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Are the Cons About To Tear Themselves Apart?

Montreal Simon - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 05:02

After more than six months of self imposed silence, Canadians are about to hear from Stephen Harper again.

When in three days time he delivers a speech to the Con Convention. 

But if he is expecting to be greeted with cries of "Steve we miss you." Or "save us Great Leader."

He may be rudely disappointed.

Read more »

Kagan On Trump

Northern Reflections - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 04:55

Robert Kagan has been a consistent neo-conservative voice for the last twenty-five years. From his desk at the Brookings Institution, he has advocated for a tougher, more militaristic American foreign policy. Successive Republican administrations have adopted his suggestions. That is why his take on Donald Trump is so interesting. In a recent column, "This Is How Fascism Comes To America," he writes:

The entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.
Neo-conservatives fear government. But Trump is what the American Founding Fathers feared most -- rule of the mob:

But here is the other threat to liberty that Alexis de Tocqueville and the ancient philosophers warned about: that the people in a democracy, excited, angry and unconstrained, might run roughshod over even the institutions created to preserve their freedoms. As Alexander Hamilton watched the French Revolution unfold, he feared in America what he saw play out in France — that the unleashing of popular passions would lead not to greater democracy but to the arrival of a tyrant, riding to power on the shoulders of the people.
And when a nation chooses one man who will run roughshod over its system of government, the result is fascism:

This phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.” Fascist movements, too, had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for what ailed society. “National socialism” was a bundle of contradictions, united chiefly by what, and who, it opposed; fascism in Italy was anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, anti-capitalist and anti-clerical. Successful fascism was not about policies but about the strongman, the leader (Il Duce, Der Fuhrer), in whom could be entrusted the fate of the nation. Whatever the problem, he could fix it. Whatever the threat, internal or external, he could vanquish it, and it was unnecessary for him to explain how. Today, there is Putinism, which also has nothing to do with belief or policy but is about the tough man who singlehandedly defends his people against all threats, foreign and domestic.
Kagan warns his readers that:

Once in power, Trump will owe politicians and their party nothing. He will have ridden to power despite the party, catapulted into the White House by a mass following devoted only to him. By then that following will have grown dramatically. Today, less than 5 percent of eligible voters have voted for Trump. But if he wins the election imagine the power he would wield: at his command would be the Justice Department, the FBI, the intelligence services, the military. Is a man like Trump, with infinitely greater power in his hands, likely to become more humble, more judicious, more generous, less vengeful than he is today? Does vast power uncorrupt?
This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.
Kagan used to be a Republican. He now claims that he is an Independent.


Donald Trump and the Fascist Question

Montreal Simon - Sun, 05/22/2016 - 21:40

Donald Trump may be looking and sounding crazier than ever. Calling for guns to be allowed in classrooms.

While also calling for Hillary Clinton's bodyguards to be disarmed.

But despite his deranged statements, polls suggest his support is surging.

Read more »

When everybody is acting like an asshole. Canadian Parliament daycare.

A Creative Revolution - Sun, 05/22/2016 - 15:21

This weeks hijinx in the House of commons just shows why it is hard to get anyone to take our political process seriously. 

Here is what I think....I may swear. I know this offends some more than the real stuff I will say.

First off. The ruling Liberals are attempting to fast track, ram, force and limit debate on important legislation. I am not saying that the end of life legislation is bad either. Its the best we have seen, especially compared to the Harpercon ideology. But yanno.....These are Harpercon tactics.  You can always be better than the Harpercons. Its not difficult, they set a pretty low bar.

We all need to be better than the Conservatives. 

The NDP. FUCK OFF with the kiddie games. Blocking an Mp and having a giggle fit? OMG. Grow the fuck up. This included you Mulcair and Ms Brosseau. 

Trudeau. He MARCHED down there in his too small suit,  (I know its the style, but it looks like his clothes were shrunk in a random drive by laundry accident)  and was a gonna fix it. Grow up already. *stop *Any * full stop physical contact is inappropriate, and you are not a bouncer in a bar. 

The elbow. Nikki Ashton....I'm so sorry. (not really) I do not see this as aimed at Ms Brosseau because she is a woman.

"I want to say that for all of us who witnessed this, this was deeply traumatic," she said to her House of Commons colleagues. "What I will say, if we apply a gendered lens, it is very important that young women in this space feel safe to come here and work here."

"He made us feel unsafe and we're deeply troubled by the conduct of the prime minister of this country."

