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Climate Change for Bloated Orange Dummies, by Barack Obama

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 15:25

Barack Obama has penned a parting missive for his successor, Donny Trump. It comes in the form of a paper now published in the journal Science entitled, "The irreversible momentum of clean energy."

The idea seems to be to demonstrate to the reader (assuming Trump can indeed read - and there's some doubt about that) that transitioning to clean energy from fossil fuels will facilitate rather than impede economic growth.

This “decoupling” of energy sector emissions and economic growth should put to rest the argument that combatting climate change requires accepting lower growth or a lower standard of living. In fact, although this decoupling is most pronounced in the United States, evidence that economies can grow while emissions do not is emerging around the world.


At the same time, evidence is mounting that any economic strategy that ignores carbon pollution will impose tremendous costs to the global economy and will result in fewer jobs and less economic growth over the long term.

The full paper, in PDF format, can be found here. It's short enough that even Trump should be able to digest it.

Trudeau's Pipeline May Get to Tidewater. His Legitimacy Won't.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 12:19

Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump have some things in common. They both garnered a lot of votes on the strength of outright lies. For Trudeau, nowhere is that more apparent than in coastal British Columbia.

On Nov. 29 of last year, as Justin Trudeau began to reveal his decision about an oil sands pipeline to Vancouver’s harbour, he announced he was a “grandson of British Columbia” with special ties to “our spectacular West Coast.” He then granted approval of the project while admitting many British Columbians would be “bitterly disappointed.”

Most bitter, probably, were those British Columbians who voted Liberal in the last election thinking they were halting just this sort of project pushed by Harper Conservatives in the face of environmental cautions.

The go-ahead for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was one of many Liberal government decisions made in the past year that likely left such voters feeling betrayed. They include approved permits for the Woodfibre LNG plant in Squamish, the Site C dam in northern B.C. and the Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas plant near Prince Rupert, as well as helping to defeat an NDP bill meant to protect wild salmon.

Analysts have noted that Trudeau and his government may pay a high political price for backing the Trans Mountain project, given the populous ridings it affects and the extra tanker traffic and safety risks it involves.

Add fall-out from the list of other decisions above, and critics are wondering if Trudeau is either taking environmentally minded B.C. voters for granted – or just writing off some of the province in order to please other parts of the country.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and First Nations leader, also represents a slice of Vancouver. Before being elected, she blasted the Site C dam project for trampling Indigenous rights, but when her government backed the project she was mum. On the Kinder Morgan expansion she wrote a letter to B.C.’s Dogwood Initiative in 2015 calling the project “misguided,” but has been silent since its approval.


[New Democrat MP Fin] Donnelly wonders whether Trudeau, the Liberals and central Canada in general have any understanding of the will, culture and values of British Columbia’s southwest coast.

In defending his approval of sending more oil to B.C. and tankers into its waters, Trudeau was firm his government “won’t be swayed by political arguments” from locals or otherwise. A few days later, to an Edmonton room full of oil executives, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr suggested he’d send in the military to deal with those protesting the pipeline.

There's no other way to put it. British Columbians handed the Trudeau Liberals a basket full of seats on the strength of false promises and outright lies by the prime minister himself and several of his top cabinet ministers. They may well reap what they have sown. Here's to a Liberal-free British Columbia in 2019.

Turning the White House Into a Family Business

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 11:44

Perhaps the Great Orange Bloat was pissed off at the warning fired his way by Barack Obama but Donald Trump has decided to appoint his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as senior White House advisor.

It remains to be seen how Trump will square the appointment with anti-nepotism laws.

The Great Void

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 10:58

Think of it as the span between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the purported election of Donald Trump to the American presidency. Andrew Bacevich writes it was an era that caught America totally off guard, an era of opportunity squandered on the childish pursuit of triumphalism.

As you read his excerpted essay you may find his remarks resonate somewhat with our own experience and condition in Canada. His discussion of the urgent need for real vision is a critical deficiency present in our government also. It portends real trouble for our people, our society unless we change the way we're governed, our collective focus. Electoral reform will not, of itself, deliver us from our predicament.

Virtually no one in the American establishment gave serious thought to the here-today, gone-tomorrow possibility that the Soviet threat, the Soviet empire, and the Soviet Union itself might someday vanish. Washington had plans aplenty for what to do should a Third World War erupt, but none for what to do if the prospect of such a climactic conflict simply disappeared.

