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The "Dress Rehearsal for Fascism"

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 10/16/2016 - 13:04
No matter whether you support or despise Donald Trump, you've been changed.
Even Canadians are impacted by the body politic of our next door neighbour - our one and only next door neighbour.

What we understood about American politics is, it seems, over. It's been trending in this direction for some time but in this election cycle there has been an abrupt and jarring shift ushering in an era of demagoguery and authoritarianism. The anchor of decency, basic human decency, has been lost. A boastfully self-proclaimed deviant and alleged serial sexual predator has a clear path to the White House. That he's also a severe misogynist, a racist, an all-round bigot and a pathological liar matters not in the least to his followers.

If nothing else this 2-year election campaign has allowed us to unlock the mystery of authoritarianism and, perhaps for the first time for many, including me, grasp the true nature of this dysfunction. It's now possible to make sense of what happened to Germany in the 30s, the failure of Weimar. It is the fulfilment of Sinclair Lewis' warning in his 1935 novel, "It Can't Happen Here."

Chris Hedges writes that, in Donald Trump, we're seeing the "dress rehearsal for Fascism."

The candidate who can provide the best show gets the most coverage. The personal brand is paramount. It takes precedence over ideas, truth, integrity and the common good. This cult of the self, which defines our politics and our culture, contains the classic traits of psychopaths: superficial charm, grandiosity, self-importance, a need for constant stimulation, a penchant for lying, deception and manipulation, and incapacity for remorse or guilt. Donald Trump has these characteristics. So does Hillary Clinton.

Our system of inverted totalitarianism has within it the seeds of an overt or classical fascism. The more that political discourse becomes exclusively bombastic and a form of spectacle, the more that emotional euphoria is substituted for political thought and the more that violence is the primary form of social control, the more we move toward a Christianized fascism.

Last week’s presidential debate in St. Louis was only a few degrees removed from the Jerry Springer TV show—the angry row of women sexually abused or assaulted by Bill Clinton, the fuming Trump pacing the stage with a threatening posture, the sheeplike and carefully selected audience that provided the thin veneer of a democratic debate while four multimillionaires—Martha Raddatz, Anderson Cooper, Clinton and Trump—squabbled like spoiled schoolchildren.

...The insurgencies of Trump and Bernie Sanders are evidence of a breakdown of these forms of social control. There is a vague realization among Americans that we have undergone a corporate coup. People are angry about being lied to and fleeced by the elites. They are tired of being impotent. Trump, to many of his most fervent supporters, is a huge middle finger to a corporate establishment that has ruined their lives and the lives of their children. And if Trump, or some other bombastic idiot, is the only vehicle they have to defy the system, they will use him.

The elites, including many in the corporate press, must increasingly give political legitimacy to goons and imbeciles in a desperate battle to salvage their own legitimacy. But the more these elites pillage and loot, and the more they cast citizens aside as human refuse, the more the goons and imbeciles become actual alternatives. The corporate capitalists would prefer the civilized mask of a Hillary Clinton. But they also know that police states and fascist states will not impede their profits; indeed in such a state the capitalists will be more robust in breaking the attempts of the working class to organize for decent wages and working conditions. Citibank, Raytheon and Goldman Sachs will adapt. Capitalism functions very well without democracy.

In the 1990s I watched an impotent, nominally democratic liberal elite in the former Yugoslavia fail to understand and act against the population’s profound economic distress. The fringe demagogues whom the political and educated elites dismissed as buffoons—Radovan Karadzic, Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudman—rode an anti-liberal tide to power.

The political elites in Yugoslavia at first thought the nationalist cranks and lunatics, who amassed enough support to be given secondary positions of power, could be contained. This mistake was as misguided as Franz von Papen’s assurances that when the uncouth Austrian Adolf Hitler was appointed the German chancellor in January 1933 the Nazi leader would be easily manipulated. Any system of prolonged political paralysis and failed liberalism vomits up monsters. And the longer we remain in a state of political paralysis—especially as we stumble toward another financial collapse—the more certain it becomes that these monsters will take power.

