Posts from our progressive community

He's Here!

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 13:59
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency has released their latest projections for el Nino.  At the bottom of this chart you'll see a band of dark red that stretches across the Pacific. That's el Nino and it could be a record breaker.

The dark patches west of Vancouver Island, off the Washington/Oregon border and from southern California to Cabo san Lucas - that's "the blob" that we've been dealing with since at least last spring. It looks like something similar is underway along America's eastern seaboard extending into the Maritimes.

The Least of my Brothers

Feminist Christian - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 13:56
I'm feeling a little dejected by the response of fellow Canadians to the terrorism in France. Instead of welcoming the refugees, we're burning down mosques, and beating Muslim women who are just going about their business. I'm seeing epic hate in my Facebook feed, from friends of friends, and worse, from my own family. My heart is breaking.

From a Christian standpoint, we have no choice but to bring in as many refugees as we can. Jesus was a refugee, and is a refugee today. Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me. Right?

To turn these people away is to defy God. Scripture is crystal clear on this one (for bloody once). From Leviticus, the city of Sodom to the epistles, and the words of Jesus himself, we are obligated to help. You don't get to call yourself Christian until it's no longer convenient. Yeah, you're scared. So? Did Jesus say "Follow me. Unless it gets scary." No. The whole message was to get out of the boat onto the crashing waves and trust that following love is the only way. Get out of the boat and bring in the refugees.

From a human standpoint, COME ON. These are human beings, fleeing from death and destruction. Suggesting that they are the problem is so fucking sickening, I can't even begin to even. GAH. The illogic. The irrational fear. It's mindblowing. There are 1.1 billion Muslims in the world. If they wanted you dead, you'd be dead. FFS.

I want to do something to let the Muslims who live here know that they are welcome and do not have to be afraid, at least of me. I smile as I pass by. I might start saying salaam. I'm tempted to start a movement in which white women wear a hijab to show solidarity, I'm so upset. There aren't many Muslims in my neighbourhood though, so I don't know what the point would be. (I live in the whitest city... it's almost embarrassing).

I'm angry. I'm really angry about this. Because I'm scared of what this country is becoming. The American-style hatred and bigotry is not something I want to live with. Closeted, passive-aggressive racism was bad enough. This is appalling.

Ya know, it hit me. The refugees aren't the least of my brothers. They're just people who need a new place to live. The racists, the bigots, the fearful Canadians who want to turn away people to die, those are the least of my brothers. (Literally, in one case.) I think I need to treat them with a little more patience and understanding. I will keep educating them, gently. But I will not allow them to hurt others in my space.

It's really easy to ignore the haters, or worse, dehumanize them. I've seen too many posts calling the assholes who hurt that Muslim woman in North York "animals". Dehumanizing angry people takes away their agency, and takes away any hope of educating them. It's literally giving up on their humanity. I'm not saying we can make the world perfect and that we can eliminate all bigotry by being nice. Not going to happen. I'm not that flaky. :) But I am saying that by dehumanizing, we actually contribute to the problem by not addressing it before it gets to that point. "Oh, those aren't men. Those are animals" abdicates our responsibility as a society to prevent crime, to prevent ignorance from becoming violent hate. Our previous government fanned the flames, made the problem far worse. We must not give up on bigots. We must show them the way back to civility. Even if it just means they stew quietly. That's far better than beating up people they're afraid of.

The Paris Massacre, the Children, and the Flowers

Montreal Simon - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 13:39

It's hard enough for an adult to understand the horror of the Paris massacre. Or how some people can be so cruel and vicious.

So imagine being a parent in that city, and having to try to explain that horror to children.

So I have to say I thought this dad did a really great job.
Read more »

They Shame Us All

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 10:38
Canadians like to regard themselves as fair-minded people. It is for precisely that reason that we need to denounce strongly those who attempt to subvert those values by hateful speech and acts:
An unprovoked attack on a Muslim woman near an elementary school in Toronto appeared to be “motivated by hate,” police said Tuesday as they investigated the incident that was swiftly denounced by local politicians.

The attack came two days after a mosque in Peterborough, Ont., was set ablaze in the aftermath of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris that left 129 people dead.

Peterborough police are investigating the fire as a hate crime and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured Muslim Canadians the federal government would work hard to find those responsible.

The Toronto assault took place around 3 p.m. on Monday near the mid-town Grenoble Public School while a woman was on her way to pick up her son.