Still, without missing a beat, when the Berlin Wall fell and two years later the Soviet Union imploded, leading members of that establishment wasted no time in explaining the implications of developments they had totally failed to anticipate. With something close to unanimity, politicians and policy-oriented intellectuals interpreted the unification of Berlin and the ensuing collapse of communism as an all-American victory of cosmic proportions. “We” had won, “they” had lost—with that outcome vindicating everything the United States represented as the archetype of freedom.

... thre
In remarkably short order,
 three themes emerged to define the new American age. Informing each of them was a sense of exuberant anticipation toward an era of almost unimaginable expectations. The twentieth century was ending on a high note. For the planet as a whole but especially for the United States, great things lay ahead.
Focused on the world economy, the first of those themes emphasized the transformative potential of turbocharged globalization led by U.S.-based financial institutions and transnational corporations. An “open world” would facilitate the movement of goods, capital, ideas, and people and thereby create wealth on an unprecedented scale. In the process, the rules governing American-style corporate capitalism would come to prevail everywhere on the planet. Everyone would benefit, but especially Americans who would continue to enjoy more than their fair share of material abundance.

Focused on statecraft, the second theme spelled out the implications of an international order dominated as never before—not even in the heydays of the Roman and British Empires—by a single nation. With the passing of the Cold War, the United States now stood apart as both supreme power and irreplaceable global leader, its status guaranteed by its unstoppable military might.
The third theme was all about rethinking the concept of personal freedom as commonly understood and pursued by most Americans. During the protracted emergency of the Cold War, reaching an accommodation between freedom and the putative imperatives of national security had not come easily. Cold War-style patriotism seemingly prioritized the interests of the state at the expense of the individual. Yet even as thrillingly expressed by John F. Kennedy—“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”—this was never an easy sell, especially if it meant wading through rice paddies and getting shot at.

Once the Cold War ended, however, the tension between individual freedom and national security momentarily dissipated. Reigning conceptions of what freedom could or should entail underwent a radical transformation. Emphasizing the removal of restraints and inhibitions, the shift made itself felt everywhere, from patterns of consumption and modes of cultural expression to sexuality and the definition of the family. Norms that had prevailed for decades if not generations—marriage as a union between a man and a woman, gender identity as fixed at birth—became passé. The concept of a transcendent common good, which during the Cold War had taken a backseat to national security, now took a backseat to maximizing individual choice and autonomy.

Finally, as a complement to these themes, in the realm of governance, the end of the Cold War cemented the status of the president as quasi-deity. In the Age of Great Expectations, the myth of the president as a deliverer from (or, in the eyes of critics, the ultimate perpetrator of) evil flourished. In the solar system of American politics, the man in the White House increasingly became the sun around which everything seemed to orbit. By comparison, nothing else much mattered.
Meanwhile, between promise and reality, a yawning gap began to appear. During the concluding decade of the twentieth century and the first decade-and-a-half of the twenty-first, Americans endured a seemingly endless series of crises. Individually, none of these merit comparison with, say, the Civil War or World War II. Yet never in U.S. history has a sequence of events occurring in such close proximity subjected American institutions and the American people to greater stress.

During the decade between 1998 and 2008, they came on with startling regularity: one president impeached and his successor chosen by the direct intervention of the Supreme Court; a massive terrorist attack on American soil that killed thousands, traumatized the nation, and left senior officials bereft of their senses; a mindless, needless, and unsuccessful war of choice launched on the basis of false claims and outright lies; a natural disaster (exacerbated by engineering folly) that all but destroyed a major American city, after which government agencies mounted a belated and half-hearted response; and finally, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, bringing ruin to millions of families.

For the sake of completeness, we should append to this roster of seismic occurrences one additional event: Barack Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president. He arrived at the zenith of American political life as a seemingly messianic figure called upon not only to undo the damage wrought by his predecessor, George W. Bush, but somehow to absolve the nation of its original sins of slavery and racism.

Yet during the Obama presidency race relations, in fact, deteriorated. Whether prompted by cynical political calculations or a crass desire to boost ratings, race baiters came out of the woodwork—one of them, of course, infamously birthered in Trump Tower in mid-Manhattan—and poured their poisons into the body politic. Even so, as the end of Obama’s term approached, the cult of the presidency itself remained remarkably intact.