Fascism, at its core, is an amorphous and incoherent ideology that perpetuates itself by celebrating a grotesque hypermasculinity, elements of which are captured in Trump’s misogyny. It allows disenfranchised people to feel a sense of power and to have their rage sanctified. It takes a politically marginalized and depoliticized population and mobilizes it around a utopian vision of moral renewal and vengeance and an anointed political savior. It is always militaristic, anti-intellectual and contemptuous of democracy and replaces culture with nationalist and patriotic kitsch. It sees those outside the closed circle of the nation-state or the ethnic or religious group as diseased enemies that must be physically purged to restore the health of nation.

...The Democratic and Republican parties may be able to disappear Trump, but they won’t disappear the phenomena that gave rise to Trump. And unless the downward spiral is reversed—unless the half of the country now living in poverty is lifted out of poverty—the cynical game the elites are playing will backfire. Out of the morass will appear a genuine “Christian” fascist endowed with political skill, intelligence, self-discipline, ruthlessness and charisma. The monster the elites will again unwittingly elevate, as a foil to keep themselves in power, will consume them. There would be some justice in this if we did not all have to pay.

What of Hedges' "genuine Christian fascist endowed with political skill, intelligence, self-discipline, ruthlessness and charisma"? Some have already identified him in Arkansas senator Tom Cotton.
...the perfect candidate for new era Republicans may be the junior senator from Arkansas, 39-year-old Tom Cotton who boasts a dream CV, raised on a family farm and with combat service as lieutenant in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He is an extreme ideologue. He helped torpedo immigration reform to the distress of then-Republican speaker John Boehner. He sabotaged criminal justice reform declaring the US suffers not from too many in jail but too few, what he calls "under-incarceration".

In 2015 he tried to sabotage negotiations between the Obama administration and Iran by writing to Iran's Ayatollah saying any anti-nuclear agreement would be dishonoured by a future Republican president, breathtaking in undermining the foreign policy of his own country. He supported a short, sharp war against Iran. He wanted to arm Israel with B-52s to help. He received a campaign donation of nearly $1 million from Bill Kristol's Emergency Committee on Israel in fond appreciation.

His slogans make good bumper stickers. "Let 'em rot," for example, is his stand on Guantanamo prisoners.

He was described on Salon as "Sarah Palin with a Harvard degree; Ted Cruz with a war record."

...His raw inexperience combined with his relish for war elevates him to a level of menace that rivals that of 1964 Republican candidate Barry Goldwater.

Trump might be finished. But another playwright, Bertolt Brecht, warned: "Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again."

We Are, Indeed, Living in Interesting Times

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 10/16/2016 - 10:32

My parents lived through the Great Depression. They lived through World War II. They lived through the Cold War. They lived in "interesting times" fraught with peril and struggle and yet emerged to be called by Tom Brokaw, "the greatest generation."

It was really difficult for me to imagine I might ever live through times even more "interesting" than my parents' and their generation's. Yet I increasingly fear that to be the case.

My parents' era was one of great progressive advancement. Perhaps lulled into complacency by the relative ease and prosperity that befell the post war generations, we have at almost every turn failed to defend that progress that was delivered to us with no sacrifice of any consequence on our part. Easy come, easy go.

We ruled the world in hubris, without regard to what follows, nemesis. And so today we stand unprepared to withstand the several monstrous calamities that loom around us in all directions.

We chose to be guided by a new rule, "Because We Can." At every turn we did whatever we could, as much as we could, as fast as we could. We didn't leave ourselves time to reflect and even ask whether we should.

We even mastered the skill of taking not only what was our fair share but what the next generations might rightly deserve. We've robbed them of their future. We did it because we could.

The transition into what would be known as neo-liberalism was ushered in by three conservative stalwarts - Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney. All of them abdicated government responsibility to the commercial sector, surrendering critical aspects of national sovereignty along with the other powers given up in a totally one-sided deal. They freed commerce of the restraints of tariffs and trade regulation, endorsing the free movement of capital and, with it jobs and entire industrial sectors. They promised this would yield more and better jobs, higher wages. Environmental and labour laws were tossed on the block.

It would be unfair to blame this on Conservatism. Indeed what these leaders (and those that have followed them) did was antithetical to Conservatism, the political ideology. Just as Communism is rooted in the theories of Karl Marx, Conservatism finds its roots in the 18th century prescriptions of Edmund Burke.

Burke fully grasped the bond between Conservatism and conservation.

All persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in trust. of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it among their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society; hazarding to leave to those who come after them a ruin instead of an habitation—and teaching these successors as little to respect their contrivances, as they had themselves respected the institutions of their forefathers. By this unprincipled facility of changing the state as often, and as much, and in as many ways, as there are floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth would be broken. No one generation could link with the other. Men would become little better than the flies of a summer.

It's plain that in Burke's Conservatism, we are "temporary possessors and life-renters" of our world and our society. He enjoins us not to, "think it among (our) rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying it at (our) pleasure the whole original fabric of (our) society; hazarding to leave to those who come after (us) a ruin instead of an habitation - and teaching these successors as little to respect their contrivances as we had (ourselves) respected the institutions of (our) forefathers.

Some century and a half later, in Osawatomie, Kansas, Theodore Roosevelt said much the same thing:
Of conservation I shall speak more at length elsewhere. Conservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. I ask nothing of the nation except that it so behave as each farmer here behaves with reference to his own children. That farmer is a poor creature who skins the land and leaves it worthless to his children. The farmer is a good farmer who, having enabled the land to support himself and to provide for the education of his children, leaves it to them a little better than he found it himself. I believe the same thing of a nation. 

What we call "Conservative" today bears no connection to the conservation ethos of true conservatism. It simply exists to the far right of the dominant political spectrum that besets us today. 
Why should this matter? Because we cannot return to the society envisioned by Burke, Roosevelt and so many others until we break the yoke of neoliberalism that hangs around our necks today and "skins the land and leaves it worthless" to our children. How have we skinned the land? The evidence is everywhere. Climate change is one chilling example. The global freshwater crisis and the draining of our aquifers is another. Oceanic dead zones and the toxic algae blooms that now flourish in our lakes and rivers are others. We're consuming natural resources at 1.7 times Earth's carrying capacity, making up the excess by robbing future generations.
The hard truth is that we can't change this predation, we can't even our keel, until we're prepared to quit what we've been doing. Part of that entails restoring posterity to its rightful place in our government planning and policy. That means restraining our wants, abandoning our "because we can" mentality. It's going to be hard enough meeting our needs before long. Our wants that drive our growth-obsessed governments today will become a bad memory discarded of necessity.
We are indeed living in interesting times. How we come through this is up to us.                      

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 10/16/2016 - 10:30
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Ellen Gould comments on how the CETA and other trade deals constrain democratic governance - and the fact that corporate bigwigs are threatening any government which considers giving effect to popular opposition doesn't exactly provide any comfort. Meanwhile, Scott Sinclair points out the dangerous effects of the CETA on Canadian public services and water security.

- In a column from September, Robbie Nelson points out the need for our political system to rein in corporate excesses (particularly in the financial sector). And Sebastien Malo points out the World Bank's observation that nowhere near enough investment is going into planning for the effect of climate change on people living in poverty and precarity. 

- Fran Boait writes that capital-focused quantitative easing has done far more to increase inequality than to boost growth - signalling the need for fiscal and economic policy to be used to benefit workers. Jordan Brennan studies the value of investing in people rather than imposing austerity in Nova Scotia. And Armine Yalnizyan discusses how an improved minimum wage leads to bottom-up development. 

- Nicholas Keung reports that a federal fee grab is severely reducing the number of applicants for Canadian citizenship.

- Finally, Lana Payne discusses the challenges that reality-averse candidates like Donald Trump pose for the media. And Matt Taibbi notes that Trump has exploited and amplified the absolute worst elements of the U.S' aristocratic political system. But I wouldn't take that commentary as reason to buy into Jeffrey Tucker's repudiation of politics in general when it can instead offer us a basis to build a political environment that actually builds community.

The Great Con Canada Birthday Scam

Montreal Simon - Sun, 10/16/2016 - 07:53

I'll always remember the day Stephen Harper decided to start celebrating Canada's 150th birthday, three years early.

And how critics warned that the infrastructure money that came with it could be used by the Cons as a giant slush fund.

And sure enough they were right. 
Read more »

How to Escape Donald Trump's Monstrous Horror Movie

Montreal Simon - Sun, 10/16/2016 - 07:51

Yes I know, I vowed to try to tune out the Donald Trump horror movie this weekend, to remind myself that the world isn't THAT crazy. 

But it isn't easy. Not with the deranged demagogue now running wild, and suggesting that Hillary Clinton was on drugs during the last debate.  

