Posts from our progressive community

Oh Dear, Buyer's Remorse Already.

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 10:53


An article in The Guardian this morning about Trump voters who are coming to realize they were had. Like Jacques Parizeau's lobsters today they find themselves in a hot pot with no way out. Hard to be sympathetic. They chose to suspend disbelief and put their faith in the most pathological liar in the history of American politics.

Trump promised them a new healthcare deal - universal coverage, lower premiums, better health services. Instead Trump is pimping a big tax cut for the richest of the rich wrapped in the mantle of reformed health care that will see 24-million Americans lose their coverage entirely.

That's Trump's unmentioned policy, the real one that reads, "you play ball with me and I'll stick the bat straight up your ass." Oh you silly Gullibillies.

Trump is on a rampage trying to delegitimize everyone and everything except Donald J. Trump. He's attacking the judiciary. He's attacking Congress, even  his own Republicans. He's attacking the European Union and NATO. He's attacking America's intelligence and security agencies. He's attacking everything except himself.  It's perverted, it's nihilistic and that's just what Trump's puppeteer, Steve Bannon has declared he's after.

Reminds me of an Ottawa politician I knew many years ago. Back then he was the reeve of Gloucester township, "Doc" McQuarrie. One day Doc took me aside and said that the art of politics was in understanding that there's a difference between scratching your ass and tearing it all apart.  Trump pretty plainly doesn't understand that.

So far Trump hasn't gotten around to droit de seigneur or jus primae noctis, the right of the lord to shag brides on their wedding night but that's probably just oversight. If it was good enough for Mobuto Sese Seko, it should be fitting for a sexual goat like Trump.

As Trump's degeneracy ramps up it will be interesting to keep an eye on some early players such as Britain's cadaverous prime minister, Theresa May, who jumped the gun to fly to Washington to give Trump a lap dance in the White House champagne room before inviting him back to London for a stay with the Queen. Now that he's smeared her intelligence centre, GCHQ, accusing the Brits of spying on Trump and the Trumpettes at the behest of Obama, P.M. Terry, the Right Honourable member for Maidenhead, on whose watch this must have happened has surely got her knickers in a bunch. Oh dear, this is one of those blunders that could cost her, especially when Angela gave Trump a couple of smacks upside the head on her visit yesterday.

This is a story that still has no conclusion. Trump's just getting started, not even two full months under his belt at this point. Something has to give. Something is going to break. But there's no guarantee that America won't be left like Humpty Dumpty.





The Glass Half Full

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 10:02

The good news. Global CO2 emissions remained stable last year for the third year in a row despite an overall increase in GDP. That means our increased production of stuff is being met with alternative, clean energy resources. Good news for renewables and all that jazz.

The other news. 1, 2, and 3. We're still growing, we're still making more stuff and we're still not slashing our greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the Cheeto Benito in the White House is intent on wrecking his nation's commitment, perhaps the world's, to the fight against climate change. To Drumpf it's just a "waste of money."

As I've preached here for years, you can't fight climate change unless you're also willing to tackle overpopulation and overconsumption of our world's oh so finite resources. It simply can't be done. And we're not even beginning to address those other two crises.

It's great that we've held the line on GHG emissions but that's less than what we should be doing. We should be making serious emissions cuts by now, not holding the line.

A lot of people will like the idea that the global economy grew by 3.1% last year but that means a commensurate increase in our already ravenous over consumption of the world's resources, renewables and non-renewables. The problem with non-renewables is obvious. When you're out, you're out. The really insidious part, however, is our over consumption of renewables, everything from freshwater to biomass. Last year mankind's ecological footprint was 1.75 times greater than the Earth's rate of resource renewal, also known as the environment's "carrying capacity." Last year, it seems, we added another 5% or so to that overload.

I'm focusing on over consumption because it reveals the core problem we're having with all these existential crises - equity, as in "fairness." When resources are inadequate you could say it's unfair for 5% of the population to consume 40% of the pie. That's like the two society matrons in the bow of the lifeboat gorging themselves on the emergency rations before tossing the scraps to the plebs manning the oars.

