Posts from our progressive community

On failures of strategy, calculation, politics, principle and general humanity

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 07:27
Shorter Justin Trudeau:
Nobody could have foreseen that Canadian voters would judge me based on my actions rather than my self-proclaimed brand.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 07:14
Assorted content to start your week.

- Sean Illing writes about the utterly misplaced view of the privileged few that they can or should be treated as immune from the environmental realities facing everybody:
I see the decadence of the people in Rancho Santa Fe as a microcosm of America today, particularly corporate America. What these people exhibit, apart from their smugness, is a complete absence of any sense of collective responsibility. They can’t see and aren’t interested in the consequences of their actions. And they can’t muster a modicum of moderation in the face of enormous scarcity. Every resource, every privilege, is theirs to pilfer with impunity. These people are prepared to endanger an entire ecosystem simply to avoid the indignity of brown golf courses; this is what true entitlement looks like.

The wealthiest Americans – and their apostles in government – tell us that it’s the poor people who are entitled, who take and exploit and keep more than they deserve. But that’s a half-truth, and a dangerous one at that. Entitlement has many faces, the most destructive of which is on display in Rancho Santa Fe. These adolescent upper-crusters are entitled because they believe they have a right to everything they can get hold of – regardless of the costs. They believe living with others carries no obligations. Anyone who places their right to pristine golf courses above their responsibility to respect communal resources is a social toxin, a privileged parasite eating away at the foundations of society. It’s important that their actions be seen in this context.

There’s a lesson in Rancho Santa Fe and in California more generally. What’s happening there foreshadows our future. We’re confronted with crises on a number of fronts. From climate change to economic inequality, our institutions – and the people controlling them – are failing us. Changes are necessary, but a segment of society (the 1 percent, we’ll call them) is unwilling to sacrifice; they’re too invested in power, in comfort. Whether it’s oil profiteers distorting climate science or Wall Street banks undermining efforts to regulate the financial industry, entrenched interests are doing everything possible to preserve the status quo, even when so doing threatens to upend the whole system – just like the people of Rancho Santa Fe. - Meanwhile, Jan Zalasiewizc reports on new research showing that even without accounting for the effects of climate change, humanity has managed to cause mass extinctions on a planetary scale.

- Cathy Crowe makes the case for a national housing program as a necessary step toward a healthier and more secure society, while the Star backs a plan to provide housing to 20,000 homeless Canadians over the next three years. And Marco Chown Oved reports on the types of abuses private landlords can carry out by imposing arbitrary fees while evicting a tenant, then permanently trashing the tenant's credit rating if that blackmail doesn't succeed.

- Paul Seesequasis writes that the Cons' terror bill is a serious obstacle to reconciliation as it stands to prevent aboriginal people from seeking both sovereignty and respect. And Fram Dinshaw reports that Canada's Muslim community - which figures to be one of the first targets of covert attacks - has already been intimidated into silence about the dangers of C-51.

- Finally, Elizabeth Renzetti interviews Harry Leslie Smith about his fight to build on the hard-won social gains people have made over the course of his life.

This Is What Real Protest Looks Like

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 07:11
All Canadians could learn a lot from the Brits:
London, United Kingdom - Activists and trade union leaders have called for a general strike and a mass campaign of civil disobedience to bring down the country's new right-wing government as hundreds of thousands took to the streets of London and other cities to protest against austerity and public service cuts.

Organisers said a quarter of a million people had joined Saturday's march from the Bank of England to the Houses of Parliament, with smaller protests also taking place in Glasgow, Liverpool, and Bristol, and pledged the event was only a beginning.

"We've got to get rid of this government quicker than five years. This government cannot last the full term," Sam Fairbairn, national secretary of the People's Assembly, the anti-austerity campaign group that organised the march, told a rally in Parliament Square.

"Today is just the start of a campaign of protests, of strikes, of direct action and civil disobedience up and down the country. We are going to organise the biggest mass movement this country has ever seen, and it is that mass movement that is going to kick David Cameron out of office."


There is similar anger in Canada over the Harper regime's many abuses of the country's citizens. How can we best mobilize that anger?Recommend this Post

Why Does Chong Stay?

Northern Reflections - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 04:46
                                                       http://www.cbc.ca/

Michael Chong used to be Stephen Harper's Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. The story of how he came to resign his position makes interesting reading. Michael Harris writes:

Chong was the Intergovernmental Affairs minister back in 2006 when the prime minister broke all the known rules with his unilateral declaration that Quebec was a “nation.”