Police said the woman, who was wearing a hijab, was approached by two men and attacked.

“It was a completely unprovoked attack,” said Const. Victor Kwong. “She was punched all over and kicked.”

The two men hurled slurs that were “bigoted in nature” at the woman and tried to rip off her hijab, Kwong said.

The woman fell to the ground and was robbed of her cellphone and some money before the two men fled the area, he said.

We can only hope the perpetrators are caught and punished appropriately.

Meanwhile, in the case of the mosque arson, people have taken matters into their own hands:
A crowdfunding campaign to raise money for repairs to mosque in Peterborough, Ont., that was damaged in a fire set deliberately on Saturday has hit its goal of $80,000.

The mosque was damaged in a fire late Saturday night. An entry on the fundraising website FundRazr set a goal of $80,000, the estimated cost to repair the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association's mosque. That total was reached just after noon today.

Association president Kenzu Abdella said members of the congregation had been inside 784 Parkhill Rd. to celebrate the birth of a new baby just an hour before the fire broke out. He said the fire was "clearly a hate crime."

Such cowardly hatred will never prevail as long as people of goodwill loudly and passionately make their voices heard.Recommend this Post

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 08:25
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Martin Whittaker reminds us that the American public is eager for a far more fair distribution of income than the one provided for by the U.S.' current political and economic ground rules. But Christo Aivalis writes that there's a difference between a preference and a cause - and that we need to do far more to shift the fight for equality into the latter category.

- Ed Struzik discusses how climate change is affecting Alberta's cattle ranges facing unprecedented droughts. And Emily Chung reports on new research showing that our groundwater supplies are mostly non-renewable.

- Robin Sears argues that we shouldn't let terrorists succeed in their goal of undermining our shared humanity. Unfortunately, Brad Wall didn't get the memo - and is facing due outrage for his willingness to let refugees suffer for the crimes of others.

- But there's at least some good news when it comes to greater inclusion in Canada - in the form of both premiers looking to help settle refugees, and a federal government dropping some of the Cons' most egregious attempts to exclude minority groups.

On Keeping Perspective

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 06:06

With the cacophony of voices calling for Canada to continue to "Bomb, Baby, Bomb." and Canadian miscreants retaliating against Muslims by setting fires to mosques, it is crucial for voices of reason to be heard above the din of destructive rhetoric and behaviour that is emerging in the wake of the Paris massacre. Now is not the time for the default absolutist thinking so favoured by the fearful and the vengeful, who somehow believe that you cannot deplore and combat terrorism without uncritically endorsing military action that seems not to quell the threat of ISIS, but only embolden and strengthen it.

One such voice of reason is Trevor Amon of Victoria, B.C. In today's Toronto Star, he writes the following:
Paris has suffered a terrible tragedy. More than 100 people were killed, and many more were injured. How various countries should respond to this tragedy is the question to be answered going forward.

There are four of five permanent members in the UN Security Council involved militarily in Syria, and all four have long been nuclear weapon states. Any one of these five nations could make the choice of wiping Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Yemen off of the map within the next 24 hours, but none is willing to do so. None of these four nations is apparently willing to commit to making the much smaller choice of putting significant troops on the ground either.

And of course, China is doing absolutely nothing about this terrorist situation, and you do not seem to hear very much criticism from any source about China’s inaction and apathy.
Ah, but what should Canada do? Is Canada a nuclear power? No. Does Canada have one of the top 10, or even top 20 militaries in the world? No. Canada has spent over $500 million in the last 12 months on a bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria, but are we any safer from ISIS in Canada as a result? No.

Stephen Harper found the money for a bombing campaign, but he cut money from the RCMP in an attempt to balance his budget when millions of dollars more were and are needed for the Mounties to keep Canadians safe at home.

Furthermore, the sole terrorist at the Parliament buildings in Ottawa left us with a video that explained his motivation for his actions: He was angry that Canada was military involved in the Middle East. How does our continued military involvement in the Middle East keep other radicals at home less likely to attack targets on Canadian soil?

What is our national interest here? What are our obligations to our allies? What are we trying to achieve? When will we know that we have achieved our goals?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be under pressure from many corners to do this or that in the coming days based on what has just happened in Paris. We need to take a step back here.

The Paris attacks were not of the magnitude of the Nazis marching into Poland in 1939, or the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbour in 1941, or even Al Qaeda hijacking four planes with devastating consequences on 9/11. Lots of nasty things are going on in Syria and Iraq, but there are also lots of nasty things going on in Nigeria that don’t seem all that 24/7 newsworthy, and therefore it seems that we just don’t care all that much about what is going on there.