We of the Developed World, especially we Norte Americanos, have grown fat and sassy by consuming the lion's share of the world's fossil energy but, in the process, sharing with the entire world all of our carbon emissions. Doesn't sound very equitable, does it?

We could atone for our sins, at least a bit, but that would mean two things - one, that we decarbonize our economies first and very rapidly; and two, that we voluntarily accept a huge reduction in our per capita consumption, our Rich Man's World environmental footprint. And now Donald Trump has served notice, plain as day, that these sorts of fairness arguments are dead on arrival as far as the White House is concerned. Yet before we heap too much blame on Trump let's admit that damned few of us would accept this sort of sharing sacrifice either.

Canadians have no right to be smug either, not after the Dauphin has cleared the way for massive expansion of Tar Sands production. Sure the crud will be burned overseas but that'll be 100% Athabasca CO2 and plenty of it wafting into the atmosphere.

It's good news that we seem to have arrested growth in CO2 emissions, however temporarily. Good news, let's just take that for what it is.



mighty leaf tea: green tea and greenwashing

we move to canada - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 08:00
I recently tried a new brand of tea. I'm always looking for almond tea, which is difficult or impossible to find (more on that below), and noticed Mighty Leaf had an Almond Spice. It's green tea, and I prefer black, but I thought for the almond, I'd take a chance.




The Mighty Leaf Tea box is covered in stories about how carefully they care for the tea, the quality of their tea leaves, and how green the company is. The tea is whole leaf only, the tea pouches are made from the greenest material, and so on.

Back when we had organics recycling, we always tossed used tea bags in the "green bin". Now, living in an apartment, we no longer have that option. The tea bag is going in the trash anyway, so the greenness of the pouch isn't a big concern for me. However, ordinary tea bags are fine for organics recycling, so I'm not sure why this pouch is so special.

When I brought the tea home and opened the box, I was surprised and dismayed to find each individual pouch packaged inside a plastic sleeve! Fifteen tea pouches, 15 plastic sleeves! What the...?

Mighty Leaf tea pouch
Mighty Leaf tea pouch as packaged
I tweeted the company and did not get a response, then tried email.
Hello,

I recently bought a box of Mighty Leaf tea for the first time. When I opened the box, I was horrified to find each pouch packaged in an individual plastic bag! I would never have bought this tea if I had known this -- and it is exactly the opposite of all the promotional copy on the box.

I am planning on writing about this on my blog, but wanted to contact you first, so I can include your statement or reaction.

I'm guessing this plastic is some specially made material that is considered biodegradable. But as I'm sure you know, almost nothing biodegrades in landfill. Are the plastic pouches suitable for organics disposal? If so, why doesn't it say so on the box?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,
I received this response.
Hi Laura,

Thank you for your e-mail. Our tea pouches are in fact bio-degradable and compostable, although we would recommend industrial composting available in many parts of Canada. Our tea pouch has in fact won awards for being environmentally friendly:

[This was pasted in.] Artisan Hand-Stitched Pouches

In ancient traditions around the world, a freshly brewed pot filled with whole tea leaves is revered as the richest in character. Inspired by this legacy, Mighty Leaf specially created the silken Tea Pouch filled with the world’s finest whole tea leaves, herbs, fruits and flavor. No longer was it necessary to brew a pot of tea and use a strainer or an infuser to experience whole leaf tea the way it's enjoyed in gardens across the world!

Each portion of whole leaf tea is precisely measured and carefully wrapped in our hand-stitched pouches. These large, silken pouches showcase the distinctive beauty of our special blends and give the leaves room to unfurl as they steep, allowing the nuanced flavors to fully infuse for the ideal tea experience.

Besides the beautiful leaves you’ll notice that our pouches have a lot of tea inside. Typically our pouches contain about two and a half grams of tea, which allows you to brew a large cup of tea (btw 12oz to 14oz).

Each tea pouch is hand stitched with 100% unbleached cotton. The silken material is made from polylactic acid (PLA), which is derived from corn starch. The pouches are biodegradable and can be composted in an industrial composter.The email also included this image.