Globalization, militarized hegemony, and a more expansive definition of freedom, guided by enlightened presidents in tune with the times, should have provided Americans with all the blessings that were rightly theirs as a consequence of having prevailed in the Cold War. Instead, between 1989 and 2016, things kept happening that weren’t supposed to happen. A future marketed as all but foreordained proved elusive, if not illusory. As actually experienced, the Age of Great Expectations became an Age of Unwelcome Surprises.
True, globalization created wealth on a vast scale, just not for ordinary Americans. The already well-to-do did splendidly, in some cases unbelievably so. But middle-class incomes stagnated and good jobs became increasingly hard to find or keep...
Meanwhile, policies inspired by Washington’s soaring hegemonic ambitions produced remarkably few happy outcomes. With U.S. forces continuously engaged in combat operations, peace all but vanished as a policy objective (or even a word in Washington’s political lexicon). The acknowledged standing of the country’s military as the world’s best-trained, best-equipped, and best-led force coexisted uneasily with the fact that it proved unable to win. Instead, the national security establishment became conditioned to the idea of permanent war, high-ranking officials taking it for granted that ordinary citizens would simply accommodate themselves to this new reality. Yet it soon became apparent that, instead of giving ordinary Americans a sense of security, this new paradigm induced an acute sense of vulnerability, which left many susceptible to demagogic fear mongering.
During the Age of Great Expectations, distinctions between citizen and consumer blurred. Shopping became tantamount to a civic obligation, essential to keeping the economy afloat. Yet if all the hoopla surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday represented a celebration of American freedom, its satisfactions were transitory at best, rarely extending beyond the due date printed on a credit card statement. Meanwhile, as digital connections displaced personal ones, relationships, like jobs, became more contingent and temporary. Loneliness emerged as an abiding affliction. Meanwhile, for all the talk of empowering the marginalized—people of color, women, gays—elites reaped the lion’s share of the benefits while ordinary people were left to make do. The atmosphere was rife with hypocrisy and even a whiff of nihilism.
The Age of Great Expectations Falters.

Senator Bernie Sanders offered one of those signs. That a past-his-prime, self-professed socialist from Vermont with a negligible record of legislative achievement and tenuous links to the Democratic Party might mount a serious challenge to Clinton seemed, on the face of it, absurd. Yet by zeroing in on unfairness and inequality as inevitable byproducts of globalization, Sanders struck a chord.

Knocked briefly off balance, Clinton responded by modifying certain of her longstanding positions. By backing away from free trade, the ne plus ultra of globalization, she managed, though not without difficulty, to defeat the Sanders insurgency. Even so, he, in effect, served as the canary in the establishment coal mine, signaling that the Age of Great Expectations might be running out of oxygen.

A parallel and far stranger insurgency was simultaneously wreaking havoc in the Republican Party. That a narcissistic political neophyte stood the slightest chance of capturing the GOP seemed even more improbable than Sanders taking a nomination that appeared Clinton’s by right.
Coarse, vulgar, unprincipled, uninformed, erratic, and with little regard for truth, Trump was sui generis among presidential candidates. Yet he possessed a singular gift: a knack for riling up those who nurse gripes and are keen to pin the blame on someone or something. In post-Cold War America, among the millions that Hillary Clinton was famously dismissing as “deplorables,” gripes had been ripening like cheese in a hothouse.

Through whatever combination of intuition and malice aforethought, Trump demonstrated a genius for motivating those deplorables. He pushed their buttons. They responded by turning out in droves to attend his rallies. There they listened to a message that they found compelling.

In Trump’s pledge to “make America great again” his followers heard a promise to restore everything they believed had been taken from them in the Age of Great Expectations. Globalization was neither beneficial nor inevitable, the candidate insisted, and vowed, once elected, to curb its effects along with the excesses of corporate capitalism, thereby bringing back millions of lost jobs from overseas. He would, he swore, fund a massive infrastructure program, cut taxes, keep a lid on the national debt, and generally champion the cause of working stiffs. The many complications and contradictions inherent in these various prescriptions would, he assured his fans, give way to his business savvy.
America Adrift.

Within hours of Trump’s election, among progressives, expressing fear and trepidation at the prospect of what he might actually do on assuming office became de rigueur. Yet those who had actually voted for Trump were also left wondering what to expect. Both camps assign him the status of a transformative historical figure. However, premonitions of incipient fascism and hopes that he will engineer a new American Golden Age are likely to prove similarly misplaced. To focus on the man himself rather than on the circumstances that produced him is to miss the significance of what has occurred.

