Posts from our progressive community

Stephen Harper and the Final Battle for Canada

Montreal Simon - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 03:57

For ten long years he has schemed and plotted to destroy the Canada he hates so much, by perverting our traditions, and dismembering our democracy.

And now he's got a new plan that he hopes will do both.

Force a long and exhausting election campaign upon Canadians, so he can bombard them with ads from his well funded propaganda machine, while draining the money like blood out of the opposition.

So he can claw them to death in the final stages of the campaign.

And it seems that the Final Battle for Canada is about to begin. 
Read more »

Stephen Harper and the Pathetic Con Sheeple

Montreal Simon - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 23:31

Well never let it be said that the Harper Cons are not a cult, or a herd of pathetic sheeple.

A baaing bunch incapable of independent thought, who can only repeat word for word what the PMO tells them.

As even their so-called Finance Minister, the hapless stooge Joe Oliver, does all the time...

And for even more evidence of that please consult the following video.
Read more »

An Exercise in Nation Building, Part Two

Sister Sages Musings - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 19:09

Thank you to my 9 readers for responding to my last question.  Clearly, you are all very intelligent and discerning readers.

Canada has a wealth of fresh water, yet we have no regulatory structure to protect it as a common asset.

Tonight’s question… Is water a human right? Which is a kind of a . . . → Read More: An Exercise in Nation Building, Part Two

If Your Guy Gets to Run Canada, Do You Really Think It'll Be Much Better?

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 16:41
As the world witnesses the steady progress of "early onset" climate change impacts we're coming to realize what it means, that there is no going back. It's a one-way road to nowhere good.  Maybe, through some miracle far beyond anything ever experienced by man, someday we'll get really creative and find a way to slow it down, perhaps even stop it from getting any worse but rolling it back, to say the 60s, isn't going to happen.

There are a lot of potholes awaiting us just up ahead.  If we want to we can avoid some of them but that's going to take a whole lot more "want" than we're showing so far.  We're going to have to want it enough to change course, give up some things, switch to better things.  It begins when we stop chasing ourselves ever closer to the edge of that cliff.

The first step could be the hardest.  We have to decarbonize our economy and we have to decarbonize our society.  That means achieving independence from fossil fuels or almost all fossil fuels and certainly the highest-carbon fuels.  It means transitioning to alternative, clean energy options that are both renewable and astonishingly abundant, there pretty much for the taking. It doesn't have to be done overnight. That's impossible. But it has to be started by reducing fossil fuel consumption and replacing it with renewables and, on that score, we're already far behind where we should be. We have much catching up to do. We need action on a Marshall Plan scale.

The reason our governments (and opposition parties) are dragging their heels on this is because it's economically dislocative, at least initially.  When the Three Stooges of Parliament Hill look to the tar-fields of Alberta and Saskatchewan they don't see a ticking time bomb for the environment. They see enormous wealth of the worst, low-hanging fruit variety. It's all sitting there, waiting to be dug or boiled out of the ground, and there are companies that will do all that heavy lifting and hand them a cheque on their way out.  Free Money, Free Money, Free Money. That's too much to refuse for those Petro-Pimps; Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau.

They're all willing to promise a sop to the eco-minded.  It usually comes in some vague notion of carbon tax that will assuredly be low enough not to impede the extractive giants of Athabasca. They don't want to ruffle the feathers of the goose that laid their golden egg. They would rather steer us straight toward that giant, goddamned pothole that's directly ahead, the very worst of the lot.

Chances are you want one of those three at the wheel as we head down this one-way road straight toward that ginormous pothole. I'm sorry but I don't understand that. I think you've got to be out of your mind. Oh sure this one will give you a few extra bucks for daycare and that one will promise you a hike in minimum wages (most of which they can't deliver in any case). And, sure enough, they're not going to be Stephen Harper either. But what does that really mean, why does that matter if they're just going to keep us on the same course toward that godawful pothole?

Would you think of it differently if, instead of bitumen, it was something else equally lethal but less publicly acceptable?  What if we were sitting on a mountain of street-grade heroin? No, let's make it highly radioactive opium - laced with asbestos. And, in our name, they want to flog it overseas. They would never do that, would they? Of course they would. Governments do it all the time. We venerate Queen Victoria in this country, especially in my home province, and she presided over the biggest international drug trafficking racket in history.