“We should take a drug test prior because I don’t know what’s going on with her. But at the beginning of her last debate — she was all pumped up at the beginning, and at the end it was like, ‘Oh, take me down.’ She could barely reach her car.”

After his sniffling, snuffling performance, that had many wondering whether he was suffering from a bad case of coke nose.

So I give thanks that in the midst of this madness there are videos to distract me.
Read more »

Kelie Leitch - Savant Extraodinaire

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 10/16/2016 - 06:46
I see that Kellie Leitch has officially launched her leadership campaign:

As the campaign heats up, she can expect more of this:

And if that doesn't sate your appetite for this strange lady who would lead the CPC through bigotry and xenophobia, try this from Frank Magazine.

Recommend this Post

Russian-American Relations

Northern Reflections - Sun, 10/16/2016 - 03:16

The War in Syria has severely damaged relations between Russia and The United States. Tony Burman writes:

Not since the darkest days of the Cold War, we are being told, are the dangers of a catastrophic conflict between Russia and the West so genuine.
Last Sunday on Russian television, Dmitry Kiselyov, an influential current affairs host, warned that U.S. military action against the Russian-backed Syrian regime could provoke a world war: “Offensive behaviour toward Russia has a nuclear dimension.”
This week, Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, wrote that today’s global situation is “more dangerous” than the Cold War. And former Soviet leader and Nobel winner Mikhail Gorbachev warned that “the world has a reached a dangerous point” because of the deepening Russia-U.S. clash over Syria.
But there are differences between the standoff which followed World War II and today's standoff:
Putin may strut, may preen and may bluster — and, like the KGB operative he once was, he is skilled at manipulating the optics of a situation. But like Trump, his comrade-in-arms in the U.S., Putin is a phoney. When all is said and done, he doesn’t have the economic or military firepower to deliver on his threats. Compared with the Soviet Union, Russia’s economy is strikingly weak and integrated with the West. If tensions ever escalated to the point of actual war, Russia would be annihilated. And Putin, above all, knows that.
Russia’s sabre-rattling is unnerving the West. It is messing with the heads of American and European politicians, military leaders and opinion-makers. In response, NATO and its member states, led by the U.S., are embarking on their own military buildup, particularly in countries neighbouring Russia. They are using the Russian threat, exaggerated as it is, as a pretext for challenging Russia in its own backyard. That’s a recipe for disaster. Putin isn’t the only threat here: our leaders also need to be watched.
Even though Trump will likely crash and burn on election day, Nov. 8, the poisoned American political system will still be with us. And it’s a system increasingly corrupted by money. Regardless of who resides in the White House, there will be many Republican members, perhaps a majority, whose political success is tied to America’s war machine. This is reflected in those military bases and military jobs that reside in their districts. Even though the Pentagon itself admits that the American military is bloated and over-resourced, it is in the interests of these politicians to keep this war machine growing.
And, should Hillary win, we're told that Putin loathes her. The West is in a tight spot. It's easy to get into a war -- much easier than it is to get out. 

Do Internet Trolls Have a Thing For Donald Trump?

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 18:31

One of the most unpleasant and tedious aspects of maintaining a blog is the bouts of the dreaded troll virus. There's usually a flair up when some particular issue surfaces that seems to resonate with the troll culture. Donald Trump is a case in point.

The trolls show up, hurl abuse (I guess they can't fling their pooh on the internet, must be frustrating) and then cast aspersions on Hillary, often on the blogger and other commenters as well, never responding when challenged to back up their claims.

I began to wonder why this apparent bond between these trolls and Donald Trump. I remembered, vaguely, a report I had glanced at some time ago, a psychological study of internet trolls. A bit of Googling and I found it, a report published in Psychology Today in September, 2014, "Internet Trolls are Narcissists, Psychopaths and Sadists." It seems they're "prototypical, everyday sadists."

Geez, that sounds a little bit like a candidate now running for the presidency of the United States of America. Is there some natural bond between these trolls and Trump based on their common behavioural disorders? Are they compelled to run to the defence of one of their own? I'm guessing when they look at Trump they do, indeed, see a lot of themselves.

A Simple Matter of Punctuation

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 10:30
Rebecca Piazza has released a tweet that explains the difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a simple matter of punctuation.