I see the elbow connecting with her because Trudeau was careless and rude and wrong... and she happened to be standing in that spot. While playing the blocking game which was predicated by the Liberals trying to make a massive power grab. :) Turning it into more than it was simply makes it harder for the rest of the worlds' working women to be taken fucking seriously when it does happen for reals thousands of times a day. 

We do actually have a National Daycare program. Its called the Fucking Canadian House of commons daycare. We pay a lot of money to send these fucking children to play together and learn. Perhaps we need to call in some child experts on sportsmanship and just being nice. 

I am not surprised on the reaction of the Harpertwits. They really need to sit down and STFU because they totally embraced, and instigated this kind of crap for 10 long years. They had playbooks that look like the GOP manuscripts on how to cause gridlock. 

Twitter (and other social media) asswipes attacking Ms Brosseau? OH do go straight to hell. Yours, is an attack on a woman, just because she is a woman. And yanno what? You should all have your internet privileges removed. 

The partisan peanut gallery: Fuck off. Your party is just as wrong as the other one.  Look beyond your own chosen affiliations.  

I can send my kids to their rooms when they act like this, and they would actually learn something. With the bunch in this mess? I doubt they even know right from wrong anymore.  And they are in charge of making the laws and keeping our country safe. 


Really inspires confidence, now don't it?

Edit: Elizabeth May sounded sane and grown up in all of this. Let's put her in charge of the kiddie tables. 

Everyone Needs to See This.

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 05/22/2016 - 11:51
Watch the video in slow motion. This puts paid to Angry Tom's fury and Brousseau's feigned martyrdom. It's all on the video once you get it slowed down. Dippers, you might not want to watch this - but you should.

One of these things is not like the others

Cathie from Canada - Sun, 05/22/2016 - 10:54
Canadian politics has apparently entered its silly season just before everyone takes the summer off and goes to the lake.
While Canada discusses Sophie's workload and "elbowgate" -- both such important news stories! -- in the United States we see Hillary Clinton gearing up to do battle with Deadbeat Donald.
Forgive me if I think that what is happening down south is much more consequential and ultimately more meaningful than either of our scandals-du-jour.


The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 05/22/2016 - 08:33

Ah, the long weekend! Or, as they apparently now call it in Ontario, the May 2-4 weekend in tribute to the stalwart people of that province who innately understand that a case of beer, a real case of beer, is four six-packs all nestled inside one cardboard box. On this weekend the rest of Canada salutes you.

This is a non-news weekend. There's stuff going on but no one much cares. That's a good thing, I suppose. Good for the blood pressure, for sure. It's a weekend for relaxation and even a bit of reflection.

I took a few minutes to reflect on the week that was and, of course, visions of Ruth Ellen Brosseau drifted by. And then I got it. WWRMS? What Would Rick Mercer Say about this bone crushing affair, this affront to Canadian womanhood? We'll have to wait and see but I'm guessing he'll have some amusing insights on offer.

Then it dawned on me. I know the very person I'd want to hear from, Mississauga's legendary ex-mayor, Hazel McCallion. What's Hazel's take on this business?

Then it got even better. REMATCH! Three, three-minute rounds of wrestling, Greco-Roman, the sort where Trudeau could get "hit in the nuts." Rick Mercer officiating. Hazel McCallion on the bell. Patrick Brazeau as Brousseau's cornerman. In Trudeau's corner, Stephan Dion doing, as usual, as he's damn well told. Rex Murphy offering colour commentary. Wouldn't you pay a buck and a quarter to watch that on pay per view?

See, there you go. Now you've got something to look forward to. Happy Victoria Day.

Elbowgate and the Trudeau Hater Losers

Montreal Simon - Sun, 05/22/2016 - 04:55

I don't think the so-called two-four long weekend has ever come at a better time in the whole history of Canada.

So we can all recover from that act of collective madness that was the elbowgate affair. For it has been a real nightmare.

The Trudeau haters have been howling at the moon, screaming for Justin Trudeau's blood, or just talking crazy. 
Read more »

Will He Pay?