As I write this I realize the futility of my words. You're still going to vote for Mulcair or for Trudeau and one of those Petro-Pimps is going to be behind the wheel when the last vote is counted.  And that will stand as your declaration that, as a people, we don't want that last best chance bad enough. We'll worry about that pothole - wait, it's turned into a sinkhole - when we plummet into it. As for our grandkids, well screw'em.

CBC Reports Election Call by Sunday

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 14:11
Are Canadians in for an 11-week election campaign? That seems to be what's in store according to CBC News.

The election is generally considered to be set for Oct. 19, 2015, under the Conservatives' fixed election law, although there is wiggle room. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Bloomberg News Wednesday that he considers that date to be set in stone.

Dropping the writ more than 11 weeks before voting day will make it the longest campaign in modern history. The previous longest campaign was a 74-day one in 1926.

Harper's interview with Boomberg raised some eyebrows for the prime minister's assertion that he doesn't "speculate" on what he will do in the future. That came in response to Bloomberg's question about the election timing — a decision which rests entirely with the prime minister.

"I don't speculate, and I particularly don't speculate on my own actions.... Obviously, there is an important decision coming up for Canadians [on] Oct. 19," Harper said.

The first leaders' debate will fall in the first week of the campaign. The debate hosted by Maclean's magazine was already set for Thursday, Aug. 6, but hadn't been intended to fall during the campaign.

Enough is enough

Dammit Janet - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 13:27
This happened, certainly not for the first time on Porter Airlines:
Christine Flynn, 31, said she was buckled in and waiting for Porter Airlines Flight 121 from Newark, N.J. to Toronto to take off early on Monday morning when an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man approached.

"He came down the aisle, he didn't actually look at me … or make eye contact. He turned to the gentleman across the aisle and said, 'Change.'"

Flynn said she was confused at first, wondering why the man was speaking to the other passenger and gesturing toward her. The man didn't speak to her directly, but Flynn said it's clear to her that he didn't want to sit next to her because she's a woman.

Flynn said she might have been willing to accommodate the man had he spoken to her directly and politely asked her to switch seats. She admits language may have been a factor — saying his English "wasn't terrific" — but said his refusal to even make eye contact was offensive.

"He could have made a plan, he could have put in a request," Flynn said in an interview Wednesday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "When someone doesn't look at you, and when someone doesn't acknowledge you as person because of your gender, you're a lot less willing to be accommodating.

"Leaving it to the last minute and expecting me to move is appalling. He's expecting me to fall in to that archetypical feminine role and acquiesce."Other airlines, too.

My response would have been:

Oh yeah.  We see you Patriarchy.  The voluntary members of your ideological clan - the arrogant, the hateful, the entitled, the gynophobic - assume their beliefs are universal and immutable.

My solution:

Another solution: Make the dudes wear blindfolds.  If their eyes offend them by allowing them to *see* women, they can pluck them out.

Patriarchy is not limited to religious institutions; the crusty members of the *New Atheist™old boys club* easily roll within the ruts of obsolescent yet familiar dogma.

I would support a movement to dump ALL THESE DUDES on the next available uninhabited planet, with their toys, their issues, their fetishes, their infuriation, their toxic narcissism.

It's a phenomenon. Wherever male (or one man's) privilege or opinion is challenged, it produces a torrent of consummate women-haters cranking up the volume, using extreme sexualized and/or murderous terms, engaging in habitual 'masculine' trolling tactics directed at the target of their _rage du jour_.

It all eventually degrades into an orgy of vile verbal violence, with these jerks behaving exactly like chimps competing to establish who's the most alpha of them all, who is the most MASSIVELY endowed.

They just form a panel with Barbara Kay and Christie Blatchford judging who has the biggest metaphorical dick.  Or who is the best at compensating mightily

for a lack thereof.

Enough Said

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 12:40
Jimmy Kimmel on the slaughter of Cecil the lion. He nails it.

The Signs Are Everywhere - Part 2

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 11:52
You can access part one here.