I find the tea-pouch narrative a bit much. But in practical terms, did this person really misunderstand my question? Was my question unclear? I tried again.
Hi,

Thank you for your reply. However, I was not referring to the tea pouches. Each pouch is packaged in an individual plastic sleeve. I am referring to that outer container or sleeve.He replied:
Hi again Laura,

In order to conserve the freshness of our teas and herbal infusions we need to hermetically seal them in some form of envelope. Unfortunately nobody has yet developed a material in which you can hermetically our teas which is also biodegradable. As you can tell from the environmentally friendly efforts that we made with our tea pouches, as soon as someone does, we will look at using it.

Enjoy our teas!I'm afraid I took it one step further, and I did (unintentionally) ignore the word "hermetically".
Are you kidding me? One already exists. It's called paper.Their response.
Hi again Laura,

No, I don’t believe I am kidding you – paper cannot hermetically seal, unless of course you wax it and then it won’t biodegrade.Does tea really need to be hermetically sealed? Why isn't a paper envelope -- similar to how Lipton (US) and Red Rose (Canada) are packaged -- adequate? My all-time favourite tea, Bewley's (Ireland and the UK), uses mesh bags with no string and no paper. Works great.

I didn't like the almond tea very much, probably because it is green tea rather than black. But no matter how much I enjoyed it, I would not buy a product loaded down with unnecessary plastic packaging.

* * * *

The story of the almond tea. I used to love Celestial Seasoning Almond Sunset tea, but it disappeared many years ago, apparently discontinued. I have not been able to find a decent substitute, even in expensive loose-leaf tea, which I would rather not buy. For this post, I found the Celestial Seasoning website -- and they have a Canadian site, too -- which encourages you to contact them if you cannot find what you want in stores. If I could buy Almond Sunset directly from CS, that would be amazing.

And why don't I use loose-leaf tea? We do sometimes buy and enjoy loose tea for interesting flavours or because we find ourselves in a nice tea shop. But we drink tea every day, and we both enjoy the convenience, the strong flavour, and the consistency of tea bags. Our favourite is Bewley's Irish Tea, which we used to go out of our way to buy in New York. We have not found a convenient place to buy it in the GTA, but if I ever see a box, I would pounce on it.

Donald Trump's Cruel and Monstrous Budget

Montreal Simon - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 06:53


It's a budget plan only the monstrous Donald Trump and his bestial followers could love. 

A plan that would take money from the poor and the vulnerable, and hand it over to the police, the military, and the millionaires.  

One that would attack the arts and the humanities as only fascists can.

And one that could only be the product of those who would describe the crippling of meals-on-wheels programs all over America as an act of "compassion."
Read more »

An Outstanding Letter!

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 06:31


While I have always considered myself an able letter-to-the-editor writer, I have also developed ability over the years to recognize superior work when I see it. The following letter from Cathy Allen of Toronto is emblematic of such work. She inspires me, as a Canadian, by her vision of what our country could be:
When I was 18, I attended Expo 67 and voted for Justin Trudeau’s father. Now that I am a widowed senior and disabled and I can’t afford to pay my rent without my son’s help, I find that I am not as proud as I once was to be a Canadian.

When will I be proud to be a Canadian again?

When we build more geared-to-income housing and repair the ones we have so every Canadian can afford a roof over their heads that costs less than 50 per cent of their income.

When nursing homes are given more than $8 dollars and change for a daily food allowance and residents can have a bath when they want.

When no one in Canada is homeless and living on the street and we can afford to bring the minimum wage and pensions above the poverty line because we’ve closed the loopholes and made the corporations that do business in this country pay their fair share of taxes.

When we restore the environmental laws that protect our rivers and lakes and enforce them.

When we stop trampling on our indigenous peoples’ sacred sites and respect their culture and land rights and pay them the compensation due them so they can build decent housing and hospitals and recreation centres and libraries, or their children can move anywhere they want and no longer feel they are not part of our society.

When working-class women with children under the age of 3 are not forced to work but may, if they wish, because we have an affordable daycare system up and running.

And, finally, when we stop calling waging war “peacekeeping” and no longer ship tanks and guns and instead send aid.