Harper did not bother to put the measure through cabinet, but simply did it by decree. Even though Chong was the minister responsible, he wasn’t informed about Harper’s decision until he was on his way to Wednesday caucus back in November, 2006. His then deputy minister, Louis Levesque, gave him the news.

The deputy also informed his minister that he, Levesque, had been in talks about the nation status issue the night before. It was staggering news. Chong’s deputy was involved in this hugely important decision and the minister was not? It was the clearest example of executive governance under Harper yet on record.

The rising star of the Conservative party was shocked by the PM’s unilateral action. He believed that it was the duty of the Clerk of the Privy Council to tell Harper that even the PM had to obey the rules. But with the Clerk’s office politicized under Harper, just like every other part of the government, that never happened.

Harper’s unilateral authoritarianism did not come as a complete surprise to Chong. As an MP and cabinet minister, he had noticed that Harper liked to make most of the big decisions at meetings of Planning and Priorities, a small but powerful committee of handpicked subordinates which the prime minister chairs. In the early innings of the Harper government, full cabinet rarely met and P&P did most of the heavy lifting.

Chong mulled over whether there was a way he could rationalize support for nation status for Quebec. He concluded that it was policy and procedural poison. There was nothing he could do but become the first Harper cabinet minister to resign.
Now the unelected Conservative majority in the Senate has gutted Chong's Reform Act  -- which passed the House by a vote of 260 to 17. The Duffy trial has shown us that Mr. Harper makes sure that caucus votes his way. He can't claim that he knew nothing about what was going on in the Upper House.

Garth Turner refused to endure such arrogant insouciance. So did Bill Casey and Brent Rathgeber. Why does Chong stay?

The Dangerous Summer Journey of Canadian Progressives

Montreal Simon - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 02:07


Summer is finally here, and I couldn't be happier. Not just because I live for this season when everything comes alive.

But also because I know that when this one dies, in the land where summers are so short, so will Stephen Harper's deathly Con regime.

But what I also know, and all progressives need to understand, is that the last part of our long journey to freedom will be fraught with danger.

Because we are now entering the perilous waters of vote splitting. And we could still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Read more »

Paul Fromm: Council of Conservative Citizens Link to Charleston Killer

Anti-Racist Canada - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 23:20
In the "manifesto" published on his website before he murdered nine men and women, the Charleston killer was clear who first inspired his hatred of African-Americans:

The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong....

The MSM has begun to focus on this connection and the nasty rhetoric of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CoCC) that appears to have contributed to the Charleston killer's actions:

Extremist group cited in Charleston killer’s alleged manifesto is active in S.C., expert says

CHARLESTON The writer of what could turn out to be Dylann Roof’s manifesto cited the Council of Conservative Citizens as something that influenced his thoughts on race and racial separation.
....
Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, told The Los Angeles Times that much of the language in the manifesto was material lifted from the CCC, which he called a “modern reincarnation” of the old White Citizens’ Councils that in the 1950s and ’60s resisted school desegregation in the South.

“The CCC is very active in Roof’s home state of South Carolina,” Cohen told the paper. “It seems the CCC media strategy was successful in recruiting Roof into the radical right

He identified the CCC’s webmaster as white nationalist Kyle Rogers, who lives in Summerville, a Charleston suburb. According to a report on the website, the Internet-savvy Rogers trained as a computer engineer and moved to South Carolina in 2004.

The CCC’s website also rails against immigrants in the country illegally, defends the Confederate battle flag flying on the South Carolina capitol grounds and in 2011 pushed for a boycott of the movie “Thor” because it cast Idris Elba, a black actor, as a Norse god. 
....

It might interest our readers, including members of the msm who read these pages, that Canada's own Paul Fromm is a member of the CoCC. Here he is in October 11, 2007 discussing a sanitized version of the CoCC, a hate group on which he sits as a board member and is described as the organization's international director:


Read more »

Dean Clifford: #Winning Everything!

Anti-Racist Canada - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 21:07
This past week the long awaited trial of Dean Clifford began.