Logical fallacies
The reason why there's a 97% consensus is because of the many lines of evidence that humans are causing global warming. Human fingerprints are being observed in heat escaping out to space, in the structure of the atmosphere and even in the changing seasons. Another denialist technique used to counter the weight of evidence is the logical fallacy.

The most common fallacious argument is that current climate change must be natural because climate has changed naturally in the past. This myth commits the logical fallacy of jumping to conclusions. It's like finding a dead body with a knife sticking out of its back, and arguing that the person must have died of natural causes because humans have died of natural causes in the past. The premise does not lead to the conclusion.
Recommend this Post

How America ReStructured the Balance of Power in the Middle East. Hint - Neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia Came Out on Top

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 11:40
It was a strategic defeat when Washington failed to impose a "secular" government on Iraq and, instead, had to back off and watch a government representative of Iraq's long marginalized and brutally suppressed majority, the Shia, ascend to power with its public support. If Bush/Cheney didn't capitulate they were in for two endless unconventional wars - one with the Sunni army who were sent packing off home with the toppling of Saddam's government, the other with the Shiite militias. And so Nouri al Maliki came to power to run roughshod over a country that has never demonstrated itself capable of functioning as a state except at gunpoint.

Here's the thing. The Iraqis have never said they want to be Iraqi. They weren't Iraqis until Britain and France shook hands and drew some lines carving up what, until the end of WWI, had been Ottoman Empire territory. Voila, instant Iraq! It's probably fair to say the Iraqi people were simply living, breathing spoils of war. Without any voice in the matter they, Kurd/Sunni/Shiite were much akin to captives.

When Saddam was toppled, the Americans never consulted Iraq's ethnic constituencies to discover what they wanted. Judging by what has happened ever since that might have been a priceless lost opportunity.

The Kurds were upfront. They wanted an autonomous Kurdish state from Kirkuk to the Turkish border. They even had a constitution for such an independent state drawn up with the help of US foreign service staffer, Peter Galbraith, son on John Kenneth..

It's quite likely that Iraq's Sunni population would have been content with their own state nestled between the Kurds to the north and the Shia to the south and abutting Syria. That would have given them control of the as yet not well explored oilfields in the central area.

The Shia would have their own theocratic enclave in the south including Baghdad and the oilfields that generate most of Iraq's current wealth. They would have also had the backing of neighbouring Iran to guarantee they would never again succumb to Sunni domination.

I'm drawn back to Galbraith's observations in his 2008 book, "How Iraq Ends"

For the most part, Iraq's leaders are not personally stubborn or uncooperative. They find it impossible to reach agreement on the benchmarks because their constituents don't agree on any common vision for Iraq. The Shi'ites voted twice in 2005 for parties that seek to define Iraq as a Shi'ite state. By their boycotts and votes, the Sunni Arabs have almost unanimously rejected the Shi'ite vision of Iraq's future, including the new constitution. The Kurds envisage an Iraq that does not include them. In the 2005 parliamentary elections, 99% of them voted for Kurdish nationalist parties, and in the January 2005 referendum, 98% voted for an independent Kurdistan.

America's war in Iraq is lost. Of course, neither President Bush nor the war's intellectual architects are prepared to admit this. Nonetheless, the specter of defeat shapes their thinking in telling ways.

The case for the war is no longer defined by the benefits of winning - a stable Iraq, democracy on the march in the Middle East, the collapse of the evil Iranian and Syrian regimes - but by the consequences of defeat. As Bush put it, "The consequences of failure in Iraq would be death and destruction in the Middle East and here in America."

...Iraq after a US defeat will look very much like Iraq today - a land divided along ethnic lines into Arab and Kurdish states with a civil war being fought within its Arab part. Defeat is defined by America's failure to accomplish its objective of a self-sustaining, democratic and unified Iraq. And that failure has already taken place, along with the increase of Iranian power in the region.
The Americans will never deign to admit it but their defeat in Iraq has led to a curious rapprochement between Washington and Tehran as the once low-grade civil war between Shiite and Sunni Iraqis metastasized into today's war with ISIS.

Despite the best efforts of the United States, Iran is now the co-dominant power in the Middle East. And rising. (Washington remains the other half of that "co.")

