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Our Baby-In Chief Strikes Again

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 07/18/2015 - 06:24

It doesn't take a degree in psychology to know that Stephen Harper has, as they say, issues. His obsessive secrecy, reported emotional volatility, deep vindictiveness and completely ruthless dispatch of those who represent perspectives, policies and values differing from his own are all markers of a deeply disturbed individual. That he is Canada's prime minister is a national tragedy.

The latest instance of his lashing out, his puppet finance minister's public denunciation of Ontario's plan to establish its own Retirement Pension Plan, is yet another prime example of his unfitness to govern. Martin Regg Cohn writes,
People of goodwill can disagree. But why does a prime minister of ill will have to be so willfully disagreeable, so reflexively destructive, when playing electoral politics?

Stephen Harper’s pettiness in trying to sabotage Ontario’s legitimate efforts to create a public pension for middle-income workers sets a new low in gamesmanship. It will only take money out of the pockets of workers, taxpayers and employers who will be forced to pay higher fees because of the federal intransigence.The establishment of the plan, upon which Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne campaigned, is a response to the refusal of the federal government to expand the Canada Pension Plan, which most provinces desire to see happen.
Harper’s decision this week to stab Ontario in the back — and middle-class Ontarians in the front — may go down as one of the most offensive, retrograde and thoughtless blunders ever committed by a sitting prime minister plotting his re-election on the backs of prospective pensioners.

His Conservative government is toying with the futures of young people who face a lifetime of precarious employment without proper pension coverage. Ontario’s plan is being designed by some of Canada’s foremost pension experts as a cost-effective, low-fee program that parallels the successful Canada Pension Plan.Here's what minion Joe Oliver leaked to the public before sending to Ontario:
“The Ontario Government’s proposed ORPP would take money from workers and their families, kill jobs, and damage the economy,” Oliver writes with fatuous hyperbole in the undated letter leaked to the media before it was even transmitted to Queen’s Park.As Regg Cohn tartly observes, this rejection is conspicuously absent of any research or statistics to back up his shrill dismissal. And to compound the insult, the feds are refusing to make any legislative changes to facilitate the Ontario pension:
Astonishingly, the Harper government will refuse to collect pension deductions on Ontario’s behalf or provide any information to assist the plan — services for which it would have been fairly compensated by the province. In short, it’s not merely a hands-off attitude but a hands-to-the throat approach.

The result of the PM’s partisan tantrum? Higher accounting and compliance costs for business, and additional government funding made necessary by the same federal Tories who always claim to be reducing red tape and cutting waste.There appears to be only one solution for a prime minister who seems to have a temperament that never grew beyond the 'terrible twos' - isolate him from any further contact with the electorate by tossing him and his playmates out of their playpen in October.Recommend this Post

Until It 's Too Late

Northern Reflections - Sat, 07/18/2015 - 06:04

This week, Joe Oliver -- acting on orders from the boss -- wrote a letter to Kathleen Wynne, informing her that the Harper government would offer absolutely no help in setting up the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. Martin Regg Cohen writes:

The toxic letter to Ontario penned this week by Harper’s henchman, Joe Oliver — Flaherty’s successor as finance minister, and the MP so cavalierly misrepresenting Toronto’s Eglinton-Lawrence riding — sets a new low for shabby politics and shoddy public policy ahead of an October federal election.“The Ontario Government’s proposed ORPP would take money from workers and their families, kill jobs, and damage the economy,” Oliver writes with fatuous hyperbole in the undated letter leaked to the media before it was even transmitted to Queen’s Park.
Rather than presenting substantive arguments or serious research, his letter quotes shamelessly from the small business lobby that speaks only for vested interests, not public interests, and makes wild claims about economic impacts — scenarios contradicted by the federal government’s own internal research, which the Tories have distorted in the past.
“For these reasons, we will not assist the Ontario Government in the implementation of the ORPP,” the letter concludes acidly. “This includes any legislative changes to allow the ORPP to be treated like the Canada Pension Plan for tax purposes,” notably RRSP contribution limits.Astonishingly, the Harper government will refuse to collect pension deductions on Ontario’s behalf or provide any information to assist the plan — services for which it would have been fairly compensated by the province. In short, it’s not merely a hands-off attitude but a hands-to-the throat approach.
Wynne received a strong mandate to set up the plan in the last provincial election. Harper clearly has chosen to ignore that mandate, just as he chose to ignore the premiers at this week's Council of the Confederation.  Harper simply ignores those he disagrees with -- premiers, environmentalists, nations that try to reach a deal to contain Iran's nuclear program.
Ontario will now turn to Quebec -- which has had a stand alone pension plan since the mid sixties -- for advice on how to proceed. In the upcoming election, the voters of Ontario will not ignore what Mr. Harper has done.
The problem with ignoring people is that they simply pass you by and let you stew in your own irrelevance. If Mr. Harper had lived in the days of Noah, he would have refused to see any signs of rain -- until it was too late.