That will be the day I will be proud to be a Canadian again. Right now, all I am is relieved that I am not an American.Recommend this Post

When We Lose Our Memories

Northern Reflections - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 05:49


Henry Giroux writes that, if we are looking for a way to explain the rise of Donald Trump, we should look to our memories -- which Giroux believes we have lost:

Trump is the fascist shadow that has been lurking in the dark since Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Authoritarianism has now become viral in America, pursuing new avenues to spread its toxic ideology of bigotry, cruelty, and greed into every facet of society. Its legions of “alt-right” racists, misogynists, and xenophobic hate-mongers now expose themselves publicly, without apology, knowing full well that they no longer have to use code for their hatred of all those who do not fit into their white-supremacist and ultra-nationalist script.

Trump’s victory makes clear that the economic crisis and the misery it has spurred has not been matched by an ideological crisis– a crisis of ideas, education, and values. Critical analysis and historical memory have given way to a culture of spectacles, sensationalism, and immediacy. Dangerous memories are now buried in a mass bombardment of advertisements, state sanctioned lies, and a political theater of endless spectacles. The mainstream media is now largely an adjunct of the entertainment industries and big corporations. Within the last 40 years training has taken the place of critical education, and the call for job skills has largely replaced critical thinking. Without an informed public, there is no resistance in the name of democracy and justice; nor is there a model of individual and collective agency rising to such an occasion.
There was a time when the memory of Fascism in Europe was still fresh. But it's been seventy years since the end of the Second World War. We are three generations away from that event. And those who lived through it are dying off. Giroux writes that a memory is a terrible thing to waste, because once it is gone, what is left in its wake is ignorance. And those who assume power compound the problem by manufacturing ignorance:

Manufactured ignorance erases histories of repression, exploitation, and revolts. What is left is a space of fabricated absences that makes it easy, if not convenient, to forget that Trump is not some eccentric clown offered up to the American polity through the deadening influence of celebrity and consumer culture. State and corporate sponsored ignorance produced primarily through the disimagination machines of the mainstream media and public relations industries in diverse forms now function chiefly to erase selected elements of history, disdain critical thought, reduce dissent to a species of fake news, and undermine the social imagination. How else to explain the recent Arkansas legislator who is pushing legislation to ban the works of the late historian Howard Zinn? How else to explain a culture awash in game shows and Realty TV programs? How else to explain the aggressive attack by extremists in both political parties on public and higher education? Whitewashing history is an urgent matter, especially for the Trump administration, which has brought a number of white supremacists to the center of power in the United States. 
It is abundantly apparent that Donald Trump is a profoundly ignorant man. And those who elected him are equally ignorant of the world in which they live.

Friday Evening Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 19:01
Assorted content to end your week.

- Linda McQuaig discusses the need to fight fake news about Canada's health care system (and the corporate raiders trying to amplify it):
(I)t was with some pleasure last week that I watched as a Republican congressman tried to insist that Canadians routinely flock to the U.S. for health care, only to have MSNBC host Ali Velshi stop him dead in his tracks.

“Sir, I grew up in Canada,” Velshi declared. “I live in Canada. My entire family is in Canada. Nobody I know ever came to the United States for health care. I am sure you have a handful of stories about things like that. It is not actually statistically true.”

Whenever Americans start tinkering with their deeply dysfunctional health care system, we feel the reverberations up here, as right-wing commentators seek to denigrate our system of universal health care coverage, which they know sets a dangerous example.

With the ruling Republicans now poised to take health care coverage from 14 million Americans (eventually 24 million) and keep a straight face while insisting this is about increasing their “choice,” it’s worth reminding ourselves just how merciless, cruel (and stupid) so many of the Trump/Republican solutions truly are.

Health care is a particularly stark example, but it is symptomatic of the Republican keenness to fully embrace the private marketplace, even though that means abandoning vast numbers of their fellow citizens by the side of the road.
...
American commentators talk about how “complicated” reforming health care is. True, if you utterly reject the simple solution that works — a Canadian-style public system — it does become awfully complicated devising a solution that pleases the broader American public while also satisfying two radical extremists who together have the world’s largest fortune and a deep aversion to sharing. - But Joyce Nelson examines Toronto's apparent interest in following Chicago's disastrous path toward privatizing parking as an example of foolish U.S. ideas can infiltrate Canadian politics.

