Posts from our progressive community

..... Canada Day

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 06:10
I wish that I could have inserted 'Happy' in front of today's title, but for reasons too obvious to discuss, I can't. However I will say this: may next year find all Canadians in circumstances whereby we can freely us that adjective in a heartfelt salutation to our country.

Meanwhile, allow me to offer the following to observe this day:





And my most heartfelt wish:

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Canada Day 2015

Northern Reflections - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 05:52
                                         http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.ca

Yesterday, Greece defaulted on its creditors. We are in yet another financial crisis. Jim Stanford writes:

No one can predict how the European drama will unfold next. Or how other after-effects of the 2008-2009 crisis (such as the coming rise in U.S. interest rates) will shake still-fragile economies around the world. What is certain, however, is that globalized, financialized, polarized capitalism is incapable of finding the stable and efficient equilibrium fantasized by conventional neoclassical economists. Repeated outbreaks of credit-fuelled, speculative exuberance are inevitably followed by panic, retrenchment, and recession. This will keep happening. We don't know precisely when the next crisis will occur, nor its precise proximate cause. But we do know another crisis will occur, with 100 per cent certainty. And we do know that the 99 per cent of humanity who do not possess enough financial or business wealth to support themselves without actually working for a living, will be asked again to bear the brunt of the subsequent pain and dislocation.
On this Canada Day, we need to remember that those who presently hold the reins of power are manically devoted to the same neo-classical economics that has caused our recurring financial crises. And it doesn't have to be that way:

This pattern of repeating crisis and growing polarization is hard-wired into the DNA of modern capitalism: an economic system organized around the self-serving decisions of a surprisingly small and privileged segment of society. This crisis, no different from the last or the next, was not an unpredictable, unpreventable, one-off occurrence: a "black swan" event. Rather, it was the predictable, preventable result of an economy that puts the interests of financial wealth above the interests of the vast majority in working and supporting themselves. And it will happen again, unless and until we change the fundamental rules of the game.
Stanford writes that,  just as Naomi Klein suggested in The Shock Doctrine, these crises are organized for the benefit of the fabulously wealthy few:

She showed how ruling elites regularly take advantage of moments of fear and confusion, arising at moments of economic, social, or even natural disaster, to enforce painful changes that they were preparing for years -- but that most people would not tolerate under "normal" circumstances.
Today is a day to reflect on what we've become. And what we've become -- particularly in the last decade -- is an ongoing tragedy.


Canada Day in Harperland, Between Hope and Despair

Montreal Simon - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 03:56


It's Canada Day in Harperland in the grim year of 2015. And I must admit I'm finding it hard to find a reason to celebrate, or find words to express how I feel.

For it has been a grim year, and think I said what I wanted to say about Canada, in this post the other day.

How I once thought of this big beautiful country as a magical place. 

But now I don't recognize it.
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Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 17:35
Entranced cats.



In Frank and Passionate Defence of Thomas Mulcair

Montreal Simon - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 16:10


Well I've defended Justin Trudeau a lot recently, in three of my last six posts.

When she was attacked, I defended Elizabeth May. 

And now it seems I must defend Tom Mulcair.

From a story that suggests that he is really a closeted Harper Con. 
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#YQR Evacuation Centre Volunteers Needed

The Regina Mom - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 11:09

Too much going on politically.  And now this, too!

Evacuation Centre Volunteers Needed

Due to the unprecedented level of fires and smoke in the north the Red Cross will be assisting with evacuees arriving in Regina as early as June 29 evening for two evacuation centres being set up at the University of Regina (200 people) and Evraz Place (up to 800 people). They are in dire need of volunteers to assist with set up and also to assist with personal support and recreation for evacuees during their time here. Volunteers are needed for assistance at all times of day and through the weekend.

Please consider volunteering. To do so you need to get a criminal record check done with the Regina Police Service and the Red Cross has arranged that this can be done on the spot when you go to get it.

If you plan to volunteer please send your availability over the next ten days as soon as possible to:

Cindy Fuchs CHRP Provincial Director Saskatchewan

Canadian Red Cross | Croix-Rouge canadienne Western Zone 2050 Cornwall Street | Regina | Saskatchewan | CA | S4P 2K5 Cindy.Fuchs@redcross.ca T 306 721-1631 | F 306 721-1602 | C 306 536-6700 www.redcross.ca | www.croixrouge.ca


As Canada Day Approaches

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 09:32
A little something to think about:

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Conflicted about Foothills

Rusty Idols - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 08:48

#andp
This is hard, I'm conflicted and not happy to be writing this.

Bob Hawkesworth has thrown his hat into the ring for the Foothills by-election to replace Jim Prentice who took his ball and slunk home on election night resigning his seat before the votes that won it for him were even counted.

Bob is a stellar candidate, experienced, skilled and a great potential addition to Alberta's NDP government.  He kept the NDP fires burning in Calgary during some dark years and I'd be glad to see him in government now that the party is in ascendency.

BUT....

He had the chance to run in the general.  He could have put himself out there, back in the startlingly recent days when running as a New Democrat in Calgary was quixotic at best.  He didn't.  Anne Wilson did. 

