Posts from our progressive community

Apparently There'll Be a Solar Eclipse Today. I'm Staying Juicy, or So I'm Told.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 09:43
For some, maybe, but apparently not for us.  Here's what EnviroCan says is in store for us on the wet coast:

Rain, at times heavy, continues. A series of storms moving onshore from the Pacific will bring waves of rain to the South Coast through today and tonight. Juicy saturated air will bring rainfalls exceeding the warning criteria of 50 mm in places. The storm system is expected to move east of the regions by Saturday morning. In strong southwest flow patterns like this, air channelled through Barkley Sound will bring heavy rain to the area from Qualicum Beach to Fanny Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island. The rain here should ease to a few showers this evening as the front shifts to the east. Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Rainfall Warnings are issued when significant rainfall is expected. Environment Canada meteorologists will update alerts as required. Please monitor local media or Weatheradio.
"Juicy" air?  Juicy as in just waiting to be squeezed?  Juicy delicious?  

Thomas Friedman: You Cannot Win that Dirty and Just Walk Away Like Nothing Happened.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 09:35


In today's New York Times Tom Friedman writes;



The biggest losers in all of this, besides all the Israelis who did not vote for Netanyahu, are American Jews and non-Jews who support Israel. What Bibi did to win this election was move the Likud Party from a center-right party to a far-right one. The additional votes he got were all grabbed from the other far-right parties — not from the center

When the official government of Israel is a far-right party that rejects a two-state solution and employs anti-Arab dog whistles to get elected, it will split the basic unity of the American Jewish community on Israel. How many American Jews want to defend a one-state solution in Washington or on their college campuses? Is Aipac, the Israel lobby, now going to push for a one-state solution on Capitol Hill? How many Democrats and Republicans would endorse that?

Warning: Real trouble ahead.

You cannot win that dirty and just walk away like nothing happened. In the days before Israelis went to the polls, Netanyahu was asked by the Israeli news site, NRG, if it was true that a Palestinian state would never be formed on his watch as prime minister, Netanyahu replied, “Indeed,” adding: “Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel.”


The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself - Unfortunately Fear is Winning

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 09:29


The fuel of the authoritarian state is always the same.  It's fear.  Distorted, wildly inflated, even irrational, fear is the cheap and dirty solution to grasping, holding and perpetuating power.

The Israeli election was a master class in the exploitation of a people through the application of fear.  On election day Netanyahu used fearful images of shady foreigners busing Arabs "in droves" to the ballot boxes to subvert Israel's democracy and bring down the state.

This is not to say there aren't people and things we should rightly fear.  There are and there are plenty of such people and things.  Yet the focus we should bring to these genuine threats can be easily masked and diverted by contrived and inflated and irrationally powerful but largely made up fears.

We have a term for those who manipulate others with fear.   They're called "fearmongers."  Although it's fallen into desuetude (look it up), monger used to describe a merchant or trader of sorts - fishmonger, cheesemonger, ironmonger. Today, however, it's mainly used to describe the low life types who spread or stir up things discreditable - warmongers, whoremongers, and, of course, fearmongers.  The thing to keep in mind is that they're all cut from the same cloth.  Benjamin Netanyahu and our own Stephen Harper are cut from the very same bolt of cloth, made to measure.

Let's say you're presented with two glass goblets.  One, you know, is full of a really vile-tasting wine.  The other, you're made to believe, contains battery acid. You have to drink one.  Which will it be?  Of course you'll swill down the terrible wine.  You might be angry about it when you discover the alternative wasn't acid at all but just a glass of ordinary water but by then it's too late.  You drank the wine.  Mission accomplished.

I tell you "this is bad."  You believe it's bad. You do precisely what I want you to do even though you don't like it.

From AlterNet:

"Whenever one group uses fear to manipulate another, someone benefits and someone pays,” wrote sociologist Barry Glassner, in the 10th anniversary edition of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things.  As he noted, “Threats to the U.S. financial system, obscured from public view in part by endless attention to the ‘war on terror,’ undermined America’s national security more than Osama bin Laden and his organization ever did.”

...George Lakoff, a nationally known linguist and author has analyzed how language and the media shape conservative and liberal dogma. “Basically, what you’ve got are monopolies running your life in any dimension and it’s not mentioned. It’s not discussed. It’s not a topic of conversation. It’s not a topic of legislation. It isn’t something that’s out there.”