To women: You can do anything

To women, you can do anything— Rebecca Piazza (@heybecks) October 13, 2016

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 10:18
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Joel Wood highlights the social cost of carbon as a crucial reason to work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions rather than insisting on doing the absolute least the rest of the world will tolerate. And needless to say, Brad Wall's idea of an argument for the position that we should have no policies aimed at actually reducing emissions is rather less than compelling - particularly given Chelsea Harvey's warning that we can't rely on technology to remove emissions from our atmosphere later on.

- Max Ehrenfreund notes that for all the criticism too often leveled toward public housing, it actually produces dramatic improvements in the opportunities for children who grow up in it:
Comprehensive new data published this week challenges the cultural consensus on public housing. For all their flaws, housing projects can have remarkable positive effects on the children who grow up in them, researchers conclude in a paper published by the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research.

Children who spend more time in public housing will earn hundreds of dollars more each year than they would have if their parents had not received housing assistance from the government during those years. Children who benefit from public housing are also less likely to be imprisoned, according to the data.

Not having to worry about paying private-sector rents, parents might have more time to spend on their children — helping them with their homework, keeping them out of trouble and guiding them to a more successful adulthood, the researchers theorize. - Meanwhile, Dawn Foster writes that the differential treatment of owned housing (which can be inherited) and rental tenancies (which can't) results in inequality being exacerbated over the course of multiple generations.

- Nicole Kozloff, Carol E. Adair, Luis I. Palma Lazgare, Daniel Poremski, Amy H. Cheung, Rebeca Sandu and Vicky Stergiopoulos study the success of Housing First programming in assisting homeless youth. But Laurie Monsebraaten and Hina Alam point out the desperate lack of federal and provincial funding to support municipal housing programs.

- And in a similar vein, a group of citizens concerns about B.C.'s education cuts highlights the dangers of relying on fund-raising rather than public revenue to fund necessary educational services. 

- Finally, Kate McInturff examines the gender gap across Canada's cities, and finds that the major cities on the prairies are clustered near the bottom when it comes to gender parity.

it is designed to break your heart

we move to canada - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 09:30
In between my infrequent posts, the Red Sox's postseason came and went. As Basil Fawlty says, blink and you missed it.

It was a strange baseball season for Sox fans. In late June, it looked like another lost cause, and I drifted away, preferring binge-watching on Netflix to sitting through loss after loss. Then suddenly it all looked so possible. Boston got hot, Baltimore faded away. Forget about the wild card, we wrapped up the division with a tidy four-game margin.

Then October comes, and the September Red Sox are nowhere to be found, the team back to its anemic June version. sigh

The Sox's oh-for-three showing in the American League Division Series had me thinking a lot about the particular joys and heartbreaks of the game itself.

Game 2 was a blow-out. Boston didn't show up, and there wasn't much suspense.

But Games 1 and 3 were both close, and in baseball close games mean suspense, frustration, and missed opportunities. Game 3 was especially suspenseful, since it was an elimination game, win or go home. The suspense, the missed opportunities -- every runner left on base, every scorched line-drive into a Cleveland glove -- got me thinking.

Baseball is full of quiet space. The reason some people find it slow and boring is the same reason fans find it exciting. (Also the reason many serious fans despise the constant noise and fake entertainment at the ballpark.) Those built-in quiet spaces frame the game into a series of distinct moments. Action-pause, action-pause, action-pause. And each of those moments holds the potential for joy -- and its opposite.

Depending on the situation, that potential could be perfectly ordinary, or unbearably suspenseful. Will the pitcher preserve the no-hitter? Will that soaring ball clear the fence? Will the runner make it to the plate before the tag? Each time the pitcher goes into his wind-up, each time the batter takes his stance -- we wait -- we wait -- in our mind's eye, we see what we want to happen, imagining it as if we could will it to happen -- comeon-comeon-comeon -- knowing we have been in this position countless times before, the memories of every crazy, impossible, joyous comeback gathering in our minds -- until we feel ready to explode with joy, and then -- celebration or frustration. We cheer. Or more likely, We sigh. We curse. We groan. The whole ballpark lets loose a collective groan, and the millions of fans watching at home groan with them.

And then the whole thing begins again.

No other sport that I know of contains this kind of constant tension and suspense. The sports with more action -- soccer, basketball, hockey -- don't allow for it. The ball or the puck is moving too quickly. The moments of tension and suspense may be numerous, but they are fleeting. In baseball, where the action appears to stop, is the peak of tension, where we hold our collective breath.