Maybe Canada should do something in the light of the recent Paris attacks. Maybe Canada should not. Whatever Canada does or does not do there should be a reason, and the reason should be arrived at through reasoned discussion and not simply by way of emotion, ideology or perceived obligation.Recommend this Post

We Need Not Repeat The Mistakes Of The Past

Northern Reflections - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 05:37

After Friday's events in Paris, there have been loud and sustained calls for vengeance. While the impulse is understandable, Robin Sears writes, we must not let  terrorists turn us into beasts. Sears cites Charles Taylor, the Canadian philosopher with a world-wide reputation:

Canada’s priceless contribution to the world’s understanding of the essential role of tolerance or mutual accommodation in every successful community is the philosopher Charles Taylor. Taylor puts his case starkly. None of us, he cautions, is capable of resisting the seduction of prejudice, exclusion, or even collective punishment if we are sufficiently terrified by propaganda about “the other.”Equally, each of us is willing to walk the path of inclusion, tolerance and openness to religious, ethnic and racial diversity with sufficient reassurance about its wisdom and safety. He cites France’s painful passage from being one of the world’s most inclusive societies post-revolution, to its more shameful treatment of its Muslim citizens since they landed on its shores post-Algerian war.
The roots of what happened in Paris go back along way -- just as the causes of the cauldron in the Middle East go back at least a century. And so, Sears writes, Canada stands at a crossroads:
So Canada and the world stand once again at this crossroad — do we build walls or bridges? Do we cede victory to these sub-humans who revel in their ability to shed massive amounts of human blood purely to instill terror — and refuse sanctuary to their fleeing victims? Or do we teach our children well, about the dead end that such cowardice necessarily delivers?Do we again commit the sin of rejecting refugee ships like the St. Louis in Halifax or the Komagata Maru in Vancouver. Will a future Pier 21 curator mount a photo of a dead Syrian family, next to the courageous but rejected Polish family?Because there is another lesson from Paris, and all the horrors like it, that we will no doubt yet have to endure.
We need not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Brad Wall and the Phoney Con Refugee Scare

Montreal Simon - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 04:44

I like to think that in some refugee camp in the Middle East, a mother and her children have just found out that they could be in Canada in just a few weeks.

And that they are a lot happier than they are in this photo.

For they have been living in hell.

So you can imagine how I felt when I saw that Brad Wall, the Premier of Saskatchewan, the Little Con on the Prairie, the ferocious oil pimp, thinks they and 25,000 other refugees should just cool their jets.

Because he thinks they're too dangerous.
Read more »

The RedHead Girl in the Back of the Chevrolet

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 01:07
I've been writing some, no, a lot, of pretty grim essays lately. Sorry but that's how I see what's unfolding around us.

This stuff gets to me too, maybe even more than some others. Still I write but what keeps me going is reliving moments even as whimsical as this:

"Drank a lot of take-home pay.." yeah, fair enough. But there was an intensely progressive side to Billy Joel:

Syria, France

Metaneos - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 21:35
My opinion, let's stay the hell out of Syria. It's Russia's business what happens there, and the less we have to do with it, the better. Let's take care of our selves before we adventure off to some quagmire, and lose many lives in some fruitless search for peace.
France, please refrain from a war-like response. However terrible the attacks on your populace were, remember the masterminds behind the attacks should be pursued as criminals. True justice would begin by sending in police investigators to arrest the suspects after gathering strong evidence, rather than soldiers who aren't at all trained for this sort of thing.

Dear "Fair Vote Canada" - Back the Hell Off

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 13:52
Fair Vote Canada has launched a campaign seeking volunteers to circulate petitions demanding the Liberal government implement proportional representation. They're piggybacking their preferred option, proportional rep., on the back of Justin Trudeau's promise to introduce some sort of electoral reform.

I'm more than a bit leery of Fair Vote Canada and their campaign for pro-rep. Part of that is because I don't know enough about proportional representation or any of the other options such as the single, transferable ballots and all of their permutations. I have read that the option FVC is pushing would favour the NDP while the weighted ballot might favour the Libs.  I don't know but I'd sure like to understand the ramifications of all the options before I throw in with any one of them despite Fair Vote Canada's strident urgings.