- Crawford Kilian's review of Walter Schiedel's The Great Leveler points out that past reductions in inequality have largely arisen only in times of crisis, while wondering whether we can move past that trend. And on the bright side, Laurie Monsebraaten finds that Ontario's basic income pilot project is receiving massive public support - as well as questions as to why it isn't going further sooner.

- Jason Warick reports on the millions of dollars the Saskatchewan Party is burning on barely-used rural highways while slashing services for Saskatchewan's citizens. And Adam Hunter offers a look at the laid-off workers who seem to be the only people being forced to sacrifice for Brad Wall's poor governance.

- Finally, Brendan Kennedy writes about the reality of Canada's incarceration of immigrants - making for a particularly embarrassing contrast to Justin Trudeau's attempts to claim to offer opportunities for all.

Angry Old White Dude Travels Light, Runs Out of Steam

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 17:56

American secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, cut short his visit to South Korea, reportedly citing "fatigue." Tillerson is on a 3-nation Asia tour that started in Japan and is supposed to finish in China.

Unlike previous state secretaries, Tillerson is traveling light - packing along a press pool of just one, reporter Erik McPike of the far right Independent Journal Review.

Tillerson lasted long enough in South Korea to threaten North Korea with war.

“I think it’s important to recognize that the political and diplomatic efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to the point of denuclearization have failed,” Tillerson said.

“Certainly we do not want for things to get to a military conflict. But obviously if North Korea takes actions that threaten the South Korean forces or our own forces then that would be met with an appropriate response,” adding, “If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe that requires action, that option is on the table.”


With that, Tillerson adjourned for a badly needed nap.


Did German Reporters School Their Cowed American Counterparts?

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 17:54

Trump probably won't be entertaining questions from the German press again anytime soon. Those attending the Merkel-Trump meeting didn't mince words when they got a chance to question the Cheeto Benito - and he didn't like it.

American journos later praised the German press for asking blunt questions they wouldn't dare raise.

It's too bad the American press is so gutless, especially when they've got this lunatic on a platter.

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 17:22
Omnia feat. Melissa Loretta - Halo

Like Shooting Fish In a Barrel - Apache Helicopter Gunship Attacks Refugee Boat

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 16:33


An Apache helicopter gunship has reportedly laid waste to a small boat packed with Somali refugees off the coast of Yemen. The U.N. Refugee Agency, UNHCR, reports that 42 of the 140 Somali migrants aboard the boat were killed.

The boat, filled with refugees attempting to flee war-torn Yemen including women and children, had made it about 30 miles offshore when a helicopter swooped in and opened fire. A local coast guard official from the Houthi-rebel controlled coast of Yemen told Reuters an Apache helicopter attacked the boat, though it remains unclear who is responsible for the attack.

Saudi Arabia, which leads an Arab air campaign against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, owns U.S.-made Apache helicopters. A spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition said the coalition didn’t operate in the region of the attack Thursday.

All of the dead were reportedly carrying U.N. refugee identity papers.

What a Churlish Prick

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 12:59

The handshake photo-op is an obligatory part of a foreign leader's visit to the White House. The Cheeto Benito already has a well-earned reputation for the vigor of his hand clasp.

Which is why it was so awkward today when German chancellor Angela Merkel sat down with Trump for the standard photo-op. As photographers repeatedly called "handshake", the Great Orange Bloat ignored them - and the chancellor.



What a churlish prick although it was good to see how uncomfortable Donald Trump can plainly look in the presence of a powerful woman unwilling to put up with his bullshit.


"We're a Very Powerful Company"

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:35

That little Freudian slip from the lips of the Cheeto Benito at the Merkel-Trump press conference just minutes ago. Trump was responding to a German reporter's question - to Merkel - about American isolationist leanings. Instead, Trump replied and, of course, ensured he got out the "fake news" response.

A weird press conference. Trump opened by praising Germany's job training programmes without connecting them in any way to German-American relations. He then launched into the standard "countries must pay the U.S. what they owe" as he portrayed America as a land much abused by the rest of the world. From there he moved on to radical Islam, ISIS and linked both to immigration security.