Instead, American media is filled with pro-corporate and anti-government propaganda.

“Corporations run your life all the time,” Lakoff continued. “Look at the corporate ads on TV. Corporation ads are innocent. They have nice little sounds. Think of the music in oil company ads and the people in them. It’s like, ‘We’re pleasant. We’re progressive. We’re making progress. We’re cute,’ etc., when they’re actually running your life.”
...“You have all of these progressives out there who went to [liberal arts] school and did well thinking that all you have to do is tell people something once, give them the facts, they’re all reasons to the right conclusion,” he said. They think “that’s all you can do, or should do, when that’s utterly false… That’s not how the brain works.”
 
Lakoff said repetitive, fear-based moralizing sticks—and the GOP knows it, in the same way that corporate marketing experts do. “In politics everything is based on morality,” he said. “Mainly, you want your policies to be right, not wrong. What counts as right varies between progressives and conservatives. The conservatives, when they go to school, take business courses and marketing courses. Marketing professors study neuroscience and cognitive science… They’ve been doing it very well for 40 years.”
Repetition of fear-based messaging—without a steady counterpoint or context to stop that drumbeat—has been shown to affect the brain patterns that determine how people think, Lakoff said. It is akin to repetitive exercise that creates muscle memory. Depending on whether one is more inclined toward a liberal or conservative ideology, one can hear the same words but reach different conclusions.

...Lakoff said pollsters have spread a false myth that there is a political center. What really exists are varying degrees of conservatism and liberalism—two bell curves, not one. The absence of strong, clear, morally based messages from Democrats has allowed the GOP to demonize government, which pleases their corporate sponsors. Meanwhile, corporate publicists keep touting their good deeds, he said, and “you don’t hear anything else.”

“You don’t hear anything at all,” Lakoff said. “Let me give you a simple example. What are pensions? Pensions are late payments for work already done. They’re part of wages. When a company says, ‘Well, I can’t afford to pay your pension anymore,’ or when they cut public servant pensions, they’re stealing your money. They’re stealing your wages. Who says it? …The Democrats say, ‘Oh, well, we can’t say stuff like that.’”


Fear is a cudgel.  It's a weapon.  It's a hallmark of illiberal democracy that fear is used against the monger's own supporters, his loyal constituents.  Harper does it all the time, it's his standard operating procedure.  He uses fear as a yoke to harness his supporters to pull his wagon.  He uses fear as blinders to keep their eyes from straying to things he doesn't want them to see or start thinking about. He uses fear to keep them from hearing the lies in his words.  He uses fear to rob his own people of their power and their reason.
As Glassner observes, when Harper uses fear to manipulate the Canadian people, "someone benefits and someone pays."



Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 07:59
Assorted content to end your week.

- Both Edward Keenan and the Star's editorial board take note of Thomas Mulcair's plan for urban renewal, with particular emphasis on its appeal across party lines:
Speaking directly to Toronto city council and Mayor John Tory, who won election largely on the basis of his promised SmartTrack “surface subway,” Mulcair said he would be a partner on transit: “Together we will get the people of Toronto moving.”

No wonder Tory declared himself “gratified and pleased” with Mulcair’s approach. Other elements of the NDP’s urban agenda include:
  • Appointing a minister responsible for urban affairs — someone to advocate for cities in federal cabinet when key decisions are made.
  • Delivering long-term, stable funding for affordable housing.
  • Identifying, within the first 100 days of taking office, “worthy extensions” of social housing investments that are set to expire and highlighting new spending necessary to ease a crisis in affordable housing.
  • Introducing $15-a-day child care nationwide, and funding 164,000 daycare spaces in the Greater Toronto Area alone. This should be of significant help to the 20,000 families in this city currently on waiting lists for affordable care.
  • Accelerating immigration process-times so families can be reunited faster — an important consideration in Toronto, which serves as a magnet for newcomers to Canada.
These are all valuable initiatives. Mulcair is demonstrating a clear understanding of Toronto’s needs and has made addressing them a welcome priority. - Meanwhile, Carmichael Outreach is offering a series of proposals to address Regina's shortage of affordable housing. But as Wanda Schmockel reports, developers are determined to avoid having a dime spent on those efforts when it could instead be funnelled toward new profit centres. 

- Michael Geist follows up on how C-51 stands to harm Canadians' privacy. And Democracy Watch calls attention to the complete lack of internal and public accountability within CSIS as another reason to be concerned about handing over unchecked powers.