At the end of the day I want Canadians to have their say and I'll live with that. We should all get a democratic voice something we won't have if we give in to the squeaky wheels.

First past the post is a deeply flawed system in any multi-party Parliament. Convincing voters of the obvious failures of FPTP shouldn't be difficult. Giving them full information and a suitable slate of alternatives also should not be difficult. If you can't sell that at this point you never will but if Canadians choose FPTP then that's their will and you can't further democracy by defying their democratic choice.

My difficulty with proportional representation is that it provides for political parties to appoint MPs who have never faced the electorate. To whom are these people accountable. How can we have a Parliament with two classes of members, those chosen by voters and others chosen by party hacks in backrooms? By what moral right are these unelected place holders to vote on issues affecting my life and my children's? There's something unsavory to that.

I take the new prime minister at his word that he will deal with this during his term of office. The squeaky wheels of Fair Vote Canada can get by squeaking a little longer.

Great line of the day

Cathie from Canada - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 12:12
The Mound of Sound writes about The Moral War and our new wars of the 21st Century:
All I've garnered out of those studies has led me to formulate a precautionary rule. Don't get into wars that you're not willing to win and, even then, not without knowing how you will win, how long that will take, at what cost, how you will know if you've won and if you've lost, and how you will get out. Those preconditions all sound so reasonable and yet, if applied to our military adventures in the Muslim world since the turn of this century, we would have stayed home.
Forget this bullshit about moral wars for it's the most heinous, most barbaric side that sets that morality bar in these new wars. There's no moral consolation prize that doesn't leave mountains of suffering and dead in its wake.
Emphasis mine.
I hope Trudeau withstands the twin pressures he is under now to continue showing off in the middle east with meaningless Canadian air strikes, while simultaneously running away at home by not admitting as many Syrian refugees as he promised.

Here's a Thought.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 11:31
An observation this morning from regular commenter, Toby:

At the barber shop this morning I got an earful of nonsense about the Paris attacks, about Trudeau doing everything wrong, about awful immigrants (Syrian, East Indian) gang warfare and how Harper did such a good job. Very little actual facts. One wonders how the eternal gabfest creates the fantasy.

One thing is obvious: if the Paris attacks had happened two days before the Canadian election Harper would have another majority.

Let that sink in for a couple of minutes and then breathe a deep sigh of relief.

Are we headed for a third world war?

LeDaro - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 10:42
What is going on in the Middle East has reached a very dangerous cross-road.

The Moral War

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 09:48

I'm deeply confused by the outpouring of sentiment over the Paris terrorist attacks, especially the resounding clamour for prime minister Trudeau to reverse his decision on withdrawing Canada's six-pack of CF-18s from the air campaign in Iraq and Syria.  This is a sentiment that seems widely shared among Liberals and Conservatives alike although the Tories, true to form, are decidedly uglier and more racist in their criticisms.

Most of this stuff I just dismiss as the sort of emotionalism that always follows atrocity, excepting instances where our side is at fault (ask Medicins sans Frontieres if you need clarification). That goes for most of our populist journos also. The Star's Rosie Dimanno is a perfect example along with the editorial staff of the Globe and PostMedia.

I tend to make an exception for people like the CBC's Neil Macdonald who, in my opinion, seems to bring a bit more reason and balance to his punditry. When it comes to our hapless air campaign, Macdonald boils down the West's options as just keep going (i.e. bombing) indefinitely or leave.

"Everyone knows airstrikes will not decide this fight. And the U.S.-led campaign to arm and train "moderate" rebels in Syria and troops in Iraq has been an embarrassment, to put it mildly.

"Generally, whenever ISIS or its affiliated extremists have shown up, America's proxies have cut and run, often leaving their U.S.-provided guns and hardware for the enemy to scoop up.

"But disengaging and letting the Middle East sort itself out would involve a hideous price for the populations on the ground.

"ISIS operates by its own grotesque set of the Hama rules, and the massacres that would without question follow an ISIS expansion would validate Pope Francis's observation that what we are seeing today is a piecemeal version of World War III.

"For Washington and Paris and London and Ottawa and all the other coalition members, this is a horrible set of options.

"There is no Solomonic solution available, and, to make it worse, the brutal truth is that America's so-called coalition of the willing, which invaded Iraq on a false pretext, effectively created ISIS (which, unsurprisingly, has several of Saddam Hussein's former generals among its commanders).