It also ended very quickly as Clifford, using the genius legal maneuvering such as not calling any witnesses, refusing to participate in the trial (as much as he could), and engaging in linguistic semantics:





Well, things must have gone exceptionally well since Dean made an announcement on June 19:


Read more »

a 150-year-old solution

we move to canada - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 14:00
I stumbled on this letter to the New York Times Book Review from a few weeks ago. It's in response to a review of two books about precarious work - one about technology threatening jobs of even the most educated people, and another about the rise of unpaid labour.
Barbara Ehrenreich’s chilling review of Martin Ford’s “Rise of the Robots” and Craig Lambert’s “Shadow Work” (May 17) is the best evidence-based response I’ve seen to all the headlines announcing that a recovery is “just around the corner.” But if it isn’t, and unemployment and part-time employment can only get worse, what can be done? Ehrenreich concludes that “the best that the feeble human mind can come up with at the moment” is a guaranteed annual wage.

Actually, one human mind came up with another solution over 150 years ago, and that was to share the work among all able-bodied people, with society making sure that all the skills required to serve everyone’s needs are widely distributed. In this way, everyone would have a job as well as more free time to do the things that most people cannot do until they retire. With the rich sharing their excessive wealth with others and taking on productive jobs, this could be done — especially today — without lowering anyone else’s living standards.

That person’s name was Karl Marx.

Bertell Ollman, Manhattan

The writer is a professor of politics at New York University.

In Which John Ibbitson Continues His Audition For A Senate Seat

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 13:10
But he'd better hurry. There is talk of regime change this October.

Watch The Sunday Scrum as John consistently, stoutly and steadfastly defends Dear Leader at every turn while opining on matters such as cabinet departures, the Senate scandal involving Don Meredith, and Mr. Harper's refusal to take questions from national reporters.

All in all, Mr. Ibbitson shows he clearly has what it takes to ably represent his master in The Red Chamber.



Recommend this Post

Politics and its Discontents: Some Days I Don't Have To Write Anything-Lorne

LeDaro - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 11:04
Original post by Lorne:

"Politics and its Discontents: Some Days I Don't Have To Write Anything: ... thanks to groups like this:"




Geeks to Greeks: iOwnya

Dawg's Blawg - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 10:14
In a surprise announcement, Apple Inc. announced today that the world’s most valuable corporation would be acquiring Greece. Speaking from the Spanakopita Palace in Cupertino, Tim Cook (CEO) said: “I’m pleased to confirm that Apple Inc. has completed the acquisition... Balbulican http://stageleft.info

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 10:13
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Jeff Spross argues that in addition to ensuring that employees are fairly paid for the overtime hours they work, we should also be pushing to ensure people aren't required to work as much to begin with. And Angella MacEwen points out that any spin about increasing wages is based almost entirely on a proportional increase in hours worked, rather than workers receiving any benefit from improved productivity.

- Meanwhile, Cory Doctorow highlights new research showing that the CEOs who manage to squeeze the most money out of businesses actually perform worse than the ones who aren't so focused on enriching themselves.

- Thomas Walkom writes that the Cons' much-trumpeted trade agreements are accomplishing nothing even on their own terms.

- Andrew Mitrovica duly slams anybody willing to take the uncorroborated word of the security state as a basis for reporting. John Baglow reminds us that the Libs aren't any better than the Cons when it comes to that tendency - as evidenced both by the star candidacy of Bill Blair, and their inexcusable cowardice in response to the Cons' terror bill. And PressProgress shows what happens when the Cons try to pretend C-51 is anything but a direct and unmitigated attack on Canadians' rights.

- Finally, Susan Delacourt comments on the connection between a first-past-the-post electoral system and the view that voters should be microtargeted for advertising rather than included meaningful policy discussions:
We still like to pretend that political parties are looking for a big, pan-Canadian victory, but the reality is that political success in this country has been built in recent years by finding the tools and tactics to do microtargeting effectively. Technology and big data have turned this strategy into a much more precise science for all parties.

In short, we all know now that rewards don’t go to the political players with the big picture; they go to the ones who think small. An election that required a 50-per-cent-plus victory in the popular vote, on the other hand, would force parties to seek broad, pan-Canadian appeal.
...
(I)f politics is about thinking small, government should be about thinking big. This is where Harper was on the right track on May 2, 2011 — promising to take an approach to government that he did not take to political campaigning, mindful of the needs and concerns of people who didn’t vote for the Conservatives.

