as commander in Afghanistan to bed and pass along classified info to Paula Broadwell.

The guffaws were heard across the capitol. Kentucky senator Rand Paul quipped: 

“they spent a year and a half beating up Hillary Clinton over revealing classified information and then they would appoint somebody who the FBI says not only revealed it, but then lied about it in an interview and purposefully gave it to someone who did not have the clearance to have that.”

The Fight Must Continue

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 07:28
Because I am quite a private person, I rarely discuss anything personal on my blog. But I will, to a small extent, break that general rule today to convey something I have come to understand.

The catalyst for today's post is a comment that Kirby Evans made in response to something I posted yesterday, two videos depicting the empowerment of homophobes and racists now that the demagogue Trump has been elected president. Kirby is one of the bloggers that I read regularly and deeply respect for his heartfelt convictions and analyses. Since he made the comments public on my blog, I am sure he will not mind me featuring them in this post:
I must admit, Lorne, that I have largely lost heart. I avoid the news, can't bring myself to write blogposts. I just feel like all the years of fighting have left me drained and bereft of my humanity. In my dad's last years he was continually predicting the return of the 1930s because he said that the spirit of hate is too strong to keep down. As sad as it sounds, I am glad he didn't live to see this stuff. I know I need to keep fighting for my daughter's sake if nothing else. But I just don't know how any more. I feel like the tide of history has changed and we are just going to lose.Here is what I wrote in response:
I felt the same way in the immediate aftermath of Trump's election, Kirby, but somehow found renewed purpose. I hope you will regain your spirit, Kirby.

Thoughtful, reflective and analytical voices like yours are far too important to be silenced. The war, in my view, is always worth fighting, if only to deny final victory to the rabid right, the morally twisted, and the outright bigots who live amongst us.What I didn't mention was the catalyst for my renewed purpose, which is where the story gets a little more personal than I am usually comfortable with.

It was probably two days after the Trump victory that I received a phone call from an organization looking for someone to canvas on my street for their charitable cause. Although it was a worthy one, I immediately responded by telling her that I wasn't interested. It wasn't my refusal that was noteworthy, since it is not the kind of thing I do, but it was what I felt when I refused, which I will come back to momentarily.

Probably the same day, or perhaps the next, I was coming out of a library branch and walking to a nearby grocery store when a man sitting on a bench asked me if I had some spare change for a coffee and a doughnut from a nearby Tim Horton's. As is my usual practice, I said "No." (I should add here that I usually refuse such requests in the full knowledge that the area where I live is well-served with organizations providing breakfasts, lunches and dinners seven days a week, and we prefer to donate to organizations rather than individuals.)

My refusal was not delivered with any rancour, and his response was, "Oh." Yet something didn't feel right to me. As I continued my walk to the store, it occurred to me what it was. It was not that I had refused his request or the request of the telephone solicitor that bothered me. It was my realization of a certain mean-spiritedness I felt in issuing those refusals. It dawned upon me that I had, indeed, been deeply affected by the repudiation of my values and principles thanks to the Trump election and I had, in fact, allowed that victory to infect my own psyche. In a word, I think I had momentarily surrendered to the power of darkness cast by Trump and was, in fact, acting as a Trump supporter would have.

I am not sure if I am explaining myself clearly here, but the fact of my refusal was not the issue. I will repeat, it was what I felt when issuing the refusals. To counteract that, upon my return from the store I went into Tim Horton's and bought a gift certificate, hoping the man was still on the bench down the street. He was, and he once more made the same request of me. I handed him the gift card.

Such gestures may be largely meaningless, and certainly are unusual for me. But it hit me with full force that the only way to combat the darkness enveloping us now is to be proactive, to be on guard against such psychic infection, and to carry on as best we can in fighting the forces that would have us devolve into a lower form of existence.

I hope Kirby Evans at some point finds a renewed sense of purpose and resumes his blog. Win or lose, we all have a role to play in this fight, if only to deny final victory to the barbarians at the gate.Recommend this Post

fidel castro, 1926-2016

we move to canada - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 06:00
More than any ruler I can think of, Fidel Castro defies our insistence on seeing leaders as solely either good or evil. As this excellent assessment in Social Worker (UK) puts it, "History must judge him both as the freedom fighter whose defiance humiliated US imperialism and as the ruler of a repressive, unequal society."

Castro was an inspiration to freedom fighters the world over, including Nelson Mandela. Mandela, we should remember, was formerly branded as a communist terrorist, and later lionized as a cuddly hero, without having changed his tactics or beliefs.

I'm told that coverage of Castro's death by US-based media focused on the celebrations of Miami's Cuban exile community, which is exactly what I'd expect. Remember the images of Arab children celebrating the 9/11 attacks -- images that turned out to be several years old?