Stephen Harper and the Con Plan to Steal the Election

Montreal Simon - Sat, 07/18/2015 - 04:26

It was a day of good news and bad news on the election front yesterday.

The good news is that now that we know that Stephen Harper is cancelling his annual trip to the Arctic, we know that he is almost certainly going drop the writ much sooner than expected. 

So we can be ready, and try to foil his plans to buy the election.

And the bad news? A judge has approved his devious plan to try to steal it. 
Read more »

Stephen Harper and the Bloody Harvest of War

Montreal Simon - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 23:03

As I'm sure you remember, during the early years of the war in Afghanistan there was no greater chicken hawk than Stephen Harper.

Until he realized it wasn't winning him enough votes, and he decided to cut and run.

But while he has been able to run away from a lot of things, like the state of the economy.

He can't run away from his precious war, because we're still reaping its bloody harvest.
Read more »

Burning Cars and Fleeing Drivers on Interstate 15

Metaneos - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 22:00
New York Times
Sobering pictures of cars, burned on a freeway. Climate change exists, in a myriad of small ways, affecting us all in ways we can only comprehend if we pay attention. When we avert our gaze, of course we won't see it, but sometimes we will have no choice.
This should be a wake-up call, just like the past dozen or so events in the past few years that should alert us we're participating in world-wide climate change. Will we act? Probably not. It's not as though there haven't been brush fires, before. It's not as though cars and freeways are actually important in the grand scheme of things.
Only money is. Money making money is important. Not the people, without whose hands earn that money, probably not even for themselves, but for some rich bastard trust fund baby. They're not important. The earth is not important. Selfishness is. Self gratification is.
This is the sort of shit that burns me out, really.

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 20:32
Jamie xx feat. Romy - Loud Places

Brad Wall and the Attack of the Oil Pimps

Montreal Simon - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 19:36

As I told you yesterday, those of us who live in Central Canada are under attack by the wild eyed oil pimp Brad Wall.

Who says if we don't accept his West-East pipeline, he'll cut off our equalization payments and leave us freezing in the dark.

And although it's going to feel like forty degrees tomorrow we are worried.

Because it seems that nothing will stop him !!! 
Read more »

Watching Gawker implode -- grab the popcorn

Cathie from Canada - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 16:58
I have often enjoyed reading Gawker, particularly for goofy posts like this:

Not to mention how they single-handedly made Rob Ford's cocaine use into a major story in the United States, where it would otherwise have been ignored.
But what I don't like about Gawker is its juvenile and parochial tendency to start little wars with other New York media organizations -- Reddit, for example, and the New York Post, and now Conde Nast.
I haven't done any research on this because I don't want to affect my amateur status, but I would think these bizarre wars are a combination of 1) the Gawker organization hiring executives and/or reporters with grudges against former employers, and 2) inadequate editorial judgement which allows too many stupid stories to be posted by people with agendas instead of news judgement.
And now it has all come tumbling down. Last night I was shocked to read Gawker's mean-spirited and gratuitous "outing" of a Conde Nast chief financial officer -- I wasn't the only one, and Twitter death rays roasted Gawker all last night, resulting in Gawker removing the story earlier today, issuing a non-apology apology which was apparently misleading about how the removal decision was made, and now its own editorial staff is flipping out about the removal.
This isn't going to end well.