Another quick plunge into largely forgotten history: the U.S. stumbled into the post-9/11 era with two invasions that neatly eliminated Iran's key enemies on its eastern and western borders - Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. (The former is, of course, gone for good; the latter is doing better these days, though unlikely to threaten Iran for some time.) As those wars bled on without the promised victories, America's military weariness sapped the desire in the Bush administration for military strikes against Iran. Jump almost a decade ahead and Washington now quietly supports at least some of that country's military efforts in Iraq against the insurgent Islamic State. The Obama administration is seemingly at least half-resigned to looking the other way while Tehran ensures that it will have a puppet regime in Baghdad. In its serially failing strategies in Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria, Washington has all but begged the Iranians to assume a leading role in those places. They have.

And that only scratches the surface of the new Iranian ascendancy in the region. Despite the damage done by U.S.-led economic sanctions, Iran's real strength lies at home. It is probably the most stable Muslim nation in the Middle East. It has existed more or less within its current borders for thousands of years. It is almost completely ethnically, religiously, culturally, and linguistically homogeneous, with its minorities comparatively under control. While still governed in large part by its clerics, the country has nonetheless experienced a series of increasingly democratic electoral transitions since the 1979 revolution. Most significantly, unlike nearly every other nation in the Middle East, Iran's leaders do not rule in fear of an Islamic revolution. They already had one.

For all the bluster of America's Republicans, the nuclear deal with Iran could remove the last hurdle to the country's emergence as the powerhouse of the Middle East.

While diplomacy brought the United States and Iran to this point, cash is what will expand and sustain the relationship.

Iran, with the fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves on the planet, is ready to start selling on world markets as soon as sanctions lift. Its young people reportedly yearn for greater engagement with the West. The lifting of sanctions will allow Iranian businesses access to global capital and outside businesses access to starved Iranian commercial markets.

Since November 2014, the Chinese, for example, have already doubled their investment in Iran. European companies, including Shell and Peugeot, are now holding talks with Iranian officials. Apple is contacting Iranian distributors. Germany sent a trade delegation to Tehran. Ads for European cars and luxury goods are starting to reappear in the Iranian capital. Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of foreign technology and expertise will need to be acquired if the country is to update its frayed oil and natural gas infrastructure. Many of its airliners are decades old and need replacement. Airlines in Dubai are fast adding new Iran routes to meet growing demand. The money will flow. After that, it will be very hard for the war hawks in Washington, Tel Aviv, or Riyadh to put the toothpaste back in the tube, which is why you hear such screaming and grinding of teeth now.

..No, what fundamentally worries the Israelis and the Saudis is that Iran will rejoin the community of nations as a diplomatic and trading partner of the United States, Asia, and Europe. Embarking on a diplomatic offensive in the wake of its nuclear deal, Iranian officials assured fellow Muslim countries in the region that they hoped the accord would pave the way for greater cooperation. American policy in the Persian Gulf, once reliably focused only on its own security and energy needs, may (finally) start to line up with an increasingly multifaceted Eurasian reality. A powerful Iran is indeed a threat to the status quo - hence the upset in Tel Aviv and Riyadh - just not a military one. Real power in the twenty-first century, short of total war, rests with money.

The July accord acknowledges the real-world power map of the Middle East. It does not make Iran and the United States friends. It does, however, open the door for the two biggest regional players to talk to each other and develop the kinds of financial and trade ties that will make conflict more impractical. After more than three decades of U.S.-Iranian hostility in the world's most volatile region, that is no small accomplishment.

And, so, America's defeat in Iraq was not a total loss for it became, quite unintentionally, the ice-breaker between Washington and Tehran.  As for Iraq, it will eventually have to sort itself out - probably through partition.  With Iran acting as defender of the Shiite south and America as guarantor of Kurdish independence, a new Sunni state expanding westward into Syria seems inevitable.

The Balance of Power  (TruthOut).

The Signs Are Everywhere

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 06:50

It is only the ideologically blind who refuse to see the signs. Whether we live on the West Coast, Central Canada, or the East Coast, we are being affected by climate change, More protracted droughts. More wildfires. More oppressive heatwaves. Or unseasonably cool conditions.

Of protracted winters I will not even speak.