Anne Wilson is a criminal lawyer specializing in legal aid cases who put her life on hold to make a kamikaze run against the leader of the mighty PC dynasty in Calgary Foothills in order to bring attention to starved social services in Alberta.  While Bob sat the General out, she was campaigning hard against the leader of the PCs.  And ultimately came within a few thousand votes of beating him as the orange wave crushed the Progressive Conservative Party.

Lots of commentators recognize that between the wave, the government's honeymoon and lingering anger at Prentice's punk move on election night Calgary Foothills is an extremely likely pickup for the NDP in the coming by-election.

And now, Bob Hawkesworth has thrown his hat in the ring.

And as much as I like him, as much as I think he'd make a great candidate and a great MLA that offends my sense of justice.

Anne Wilson put herself out there, she knocked on doors and put up signs and committed months of her life to give the NDP a voice in a riding that was an all but guaranteed PC win.  Bob sat the General out, there no shame in that, he's put himself on the line in a lot of elections and won some and lost some, he was in fact the guy who beat Jim Prentice the first time he ever ran for office decades ago. He had every right in the world to take a break from campaigning, maybe he was saving himself for the federal race or had family considerations or just didn't want to expend the energy on an all but guaranteed loss.

But Anne Wilson did.

She put her life on hold she campaigned hard and she came within a few thousand votes of defeating the leader of the PCs in the party's stronghold.

And now Bob Hawkesworth wants to, forgive the hyperbole, swoop in and benefit from the orange wave that Anne Wilson along with all the other NDP candidates helped create in the general.

Once again, Bob is awesome, he's a great guy, he'd make a great candidate, a great MLA and probably with his long experience a great cabinet minister.

But pushing aside the woman who put the work in during the general now that the byelection is a much better bet for an NDP candidate leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

sdnxry5z7g

It's Time to Bury the Myth of the NDP Being the Party for Blue Collar Canadians

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 08:43
As the Layton-Mulcair tag team "Blairified" the NDP, it triggered some grumbling among its more devout members who briefly bemoaned the extinction of social democracy in Canada.  Even that passed quickly enough and the membership got used to being what they for so long so loudly decried - liberals. Yessir, real honest to Odin, market fundamentalist, neoliberals.

They still like to make themselves out as progressives (is there such a thing as a "closet progressive"?) but that's just pretentious.

Yesterday Emily Dee ripped the beard right off Tommy Mulcair to expose his true colours.  It was a scathing indictment of Mulcair and what he really stands for (hint: if you're blue collar that's not you).

Then there's well known and respected voice of the Canadian Left, James Laxer, who dismantles the Dippers' claims that the Green Party are just "conservatives with composters."  Laxer explores the Greens' economic policy platform and finds that, if anything, they're more progressive than today's Dippers.

Laxer doesn't even get into the Greens' policy to restore a free press in Canada or the party's clear and decisive foreign policy (remember Gaza?) that should shame Dippers into utter apoplexy.  And I think we'll give the environmental/climate change issue to the Greens hands down, won't we?

But don't worry, Tom Mulcair is just screwin' with ya.  I got that straight from Dipper apologist in residence Ron Waller who left this telltale remark: "Certainly the NDP is a right-leaning centrist party. But they can be trusted to move the political football back towards the center and eventually to the left-of-center."

They can be trusted - once they hoodwink enough voters to win the election - to change course?  What part of "trust" does Waller not understand?  This guy Waller also upbraided me for referring to Mulcair as "the Angry Beard." Talk about thin skinned!  Hell, I didn't even mention those dead, "serial killer" eyes.

(h/t Northern PoV for the Laxer/Rabble link).

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 06:13
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Broadbent Institute details Rhys Kesselman's research on how the Cons' expanded TFSAs are nothing but a giveaway to the wealthy. And Dean Beeby reports on their withholding of EI supplements from the families who most need them - paired with a complete lack of responsibility or contrition now that the problem has been discovered.

- Matt Saccaro discusses the widespread burnout among U.S. workers as huge increases in hours worked and productivity have done nothing to improve wages or living conditions over a period of decades. And Bill Tieleman slams the Cons for gratuitously attacking the unions who offer the best chance of improving the lives of workers.

- Marc Lee summarizes the Cons' failed energy and climate change policies, as their only accomplishment has been to set back both our opportunities and our expectations when it comes to building a sustainable economy.