No 2 Trudeau: Sick Puppies

Dammit Janet - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 16:52
The No 2 Trudeau campaign has been annoying and disgusting a lot of people lately.

These good folks, who absurdly expect to look through their junk mail without encountering fetal gore porn, have complained to cops, politicians, and Advertising Standards Canada (ASC). ASC, which has no power to actually do anything but tut-tut, has looked at this sort of thing before and shrugged it off as beyond its purview, being deemed "political." (So I guess the CPC gets a pass for using ISIS snuff-film footage too.)

Well, the FetalGoreGang has so annoyed people that ASC decided to have another look.

Several Canadian residents have complained to Advertising Standards Canada.

Under their code, "Advertising that is directed to children must not exploit their credulity, lack of experience or their sense of loyalty, and must not present information or illustrations that might result in their physical, emotional or moral harm."

However, last month, residents were told that because it's a political campaign, it's exempt from the voluntary Advertising Standards code.

However, due in part to the number of complaints, ad standards took another look at their definition of political advertising and came back with the following response which has been posted to Facebook.

"ASC has concluded that, notwithstanding that aspects of the No2Trudeau advertising are political in nature, the political elements may be separated from the images of aborted fetuses featured in this advertising. Based on a 2014 decision by ASC's Standards Council, which upheld consumer complaints about the use of the very same graphic images in advertising by a different advertiser, ASC has now asked the Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform to withdraw and no longer distribute this advertising in its current form in which the aborted fetuses have been highlighted."

Jonathon Van Maren, communications director with the Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform, said ASC has made these types of requests before and the response remains the same.

"We have polling that shows this is the most effective way to show people that abortion violently victimizes a pre-born human being, and we're going to continue doing it," he said. "They have no legal authority to ask us to cease and desist. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms trumps their request."Isn't that adorable? This gang, and fetus freaks in general, usually excoriate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, born of evil Justin Trudeau's eviler dad, Pierre, of course. This same Charter has been used by rabid activist judges to support a woman's right to autonomy and privacy that the fetus freaks stomp their little feet over deny. Here for example is the Fetal Gore Gang's take on it.

But now they're hiding behind it.

And find zip zero nada irony in their position.

So, there's that.

As the campaign goes on, other questions are being raised again. From the beginning, there were speculations about what possible political party might be behind a gory, misleading smear campaign against Justin Trudeau.

In the face of mounting disgust in their communities, various politicians are now peddling furiously away.
Oakville MP Terence Young said he was disgusted by the flyers and emphasized they have nothing to do with the Conservative Party or himself.

Young also sent the architects of the No2Trudeau Campaign a cease-and-desist letter.

“I am writing to ask you to cease and desist your campaign of placing graphic and appalling flyers entitled No2Trudeau in the mailboxes and doorways of my constituents in Oakville and elsewhere,” wrote Young in his correspondence, a copy of which was forwarded to the Oakville Beaver.

“They are quite understandably causing distress and anger, particularly as they are exposed to children who react with confusion and fear. This is unconscionable. Rather than changing the hearts and minds of people on abortion, these flyers will ensure most people will never listen to anything you have to say.”Even other clergy are getting into the act.
Rev. Mike Marsden, Lead Minister of Knox Presbyterian Church, also takes issue with the flyers, which he condemned as exploitative.

“I am disgusted and disturbed, not just by the images, but that any organization purporting to uphold the rights and dignity of an unborn child would actually devalue the worth of such a child by striving for shock value,” said Marsden in an email to Campaign Life Coalition, which was also sent to the Oakville Beaver.

“The use your organization has made of such images is, in my opinion, the ultimate degradation…The children represented did not choose to be conceived, nor did they choose to be aborted, but neither did they choose to be exploited by your organization in death.”Funny, but that's sorta what the Catholic Herald had to say in 2012.
It called use of such images "profoundly counterproductive."