Northern Reflections - Sun, 05/22/2016 - 02:54

Some people are convinced that Justin Trudeau will pay a price for his less than sunny behaviour in the House last week. Tom Walkom isn't so sure. Canadians, he writes like to have "chippy" prime ministers:

Trudeau broke all the rules Wednesday when he marched across the Commons floor, grabbed Conservative whip Gord Brown by the arm and hustled him to his seat, all in order to get a projected vote underway.
In the melee, the prime minister also inadvertently elbowed Quebec New Democrat MP Ruth-Ellen Brousseau in the chest.
New Democrats standing nearby said Trudeau used a vulgar synonym for fornication as he urged MPs to get out of his way.
But this kind of behaviour isn't new to prime ministers:
Voters often like it when a prime minister gets tough or rude. Jean Chrétien suffered no political penalty when, as prime minister, he grabbed a peaceful protester by the throat and forced him to the ground.
Pierre Trudeau, in what became known as the fuddle-duddle incident, famously told opposition MPs to fornicate with themselves. Voters elected his Liberals to government three more times after that.
Was it polite behaviour? Certainly not. It showed that Trudeau can be impetuous and far from sunny. More importantly, his actions caused proceedings to ground to a halt. But Trudeau apologized more than once. Other than his apology for residential schools, when was the last time you heard Stephen Harper apologize?
Will he pay? We'll see.

Light blogging ahead

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 05/21/2016 - 07:37
Taking a break for the long weekend and a couple of days beyond. Expect little to no blogging until next week.

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 05/21/2016 - 07:35
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- James Wilt discusses a much-needed effort to map out the connections between fossil fuel corporations. And Bruce Campbell highlights how the resource sector is among the most prominent examples of regulatory capture in Canada.

- Meanwhile, Steven Chase notes that even as Stephane Dion tries to excuse the sale of arms to human rights abusers, Sweden is making a principled shift away from relying on inevitable human suffering as a profit centre.

- Michael Geist takes a look at the costs the Trans-Pacific Partnership figures to impose on Canada's economy - and the refusal of the deal's corporate backers to recognize that they exist.

- Dylan Matthews examines the impact of public tax records in ensuring improved pay equality and revenue collection. 

- John Anderson makes the case for postal banking to improve both our existing public services, and the availability of financial services for people who need them.

- Finally, Matt Gurney writes that the Trudeau Libs are indistinguishable from the Harper Cons in their total contempt for any opposition. And Chantal Hebert discusses how Trudeau's combination of figurative and literal strongarming of Parliament seems to have backfired.

Trump-Clinton Syndrome

Northern Reflections - Sat, 05/21/2016 - 05:06

 When Alan Freeman was the Globe and Mail correspondent in Washington, nobody paid attention to Canada. Suddenly, he writes, that has all changed:

Over the past week, major U.S. news outlets like The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post haven’t been able to get enough of Canada. And that was before Thursday’s meltdown on the Commons floor.

In recent weeks, major American media outlets have run stories on the Fort McMurray wildfire, Canada’s transgender anti-discrimination legislation, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau’s plea for more staff help, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s apology to South Asian immigrants turned away on the Komagata Maru in 1914 — and, of course, the elbows-out fracas involving Trudeau and several other MPs in the Commons.
Why the change? Call it the Trump-Clinton Syndrome:

Instead of any sense of excitement over a new kind of leadership, Americans are brooding over the prospect of six more months of a nasty election campaign — between a reality TV star who seldom mentions a rival or a foreign leader without resorting to crude insults, and a political veteran who has trouble shaking her image of arrogance and entitlement.

The personal weaknesses of Trump and Clinton normally would be enough to sink either one of them in a presidential election campaign — if it weren’t for the fact that they’re running against each other. So many Americans are stuck with a choice between two people they don’t like.
Some Canadians -- people like Conrad Black -- used to look with envy on the United States. Black's envy seems to have disappeared after his acquaintance with American Justice. And it appears that a significant number of Americans are now envying us.


The Trudeau Haters and the Con Media

Montreal Simon - Sat, 05/21/2016 - 03:53

Sometimes when I hear the Harper Party, the Mulcair Party, and all the other Trudeau haters going after Justin Trudeau with blood in their eyes, and foam in their mouths.

I can't decide whether I'm living in the New Canada, the liberated Harperland.

Or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

And now to make matters even worse, here comes our own Marie Antoinette, the Queen of the Plagiarists, Margaret Wente herself.
Read more »

Ruth Ellen Brosseau: Now She's Not a Clown She's a Martyr

Montreal Simon - Sat, 05/21/2016 - 00:19

We all saw Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the House of Commons trying to physically block the Con whip from returning to his seat.

And then after getting accidentally elbowed by Justin Trudeau, carrying on as if she had been shot.