It proved to be an over-ambitious promise, though. The past four years have been littered with examples of the politicized opposite: selective audits of charities seen as unfriendly to Conservatives, PMO press releases that sound an awful lot like party fundraising letters, cabinet ministers trotted out to slam court rulings or scientific findings that rile up the Conservative “base.” Pages and pages of tax provisions have been created to give “boutique” favours to microtargeted segments of the population — budgets for Dougies. Measures for Zoes? Not so much.

For Blacks, That Goddamned Flag Is Their Swastika

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 08:27
That the Confederate flag still flies atop the South Carolina state capital is an affront to decent people everywhere.  For white trash southerners, they'll defend it as a symbol of the civil war, a war fought for "state rights."  Of course they're pretty good at avoiding any mention that the state right in question was the right to enslave human beings.

For "black folks" that flag has an enduring meaning.

They're Even Advertising It Now

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 08:10

"It" is the blatant affront to the laws of war practised by Israel and now known as "Dahiyeh".  It's a war crime that has become central to Israeli tactics against Lebanon, Gaza and presumably anywhere else lacking the means to retaliate in kind against Israeli non-combatants, civilians.

Israel, with the complete backing of Canada and our political leadership, knows full well it can deliberately and relentlessly slaughter civilians and get away with it. So cocksure has Israel become that it's now openly threatening to visit Dahiyeh on the people of Lebanon if another conflict breaks out.


The laws of war absolutely prohibit the deliberate targeting of civilians and their infrastructure - power plants, sewage and water plants, hospitals, schools and such.  Yet this is precisely what Israel visits on those territories it attacks.

The Israeli army will show ‘no restraint’ in attacking civilian centers in south Lebanon and Beirut should another war break out with Hezbollah, a senior Israeli military official told the German Die Zeit newspaper.

Israeli Air Force chief Major-General Amir Eshel warned Hezbollahin a recent interview picked up by The Jerusalem Post Saturday thatIsrael would not hesitate to attack military command centers situated in civilian buildings in Lebanon.

"[The Israeli Army] would not show restraint due to the immoral war tactics of our enemies,” he noted.

Dahiyeh, Lebanon - Before and After
Israel does it because it has just enough support to get away with it.  Israel counts on the open arm embrace of Canada's political leaders and that ever crucial UN Security Council veto that America never hesitates to deliver.  So for every woman or child they slaughter, every hospital they rocket, every school they destroy, we deserve our fair share of the credit.
Know what would stop this?  The threat of intervention by a country capable of inflicting retaliatory strikes against Israeli infrastructure - its power plants, its sewage plants, its water plants including its desalination plants.  No hospitals, no schools, no targeting of residential neighbourhoods.  What would also stop this is for Israel's political and military leadership to be made to stand trial for their war crimes.  Put thugs like Netanyahu and his top generals behind bars for life without parole.  
Know what would be a good place to start?  We could start by breaking all ties with any ally that thinks it can flout international and humanitarian law and the laws of war.  When we don't, what they do is on us.




He Knows An Easy Mark

Northern Reflections - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 05:05


Opposition to the Prime Minister is building. But Stephen Harper has always known that more voters despise him than support him. That's why the Fair Elections Act -- with its truly Orwellian title -- is now law. Linda McQuaig writes:

Stephen Harper's re-election strategy depends on a lot of you not voting. And if you mess with his plan by showing up at the polling station on Election Day, he's prepared for that, too: he's made it a lot harder for you to vote.

The prime minister has made it so much harder that "many tens of thousands" of Canadians may be denied their constitutional right to cast a ballot in the upcoming federal election, according to Harry Neufeld, former chief electoral officer for British Columbia. 
When Harper spouts his line about Conservative values being Canadian values, he knows that what he's saying is patently false . But he's been very good at rigging the game in his favour. That's because he's very good at a very old type of fraud -- bait and switch:

The Conservatives put the new election laws in place ostensibly in response to the national outcry over the robocall scandal, in which party operatives were accused of using automated phone calls to direct non-Conservative voters to the wrong polling stations on election day. The misleading calls were reported in ridings across the country and appeared to be targeted based on information from closely guarded Conservative party data.

In the end, only one person, Conservative staffer Michael Sona, who worked on a local campaign in Guelph, was convicted and jailed. However, in his verdict, Judge Gary Hearn wrote that "the evidence indicates he did not likely act alone."

The scandal raised the extremely serious question of whether the governing party had deliberately undermined the legitimacy of election results. Surely what was needed was a thorough investigation and a tightening of the election laws to ensure no such thing ever threatened our democracy again.