So, if not just ordinary people but politicians and clergy are unhappy with the campaign, who's getting anything out of it?

Canadian Cynic has a notion.

Given how quickly CPC shut down "HarperPAC", if the CPC didn't condone Trudeau-linked abortion flyers, they wouldn't be happening. Period.

— CC (@canadiancynic) July 16, 2015

And I've been thinking about it too.

My conclusion: these people are simply sick. They have the same fascination with gore and torture and blood that snuff-film aficionados like Luka Magnotta have.

When the Gosnell case was in the news, these sick puppies were creaming themselves over descriptions of body parts kept in specimen bottles, blood on the floor, and other fun stuff.

And now, the bogus story of Planned Parenthood selling fetal body parts has them again gloating over itty-bitty gory guts.

There are not too many careers in which one can indulge in one's psychopathic obsession, get lauded as a martyr, and get paid, are there?

So. I'm done with them. At least for this sad campaign. (I reserve the right to snark at them on Twitter if the mood strikes.)

May they find some capable psychological help.

Change Is Coming To Cuba, Not All Of It Necessarily Good

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 16:42
Readers of this blog will know that I have a special affection for Cuba, having visited it many times and gotten to know, to some extent, the 'real' Cuba. Yet it would be wrong for me or any other non-Cuban to pontificate about what is best for the country, given the changes that are coming due to its increasing normalization with the United States. The course of Cuba's future has to be decided by Cuba itself.

Nonetheless, one hopes that the ecological balance highlighted in the following will continue well into the future, despite what will undoubtedly be an onslaught of American tourism:

Recommend this Post

Here's a Photo. Take It All In. Think About It.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 14:18
Behold, kayakers paddling along a river of prehistoric glacial melt water.

It Happened - Yesterday - At the Dog Park

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 13:52

I took my little beagle down to the dog park yesterday so he could run and run and run.  I swear he'll outrun any dog on the planet and just keep going.

People would come, run their dogs for a while, and leave.  The little guy didn't want to go so we stayed for a total of well over two hours.

At one point a van pulled up and the owner got out with his dog.  He came in and sat down at the little picnic table and we started chatting as strangers do.  The conversation started getting into some interesting stuff and this fellow was obviously knowledgeable.

Eventually it emerged that he's a federal research scientist.  What he told me gives me cause not to describe him in any detail that might give his identity away.

One thing we discussed is what it's like being a scientist in today's public service. I mentioned the CBC's ill-fated attempt to interview the top guy on drought research only to find, when they showed up, that he wasn't permitted to discuss drought or even use the word.

My new friend quite dispassionately confirmed the worst of what we've been hearing - how the public service has been sequestered from the very public they're supposed to serve - how government scientists are no longer in the traditional advisory position but now are expected to find things that comport with the government's political narrative - how it's almost impossible to collaborate with scientists from other countries because Harper and Co. insist on a veto on publication, a term others simply cannot accept.  These are all things we've heard many times before.

What I wasn't prepared for was this fellow's jarring assessment that a change of government won't fix what Harper has broken.  He said the damage is too deep, too much science has been buried, destroyed or lost.  Worse yet, he added, was that too many of the best minds have moved on.  They're gone, either by their own choice or the government's, and they won't be coming back.  They're done. That core, so methodically built up over the decades, is wrecked.  It'll take decades more to build it all over again.  It can't be fixed.  We'll have to start pretty much from scratch.

Mein Gott.  The damage that bastard has done.

The Worst Case Scenario

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 11:51
FIFTY? Fifty self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms are now active? University of Arizona professor emeritus, natural resources, ecology and evolutionary biology, Guy McPherson no longer pursues pure science, environmental research. He can't. He's too busy digesting the mountains of research pouring in from other scientists and connecting the dots.

There's really no nice way to put this.  McPherson has now logged 50 self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms underway.  That's another way of saying "runaway global warming."  At the time of the interview below, back in March, he'd only identified 39.  Apparently eleven more have turned up since then.