I don't doubt that wealthy Cubans, whose unchallenged power and prestige was toppled by a socialist revolution, despise the man who brought them down. But the mainstream US's enduring hatred for Castro has nothing to do with sympathies for the Cuban ruling class. Castro is the world leader who the US couldn't assassinate, couldn't buy off, and couldn't control. Patrice Lumumba, Salvador Allende, Mohammad Mossadegh, Jacobo Arbenz, Ho Chi Minh, Joao Goulart, Juan Bosch, Jean Bertrand Aristide -- if you don't know the names, look them up. You can go back as far as Queen Liliuokalani. Castro was the one that got away.

Castro was also a dictator. Cuba suppressed dissidents, segregated and brutally punished LGBT people, and had virtually no free speech. Saying "So-and-so did that, too!" is not an appropriate response. For a socialist to rationalize oppression because it originated on the left is shameful and indefensible.

At the same time, this is still true.

The best eulogy of Fidel Castro that I've seen was written by the great Eduard Galeano, in his 2010 book Mirrors. Here's an excerpt, courtesy of Raiot.
His enemies say he was an uncrowned king who confused unity with unanimity. And in that his enemies are right.

His enemies say that if Napoleon had a newspaper like Granma, no Frenchman would have learned of the disaster at Waterloo. And in that his enemies are right.

His enemies say that he exercised power by talking a lot and listening little, because he was more used to hearing echoes than voices. And in that his enemies are right.

But some things his enemies do not say: it was not to pose for the history books that he bared his breast to the invaders’ bullets,
he faced hurricanes as an equal, hurricane to hurricane,
he survived 637 attempts on his life,
his contagious energy was decisive in making a country out of a colony,
and it was not by Lucifer’s curse or God’s miracle that the new country managed to outlive 10 U.S. presidents, their napkins spread in their laps, ready to eat it with knife and fork.

And his enemies never mention that Cuba is one rare country that does not compete for the World Doormat Cup.

And they do not say that the revolution, punished for the crime of dignity, is what it managed to be and not what it wished to become. Nor do they say that the wall separating desire from reality grew ever higher and wider thanks to the imperial blockade, which suffocated a Cuban-style democracy, militarized society, and gave the bureaucracy, always ready with a problem for every solution, the alibis it needed to justify and perpetuate itself.

And they do not say that in spite of all the sorrow, in spite of the external aggression and the internal high-handedness, this distressed and obstinate island has spawned the least unjust society in Latin America.

And his enemies do not say that this feat was the outcome of the sacrifice of its people, and also of the stubborn will and old-fashioned sense of honor of the knight who always fought on the side of the losers, like his famous colleague in the fields of Castile.

Playing The Victim

Northern Reflections - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 05:30

The present crop of conservatives are a strange lot. They are, Scott Reid writes, nothing like their predecessors:

Conservatives used to campaign on rugged individualism and the projection of strength. Those of the modern breed are a whimpering litter of easily wounded weaklings. And they just can’t shut up about it.
Exhibit A is the President-Elect of the United States:

Almost daily, Donald Trump takes to Twitter to complain about the slights and insults inflicted upon him and, by extension, his millions of supporters. He is a 70-year old white male billionaire set to assume the full authority of the presidency of the United States. Outside of comic books, it’s impossible to imagine someone with greater access to personal power. And yet, he persistently rallies his followers with claims that he, and they, are subject to humiliating treatment by powerful, threatening forces. Like comedians and Broadway musicals.
Across the pond, it's more of the same:

Consider the messages underpinning the appeal of Marine Le Pen or the disaffection that fuelled Brexit. It’s a familiar litany of propagandized harms. Immigrants are taking your jobs. Sharia law is set to sweep our cities. Dollars spent on the EU could fund the National Health Service. And to quarrel with these arguments is to be branded as some sort of reverse-bully — with minorities portrayed as menacing scolds and bigotry applauded as politically incorrect courage.
And, in Canada, the Conservative Party is populated by the same kind of whiners:

Kellie Leitch moves from caucus nobody to number one in the Conservative leadership contest by reminding the rank and file that she is permanently under attack for the audacity of her views. Recently, her campaign went so far as to blame a break-in at her home on unscrupulous, dangerous leftists. So rattled was she by the violent intentions of these anonymous, tax-hiking multiculturalists that she had to withdraw from a leadership debate. The police, meanwhile, reported that there was no evidence that anyone — on the left or the right — had broken into her house. Never mind. It made for a good fundraising email.
There are no profiles in courage in this bunch. Reid correctly calls them "Crybaby Conservatives."

Image: Pinterest


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