Note, for example, that his mandate is almost entirely negative. It centers on rejection: of globalization, of counterproductive military meddling, and of the post-Cold War cultural project. Yet neither Trump nor any of his surrogates has offered a coherent alternative to the triad of themes providing the through line for the last quarter-century of American history. Apart a lingering conviction that forceful—in The Donald’s case, blustering—presidential leadership can somehow turn things around, “Trumpism” is a dog’s breakfast.

In all likelihood, his presidency will prove less transformative than transitional. As a result, concerns about what he may do, however worrisome, matter less than the larger question of where we go from here. The principles that enjoyed favor following the Cold War have been found wanting. What should replace them?

Efforts to identify those principles should begin with an honest accounting of the age we are now leaving behind, the history that happened after “the end of history.” That accounting should, in turn, allow room for regret, repentance, and making amends—the very critical appraisal that ought to have occurred at the end of the Cold War but was preempted when American elites succumbed to their bout of victory disease.
The Prescription - Vision

“Where there is no vision,” the Book of Proverbs tells us, “the people perish.” In the present day, there is no vision to which Americans collectively adhere. For proof, we need look no further than the election of Donald Trump.

The Age of Great Expectations has ended, leaving behind an ominous void. Yet Trump’s own inability to explain what should fill that great void provides neither excuse for inaction nor cause for despair. Instead, Trump himself makes manifest the need to reflect on the nation’s recent past and to think deeply about its future.

A decade before the Cold War ended, writing in democracy, a short-lived journal devoted to “political renewal and radical change,” the historian and social critic Christopher Lasch sketched out a set of principles that might lead us out of our current crisis. Lasch called for a politics based on “the nurture of the soil against the exploitation of resources, the family against the factory, the romantic vision of the individual against the technological vision, [and] localism over democratic centralism.” Nearly a half-century later, as a place to begin, his prescription remains apt.


Dawg's Blawg - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 09:44
Disclosure: I’m now a septuagenarian. Sounds better in Latin. The odd thing is, I don’t feel it. Not a bit. So when I first encountered ageism, I went into denial. Or laughed as though it was a joke. But it... Dr.Dawg

Courage and Cowardice In The Age of Fear

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 09:31

If you want to keep the plebs in line, nothing works as well as a double-serving of fear.

Fear is the weapon of choice of every despot throughout history. The best part is how easy fear is to fabricate and then inculcate.

Chris Hedges visits the subject in his latest essay:

The more despotic a regime becomes, the more it creates a climate of fear that transforms into terror. At the same time, it invests tremendous energy and resources in censorship and propaganda to maintain the fiction of the just and free state.

Poor people of color know intimately how these twin mechanisms of fear and false hope function as effective forms of social control in the internal colonies of the United States. They have also grasped, as the rest of us soon will, the fiction of American democracy.

Those who steadfastly defy the state will, if history is any guide, be decapitated one by one. A forlorn hope that the state will ignore us if we comply will cripple many who have already been condemned. “Universal innocence,” Solzhenitsyn writes, “also gave rise to the universal failure to act. Maybe they won’t take you? Maybe it will all blow over.”

Resisting despotism is often a lonely act. It is carried out by those endowed with what the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr calls “sublime madness.” Rebels will be persecuted, imprisoned or forced to become hunted outcasts, much as Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are now. A public example will be made of anyone who defies the state. The punishment of those singled out for attack will be used to send a warning to all who are inclined to dissent. 
Demagogues, Solzhenitsyn reminds us, are stunted and shallow people. “Unlimited power in the hands of limited people always leads to cruelty,” he writes.

“The overall life of society comes down to the fact that traitors were advanced and mediocrities triumphed, while everything that was best and most honest was trampled underfoot,” he observes. Ersatz intellectuals, surrogates “for those who had been destroyed, or dispersed,” took the place of real intellectuals.

“After all,” Solzhenitsyn writes, “we have gotten used to regarding as valor only valor in war (or the kind that’s needed for flying in outer space), the kind which jingle-jangles with medals. We have forgotten another concept of valor—civil valor. And that’s all our society needs, just that, just that, just that!”

Straight Out of The Fossil Fueler Playbook - Let's Socialize the Environmental Damage

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 09:08

When Big Fossil has squeezed out the last bit of profit, they often just leave the taxpayer holding the bag for the clean up. The treasure is shifted out of Canada and then the operating company, usually a subsidiary, is put into bankruptcy. In this way Alberta is now sitting on 1,400 abandoned "orphan" gas and oil wells in need of clean up.