Merkel's remarks were challenging. The White House feed left her mic on full which meant that Merkel's remarks, in German, and the translator's delivery were canceled each other out.

In one clear moment, the German chancellor seemed to take a dig at Trump when she said, "It's much better to take to one another and not about one another," which seemed a response to repeated disparaging remarks about Merkel from the Great Orange Bloat.

Earlier today, Germany's economy minister took a more direct swipe at Trump over his threat to impose a 35% tariff on German cars.

"There are procedures laid out there because in the WTO agreements it is clearly laid out that you're not allowed to take more than 2.5% taxes on imports of cars," Ms Zypries told Deutschlandfunk radio - Mr Trump has suggested a 35% levy.

"It wouldn't be the first time that Mr Trump has lost in the courts," she added.

Merkel was also quick to point out that BMW's plant in the U.S. exported more cars to world markets than Ford and GM combined. Ouch, feel the burn Trumpy.

America's Islamophobia Industry

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 10:11


Hmm, why does the name Kellie Leitch come to mind?

Islamophobia has become a hallmark of Amerika's ascendant radical right. 90 years ago in Europe, it was the Jews. In 21st century Amerika, it's Muslims that are the firewood to fuel the very worst varieties of nationalist populism. Foreign Policy calls it "Islamophobia Inc."

The subject of the article is Jonathon Brown, a convert to Islam and professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown.

Brown’s attempts to explain the faith have made him a hate figure for the American right. A flood of articles accuse him of being an apologist for slavery and rape. His family has received death and rape threats.

It all started with good intentions. Brown is one of the majority of Muslims around the world who believes the Islamic State practices a warped interpretation of Islamic thought that blesses slavery, rape, and other crimes. But Brown also knows that not all Muslims are so quick to dismiss the jihadi group’s theology. Certainly the hundreds of foreign fighters who have trickled into Syria and Iraq to join its ranks find its ideas seductive.

...


But Brown felt that he was called to try, hence his public lecture at the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Virginia, on Feb. 7. In the first of what he intended as a three-part series, Brown addressed slavery in Islam, hoping to combat the idea that Islam could ever condone the subjugation and exploitation of human beings.

That was when he encountered a cacophony of a different sort — America’s far-right, anti-Muslim ecosystem that has adopted the same twisted interpretations of Islam that the Islamic State promotes. After the lecture, Brown endured a cascade of online attacks from conservative and alternative-right heavyweights such as Ann Coulter, Robert Spencer, and Milo Yiannopoulos, who claimed that he had actually condoned the acts he had set about to condemn. His university department was flooded with demands that he be fired.

Brown is the victim of an increasingly empowered industry of Islamophobia that constricts the space for balanced and open dialogue, sidelining the very Muslims who are doing the most to promote peaceful, orthodox interpretations of Islam. The United States has powerful protections for speech and religious liberty that have allowed faith traditions to hammer out their theological debates in a free and protected environment. But a targeted network now seeks to deny Muslims that freedom and to treat Islam as a dangerous political ideology rather than a religion — and, like the McCarthyites of the 1950s, to silence and discredit any Muslims who disagree.
...
The United States once battled its own militant pseudo-state that invoked religion to justify institutionalized slavery. “[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God,” said Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America. “It is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation … it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts.”

The Gettysburg Museum of History in Pennsylvania describes the Civil War as a “theological crisis” in American Christianity. One exhibit features an 1857 pamphlet called “Slavery: Ordained of God,” written by the Rev. Fred A. Ross of Huntsville, Alabama. Nearby is a painting of John Brown, the famed Christian abolitionist, holding a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other.
...
What Brown was attempting to do was build a bridge for American Muslims between their sacred scripture and their human rights sensibilities, as many Christian thinkers before him have done. For his efforts, he attracted the attention of an Islamophobic ecosystem designed to marginalize any Muslim who speaks out. Brown’s straightforward academic lecture was quickly transformed into fodder for a flood of unscrupulous articles painting him as someone who “justifies slavery and the rape of female slaves,” leaving him with a horrific online footprint that is likely to trail him for decades.