In Dr. McPherson's assessment, we're screwed, it's done, over.  He believes it will claim the lives of most of us alive today.  Here it is, the Worst Case Scenario:

I've been following the major feedback mechanisms at work today - the melting seabed methane clathrates, the tundra fires, the thawing permafrost, the vanishing Arctic sea ice, the retreat of glaciers and the astonishingly rapid acceleration in the melting of the Greenland ice cap.

We may have flipped the switch on these feedback loops but they're progressing on their own now and we have no idea how to make them stop much less turn the clock back.  If the YouTube video wasn't convincing, you might read this July 7th article from Esquire.

Ah, forget all that 'doom and gloom'  Look on the bright side.  Aussie PM Tony Abbott is doubling down on his country's coal exports.  Tony knows it's "the very foundation of prosperity."  So there, Cobber, turn that frown upside down.

Stephen Harper and Natives

LeDaro - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 11:34

Stephen Harper's indifference towards Natives including aboriginal women's mistreatment.

To All You Dippers Who Claim the Greens are Right-Wing

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 09:58

Relax.  You're just going through a bout of separation anxiety for deserting your post and abandoning the Left. You want to be Latter Day Liberals, you've gotta suck it up and learn to get over these pangs of conscience.  It's all part of the process of becoming the very thing that, for so many decades, you reviled.

Now, about those rightwing Greens.  Well this sounds really neoliberal. Elizabeth May would like to make an announcement of a new Green Party policy she calls the the Guaranteed Liveable Income, or GLI.

Our plan will ensure no Canadian’s income falls below what is necessary for health, life, and dignity.

Providing our most at-risk citizens with the resources they need to make ends meet greatly reduces the burden on our emergency and social services, saving our system money, and empowering all citizens to overcome periods of hardship.

Together, we can end poverty in Canada. 

The GLI provides reassurance for families struggling to make ends meet, a vital helping hand for stay-at-home parents, stability for the thousands of Canadians who can only find part-time work, and much needed support for those looking to complete their education and launch a successful career.

Cue La Marseillese and let's storm the Bastille of neoliberalism.  Or, if that's too progressive for you just vote for Tommy Angry Beard.  Hmm.  I wonder what Tony Blair would look like with facial hair?

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 08:54
Miscellaneous material for your Friday reading.

- Matthew Melmed examines how poverty early in life is both disturbingly widespread, and likely to severely affect a child's future prospects.

- Lawrence Mishel and Alyssa Davis track the extreme gap in wage growth for CEOs as opposed to workers. Robert Skidelsky argues that we can't rely on employment relationships to fully address poverty and inequality given the number of current jobs that will be mechanized out of existence before long. But on the bright side, Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on Unifor's success in achieving significant improvements in wages and schedule predictability for retail workers.

- Robyn Benson discusses the need to put an end to the Cons' plan of cutting public services merely for the sake of cutting, no matter how much social and economic damage results. But Bill Curry reports on the Cons' refusal to even cooperate with provinces trying to ensure some basic level of security and dignity for their citizens, while Evan Webster discusses Harry Leslie Smith's observation that the corporate right is challenging and threatening the underpinnings of civilized society.

- Faces of Health Care offers a look at just a few of the stories as to how one of our most treasured social programs - which is of course under attack by the Cons and the corporate sector - can make all the difference in a patient's life. And Kenneth Davis points out how improved social services can ease the burden on health care providers.

- Finally, CBC reports on just the latest Alberta oil spill. And Warren Bell discusses the connection between Christy Clark's wild promises about natural gas production and its questionable deal with Petronas.

It's Hard to Believe We Were That Stupid

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 08:45
Just as Europe undermined the EU so too did we undermine, potentially fatally, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  Both organizations foolishly indulged in a promiscuous bout of expansion that has left them unwieldy, incoherent and perhaps even dangerous.