- L. Ian MacDonald discusses the need to move beyond the Cons' primeval politics in talking about security and culture, while Michael Den Tandt notes that the Cons' goal is to have us soaking in fear. Tim Harper observes that the bigoted bozos who were once so desperately suppressed by the Cons' central command now represent the party's most prominent public faces. Michael Spratt writes that the Cons are wrong on both the law and the facts in their anti-niqab fearmongering. And John Cartwright highlights the role of organized labour in pushing back against prejudice and inequality.

- Finally, Richard Trumka points out that attacks on unions serve the sole purpose of suppressing wages and working conditions. Bryce Covert discusses how work is far from a guarantee that a family can escape from poverty. And Robert Reich observes that we shouldn't count on employment relationships or other work conditions returning to how they previously operated:
We need a new economic model.

The economic model that dominated most of the twentieth century was mass production by the many, for mass consumption by the many.

Workers were consumers; consumers were workers. As paychecks rose, people had more money to buy all the things they and others produced — like Kodak cameras. That resulted in more jobs and even higher pay.

That virtuous cycle is now falling apart. A future of almost unlimited production by a handful, for consumption by whoever can afford it, is a recipe for economic and social collapse.

Our underlying problem won’t be the number of jobs. It will be – it already is — the allocation of income and wealth.

A Tale Told By An Idiotic Orwellian

Northern Reflections - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 06:39

                                         http://the-mound-of-sound.blogspot.ca/

Remember when Stockwell Day used to lead the cabal which today passes for the Conservative Party of Canada? Those were the days when Day insisted that the St. Lawrence River flowed into Lake Ontario, not the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Well, the party has returned to the days of yore. The prime minister and his acolytes have returned to their bedrock base and are spouting all kinds of idiocy. Michael Harris writes:

Conservative MP John Willamson offered his insights on the competition between “whities” and “brown people” for jobs. Not to be outdone, his caucus colleague Larry Miller invited people who insist on wearing the niqab to “stay the hell where you came from” (presumably he wasn’t talking about Scarborough).
And Stephen Harper is promoting the idea that those who believe they are too far away from a police station should buy their own guns for their own protection -- except, he says, that's not what he meant:

So, yeah, a campaigning prime minister gave the green light to vigilantes — much the way he did to Islamophobes, anti-First Nations bigots and anyone who hates environmentalists. Former Ontario attorney general Mike Bryant said Harper’s words were a direct invitation to commit illegal acts.

“It’s vigilantism,” said Bryant. “People are going to find themselves facing the criminal justice system and being charged with serious crimes if they decide to follow what the prime minister is suggesting.”

Ah, but this is Harperland, where the words mean what the man says they mean. The PM insisted it was “patently ridiculous” to interpret his words as an incitement to vigilante acts. Why? Because all he was trying to do was show that the Conservative Party of Canada was pro-gun owner, while the other parties are clearly anti-. The words themselves meant nothing; the sentiment was everything. As usual, most of the press corps assumed the supine position.
You have to ask yourself, who would buy this kind of idiocy? If the polls are to be believed, there are lots of idiots to be had for the taking. The strategy is transparent:

Harper has simply made the calculation that if the way to give a chameleon a nervous breakdown is to put him down on plaid, the way to win an election in our disappearing democracy is to offer Canadians only two flavours — vanilla or chocolate.

That means hitting the hot buttons, over and over. Before oil prices tanked, greed was the button of choice. Now it’s fear. It makes things starkly simple — black and white, good and evil. As simple as War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery … and Ignorance is Strength.

More About That Gun Thing, Mr. Harper

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 06:19


Despite Stephen Harper's strong warnings last year about its dangers, two professors of criminology have thrown caution to the wind and 'committed sociology.'

In today's Star, Irvin Waller and Michael Kempa use that dark art to question Mr. Harper's recent professed enthusiasm for the use of guns as personal protection, especially in rural areas.

The professors assert that the facts, never especially useful to an ideologue like Harper, suggest otherwise:
In Canada, home invasions and violent assaults by strangers in rural areas are so rare that they are virtually unrecorded and unreported threats.

And random gun violence is only slightly more likely in urban areas. A quick glance at our recent police data confirms 505 homicides last year for our whole country of 35 million.