In the years after 9/11, a small but powerful network of funders and ideological activists has waged a major misinformation campaign, seeking to cast Islam as a diabolical threat that must be eradicated. Their concerted efforts have resulted in an influential infrastructure of websites, activists, lawmakers, and grassroots organizations that hold sway in municipal councils and state legislatures — and now have the ear of the president of the United States.

Between 2001 and 2009, seven charitable foundations donated $42.6 million to think tanks that promoted anti-Muslim rhetoric, as a 2011 report by the Center for American Progress revealed. These organizations include Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy; Stop Islamization of America, founded by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer; the website Jihad Watch, directed by Spencer; and the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which hosts Jihad Watch. These organizations came up with several talking points about Islam that they promoted among lawmakers, grassroots networks, and the Christian right. Chiefly among these ideas was the belief that sharia, or Islamic law, is a totalitarian political ideology that presents the greatest domestic threat facing the United States today; that the Muslim Brotherhood, a loosely organized international Islamist movement, has infiltrated the U.S. government; and that Islam commands believers to lie about their motives. In other words, no Muslim can be trusted; you must infiltrate their private spaces to learn what they think.

This campaign has been wildly successful. Gaffney is now a senior advisor to the Donald Trump White House. Gaffney’s influence extends throughout the administration. Kellyanne Conway, who ran Trump’s campaign and now serves as counselor to the president, managed polling for the Center for Security Policy. Stephen Bannon, former head of the alt-right website Breitbart and now White House chief strategist, frequently invited Gaffney to appear on Breitbart’s radio show.

...
American Muslims are reacting to forces far beyond their control — a feverish paranoia that echoes the anti-Communist Red Scare in the decade after World War II. Virtually any Muslim who has chosen to speak out or to become active in politics has faced a torrent of similarly unscrupulous smearing.

Ideologues are seeking to marginalize Muslims by making their speech and their activism relating to their religion come at a very high price. They believe that Muslims are malevolent, duplicitous, and dangerous, and these Islamophobes will bend the truth to fit their claims. In the process, they are denying Islam the same functional rights that Christianity enjoys and silencing the very people best poised to reconcile Islam with modern American life.
Which may be the very point.

To the left™

Dawg's Blawg - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 09:22
The political fashion trend of the times: if someone—anyone—from an oppressed group criticizes a cis-white progressive activist, we need to apologize and move on. Because of colonialism, patriarchy, sexism and racism, we white folks on the Left have it coming.... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

A Moral Coward

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 06:45


Every so often, I happen upon a news item that, for want of a better word, inflames me; it is usually something so patently outrageous that my capacity for calm desserts me, and I launch into a semi-tirade. This morning was one of those moments.

Now some may say that because I am not black, I have no right to pass judgement on Senator Don Meredith, the reprobate who used his positions of power (as pastor of his church and as a Harper-appointed senator) to 'groom' an underage member of his congregation for a totally inappropriate and morally reprehensible sexual relationship. Anyone who reads my blog knows that injustice, especially the abuse of power, is something that offends me to the core, and a person's race or colour can never exempt him or her from condemnation.

Yet Don Meredith begs to differ. First of all, the coward is thus far refusing to resign, despite pressure from his senate colleagues to do so, instead opting to take a leave of absence "on the advice of his doctor".

Perhaps he is hoping for the storm to blow over? Meredith seems perplexed as to the calls for his resignation. In his mind, he has owned up to his 'mistake.'
"This is a moral failing on my part," a grim-faced Meredith said in a wide-ranging interview, with his wife Michelle quietly at his side. "As a human being, I made a grave error in judgment, in my interactions. For that I am deeply sorry."

Meredith, 52, repeatedly apologized to his wife, children, his fellow senators and "all Canadians" for the relationship that took place with the woman known only as Ms. M.

His wife and children have forgiven him, he said, and he asked for the same forgiveness from his Senate colleagues and Ms. M herself.

"I believe in the power of forgiveness and reconciliation," he said as his Toronto lawyer looked on. "We're humans, and humans make mistakes."But neither his public mea culpa nor his refusal to resign are what set me off. It was this:
The senator said Wednesday he believes he has been the victim of racism since the allegations about his affair first surfaced in the summer of 2015. Where individuals of colour rise, he said, somehow they're taken down — whether it's "self-inflicted or orchestrated."