So what is to be done about the obdurate climate-change denier? Other than ignoring them, we can confront them with the facts they so willfully dismiss. We do that by first recognizing their sleazy and unscientific tactics. Here is how we do it:

One of the deniers' favorite strategies is to invoke fake experts.
Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming. This has been found independently in a number of studies, including surveys of Earth scientists, analysis of public statements about climate change and analysis of peer-reviewed scientific papers. How might one cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus? One technique is the use of fake experts.

We see this in online petitions such as the Global Warming Petition Project, which features more than 31,000 scientists claiming humans aren't disrupting our climate. How can there be 97% consensus when 31,000 scientists disagree? It turns out 99.9% of the petition's signatories aren't climate scientists. They include computer scientists, mechanical engineers and medical scientists but few climate scientists. The Global Warming Petition Project is fake experts in bulk.

More to come.Recommend this Post

Government By Obsession

Northern Reflections - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 05:48

When it comes to looking into the economic future, the Harper government's  record is nothing to brag about. And, in election years, the Harperite crystal ball is thoroughly unreliable. Consider, Scott Clark and Peter Devries write, what happened in 2008:

The November 2008 Economic and Fiscal Update forecast annual surpluses as far as the eye could see. Two months later this forecast was thrown into the trash. In response to the crisis Harper and Flaherty quickly discarded their Conservative orthodoxy and became temporary Keynesians. They introduced the largest stimulus budget ever, in an effort to increase economic activity. After that, deficits were recorded for seven consecutive years until, in this year’s April budget, Finance Minister Joe Oliver declared the government would finally register a surplus in 2015-16.
It's worth remembering that Harper and Flaherty became temporary Keynesians because they were a political minority. Who knows what they would have done if they had won a majority? Now fast forward to 2015:

The elimination of the deficit never had anything to do with good economic policy. The Conservative government’s sole economic policy objective has always been the elimination of the deficit. This is the only criterion it uses to judge its economic record; nothing else has mattered — not stronger economic growth, not increased job creation, not improved productivity, not saving the environment, not greater tax efficiency and tax fairness, and not strengthening federal-provincial and Aboriginal relations. The primary objective of the Harper government has always been to diminish the role of the federal government in economic policy. Eliminating the deficit no matter how small was critical to achieving that objective. 
Stephen Harper is obsessed with diminishing the role of the federal government. Period. Circumstances have nothing to do with what role the government should play. Therefore, economic data are meaningless to him:

Statistics Canada has reported that economic growth has declined for four months in a row (January to April). Private sector economists have now revised down their forecasts of real GDP growth for 2015 by about 0.6 per cent. Earlier this month, the IMF also cut its forecast for economic growth in Canada for 2015 from 2.2 per cent to just 1.5 per cent. Shortly thereafter the Bank of Canada cut its forecast for economic growth for this year to 1 per cent, while declaring the economy had contracted in the second quarter. That means Canada was in a “technical” recession in the first six months of the year.
Never mind that the latest data differ significantly from the data the April budget was built on. Besides, that budget was built on false premises to begin with:

The April budget was built on smoke and mirrors: overly optimistic economic growth and oil price assumptions; cutting the contingency reserve by two-thirds; selling shares in GM at fire sale prices; raiding EI revenues; and even booking “savings” from unilateral changes to federal employees’ sick leave benefits. Without these tricks the government could not have paid for the income tax cuts it announced last October and still have balanced the budget.
The facts don't matter. They have never mattered. It's called Government By Obsession.

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 05:09
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Tavia Grant is the latest to note that the potential for driverless vehicles necessitates some consideration as to how to account for people who currently rely on driving jobs. And Vivek Wadhwa makes the case for a new form of capitalism which isn't designed to leave people behind:
Countries such as India and Peru and all of Africa will see the same benefits — for at least two or three decades, until the infrastructure has been built and necessities of the populations have been met.

Then there will not be enough work even there to employ the masses.

Slim’s solution to this is to institute a three-day workweek so that everyone can find employment and earn the money necessary for leisure and entertainment. This is not a bad idea. In the future we are heading into, the cost of basic necessities, energy, and even luxury goods such as electronics will fall low enough to seem almost free — just as cell-phone minutes and information cost practically nothing now. It is a matter of sharing the few jobs that will exist in an equitable way.