More importantly, of the 131 murders with a gun, 85 were gang-related shootings, which by definition do not occur in our typical rural communities. So you are left with 46 gun murders or less than 10 per cent of the total. There are few occasions where guns are likely to be useful for self-defence.Beyond those indisputable facts, however, lies another element that makes Mr. Harper's demagoguery dangerous:
Suggesting that gun owners have their weapons ready for self-defence will encourage rural Canadians to break our laws requiring ammunition and guns to be stored separately. These laws are important because it is well-known that storing loaded weapons increases the suicides, accidents and murders that occur in emotional situations, especially in those tragic cases involving domestic violence.Another statistic shows the folly of having loaded weapons readily available:
Nearly nine out of 10 Canadian homicide victims are killed by someone they know, too often their distraught spouse or separated partner. By loading up more guns, Canadians can expect to have more innocent victims killed, not fewer houses invaded by strangers.Towards the end of their piece, Waller and Kempa commit full-bore sociology:
Rather than take the easy path of following some of the U.S.’s worst gun failures, rural safety in Canada would profit most through developing crime and violence reduction programs that have been proven through mostly American research. Massive databases of program evaluation results confirm that sensible prevention approaches that provide non-violent conflict resolution training in schools and community centres protect two of the most over-victimized groups in our society: women and youth.Clearly, their words will be lost on a heart as densely obdurate as Harper's. One can only hope that there are sufficient numbers of Canadians who have not been infected with the prime minister's dark visions and philosophy and recognize his ideology as the true danger stalking all of us.Recommend this Post

"How did we get here?" . . I hate to have to ask. . .

kirbycairo - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 05:39
"How did we get here?"

This is the timeless question of people who find themselves in a country (or world) being enveloped by the politics of hate, fear, militarism, jingoism, and fascism. This is the question that people find themselves at war inevitably ask when the bullets start flying and the bombs start dropping. "How did we get here?" or "How did we let our leaders take us off this precipice?"

Well, it may be a frustrating and a timeless question, one that is painful to ask and one that is even more painful to answer, but if you have been paying attention to Canadian politics over the last ten years, you know the answer.

Apparently we get here through a fairly simple formula. First, have a media that is compliant or supportive of the government's rightwing agenda. Easy peasy - we have had that for a while now. Then take a political party that is rooted in racism, militarism, sexism, and corporatism. Check. Then let that party in government so it can legislate more or less by stealth for ten years or so, gradually undermining the courts, the democratic mechanisms, the legislative branch of government, the legal mechanisms that are meant to protect people against the arbitrary use of power, etc. Got that. Now, over a period of a decade or so let that government gradually change the mood of the nation and create a space in which racism, militarism, and jingoism become once again socially acceptable. And suddenly you find yourself in the midst of a national decline toward fascism in which the federal leader can blatantly lie about major national and international issues with little fear that he will be called out on his lies, in which the leader can use inflammatory, racist language and the racist slime that once hid in the corners of our society are suddenly free once again to proclaim their racism from the rooftops.

Sadly, this is where we now find ourselves. And as progressives we are startled by the speed and ease with which the nation slid toward fascism and racism. But we are only surprised because we, as progressives so often do, underestimated the remarkable ignorance, hate, and malleability of the general population.

Well, the jig, as they say, is up. Genuine fascism is at the gates, so to speak. Oh, of course, at the moment our fascism is not the same as that which manifested itself in various countries of Europe in the 1930s. At the moment we have a friendlier, more 'legitimatized' form of fascism. But make no mistake about what is going on. At the moment we are just pushing that proverbial envelope of racism and militarism that once defined Euro-fascism. But it will surely take only one more election victory (gained by an ever more compromised electoral system) to push us into a more full-fledged form of fascist/corporatist government.  It is not a long way from a government proroguing parliament specifically to avoid falling, to a government cancelling or overturning elections. And if you think such things can't come to our seemingly quiet and 'peaceful' nation, I have only one word for you - VUKOVAR!

Stephen Harper and the Night of the Living Dead

Montreal Simon - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 03:13


As you probably remember, when I saw that Stephen Harper had poured gasoline on the flames of bigotry in Quebec, and I saw how his words had galvanized the Bloc Québécois.

I portrayed him as the man who had helped bring the Bloc back from the dead.

And I knew that it wouldn't be long before other zombies would stagger out to take advantage of the situation.