And of course the action only appears to stop, to the untrained eye. That's another thing about baseball: the individual contests being fought nearly constantly within the team sport.

Other sports have defense guarding offense, and there's the lone hockey goalie versus everyone. These are in some sense individual-within-team. But pitcher versus batter is a game onto itself. The pitcher's arsenal, the count, the number of outs, the number of runners on base and which bases, the batter's strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies, the lineup, the defensive shifts -- all this and more is happening with every pitch. Not nothing is happening -- everything is happening.

So there we are, ALDS Game 3. Bottom of the sixth, Red Sox down 4-1. Runners on second and third, and only one out! Tying run at the plate! David Ortiz! Storybook ending? Comeon-comeon-comeon... No.

Bottom eight. Runners on first and second, two out, Xander Bogaerts smacks a bullet... right into a glove.

We're still breathing, not dead yet, but first our pitchers have to hold the score, each pitch an agony of suspense as we collectively will the Cleveland batters to do nothing. Finally three outs, we breathe, allow ourselves a millisecond to relax, then here we go again, our season in the balance, David Ortiz's final season in the balance.

Bottom nine, two on, two outs, here comes our storybook ending, we just know it, another chapter in the book called David Ortiz Greatest Clutch Hitter Ever -- comeon-comeon-comeon -- and our season ends.

Every at-bat, the potential for celebration or disappointment, for joy or heartbreak.

A much better writer said it best.
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.

war resister ryan johnson needs our help

we move to canada - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 09:00
Our friend Ryan Johnson, a war resister, is now in military prison.

Ryan and his partner Jenna Johnson lived in Canada for more than 11 years. After running out of court challenges, and exhausted from living in limbo for more than a decade, the Johnsons returned to California, and Ryan turned himself in.

Ryan was court martialed, sentenced to 10 months in military prison, and given a bad-conduct discharge. His "crime": refusing to deploy to Iraq, refusing to participate in an illegal invasion of a country that had done no wrong to the United States. His crime: choosing peace.

Ryan and Jenna are some of the best people I know: strong, brave, principled, kind, funny, sweet, caring. They sometimes dog-sat for us, and I never felt safer than when my pups were in their care. They both come from modest, working-class backgrounds. They have loving family, but very few material resources. They need our help.

Donations made through Courage to Resist are tax-deductible for US citizens. The money raised will mean Jenna can visit Ryan in prison, Ryan can buy phone cards to speak to Jen and his other family, and Jennifer can get needed medical care.

You can donate here.

You can read more about the Johnsons' situation here.

thank you, david ortiz!

we move to canada - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 08:41

Thank you and goodbye.

Trump insults America

LeDaro - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 07:50

I found this interesting cartoon on the internet. Sums up Trump's character.

Look In The Mirror

Northern Reflections - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 07:23

Donald Trump gets more reprehensible with each passing day. But he did not rise to where he is on his own initiative. Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post that there have been may people behind the ascension of Trump. And he has been a long time coming:

The Trump fiasco has been more than two decades in the making, going back to Newt Gingrich’s destruction of civility, Bill Clinton’s personal misconduct, a Supreme Court that, in Bush v. Gore, delegitimized democracy, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney squandering the warm courage of national unity after 9/11, a bipartisan cycle of revenge in Congress, angry liberals portraying Bush as a war criminal, the fury and racial animus of the tea party and the birthers, GOP leaders too timid to tamp down the excesses, and Supreme Court decisions that allowed anonymous groups to spend unlimited sums poisoning the airwaves with vicious and false political speech. 
The media have also had their role to play:

My colleagues and I in the news business deserve much of the blame. Fox News essentially created Trump as a political figure, validating his birther nonsense and giving him an unparalleled platform before he launched his campaign. The rest of the news media, most visibly CNN, gave the entertainer undiluted and uncritical coverage (at least until he secured the nomination), sacrificing journalistic integrity for viewers and readers. If you don’t report on Trump’s latest action, utterance or outrage, you won’t get the clicks or the ratings. And the combination of social media and a news industry fragmented by ideology allows an increasingly polarized public to choose only information that confirms their political views.

Trump knows how to play people for suckers. And there have been a lot of suckers. In the end, Americans will have to look in their mirrors.

Image: Pinterest

Arc d'Trump?