What we got instead was a bait-and-switch that the Conservatives have turned to their advantage. They overhauled the election laws all right, but the new laws did nothing to prevent the sort of treachery involved in the robocall scandal. If anything, they make it tougher to uncover robocall-style deception in the future by preventing the release of details about investigations conducted by Elections Canada.
He's a con man of considerable talent. And he knows an easy mark when he sees one.


my feminism includes trans people. all women need to listen to each other.

we move to canada - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 05:00
The continuing liberation of transgender people is a marvel to behold. We are witnessing history, as trans people and their issues become part of the mainstream. From Chelsea Manning to "Transparent" to Laverne Cox, and of course Caitlyn Jenner, transgender people and issues have never been so front and centre. I don't do celebrity gossip so I don't know anything about the lurid lead-up to Jenner's coming out, but when the woman who cuts my hair asks me what I think about transgender people, I know something big is going on. There is more than one out trans person in the larger circle of my own life, something most of us never could have said throughout human history.

Of course the Vanity Fair cover reflects the reality of most transgender lives the way the Cosby Show reflected most African American lives. This New York Times article is a good wrap-up of where things stand - and where they don't - in the mainstream.

Naturally I consider myself an ally of trans people, as I would for any people asserting their own humanity and equality. For a feminist, a socialist, and someone who identifies as LGBT, this defines "no-brainer". So I find the current clash between different schools of feminist thought and the trans movement very sad - although predictable, and I think, temporary.

Apparently there are people who call themselves feminists who actually believe that trans women are not "real women" and should be excluded from the movement. That attitude is bigoted, offensive, and dangerous. As a general rule, anytime you agree with the anti-woman, anti-abortion, anti-gay crowd, you might want to re-assess.

There are also feminists who feel that some of the language - and the policing of that language - around trans issues denies the reality of their own lives, and denies the struggle of women's own liberation. When they have stated this publicly, they've been accused of transphobia.

Abortion access organizations - small grassroots networks that help low-income women who want abortions - have changed their language to be inclusive to trans people. Instead of referring to "women who need abortions", they now say "people who need abortions". A transgender person in any stage of transition might become pregnant. If that person identifies as a man, he may also be a rape survivor. He deserves care that treats him with dignity and respect.

In the abortion-rights movement, not everyone is comfortable with this. I know from personal conversations that some felt pressured - even bullied - into making this change, rather than educated and supported. That's not the road to inclusion, either.

Katha Pollitt, writing in The Nation, wrote "Who Has Abortions?".
I’m going to argue here that removing “women” from the language of abortion is a mistake. We can, and should, support trans men and other gender-non-conforming people. But we can do that without rendering invisible half of humanity and 99.999 percent of those who get pregnant. I know I’ll offend, hurt and disappoint some people, including abortion-fund activists I love dearly. That is why I’ve started this column many times over many months and put it aside. I tell myself I might be wrong—it’s happened before. “Most of the pressure [to shift language] comes from young people,” said one abortion-fund head I interviewed, whose fund, like many, has “Women” in its name. “The role of people in our generation is to give money and get out of the way.” . . .

From the perspective of providing care, I understand it. “The focus should be on access,” NYAAF board member Rye Young told me over the phone. The primary purpose of abortion funds is to provide immediate financial and other help to individuals in crisis, whom funders usually know only as voices on the phone. If wording on a website makes people feel they can’t make that phone call, that’s not good. We women have had enough experience with being disrespected by healthcare and social-service providers not to wish that on anyone else. Does presenting abortion as gender-neutral need to be part of that welcoming procedure, though? The primary sources of abortion data in the US—the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute—don’t collect information on the gender identity of those who seek abortion, but conversations with abortion providers and others suggest the number of transgender men who want to end a pregnancy is very low. I don’t see how it denies “the existence and humanity of trans people” to use language that describes the vast majority of those who seek to end a pregnancy. Why can’t references to people who don’t identify as women simply be added to references to women? After all, every year over 2,000 men get breast cancer and over 400 die, and no one is calling for “women” to be cut out of breast-cancer language so that men will feel more comfortable seeking treatment. If there was such a call, though, I wonder what would happen. Women have such a long history of minimizing themselves in order not to hurt feelings or seem self-promoting or attention-demanding. We are raised to put ourselves second, and too often, still, we do.The column was vilified as transphobic and hateful. Pollitt was attacked on the internet as if she were Fred Phelps. Did most of the people tweeting and re-tweeting read the column in question? Were they seeing the full context?