And sure enough out of his PQ crypt came Pierre Karl Péladeau. 
Read more »

Chris Alexander unplugged

Creekside - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 02:33


David Climenhaga dissects Alexander's speech here and links to the entire Ukrainian Canadian Congress event but I thought I'd extract Alexander's remarks for posterity.


Alexander is particularly outraged about any mention that Ukraine might have a neo-Nazi problem, which he blames on a :

 "dangerous ideology. Which is present in our own city of Toronto! Which is present across Canada! Which comes to us through state-sponsored Russian channels that are preaching absolute poison." 

while evidently being unaware Canada has a Right Sector chapter of its very own.

Perhaps he'd rather hear about it from the BBC :



or the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany last month :



Climenhaga : 
"Alexander was followed as speaker by Andriy Parubiy, deputy chairperson of the Ukrainian parliament and founder in 1991 of that country's evocatively named Social-National Party, which the Wikipedia describes as having "combined radical nationalism and neo-Nazi features" before changing its name to Svoboda ("Freedom") in 2004.In his speech Mr Parubiy said his fighters in Ukraine are standing for the entire civilized world.
He says "Canada has an “authoritative voice” on the conflict in eastern Ukraine and could help persuade the United States to send lethal weapons to Ukraine."

"This is going to be  great struggle," said Alexander, " We are just at the beginning of this struggle."
.

Is the Canada Revenue Agency Helping Build the Monument to Harperism?

Montreal Simon - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 15:41


Last night I told you how more and more decent Canadians are joining together to denounce the monstrous Memorial to the Victims of Communism.

The ghastly monument Stephen Harper is building to himself.

Just to pander to the ethnic vote, and stick another knife into the Supreme Court.

Well today it seems that the builders of that monstrosity may be getting some help from the Canada Revenue Agency. 
Read more »

Maybe These Are the "End Times" or Someone Left the Asylum Door Unlocked Again

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 13:30


I take it all back.  Maybe there is a God.  After all there must be someone of the stature of a deity driving America's right wingnuts batshit crazy.  A case in point - Glenn Beck.

Glenn Beck has washed his hands of the Republican Party.  Why?  Because they're a bunch of closet commie lefties in his mind.



“They ran and they said they were doing all of these great things and they were going to stand against Obamacare and illegal immigration – they set us up. They set us up. Enough is enough. They’re torpedoing the constitution and they’re doing it knowingly. They’re taking on people like Mike Lee and Ted Cruz and they are torpedoing them. Knowingly,” Beck said.

“So I’m done with them,” the onetime Fox News host concluded. “Four years ago I was with them. Four years ago I said work from the inside: let’s change it. Let’s get new guys in there. It’s too late.”


And Beck wasn't just done with the GOP.  He then turned his guns (pardon the pun) on the National Rifle Association, the NRA. Beck thinks NRA board member, wait for it - Grover Norquist, might be an Islamist sleeper agent.
Glenn Beck says he may drop his membership in the National Rifle Association amid (baseless) fears that the organization has been infiltrated by radical Islamists — a conspiracy theory that centers on anti-tax activist and NRA board member Grover Norquist, who is currently seeking re-election to the board.

Peddled primarily by neoconservative campaigner and former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney, the charge is this: Norquist is a man ”actively involved, both enabling and empowering, Muslim Brotherhood influence operations against our movement and our country.” As Media Matters’ Tim Johnson notes, much of Gaffney’s “evidence” concerns the fact that Norquist has Muslim family members. But while the board of the American Conservative Union unanimously determined that Gaffney’s claims lacked any foundation, Beck said on Wednesday night that he’s “heard enough” to convince himself that Norquist is “a very bad man.


Whatever you do, don't tell Glenn those chin whiskers make him look awful Bolshie.

Can You Get to the Top of a Rightwing Party Unless You're an Unrepentant Liar?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 13:07
Florida governor Rick Scott vehemently denies there's any such thing as a ban prohibiting state employees from using terms such as "climate change" or "global warming."

Tell that to longtime Florida public servant, Barton Bibler.


...Bibler reportedly included an explicit mention of climate change in his official notes from a Florida Coastal Managers Forum meeting in late February, during which climate change, rising sea levels and the possible environmental impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline were discussed.

On 9 March, Bibler received a formal reprimand for “misrepresenting that ‘the official meeting agenda included climate change’”, according to a statement from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Peer), a nationwide non-profit that champions public employees’ rights and providers resources and guidance to whistleblowers using its network of members across the country.