This is EU Europe:

This is NATO:

Both began and operated quite well with a small, well integrated membership, capable of reliably cooperating to achieve clearly understood objectives.  And then they both got just a little whorish in the bacchanal that marked the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Oh my, look, there's one missing - the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.

How they got left out I'll never know.  I guess Bush and Cheney forgot about them in their race to march NATO to Russia's doorstep.

When it comes to NATO it might be a good idea to cull the membership herd, especially if we see the E.U. beginning to come part at the seams.  There are a lot of scary people and movements waiting in the wings to exploit that chaos and we might not find their table manners exactly pleasing.

Don't forget that Article 5 business, the "mutual aid" clause that says an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all.  There's no Article 5(b) that covers the situation where one NATO member attacks another.  Worse yet, there are some NATO aspirants that might like nothing better than to provoke a regional adversary (can you say Russia?) and then drag in the NATO muscle. Think Georgia. Think Ukraine.

NATO was built to face threats from without, namely the Soviet bloc.  It cobbled together nations of the Western European tradition on an implied assumption of shared values and principles. What a happy bunch of chaps - well, except for those uppity French.  DeGaulle, you know.

NATO picked up some dodgy characters in its rampage of expansion to the East. Take Hungary, which joined in 1999.  Sixty years earlier it joined another alliance, the Axis powers.  And today you wouldn't consider Hungary a particularly enthusiastic adherent to democracy.  Sort of like the little kid who's standing still in the corner of the pool.  You just know he's peeing.

It's like having more kids than you can possibly feed. When you get the urge to add a few more, don't.  And try to get the kids you do have educated and out the door as soon as you can.

Quick, put a call through to Grand Fenwick. I need to speak to the Duke.          

Before the fall

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 08:33
Shorter Brad Wall:
The whole concept of "From many peoples, strength" doesn't do much for me. But "From many dinosaur remains, climate devastation", now that gets me - and any right-thinking Westerner - all tingly with pride.

Why Isn't This Getting Wider Coverage?

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 05:31
While this story seems most timely and relevant, given the ongoing Council of the Federation meeting discussing pipeline growth, I couldn't even find a reference to it in this morning's Toronto Star. It should be front-page news.

Recommend this Post

The Imitation Of Who?

Northern Reflections - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 05:01


Two weeks ago, Conservative MP Wai Young told the congregation at the Harvest City Church that, when he pushed through Bill C-51, Stephen Harper was walking in Christ's footsteps. All analogies eventually break down. But this one never even got out of the gate. That's why Michael Harris has so much fun with it:

Sorry, Wai — the case for Steve being Christ-like is not compelling. It’s like comparing Donald Trump to Mother Theresa, or John Baird to Gandhi.For one thing, Steve was born in a hospital, not a manger. For another, I think you would agree that Jesus Saves, while Steve spends and spends and spends. Seven years to record a balanced budget of his own — and even then he only managed it through the tawdry tactic of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Jesus could feed the multitudes with a few loaves and fishes. Steve needs the federal treasury and $8 billion of taxpayers’ money to buy a measly election.
And, given some of Harper's disciples, the comparison verges on the obscene:

Jesus had disciples who later went on to great things. Steve had accomplices who found their way to court with astonishing regularity. Instead of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, Steve had Arthur, Peter, Bruce and Dean — confidantes and advisors who were persons of interest to the police. Some even made it to the handcuff-and-shackle set. No wonder Steve wants to build more prisons.
 In the end, there are more differences than similarities between Christ and Harper:

Jesus believed in forgiving people and turning the other cheek. Steve believes in turning the other screw and being cheeky.

As for forgiveness, Steve believes that vengeance is his, no matter what the Lord sayeth. Just ask Helena Guergis, Mike Duffy or Tom Flanagan. Never mind the New Horizons probe and all those NASA snaps of that frozen meatball on the edge of our solar system; Flanagan was the first to orbit Pluto after raising the ire of Steve. Jesus forgives. Steve consigns trespassers to the outer darkness.
Christ proclaimed that the meek shall inherit the earth. Perhaps Young thinks meek means stupid.


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