The concept of a universal basic income is also gaining popularity worldwide as it becomes increasingly apparent that declining costs and the elimination of bureaucracies, make it possible for governments to provide citizens with income enough for the basic necessities. The idea is to give everyone a stipend covering living costs and to get government out of the business of selecting what social benefits people should have. The advantage of this approach is that workers gain the freedom to decide how much to work and under what conditions. Enabling individual initiative in the work that people pursue, in fields ranging from philosophy and the arts to pure science and invention, will result in their enrichment of their cultures in ways we can’t foresee.- Meanwhile, Jordan Weismann slams the right's attempt to invent a "success sequence" which conveniently leaves out the economic security necessary for people to be able to plan out their lives.

- Paul Krugman discusses how the past cost-based justification for slashing social programs has been thoroughly undermined in the U.S. - though of course the memo has been conspicuously shredded by Republican presidential candidates. And Arkadi Gerney, Anna Chu and Brendan Duke highlight how the U.S.' middle class is increasingly getting squeezed out.

- Laurent Bastien Corbeil reports on the RCMP's use of deceptive social media accounts to infiltrate and monitor activists, while Clare Wahlen reports on revelations that CSIS operates dozens more foreign stations that previous acknowledged. And Stephen Castle discusses how the UK's absurd secrecy surrounding security issues has resulted in the media being unable to report anything about the trial of an individual who's since been acquitted.

- Finally, Gerald Caplan writes that the ballot question this fall should centre on Stephen Harper's abuse of the trust of Canadian voters.

When Progressives Fire Back At the Con Attack Machine

Montreal Simon - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 03:01

As you know, I wasn't too impressed by the latest Con attack ad aimed at the NDP. And I'm sure Tom Mulcair wasn't either.

Because when Stephen Harper accuses you of being as corrupt as he is, that could be dangerous. You could die LAUGHING.

But then I also hate the never ending Con attack ads aimed at Justin Trudeau.

Because every time I see this ghastly geezer on TV I feel like screaming.
Read more »

Donald Sutherland's Angry Message to Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - Wed, 07/29/2015 - 03:01

He is one of Canada's best known citizens. A famous Hollywood actor, and a proud Canadian.

But now like more than a million other Canadians who live abroad, he's been told he no longer has the right to vote.

And Donald Sutherland is not amused. 
Read more »

An exercise in Nation Building

Sister Sages Musings - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 22:24

Hi everyone.

I am going to attempt an exercise in nation building here in that I think that we have been damaged as a people and I think that we need to heal together. So, I am going to ask you one question and I would really love it if you replied in the . . . → Read More: An exercise in Nation Building

Hog Harper's Absurd and Desperate Assault on the NDP

Montreal Simon - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 18:28

It couldn't be more grotesque, it couldn't be more hypocritical, it couldn't be more laughable.

After smearing his own excrement all over this country, the lowlife political hog Stephen Harper is now accusing the NDP of being corrupt.

By firing this attack ad at them out of his rear orifice.
Read more »

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 18:15
Compartmentalized cats.

Taking notes 48: America’s new brutalism: the death of Sandra Bland

Posted by Sol Chrom - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 12:56


I’ve got nothing to add. #BlackLivesMatter

Originally posted on Philosophers for Change:


by Henry A. Giroux

On July 9, soon after Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman, moved to Texas from Naperville, Illinois to take a new job as a college outreach officer at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M, she was pulled over by the police for failing to signal while making a lane change. What followed has become all too common and illustrates the ever increasing rise in domestic terrorism in the United States. She was pulled out of the car by a police officer for allegedly becoming combative and pinned to the ground by two officers. A video obtained by ABC 7 of Bland’s arrest “doesn’t appear to show Bland being combative with officers but does show two officers on top of Bland.”[1]

In a second video released by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas state trooper Brian Encinia becomes increasingly hostile toward Bland and very shortly the…

View original 3,183 more words

We "Conquered" What? When?

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 12:31
I was taken aback when I saw next month's cover of Scientific American.  The lead story apparently explores how we (mankind) conquered the planet.

When I read it I immediately thought, wait a minute, nature hasn't yielded - not yet, not really.  In fact, it's about to kick our collective ass from pillar to post.

Maybe "how we infested the planet" would have been better or "how we infected the planet," something along those lines. Surely there's a huge difference between conquering and simply running amok.