Bibler was instructed to stay away from the office for two days and told he could return to work only after a mental health evaluation from his doctor verified his “fitness for duty”, the complaint said. In the letter to Florida’s inspector general, Candie Fuller, the state’s Peer director calls for a full investigation to the matter.

Bibler told the Miami Herald that he “didn’t get the memo” about the gag order, so when he introduced himself by congratulating other officials on the call for the “exciting” work they were doing to address climate change, the “reaction was mostly shock”.

When Beauty Meets Sadness

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 12:27
It's not often that something this serenely beautiful, wrapped in a bittersweet story, shows up on this blog.  Who knows, you might enjoy it.  It's the story of Houshi Ryokan, the world's oldest inn.

This One Spells Trouble.

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 12:06


The vast Amazon rainforest is sometimes called "the lungs of the planet" for its historic role in absorbing atmospheric CO2 and replenishing our supply of oxygen.  That appears to be changing and not for the better.

A study finds that, over the past ten years, the trees of the Amazon are no longer absorbing nearly as much CO2 as in the past.  The Amazon has accounted for up to a quarter of all CO2 sequestered on land.  However, from 1990 to 2000, the forests' absorption dropped by 30% even as carbon emissions increased 21%.

Dr Roel Brienen of Leeds University said, “If this trend continues then that is worrying because that means that basically the subsidies that we have been getting from nature – the forests that are taking up part of the emissions that we have been putting out into the atmosphere – if that is going to stop then that means that we have to make even stronger cuts in our CO2 emissions in order to keep the rate of climate change as low as possible.”

Climate change has also transformed British Columbia's vast forest carbon sink into a net emitter of CO2 due to the massive pine beetle infestation, itself the result of climate change that prevents the necessary winter kill off to keep the pest populations under control.
Research has found that our greatest carbon sink, our oceans, are also losing their capacity to absorb atmospheric CO2.  We've taken the carbon sinks for granted and we depend heavily on them for a viable environment.

Britain's Deputy PM Calls for the UK to Recognize the State of Palestine

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 12:03


That didn't take long.  Nick Clegg has called on prime minister David Cameron to formally recognize the state of Palestine in response to Israeli prime minister Netanyahu's rejection of independence for the Palestinian people.

Netanyahu is reported, by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, to be backpeddling furiously, claiming that he still supports the 2-state solution despite having done everything in his power to undermine it and just days after he ruled it out. Sorry, Bibi.  Sarkozy was right.  You're a damned liar and everyone, Israelis included, knows it.  You shot your bolt, pal - and you were aiming for Barack Obama but you actually shot yourself in the foot.

Jesus, Bibi, did you just hoodwink the Israeli people or are you trying to hoodwink the world?  Well you record speaks for itself, loud and clear, you're trying to hoodwink the world - again.

A Palestinian Rejoices in Netanyahu's Victory

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 10:44
An op-ed in The New York Times, by Palestinian Yousef Munayyer casts the powerful election win of Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as possibly the best news the subjugated Palestinian people could have hoped for.


IF anyone doubted where Benjamin Netanyahu stood on the question of peace, the Israeli prime minister made himself clear just before Tuesday’s election, proclaiming that there would never be a Palestinian state on his watch. Then he decided to engage in a bit of fear-mongering against Palestinian citizens of Israel in hopes of driving his supporters to the polls. “The right-wing government is in danger,” Mr. Netanyahu announced on Election Day. “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves.”

But Mr. Netanyahu’s victory is actually the best plausible outcome for those seeking to end Israel’s occupation. Indeed, I, as a Palestinian, breathed a sigh of relief when it became clear that his Likud Party had won the largest number of seats in the Knesset.
This might seem counterintuitive, but the political dynamics in Israel and internationally mean that another term with Mr. Netanyahu at the helm could actually hasten the end of Israel’s apartheid policies. The biggest losers in this election were those who made the argument that change could come from within Israel. It can’t and it won’t.

Israelis have grown very comfortable with the status quo. In a country that oversees a military occupation that affects millions of people, the biggest scandals aren’t about settlements, civilian deaths or hate crimes but rather mundane things like the price of cottage cheese and whether the prime minister’s wife embezzled bottle refunds.

For Israelis, there’s currently little cost to maintaining the occupation and re-electing leaders like Mr. Netanyahu. Raising the price of occupation is therefore the only hope of changing Israeli decision making. Economic sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s increased its international isolation and put pressure on the apartheid regime to negotiate. 