This response was more helpful. In "Cisgender Women Aren’t the Only People Who Seek Abortions, and Activists’ Language Should Reflect That", Dr. Cheryl Chastine points out that the claim "99.999 percent of those who get pregnant" are cisgender women is not unlike an era that thought gay people were extremely rare - or, I would add, a culture that claims there are no gay people within it.
Feminists like Pollitt who argue against inclusive language assert that because “99.999 percent of the population” seeking abortions are cis women, it is inaccurate and inappropriate to use gender-inclusive language. So how many trans people are we really talking about? It’s more than 0.001 percent. Suppose you time-traveled back to the 1950s and asked the average physician how many of his or her patients were gay. They would probably respond, “None” or, “Maybe one or two.” It’d be easy to conclude, therefore, that 99.999 percent of all people were straight, so there’d be no need to include any forms of non-heterosexual orientation in language or activism. Assuming the proportion of non-heterosexual people has stayed roughly constant, though, our 1950s physician likely did have a number of gay, lesbian, or bisexual patients. The doctor simply took them to be heterosexual. They may have even presented themselves as such, out of a legitimate fear that the physician would behave prejudicially toward them.Excellent article. Helpful. Calling Katha Pollitt a bigot on Twitter, not helpful. (No need to point out that uninformed bashing on Twitter is the norm. I'm aware.)

Another piece that was trashed as transphobic was Elinor Burkett's essay, "What Makes a Woman" in the New York Times. I can understand that. I was uncomfortable with some of it, too. At the same time, much of that essay resonates with me.
Do women and men have different brains?

Back when Lawrence H. Summers was president of Harvard and suggested that they did, the reaction was swift and merciless. Pundits branded him sexist. Faculty members deemed him a troglodyte. Alumni withheld donations.

But when Bruce Jenner said much the same thing in an April interview with Diane Sawyer, he was lionized for his bravery, even for his progressivism.

“My brain is much more female than it is male,” he told her, explaining how he knew that he was transgender.

This was the prelude to a new photo spread and interview in Vanity Fair that offered us a glimpse into Caitlyn Jenner’s idea of a woman: a cleavage-boosting corset, sultry poses, thick mascara and the prospect of regular “girls’ nights” of banter about hair and makeup. Ms. Jenner was greeted with even more thunderous applause. ESPN announced it would give Ms. Jenner an award for courage. President Obama also praised her. Not to be outdone, Chelsea Manning hopped on Ms. Jenner’s gender train on Twitter, gushing, “I am so much more aware of my emotions; much more sensitive emotionally (and physically).”

A part of me winced.

I have fought for many of my 68 years against efforts to put women — our brains, our hearts, our bodies, even our moods — into tidy boxes, to reduce us to hoary stereotypes. Suddenly, I find that many of the people I think of as being on my side — people who proudly call themselves progressive and fervently support the human need for self-determination — are buying into the notion that minor differences in male and female brains lead to major forks in the road and that some sort of gendered destiny is encoded in us.

That’s the kind of nonsense that was used to repress women for centuries. But the desire to support people like Ms. Jenner and their journey toward their truest selves has strangely and unwittingly brought it back.I, too, feel that much of the discourse around trans issues reinforces gender stereotypes. We've struggled against these stereotypes, and we've spent a lifetime asserting our right to be women and to be people, even as we reject them. So it can hurt to hear women, whether cis or trans, embrace these stereotypes and define their womanhood and their personhood through them. This is what I took from Burkett's article.

Burkett also asserted that Caitlyn Jenner has benefited from male privilege most of her life, and that privilege comes into play now. I agree with that, too.

The fact that some of Burkett's essay resonated with me doesn't make me transphobic. My observations come from my own reality. I've had my own struggles to define myself and accept myself in a sexist world. My journey is different than that of a trans woman, and I'm sure in many ways it has been infinitely easier, but it is still my reality. Any cis woman finds herself agreeing with her essay needs space to assert this, without being accused of a bigotry that isn't (necessarily) there.

Trans people have every right to demand inclusion. But inclusion gained through silencing discussion is not really inclusion at all: it's separatism. At a certain stage in a movement, separatism may be what's needed. But for the road ahead, I hope to see us aim for understanding and solidarity - among all feminists, all LGBT people, and all allies.