Naturally, the Oil Patch has an idea - get the Alberta and federal governments to pick up the tab.

Investment banker Ian Thomson, along with the Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC), is pitching an idea to the federal government he thinks can help put people back to work — inject some capital in the junior oilpatch and make a dent in the number of inactive wells in the province.

Thompson and PSAC want the federal government to consider including in the next budget what they call a Sustainable Environmental Energy Investment (SEEI) fund for smaller oil and gas companies.

For every dollar invested in one of these companies, 47.5 cents could be spent on drilling and exploration, but the rest must be used to clean up old wells.

...Individual investors would be able to write off the full investment against their taxes, which means lost tax revenue for provincial and federal coffers.

These kinds of funds have been used for decades to promote development of Canada's natural resources. They are quite attractive to investors but less so to the government.

How To Think, Not What To Think

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 07:24

I have been retired from teaching for 10 years now, and I can say that since departing, I have not missed the classroom for a single day. I say this despite the fact that every few weeks I dream about being back on the job, usually with about two weeks before final exams, and there is something critical that I have failed to teach. In the dream I excoriate myself for having failed my students, and myself, in a crucial way.

I'm not sure why that dream and its regular permutations haunt me so long into retirement, since I know I did the job to the best of my ability throughout my career. But there is always that sense that there was something left undone, perhaps a fitting metaphor for what education really is, a life-long process we all have a moral responsibility to pursue, whether through courses, reading independently, or engaging deeply in issues of import.

Probably the greatest unfinished goal, a perpetual work in progress, is the journey toward critical thinking, about which I have written many times on this blog. Without that capacity, people are not only enslaved to their emotions, biases and prejudices, but also vulnerable to the crass manipulation of those around them, including the media and their political 'leaders'. Never has it been more important to strive to be an independent, critical parser of the world around us.

The other day I happened upon an interesting article by an educator and consultant, Catherine Little, discussing this invaluable skill within the context of the classroom:
Critical thinking might be defined as the process of analyzing and evaluating an issue in order to form a judgment. It is much more difficult to do than define and even harder to teach. However, it is an essential skill and necessary for citizens to effectively exercise their rights and responsibilities.Teaching students to think critically often results in lively debate as they come to realize people think differently. Teachers must model how to disagree productively and empower students to defend their beliefs passionately but respectfully while working toward change.

By focusing on big ideas and skills, teachers empower students to use what they learn beyond school.I might quibble at this point and suggest that teachers do not so much teach critical thinking as they do provide the knowledge and the environment within which critical thinking can arise. For example, when I used to teach The Grapes of Wrath, a fine classic about the consequences of the dustbowl in the thirties, I would often ask how John Steinbeck manipulates our sympathies toward the dispossessed Okies and against the landowners, and thereby have them realize that all novels, no matter how noble, are subversive in their intent. We would also do simulations whereby a large camp of dispossessed had suddenly set up in their community, and explore how the community would deal with it from the perspective of a real estate brokerage, local store owners, the ministry, PTA, school board, etc. Each role required thought and deliberation, preconditions to any attempt at critical thinking.

Ms. Little's experience was not dissimilar:
As a student, I experienced a masterful example of teaching for critical thinking when I studied the two World Wars in a high school history class. My teacher planned her lessons to enable us to respond to this final exam question: “It has been said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Discuss using examples from this course.”

Her approach forced us to analyze and evaluate the events we had studied in order to form a judgment about the effects power might have on any leader — a skill that has come in handy on many occasions.Clearly, these are not skills that have a place only in the classroom:
Recently, I wondered how the leader of a revolution to overthrow a dictator might come to be regarded as a dictator himself? I have also been contemplating how the effects of power might be influencing our own government’s attitude toward electoral reform and cash — for — access fundraisers.

When in third place, The Liberal Party campaigned on the need for electoral reform and promised that if elected, 2015 would be the last under the first-past-the-post voting system. After they were elected to a majority government under this system, they seemed to backtrack. Might a party’s preference for an electoral system be influenced by how much power it has?