"The West sowed dragons' teeth, which grew into armed fanatics now bent on taking the battle back to the West. And ahead of them, massive rivers of miserable refugees are trudging toward Western soil.

"We can pray for Paris to our hearts' content, and light up monuments in the colours of the French flag, and trade peace sign memes of the Eiffel Tower. But what Western militarism created cannot be sung or wished away.

"Hafez al-Assad and his Baathist colleague Saddam Hussein were both monsters. But compared to what the West unleashed on itself, they seem, in retrospect, like incarnations of stability."

Macdonald cites the "Hama Rules." The name comes from a campaign waged by Bashar's dad, Hafez.
"After surviving an assassination attempt by the militant Muslim Brotherhood, Assad sent out death squads with orders to slaughter every Brotherhood member held in Syria's prisons, of which there were hundreds.

"And he was just getting started. His security forces initiated a lethal crackdown that culminated in February 1982 when Syrian tanks and artillery units arrived in Hama, a Brotherhood stronghold.

"Over the next few weeks, the army destroyed entire sections of the city, killed tens of thousands of people, and bulldozed the rubble flat.

"Hafez al-Assad never had another problem with the Brotherhood."

Such may be the tactical lingua franca of the battle against Islamist radicals. If you want to win you must be prepared to resort to barbarism an order of magnitude greater than your adversary. You must not hesitate to kill innocents as well as your enemies. Of course it's one thing when it's Muslim on Muslim butchery.  
Which brings us to the strategy currently in vogue with Israel's political and military leadership, Dahiyeh. It's a policy of deliberately targeting civilian populations instead of military units or installations that was widely practiced on all sides during WWII (i.e. carpet bombing, firestorms and, of course, nuclear attack) but which was thereafter outlawed as inhumane. The thinking is that those civilians provide support to the enemy and whether that's voluntary or under compulsion is irrelevant.
This is all well and good except we have forsworn that sort of barbarism and readily condemn it in others (except our ally, Israel, of course). Besides, it's one thing in the Muslim on Muslim context, quite another when it becomes Infidel on Muslim. That might reverberate for a while with unwelcome results.

It would help if we could come to a working understanding of what warfare has become in the 21st century. We go to these affairs prepared to engage in "old war" - the state-on-state stuff with standing armies vying for victory ending in peace on one side's terms. Instead we're embroiled in "new war" in which there's a confusing mix of state and non-state actors, pursuing what are often distinct agendas leading to drawn out conflicts in which there is neither victory nor peace to be had at the conclusion.  The age of unwinnable war without end may be upon us. All the King's horses and all the King's men can't be relied upon to produce favourable outcomes.
What is the moral dimension of waging war without end? Where is the morality in going to war until the voters at home finally grow bored with it and the political caste finds it necessary to call the whole thing off? What is our moral obligation to the defenceless hordes we leave in our wake as we depart? How do we deny them sanctuary as refugees?
Is this a function of original sin? You lied your way into this war and now the Pottery Barn rule applies (you broke it, you own it).
I'm hopelessly confused and yet I have studied this "new war" theory and have some grasp on what it portends. It's one of those things that the more you explore it the murkier it becomes. All I've garnered out of those studies has led me to formulate a precautionary rule. Don't get into wars that you're not willing to win and, even then, not without knowing how you will win, how long that will take, at what cost, how you will know if you've won and if you've lost, and how you will get out. Those preconditions all sound so reasonable and yet, if applied to our military adventures in the Muslim world since the turn of this century, we would have stayed home.
Forget this bullshit about moral wars for it's the most heinous, most barbaric side that sets that morality bar in these new wars. There's no moral consolation prize that doesn't leave mountains of suffering and dead in its wake.

Gregor Mortis at the Hall?

Left Over - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 08:57

Can Gregor Robertson keep going? New ideas needed for age-old problems of housing and transit after eventful 1st year of 3rd term

By Chad Pawson, CBC News Posted: Nov 16, 2015 7:42 AM PT Last Updated: Nov 16, 2015 8:05 AM PT