Once Israelis are forced to decide between perpetual occupation and being accepted in the international community, they may choose a more moderate leader who dismantles settlements and pursues peace, or they may choose to annex rather than relinquish land — provoking a confrontation with America and Europe. Either way, change will have to come from the outside.

Replacing Mr. Netanyahu with his challenger, Isaac Herzog, would have slowed down the B.D.S. movement and halted pressure on Israel by creating the perception of change. A new prime minister would have kick-started a new “peace process” based on previous failed models that would inevitably fail again because of a lack of real pressure on Israel to change its deplorable behavior.

The re-election of Mr. Netanyahu provides clarity. Two years ago Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the maximum time left for a two-state solution was two years. Mr. Netanyahu officially declared it dead this week in order to drive right-wing voters to the polls. The two-state solution, which has seen more funerals than a reverend, exists today only as a talking point for self-interested, craven politicians to hide behind — not as a realistic basis for peace.

The old land-for-peace model must now be replaced with a rights-for-peace model. Palestinians must demand the right to live on their land, but also free movement, equal treatment under the law, due process, voting rights and freedom from discrimination.


Netanuyahu's Win Could Be Israel's Greatest Defeat

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 09:47
Tossing ideas around yesterday I came to a "What If" moment.  What if, I wondered, Israeli prime minister re-elect, Benjamin Netanyahu, has destroyed Israel's lifeline - the backing of the president of the United States of America.

It's been the American president, who alone controls his country's veto at the United Nations Security Council, who has intervened dozens of times over the years to prevent the U.N. from responding to Israel's excesses, particularly its half-century of mauling of the captive Palestinian people.

What if?  Could it possibly happen.  Then, this morning, Boris from The Galloping Beaver left a comment to the effect that Gwynne Dyer sees that security council business pretty much the same way.


...Netanyahu’s entire political career has been dedicated to sabotaging the 1993 Oslo Accords (which envisaged Israeli and Palestinian states living side-by-side in peace) and planting so many Jewish settlers on the Israeli-occupied territories that a separate Palestinian state becomes physically impossible.

He largely destroyed the Oslo agreement in his first term as prime minister in 1996-99 (the creation of a Palestinian state was scheduled for 1998). Almost 10 percent of Israel’s Jews now live in the occupied Palestinian territories (east Jerusalem and the West Bank) that would make up a Palestinian state. But to keep his American allies and his European supporters happy, he never actually said he would not allow an independent Palestine.

Netanyahu finally spoke the truth on Monday because that’s what the settlers and their supporters wanted to hear, and he needed those votes in order to survive politically. But it destroyed the myth, useful to the United States and the European Union, that there is some surviving “peace process” that must be protected by keeping the Israelis happy. The “peace process” is dead, dead, dead. Has been for years. There is no “two-state solution” on the table.

This makes it a lot harder for the U.S. to veto resolutions critical of Israel at the United Nations, as it has done 51 times since 1972. Without the cover of peace talks, these vetoes become votes for perpetual Israeli rule over the Palestinian people. And it will accelerate the broader erosion of the old pro-Israel reflexes of people in Europe and the US who needed the reassurance that some day, somehow, there would be a just peace settlement.

Netanyahu made matters considerably worse during the campaign by openly showing his contempt for President Barack Obama. His panic-mongering speech to the U.S. Congress, painting Obama’s quest for a nuclear deal with Iran as a naive surrender to Iran’s alleged desire for nuclear weapons, was an unprecedented foreign intervention in the U.S. political process. It will not be forgiven or forgotten by Obama.

His election promise to speed up Jewish settlement in the Palestinian territories (which is illegal under international law) was another nail in the coffin of peace negotiations. Still, it did help to get Netanyahu re-elected, and for him that’s all that counts.

He still truly believes that only he understands the real and existential dangers facing Israel, and has the will to do something about them. Except that all he ever really does is kick those dangers down the road a bit. Unable to believe that a peaceful settlement is possible or even desirable, he condemns his country to perpetual conflict and growing isolation.

Benjamin Netanyahu has given the finger to his best ally, his indispensable ally, and not just once.  He did it so that Bibi could remain the prime minister of Israel.  Before Tuesday it was unimaginable that a president of the United States would not call a prime minister of Israel to congratulate him/her on an election victory.  The unimaginable has happened.  Obama has nearly two years left in office and he doesn't have to seek re-election.  John Boehner and Mitch McConnell don't get a vote at the U.N.  From here on,  we're sailing in uncharted waters and there are storm clouds gathering.