These types of conflicts within and among social movements have a long and rich history. The second-wave feminists clashed with the pioneers of gay liberation. Going back further to the earliest days of the women's movement, in the 19th Century when women were fighting for basic civil rights, there were conflicts between feminism and the abolitionist and temperance movements. All movements have growing pains, early conflicts, and questions that can only be settled over time, through people's own lived experiences.

Experiencing these growing pains in the internet era amplifies and escalates the conflict. When someone publishes an essay, and one sentence of that essay ignites a Twitter storm - and it's reasonable to assume that many (most?) people retweeting have not read the essay, merely the offending sentence and the claim of bigotry - then there is no education. There is only noise.

I'm not equating Twitter attacks on Pollitt or Burkett with the struggles of transgender people for full acceptance and equality. I'm not suggesting cis feminists who are uncomfortable replacing the word "women" with "people" are victims.

I am merely suggesting that true inclusion is not about who can generate the most tweets - that is, who can yell the loudest. Feminists of all ages and eras have a lot to learn from this exciting wave of trans liberation. Trans women and their allies may have something to learn from previous waves of feminism. We'll only find out if we listen to each other.

* * * * *

Some good reading on this topic:

It's Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Transgender Women, Tina Vasquez, Bitch Media

On Trans Issues with Feminism and Strengthening the Movement's Gender Analysis, Jos Truitt, Feministing

Trans Women Are Women. Why Do We Have to Keep Saying This?, Leela Ginelle, Bitch Media, an analysis of Burkitt's essay

Who Has Abortions?, Katha Pollitt, The Nation

Cisgender Women Aren’t the Only People Who Seek Abortions, and Activists’ Language Should Reflect That, Cheryl Chastine, RH Reality Check

What Makes A Woman, Elinor Burkett, New York Times

Responses to Burkett's piece published in the Times. I'm using this because it represents multiple points of view.

Stephen Harper Takes On The Russians: The PMO Movie

Montreal Simon - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 03:24


Well I'm sure you remember the day Stephen Harper borrowed a Canadian frigate, the HMCS Fredericton, and went for a spin on the Baltic Sea.

And how the appearance of two Russian frigates on the horizon was hyped by his propaganda machine into sounding like he had faced down Vladimir Putin himself.

With the help of Jason Kenney...



Well now the PMO movie is out, and it turns out to be considerably less dramatic.
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Stephen Harper, Don Meredith, and the Deathly Bigotry of the Cons

Montreal Simon - Sat, 06/20/2015 - 22:58


It's been two days since senator Don Meredith resigned from the Con caucus after being accused of having a sexual relationship with a teenage girl. 

And since then the Cons have been desperately trying to distance themselves from yet another of Stephen Harper's stellar appointments.

But they cannot or will not explain why Harper would appoint a man to the Senate who was once rejected as a candidate by Ontario's Progressive Conservatives. 

“We talked to him, we met with him, and we rejected him,” said a provincial Conservative insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to be seen questioning Harper’s judgment.

And with good reason. For it was all about pleasuring his rabid religious base, and all about bigotry. 
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This is not an Onion story: "white supremacists worried that Charleston shooting makes them look bad"

Cathie from Canada - Sat, 06/20/2015 - 13:43
When I first read a tweet about this article, I thought it had to be an Onion joke:

White supremacists on Thursday quickly tried to distance themselves from the suspect in the mass shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, worried that a white man killing nine people in a black church in South Carolina looked bad for their movement.
But its not -- this is actual reporting!

Stormfront commenters continued to hold out hope Thursday morning that perhaps Roof wasn't motivated by racism -- maybe it was anti-Christian hatred instead -- and their movement could keep what they think of as their good name.
"Lets not jump to conclusions and call him a WN [white nationalist] until there is an indication as such... The fact that he targeted a church gives me an inkling that it was religion-related," wrote WhiteVirginian.
"Yep, bad news for gun rights advocates as well," wrote maththeorylover2008. "Another nail in the coffin for the 2nd Amendment."
Time and again, many Stormfront members emphasized that their online community is one inclined to peace and racial harmony -- albeit segregated.Ridiculous, isn't it.

This kind of pushback began almost at once, though -- when I was watching CNN on the night it happened, the anchors were already questioning the police chief's description of the shooting as a "hate crime" and then of course Fox started right in with the "anti-christian" spin.

So I wonder if anyone is going to start talking about how racism is just "biological wiring."

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