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 06:51
Thanks to Jonathan once again for alerting me to some clips from the 1957 movie, A Face in the Crowd, starring Andy Griffith in a role so diametrically opposed to his later persona as Sheriff Andy Taylor that he seems positively demonic at times. That the director, Elia Kazan, was able to draw the link between television stardom and political power is a testament to his prescience.

I think you will agree that the film eerily echoes the future rise of Donald Trump. Hopefully, a similar downfall ensues.

Recommend this Post

The Scary Meltdown of Donald Trump

Montreal Simon - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 04:39

I want to look away, I want to escape the insanity, I want to live in our peaceful kingdom, not in some American nightmare.

But I can't take my eyes off the horrifying sight of Donald Trump sounding crazier by the moment, and revealing his inner monster.

For it is a horror show. 

It is a total meltdown.
Read more »

Referendumpster fire

Creekside - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 01:31

CPC MP and ERRE committee member Scott Reid held a presser today to lay out the CPC position on electoral reform : No referendum, no Consent to electoral reform.

Mr Reid cites the results of a householder CPC MPs sent to their constituents. Shocker : 90.6% of them voted for a referendum.

Wikipedia : 
"In Canadian politics, a Ten Percenter is a party political flyer that MPs have the right to mail — at no cost to themselves — to households in their own ridings, equivalent to 10% of the households in their constituency. They may also send the same flier to all of their constituents if they change 50% of the copy." Complaining that members of the public who show up to ERRE road show meetings are "self-selective" and therefore not representative of Canadians as a whole - a complaint also repeated in committee by ERRE Lib MP Sherry Romanado - Reid calls his survey of 59 Conservative ridings out of a total of 338 possible ridings "the largest sampling of views on this issue to date." Ok but 30% of ridings surveyed were in Alberta. Nothing "self-selective" there.

The 81,000 votes from across Canada returned to the Conservative office or the local riding MP include up to 4 votes per household. To put that in context, 81K is the same number of voters found in the ridings of Ottawa West or North Vancouver. 
In Scott Reid's own riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston with 77,808 voters, 1400 responded to his electoral referendum questionnaire ... which works out to a 1.8% response rate. 
So, you know, good effort, Cons.

Now Scott Reid has been personally in favour of implementing a proportional electoral system like STV since 2001 and his fellow ERRE member CPC Gerard Deltell also favours PR , but alas their hands are tied by the 2004 CPC founding charter which specifies that any electoral reform must be preceded by a referendum. Apparently their Bill C-23 Fair Elections Act didn't count.

Reid also reported he thinks a five-party committee consensus to proceed with a PR system is possible, that a public referendum on PR would pass, and that Elections Canada CEOs JP Kingsley and Marc Mayrand have said there is time before the next election in 2019 for both a referendum and a new electoral reform system provided the new system is not unduly complicated in the redrawing of ridings. 

So why are the CPCs the fly in the electoral reform ointment?

Reid notes that Minister Monsef has not proposed any specific model to replace FPtP or pledged to accept the committee's consensus position, supposing they reach one. 
Reid :
"Up til now, she has only said she'll take it under advisement so we can move towards that model. What I don't want to have happen is this : have the committee move towards some kind of conclusion and then the government says 'thank you very much, we're doing something else' because we have an ironclad commitment about 2019 and then impose a system that favours the governing party. That would obviously be completely unacceptable and I am anxious at all costs to make sure that doesn't happen."I get this concern. I do. The dreaded Alternative Vote, considered capable of keeping the Libs in power forever because the Libs are everyone's presumed first and/or second choice on a ranked ballot in a single seat riding, is right there in the ERRE committee road show handout and was included in the public e-consultation on the ERRE site.  

But after months of sending out householders like the one pictured at the top here - sent out prior to the committee rejig in May which allowed the Bloc and Elizabeth May a seat at the ERRE table and reduced the number of Liberals on committee from a majority of six down to four Libs plus the chair - together with your failure to hold town halls in your communities to inform yourselves and voters about possible alternatives to FPtP, and the fact your official seven page Conservative Caucus submission to ERRE today is about nothing but holding a referendum ...  well, Cons, you failed miserably at reaching out further afield than just to your dog-whistled fear-mongered householder base here to achieve that all-party consensus you claim to aspire to.

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 10/14/2016 - 16:25
Gorgon City feat. ROMANS - Saving My Life


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