On prospects for change

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 08:27
The latest round of discussion about the possibility of a coalition to offer something better than the Harper Cons has taken an noteworthy turn. At this point, everybody but the Libs seems to have settled on the position that there's no real obstacle to a coalition government - and the Libs' spin machine has responded with little more than a plan to fabricate mistrust between themselves and the NDP.

But no matter how far that effort goes, the foreseeable outcomes of the next election feature a low probability of anybody holding a majority, and a strong prospect that the NDP and the Libs working together can deliver the change each of their voters would like to see.

So how far does Justin Trudeau think he'll get telling Canada that cooperation is too much hard work to be worth pursuing, and that we should instead settle for another term of hopeless Harper government?

[Edit: fixed wording.]

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 07:53
Here, on the need and opportunity to show some vision in our provincial budgeting and planning - even if the Wall government has no interest in bothering.

For further reading...
- I posted previously on the Sask Party's habit of locking Saskatchewan into ill-advised long-term contracts which serve nobody's interests but the corporations involved.
- Karri Munn-Venn discusses the UK Energy Research Centre's report on which fossil fuels we can afford to exploint here.
- Likewise, Ivan Semeniuk and Shawn McCarthy report on the Acting on Climate Change study showing how Canada can eliminate the use of non-renewable power generation and cut greenhouse gas emissions in a hurry if it has the political will to do so.
- Murray Mandryk offers his own take on the important decisions which the Saskatchewan Party continues to kick down the road.
- And finally, the CCPA's Alternative Federal Budget offers an example of what we should expect out of our governments.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 06:43
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Vognar argues that we should push for a guaranteed annual income not only as a matter of social equity, but also as a means of building human capital.

- Mike Benusic, Chantel Lutchman, Najib Safieddine and Andrew Pinto make the case for stronger sick leave policies across Canadian workplaces:
Canada’s current sick leave policies are not supporting the health of individuals and communities. First, employees are forced to choose between staying home when ill (losing income and potentially placing their job at risk) or to go to work (worsening their health and potentially infecting others). A CDC study of nearly 500 food service workers revealed that more than 50% had worked while knowingly ill. When asked why, half of the workers reported they did not want to lose income and a quarter did so for fear of losing their job. Obviously, those working in the food industry have a clear potential to transmit pathogens.

Second, sick workers are driven to clinics or emergency rooms: not for medical care but merely for proof they are ill – a paternalistic custom enshrined in business and many provincial sick leave rules. In delegating physicians into a policing role, clinical hours get chewed up by administrative tasks. When these illnesses are due to larger outbreaks, physicians are doubly burdened – by the sick who need treatment and the sick who need notes. The Ontario Medical Association discourages requiring sick notes for this reason, and also because of the real risk of transmission to others in the health care environment. Forcing infectious people into our waiting rooms who won’t benefit from treatment is burdensome for the patient and risky for all of those in the office.

Third, a comprehensive paid sick leave policy in Canada is economically sound. Missing work is costly, estimated to be $16.6 billion dollars annually in lost productivity, but research is beginning to show that being sick at work (presenteeism) is incredibly costly as well – up to three times as much as absenteeism for depression and pain.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of equity. All workers should have access to sufficient paid, job-protected sick leave to help them recover from illnesses without losing income and to reduce the risk of infecting others. As well, it’s a matter of respect: having an employee ‘prove’ an illness is nonproductive and onerous for all.- Meanwhile, Sara Mojtehedzadeh discusses Dorcas Martey's example of how a lack of effective sick leave forces people engaged in precarious work to put their health on hold in order to keep afloat financially. And Julia Belluz points to Alheil Picazo's story as an example of how much room there is to improve Canada's health care system.

- Joanna Kerr rightly lambastes the Cons for trying to pretend that anybody who cares about civil liberties must be a terrorist. And Alison reminds us of the Cons' history of using public resources to monitor and attack the environmental movement, while Jim Bronskill reports that protest activity in general is already in CSIS' cross-hairs. 

- Finally, the European Federation of Public Service Unions weighs in on the false promise of P3s. And Kev highlights how the lure of low taxes has led us to accept public services which are both insufficient to begin with, and extremely precarious in their fiscal footing.

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