- Dr. Dawg writes about Aaron Driver's case as an appalling example of an individual being locked up for precrime. And Shannon Gormley argues that we don't face a choice between security and privacy, and that in fact overreaching legislation like C-51 threatens both:
So if a mass surveillance apparatus had only one job — preventing terror attacks — it might have fallen under the proud ownership of a trash collector by now. But cyber spies have other uses. It’s bleakly effortless to imagine a government getting creative with a system ostensibly designed to track security threats but — oh, what’s this? — also tracks every digital movement of political opponents, economic competitors, media critics and internal whistleblowers.
We needn’t imagine much. We already know: that Britain’s spy agency has listed investigative journalists as security threats and that its sticky tentacles have pocketed emails from the world’s top news organizations; that the NSA has mused that within the next 10-20 years it might conduct surveillance in a such a way that its “findings would be useful to U.S. industry”; that it has spied on Brazilian oil company Petrobras; and that its Five Eyes counterpart, the Australian Signals Directorate, has spied on an American law firm representing Indonesia when Indonesia was in a trade dispute with the U.S and — another exemplar of generosity of spirit — offered to share its findings with the U.S.
But even if surveillance agencies had a track record of intercepting and only targeting security threats, we might be troubled by something more fundamental: the assumption that privacy rights aren’t part of what people need secured.
A privacy violation is a serious security breach. When we can’t make a call to a client or send an email to a lover or type a character into a search bar without an overpaid 20-something in a far-off cubicle being able to know about it, then it’s not just our privacy that has being rudely violated. It’s our security as well.
And more besides. If people are partly made by what they think, and partly made by the ways they choose to share their thoughts, then in an age where our communication with each other is monitored relentlessly and without our consent, how is our personhood not under attack?- But the B.C. Civil Liberties Association makes clear that the fight over C-51 is far from over, as voters will have every opportunity to judge Canada's political parties on their response to a threat to our civil rights. And Justin Ling reports on new polling confirming that its principled opposition to the Cons' fearmongering has been an important element in the NDP's rise in the polls.

Paying To Be Lobotomized

Northern Reflections - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 05:31
                                             http://www.bewareofthedoug.com/

We are awash in images, Chris Hedges writes. And that makes it easy for corporate propagandists to succeed. It's been that way for quite awhile:

The entrapment in a world of nonstop electronic sounds and images, begun with the phonograph and radio, advanced by cinema and television and perfected by video games, the Internet and hand-held devices, is making it impossible to build relationships and structures that are vital for civic engagement and resistance to corporate power.
We have become, Hannah Arendt wrote, "atomized" -- unconnected and illiterate individuals. And, as long as we are unconnected, corporate power brokers will succeed by simply numbing and dumbing down the nation's citizens:


Totalitarian societies, including our own, inundate the public with a steady stream of propaganda accompanied by mindless entertainment. They seek to destroy independent organizations. In Nazi Germany the state provided millions of cheap, state-subsidized radios and then dominated the airwaves with its propaganda. Radio receivers were mounted in public locations in Stalin’s Soviet Union; and citizens, especially illiterate peasants, were required to gather to listen to the state-controlled news and the dictator’s speeches. These totalitarian states also banned civic organizations that were not under the iron control of the party.

The corporate state is no different, although unlike past totalitarian systems it permits dissent in the form of print and does not ban fading civic and community groups. It has won the battle against literacy. The seductiveness of the image lures most Americans away from the print-based world of ideas. The fascination with the image swallows the time and energy required to attend and maintain communal organizations. If no one reads, why censor books? Let Noam Chomsky publish as much as he wants. Just keep his voice off the airwaves. If no one attends community meetings, group events or organizations, why prohibit them? Let them be held in near-empty rooms and left uncovered by the press until they are shuttered.

The object of a totalitarian state is to keep its citizens locked within the parameters of official propaganda and permanently isolated. Propaganda and isolation make it difficult for an individual to express or carry out dissent. Official opinions, little more than digestible slogans and clichés, are crafted and disseminated by public relations specialists on behalf of the power elite. They are repeated endlessly over the airwaves until the public unconsciously ingests them. And the isolated public in a totalitarian society is unable to connect its personal experience of despair, anxiety, fear, frustration and economic insecurity to the structures that create these conditions. The isolated citizen is left feeling that his or her personal misfortune is an exception. The portrayal of society by systems of state propaganda—content, respectful of authority, just, economically secure and free—is mistaken for reality.  
In Canada, all this has been accomplished with public money. We are paying to be lobotomized.


Why the Cons Won't Be Charged For Their Terrorist Attack Ad

Montreal Simon - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 04:57


If you've seen this latest Con attack ad aimed at Justin Trudeau, you know how monstrous it is.

How it starts with the sinister ISIS anthem, and crudely and cruelly exploits the faces of men about to be savagely killed. You know why it's been called a snuff film.

And why Stephen Harper should be charged under the provisions of his own ghastly Bill C-51, for spreading terrorist propaganda.

But sadly it seems Harper and his ghastly gang will NOT be charged.

For at least one very good reason.
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Is It Time to Rename the Cons the Canadian Convict Party?

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


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

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

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

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

And this is one of them...
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The Confederate Flag, the Redneck Parade, and the Warrior Queen

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


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

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

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

Obama says the confederate flag belongs in a museum. But I prefer this option.http://t.co/3zu7yHI1Vk #cdnpoli— Simon (@montrealsimon) June 20, 2015
But I thought I should share this video about a redneck parade in Georgia, because while it's horrifying and outrageous, the end is hilarious.
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Just When I Thought the Left Had Collapsed, This. A Must Read.

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

Robert Reich's Warning About the Trans Pacific Partnership

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

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

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

On delay tactics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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