The problem at City Hall isn’t just the need for fresh blood, it’s an ongoing saga of  deadwood in the bureaucracy..
As a former civic employee, now retired, I watched over a twenty year period as the same tired sycophants progressed up the management ladder..and if you were an anti-union worker abusing type, so much the better, especially under such regimes as Sam Sullivan’s..
There has been labour peace since Robertson got elected, yes, but the same miserable rightwing bureaucrats are still there, I see some of them as spokespersons during media chats, and it is disheartening to know that they will do everything in their power to keep the old status quo going..
Not only are key positions going begging, some internal house cleaning is needed…otherwise Vancouver will continue to be in stale orbit with no progressive ideas on the biggest issue in Vancouver – affordable housing, of both kinds, rental and ownership – being made in the foreseeable future..
That  publicity-seeking hack, Gordon Price,  has set himself up to be some sort of spokesperson for the universe, but the truth is he was part of the crew that kept the corporate tools going when he was in office, as an NPA member..thankfully, they have not regained power, but they are always lurking there in the shallow end of the political swamp, waiting to resume their regime of 1%er something, Gregor, while you still have a mandate.  To paraphrase  flamboyant   editorials of the past, Gregor, have to say that you might want to take a look around   the  Hall and  see just who deserves to be  given a one-way ticket to Palookaville, for their numbers are legion….

Collective Amnesia

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 07:05

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, it seems that the world is about to embark on even greater military intervention in the Middle East, intervention that will undoubtedly be aided and abetted by a fog of amnesia about recent history.

While I do not consider myself particularly well-versed in international politics, especially as it pertains to the Middle East, it hardly takes a Ph.D to know that every time an outside force enters the region, disaster ensues. Consider, for example, the Soviet Union's failed incursion into Afghanistan in the 1980's, which essentially gave birth to Al Queda thanks to the U.S. arming of the mujahideen. That the Soviets found the country uncontainable in no way deterred U.S. adventurism there, which only made the world's situation much more precarious.

But U.S. aggression in Afghanistan was merely prologue to even greater disaster in Iraq. Indeed, writer Oliver Willis suggests that George Bush's inept decisions led directly to the creation of ISIS:
1. The decision to invade Iraq, which had been contained by the no-fly zone created by the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations and unable to threaten its neighbors or the West, created a power vacuum in the Middle East which had been filled by Saddam Hussein until the invasion in March o 2003.

2. The Bush administration believed it could install Ahmed Chalabi – part of the public relations campaign to sell the Iraq War to America – as leader of the new government, but he had been outside of the country so long they never accepted him. He was viewed as a “western stooge.”

3. Almost all of the leaders of ISIS have connections to the former Iraqi government, mostly coming from the military of the Saddam Hussein regime.

4. Paul Bremer, who was the appointed head of Iraq by the Bush administration, passed the de-Baathification law which sent Iraqi army members into the populace, eventually becoming insurgents and terrorists:

The de-Baathification law promulgated by L.­ Paul Bremer, Iraq’s American ruler in 2003, has long been identified as one of the contributors to the original insurgency. At a stroke, 400,000 members of the defeated Iraqi army were barred from government employment, denied pensions — and also allowed to keep their guns.

5. ISIS leaders’ training as part of Hussein’s regime gave them the knowledge they’ve needed to be deadly:

Even with the influx of thousands of foreign fighters, almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes, according to Iraqis, Syrians and analysts who study the group.Some might admit that "mistakes were made," but no one seems to want to take any lessons from those mistakes.

There are now calls for long-term and intensive military build-ups in the fight against ISIS: Some also speak of a much more aggressive military option. Experts say it would require 150,000 U.S. troops, could last decades and cost trillions.An enthusiastic Thomas Donelly of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute is calling for such an implementation in Syria and Iraq: It would take “more years of heavy combat than we’ve seen before” and “decades,” to properly re-integrate alienated Sunni populations that have sometimes backed Islamic State. The initial stage would cost more than $1 trillion over several years, he estimates, and 150,000 troops.

“Anything less than military engagement is likely to be useless,” Donnelly said. “It’s a war.”Justin Trudeau has mounted the world stage as an emblem of soft power. We can only hope that he manages to keep his head as so many others in the 'civilized' world are losing theirs as they frantically beat the war drums, the reverberations of which are likely to grow louder and louder over the next weeks and months.Recommend this Post

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 06:54
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Tony Atkinson offers reason for hope that it's more than possible to rein in inequality and ensure a more fair distribution of resources if we're willing to put in the work to make it happen:
(T)he present levels of inequality are not inevitable; we are not simply at the mercy of forces beyond our control. If we want to reduce inequality, and that is a big “if”, then there are steps that we can take. They are not necessarily easy and they have costs. We would have to discard economic and political orthodoxies. If our leaders are serious about tackling inequality, then they have to move outside their comfort zone and to consider a wider agenda. But there are concrete measures that can be tried if we are serious about tackling inequality.