Now she's being used by the Con media to damage Trudeau's image abroad.
Read more »

Vancouver Mayor Slams NEB Pipeline Review And Trudeau's Added "Stopgap Measure."

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 18:06

You could say that Gregor Robertson doesn't much care for the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, the rigged National Energy Board approval process or Justin Trudeau's ploy to gloss it all over.

"The NEB process was a sham, basically, it was advanced with gusto by the Harper government, who were obviously strong proponents of this pipeline process," Robertson said in an interview with Chris Hall on CBC Radio's The House.

"We put up a solid fight against it, but many of the interveners, many voices were shut out of that process and First Nations weren't consulted appropriately," he said, noting the board did not review the project's downstream climate change impact.

Robertson said he will fight tooth and nail to stop the project, and he has a simple message for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr: "The answer is no. This pipeline proposal should not be approved.

"They've got the rest of this year, they've got this ministerial panel, but there is no business case for it when you put the economics on the table and when you put the Paris agreement and our climate commitments on the table and the sensitive environment we're dealing with here on the West Coast — it's an absolute no," he said.

Justin Trudeau defrauded British Columbians into giving him a number of ridings - ridings that might otherwise have gone to the Harper Conservatives - on his express promise to rectify the rigged environmental review process of the industry loaded regulator, Canada's National Energy Board. Slick broke his promise to the province and people of British Columbia and he's trying to weasel his way around it.
If he goes through with this botched "sham" there'll be a price to pay for the Liberal Party for years, perhaps generations, to come.

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 17:28
Jason Collett - Song and Dance Man

Brousseau Clings Tenaciously to Her Moment of Fame

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 16:37

You gotta give it to Ruth Ellen Brousseau. The NDP MP knows how to wring every drop of attention she can get out of a non-event and she is sure going for it.

Brousseau, who claims she was elbowed in her chest by Justin Trudeau during a minor kerfuffle on the floor of the House of Commons this week seems to have contracted PTSD. She complains that she's still personally shaken by the incident. Maybe she could use an all expenses paid furlough to Vegas.

Now, to add insult to her non-injury, she contends the public is calling "bullshit" on her. Bad public, damn you all to hell.

Brosseau, who admits to still being personally shaken by the incident, says her office has received a number phone calls, many of them suggesting she is "crying wolf."

Brosseau also says the scrutiny she has received since Wednesday's encounter has been worse than in 2011, when as a rookie candidate she was ridiculed publicly for travelling to Las Vegas during the election campaign.

She said she's tried to focus on her work since becoming an MP and hopes that speaking out about the incident will make the story go away.

Yes, what would be more likely to "make the story go away" than continuing to whinge about it? From what I could see, Brosseau took the best dive anyone has seen since the World Cup.

What, By Now, We Should Have Realized About Free Trade Agreements But Still Haven't.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 12:54

Nothing has become so undeservedly imbued with the status of orthodoxy as free market fundamentalism embodied in today's free trade pacts and neoliberal governance. This has become our orthodoxy. We accept it, usually without a second thought. We have long forgotten the pitch they used to sell it to us at the outset. If we did remember the promises we would realize how we've been had. We wouldn't be nearly so complacent, and through that powerless, as we have become.

Harper approached market fundamentalism with the reverence afforded to scripture. It was his gospel and he clung to it as tenaciously as religious fundamentalists embrace biblical inerrancy. Harper may have been the hard case but those before him and since have also accepted rule by markets.

While free trade deals are inked by states, those states are really just a front for corporate interest and corporate power. A free trade deal embodies some form of "investor-state dispute resolution" mechanism, secret courts, the effect of which is to create a power-sharing relationship. State sovereignty is to some extent yielded. It doesn't just evaporate. It goes somewhere. It passes to some other entity.

One aspect of that sovereignty surrender is the planning power. If a government's plans intrude on perceived commercial rights, the government's power can be fettered by litigation and awards of massive damages. In the result, planning power is quietly and gradually ceded to the private sector. You can usually sense this when you detect a lack of vision, a lack of cohesiveness in government policy making. That's the telltale of sovereignty corrupted.

Economist James Galbraith offers this insight:

"The history of compulsory [state] planning cannot be purged of its warts; this is the conservative and libertarian case, and it does no good to deny the force of their argument. But this does not make planning unnecessary or mean that one can do without it.