"Absolutely, racism has played a role in this," Meredith said. "This is nothing new to me. There is always a double standard that exists in this country."

Pieters said his client was being portrayed as a "sexual predator" because he is an imposing black man — but that clearly was not the case.For Meredith to 'play the race card' not only compounds his moral cowardice, but also indirectly impugns all those who have been actual victims of racism. His claim, in my view, demonstrates not only his unfitness to hold public office, but also his ongoing position as executive director of the GTA Faith Alliance.

And I am hardly alone in my umbrage:



There is no question in my mind that if we are to have even a modicum of respect for the failing Senate, Don Meredith must go.




Recommend this Post

Not Exactly As They Appear

Northern Reflections - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 05:18


There was a collective sigh of relief when Geert Wilders did not come out on top in the Netherlands election. But Tom Walkom warns that all is not sweetness and light:

But Wilder’s Freedom Party still did well. It came a strong second, winning five additional seats in the 150-person legislature, for a total of 20.
More important, other parties felt compelled to ape Wilders, at least in part.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy ran on a platform of economic liberalism and cultural nationalism, warning immigrants to adopt Dutch values or leave.
If there was any saving grace, it was the pledges of the other parties that they would not work with Wilders. But the way seats are spread among the other parties is a bit troubling: 
Rutte’s party lost eight seats but still managed to come first with 33.
The Christian Democratic Appeal, another conservative party, campaigned on a nationalist platform that included banning dual citizenship and requiring schoolchildren to sing the national anthem.
That, too, worked. The Christian Democrats saw their seat total rise from 13 to 19, virtually guaranteeing them a central role in whatever coalition government emerges.
Much has been made of Jesse Klaver’s Green Left party, which saw its seat share rise from four to 14.The 30-year-old Klaver is of Moroccan and Indonesian heritage. He supports immigration, the EU and efforts to combat climate change. With his movie-star looks and dark, wavy hair he has been called Holland’s Justin Trudeau.
His success, as well as that of the pro-Europe D66 party, which went from 12 to 19 seats, underlines just how complicated the new populism is.
And, as is the case with any coalition government, everything depends on how well Rutte can get a team of rivals to work together. If he fails, the number two man may step in.
Things are not exactly as they might first appear.
Image: Metopolis

The Con Leadership Race Is Now a Stinky Scandal

Montreal Simon - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 03:55


It's a horrible sight, it sounds bestial. Oinky, oinky, honky honk!!!!

And it smells even worse. 

But who can be surprised?

As the never ending Con leadership race heads towards the final stretch, the stench of porky is in the air.

And the most disgusting leadership campaign in modern Canadian history is in danger of gassing itself.
Read more »

A Crime Against Humanity

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 00:24

Trump budget director, Mick Mulvaney, announces that the Trump regime will no longer fund action to thwart climate change. It's a "waste of money."



With Trump already having relieved the auto industry of Obama's targets for emissions reductions and his actions to accelerate the production of all fossil fuels, including coal, America has officially turned on humanity.

If Y(emelin) Should Fall From Grace with Claude (apologies to the Pogues)

Tattered Sleeve - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 18:22
If Y Should Fall from Grace with Claude
After being cleanly beaten
If Y’s muscled off the puck
And his passes fail completely

Let him sit Claude, let him sit Claude
Let Y sit up with the press where the hotdogs come with fries

This Cup was always ours 
Was the pride of Montrealers
It belongs to the Habs
Not to any of Buttman’s fuckers
It’s coming back here boys, coming back here boys!
Dump the Buttman in the south where the hockey fans run dry

Keep GCHuck at C
Let those Forum ghosts direct him
If he shoots from open ice
KidA or LB will deflect them
Into the goal boys, into the goal boys!
Win this town a twenty-fifth Cup
Where the Frenchmen used to fly

If Y Should Fall from Grace with Claude
After being cleanly beaten
Harley’s raring to go
And he passes pretty cleanly

Let him sit Claude, let him sit Claude
Let Y sit up with the press where the hotdogs come with fries


POGUE MAHONE!!!

GYFHG

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