Nature hasn't been conquered. It is only just beginning to respond to our depredations in ways utterly lethal to us and the other lifeforms with which we share the planet.  Nature has been known to do this in the ancient past.  It evicts the current tenants, pauses for a few hundred thousand years to let the place tidy itself up, and then welcomes new occupants to its bounty.

If our species had lasted at least a few million years, in harmony with nature, we might be entitled to some sort of bragging rights.  But we haven't and, to all appearances, we never shall.  In fact our dominance has been astonishingly brief on any planetary time scale, the flaring of a match.

Imagine If the NDP Were Running in this Election?

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 07/28/2015 - 12:11
When NDP Meant Something More than "Opportunism"
For me, the "old days" of the New Democratic Party were slightly post-Douglas, back when the party was led by firebrands such as David Lewis and Ed Broadbent.  I didn't support the NDP back then.  I was firmly in the camp of Pierre Elliott Trudeau.  However I respected that NDP with something nearing reverence for their enlightened, uncompromising principle.  They were indeed the "Conscience of Parliament."

I had some eye-opening (for me) conversations with Lewis while we endured the endless droning of the party's Convair 440 criss-crossing the country.  The PCs and the Libs had 600 mph jets.  We had an old ex-Scandinavian Airlines - hand-me-down to Great Shakes Airways of Sarnia, Ontario, prop job that guaranteed the flock of journos aboard less than half the local appearances to cover and twice as much time to drink. For that sort of assignment, it was as good as it gets.

At one point Lewis turned to me and said, "I think you're slightly left... slightly left of Attila the Hun."  He said it yet I knew that he knew that I had actually absorbed some of his views. I wasn't remotely as leery of him when I stepped off that twin-engine beater as I had been when I first boarded weeks earlier.

It was a time when, just to survive in politics, the NDP had to be tightly anchored to some powerful social message; what they stood for and all the "red lines" they would never cross for compromise.  The rest would shift along the political spectrum, elbow wrestling for advantage, but you always knew the NDP were rock solid.  If something was wrong, it was wrong.  Damn near Calvinist. For Red Liberals you knew you couldn't quite support them but you knew, deep inside, that you might not shun them always.  You knew there might be that day, when the Right grew so powerful and ominous that you might need the NDP defending a bastion on the Left.

All that starch, that "sand," is now gone.  Everything the true believers once condemned in the Liberals is now their own.  There's no fierceness any more, save perhaps in Mulcair's dead, serial killer eyes or his angry beard.  And that's not the fierceness we saw in Douglas, Lewis or Broadbent, the almost monastic dedication that left none, no matter their political alignment, in the slightest doubt of their sincerity and determination.

It's a bitch for me.  Just when we need the NDP of Douglas, Lewis and Broadbent on the ramparts to repel the assault from the Right, their spirit which crossed generations has been ditched for blatant opportunism.  The party no longer defends principle, it answers market interests not significantly distinguishable from the Libs and the Tories.

As a Green a lot of commenters rail on me for some Beau Geste romantic support of my party.  "Throw in with us," they write, "for we alone can defeat Harper."  What they should but won't say is, "Don't hold out lest our own people realize they're being hustled."

And you are being hustled.  The shameful part of it is that you refuse to open your eyes lest you see it. I can't fault them for taking their lawful prey.  It really is, ultimately, all on us.  We don't have much or any choice that will have the slightest effect on the Conservatives.  We do, however, have a powerful voice and real choice about change within our own parties and yet we've demanded next to nothing from them.

We know why droves of blue and white-collar Canadians become disaffected, leave politics and fail to vote for their interest at the polls.  The parties used to blame these no-show voters as parasites on democracy, free-loaders. They refuse, to this very day, to acknowledge that the disaffection surfaces from their own disinclination to respond to the intense concerns of those people, i.e. young parents suddenly fear-stricken by how little this regime and that parties that would succeed it, will do to safeguard their kids and their grandkids, some of whom might not be conceived until around 2080.

There's a reason why Harper, despite all his abuses of power and his affronts to Canadian democracy, remains competitive and, according to some, likely to prevail in the upcoming election.  In fact there are two reasons.  I call them Mulcair and Trudeau.


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