"Again the issue is, In comparison to what? A state that does not plan does not, by default, turn this function over to the market. Even if the market is perfectly efficient, it still suffers from two ineradicable defects. The first relates to the distribution of income and power; the market conveys signals only in proportion to the purchasing power of the individuals transmitting them. The poor do not matter to the market. The second relates to representation: people not yet born do not turn up at the stores, They send no market signals at all.

"Defenders of markets talk about futures markets, or long-term contracts, arguing that these serve the needs of the future and obviate the need for planning. This is a misunderstanding. Such markets and contracts serve only the needs of today's economic actors; they are a way of projecting the needs and interests of the present forward into the future, of managing risks for today's market actors. They have nothing to do with preparing for, protecting, or representing the needs of the future. In the market economy, no one speaks for those who will follow. Speaking for the interests of successor generations is a function that has to be imposed on the market by outside agency and regulatory power; it is an act of imagination. The great fallacy of the market myth lies simply in the belief, for which no foundation in economics exists, that markets can think ahead. But they cannot. The role of planning is to provide that voice, if necessary against the concerted interest and organized power of those alive today.

"A country that does not have a public planning system simply turns that function over to a network of private enterprise - domestic or foreign - which then becomes the true seat of economic power. And that is why the struggle over planning is, and remains, such a sensitive issue; it is the struggle over power. It is a struggle not between democracy and the corporation, but between those - scientists, engineers, some economists, and public intellectuals - who attempt to represent the common and future interest and those - banks, companies, lobbyists, and the economists whom they employ - that represent only the tribal and current interest. It is an uneven struggle. It is a struggle in which, outside of wartime and the zone of permanent planning called the Pentagon, the planners have prevailed on only rare occasions, notably during the Great Depression. But it is an inescapable struggle. If the future is to be provided for, you must have a community of planners, and some way must be found to support them, to permit them to develop their plans and resolve their differences, and to give them access to the levers of public power. To walk away from this problem with a shrug about 'markets' is to disenfranchise the future. To enable planning guarantees nothing. But to 'rely on the market' is to guarantee that the interests of the future will never be provided for."

What is Galbraith telling us? He seems to be warning that the market forces so dominant in society today and the neoliberals in the political caste who serve them work together "to guarantee that the interests of the future will never be provided for." That should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying any attention to government especially since Harper came to power and, more disturbingly, the government that has since displaced him. Trudeau is, if anything, more worrisome than Harper because he represents a party whose members consider it progressive. There may be a progressive or two within Trudeau's cabinet but damn if I can name them.

A lot of us had hopes that Harper's successor would right Canada's badly listing political keel. That hasn't happened.

Pimping bitumen is a case in point. That is all about "the tribal and current interest" at the considerable expense of "preparing for, protecting and representing the needs of the future."

No we have to accept the fact that this government, flying its false flag, is only marginally less inadequate than the one it displaced.

Time for a break. Here's George Carlin explaining why bullshit is the glue that still holds us together.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 09:19
Assorted content to end your week.

- Johnna Montgomerie makes the case to treat austerity as a failed experiment. But Laura Basu points out that misleading coverage of economic and fiscal news has led far too many people to see the damage done by austerity as originating from other sources.

- Meanwhile, the Economist examines how unduly strict monetary policy has led to the end of otherwise sustainable periods of economic growth. Chris Savage notes that Republican-governed Michigan is now handing the business sector more free money than it's collecting in corporate taxes. And Deirdre Fulton observes that the U.S.' own assessment shows that the Trans-Pacific Partnership isn't worth pursuing - which hasn't yet resulted in any change in the plans to keep pushing it.

- Selena Ross tells the story of Teta Bayan, the nanny who was prevented from testifying before Parliament about the temporary foreign worker program due to the Libs' preference to hear from the corporate sector first.

- CarbonBrief warns that we're a mere five years away from hitting the upper limit of the greenhouse gas emissions we can send into the atmosphere while suffering only moderate effects. Matt Smith highlights how the oil industry has chosen not to develop its own technologies which could have substantially reduced the damage we're doing to our planet. Nick Fillmore points out the glaring lack of media coverage of climate change compared to its expected consequences. And in a case in point, John Klein posts about the Saskatchewan Party's throne speech climate change denialism which has received no mainstream media attention. 

- Finally, Geoff Leo points out how the Saskatchewan Party is playing favourites with access to information requests, charging CBC a hundred thousand dollars more for less Global Transportation Hub documentation than it's prepared to supply to its ideological allies at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.


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