At the same time, I should emphasize at the outset that, while I make far-reaching proposals, I am not seeking to go to the opposite extreme: from dystopia to utopia. Rather, I am concerned with a reduction in inequality below its current level — that is with the direction of movement, not the ultimate destination. My reading of the current state of opinion is that many people feel that present inequality is excessive, while having different views about how much they would like to see it reduced. My book is directed at this broad coalition, allowing the reader to choose how far they wish to go along the road described.
Reviewers have accused me of being nostalgic for a bygone-era that never will be repeated. But much of the book is concerned with how the world has changed and how it will change in the future. I devote considerable space to the role of technology and robotisation; I stress how the labour market is changing so that we can no longer focus on “jobs”; I discuss the shifting relation between the ownership of wealth and the control of capital. These developments potentially have profound distributional implications. But they are not necessarily grounds for pessimism. The citizens of OECD countries today enjoy a standard of living that is much higher than that of their great-grand-parents. The achievement of a less unequal society in the period of the Second World War and subsequent post-war decades has not been fully overthrown. At a global level, the great divergence between countries associated with the Industrial Revolution is closing. It is true that since 1980 we have seen an “Inequality Turn” and that the 21st century brings challenges that I have not discussed — such as population ageing and climate change. But the solutions to these problems lie in our own hands. If we are willing to use today’s greater wealth to address these challenges, and — crucially — to accept that resources should be shared less unequally, there are indeed grounds for optimism.- David Dayen argues that we need to revive the use of antitrust law to rein in corporate abuses. And CBC exposes another galling example of pharmaceutical profiteering, as an off-patent drug needed to treat childhood epilepsy on an urgent basis saw its price rocket from $33 per vial to $680 after a multinational purchased its previous manufacturer.

- But David Schneiderman points out that the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other corporate control agreements are instead designed to tie government hands - and makes the case that we need a serious public debate before signing on.

- Anne Farries discusses how ill-advised austerity has affected basic public protections such as firefighting - and the problem extends well beyond Farries' focus on rural Cape Breton.

- Finally, Andrew Potter nicely sums up the Harper Cons' philosophy as setting up provincial firewalls from the federal level - rather than allowing for the exchange of money and knowledge necessary for a federal system to function.

Justin Trudeau and Those Who Would Destroy the Dream

Montreal Simon - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 05:24

He's at the G20 summit in Turkey, doing a great job of repairing this country's soiled reputation, and getting mobbed by his many admirers.

And making us look cool again in the eyes of the world, instead of the slack jawed residents of the insane asylum Harperland, or the Army of the Walking Dead.

But back home his enemies are already using the bloody tragedy in Paris as a weapon to try to destroy him.

Led of course, by the chunky chicken hawk and religious fanatic Jason Kenney.

Read more »

Let's Hope He's No Fool

Northern Reflections - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 05:13

It didn't take long for Justin Trudeau to be tested. On Friday night, the gauntlet was on the ground -- thrown, not by Canadians, but by terrorists in the streets of Paris. Michael Harris writes:

For Justin Trudeau, mass murder in Paris is his trial by ordeal as prime minister. It didn’t take very long. At the end of the month, Paris was supposed to be the glittering venue where a new, young prime minister, and an impressive delegation, would announce to the world that the old Canada is back. No more fossil awards, no more climate change denial on behalf of oil companies or the Koch Brothers, no more corporate-driven “facts” on the environment, no more beating the war drums. Canada was not shaking its finger at the world anymore, but offering an embrace.
But that's the kind of world we live in -- a world where someone else's mistakes come back to bite you. Now the French, unsurprisingly, have vowed to conduct a "pitiless war." But Andrew Bacevich, writing in the Boston Globe, reminds us where pitiless war in the Middle East has gotten us:

“It’s not as if the outside world hasn’t already given pitiless war a try. The Soviet Union spent all of the 1980s attempting to pacify Afghanistan and succeeded only in killing a million or so Afghans while creating an incubator for Islamic radicalism. Beginning in 2003, the United States attempted something similar in Iraq and ended up producing similarly destabilizing results. By the time the US troops withdrew in 2011, something like 200,000 Iraqis had died, most of them civilians. Today Iraq teeters on the brink of disintegration.” 
There will be all kinds of pressure on Trudeau to join the continuing March of Folly. He's young. But let's hope he's no fool.


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