When taking power, Prime Minister Trudeau promised his party would “ … uphold the highest standards of integrity and impartiality both in our public and private affairs.” Might being in power affect how a government defines integrity and impartiality?She ends her essay, as I will this post, reflecting on the relevance and crucial role critical thinking must play today:
Thankfully, my teachers believed in the importance of critical thinking and were able to find ways to use their subject matter to encourage it by asking big questions and teaching students the skills that enabled them to think about those questions critically. By doing this, they made sure I had the skills to question the words and actions of any leader — no matter how popular — and act accordingly.

It seems to me that in this “fake news” and “post-truth” age, the need to teach critical thinking is only growing in urgency. Recommend this Post

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 06:55
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Sean McElwee offers his take on the crucial failings which have led the U.S. Democrats to their current nadir in which principles and values have been discarded in the pursuit of power they've failed to secure.

- Mike Konczal and Marshall Steinbaum highlight the importance of effective government to counterbalance corporate control:
If there is one thing that both the Depression and the Great Recession taught us about how the economy works, it is that corporate power is a threat to public well-being—that it extracts its own rents. The economy’s only effective protection from that power is to be found in an activist federal government unafraid to deploy countervailing power and provide essential services in the form of public options and regulated utilities.

...Real free-market economics has little time for powerful countervailing mechanisms to private power like antitrust or banking regulation, let alone a healthy labor market powered by robust aggregate demand and full employment as government policy. Furthermore, whether the “pro-growth” policies advocated in this symposium would actually deliver growth and genuine security for everyday workers, much less challenge the power the elite have over the economy, is unclear. Luckily, the New Deal that Simons was hoping to keep at bay gave us a better set of tools to build an economy that serves the interests of the many, not the few.- Joseph Stiglitz discusses the glaring uncertainty surrounding the Trump administration as a barrier to any substantial economic forecasting. And Jerry Dias and Maude Barlow offer their suggestions as to how a renegotiation of NAFTA could produce far better results for citizens of all of the countries involved.

- The Star's editorial board criticizes the lack of federal action to ensure that indigenous children have access to child welfare services. And Vicky Mochama writes that it's particularly galling to see the federal government whine that it doesn't have the money to comply with its human rights obligations while it plans high-priced birthday celebrations.

- Finally, Colin Freeze reports on CSIS' plans to collect bulk data for unspecified purposes without any apparent public notice or debate.


Northern Reflections - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 06:37

Kevin  O'Leary is muttering about entering the Conservative leadership race. Lisa Raitt is trying to head him off at the pass. She'll do us all a favour if she succeeds. Michael Harris writes:

Bottom line? O’Leary will flounder in the Smart Tank because he knows squat about Canada and is about as homegrown as a banana. He is a de facto American trying to rewrite the history of the War of 1812.  Instead of getting even for the burning of Washington, O’Leary merely wants to muck out Ottawa with a spatula, which is a strange implement of choice for a dragon, right? A tongue of flame, a swishing tail, raking claws, sure. But a spatula?

And why should O’Leary delay announcing his entry into the CPC leadership race until after the French-language debate just because he doesn’t speak French? Whenever his turn came to speak, he could just hold up his bank book and show Quebeckers the balance. In O’Leary’s world, money talks and bull roar perambulates. How else could he actually say that he understands what Quebecers want?
O'Leary went to English language private schools when he grew up in Quebec and then headed to the University of Waterloo. He lived his life entirely in the English Solitude. Like Stephen Harper, he believes he doesn't need support in Quebec to become prime minister.

But he needs Alberta. And consider what he says about that province:

Consider his rantings on behalf of the Corporate Kleptocracy against Rachel Notley. The Alberta premier is to blame for Alberta’s skyrocketing unemployment rate, the plummeting dollar, and yes, Calgary’s loss in the Grey Cup.

Not a word about Conservative politicians in Alberta who let foreign multinationals cash in on the tar sands with pathetically low royalty rates (compare Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund to Alberta’s), and who never thought to diversify the provincial economy against the day when the oil wealth would be gone. Forty years of never asking the “what if” question.

O’Leary’s answer to Notley’s alleged screw ups – even more spineless concessions to the oil patch. On new oil and gas production capital expenditures, he wants to let the investor write off the entire investment in the year it occurred, and give a 36-month royalty “holiday” on any new capital investment. Increase the already gaudy returns for investors and all will be well.
Like his hero, Donald Trump, he's appallingly ignorant of the country he proposes to lead. Let's hope that Canadians -- and, more importantly, Conservatives  -- have learned something from recent events to our south.

The Tainted Presidency and the Magnificent Meryl Streep

Montreal Simon - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 05:17

As we all know, Donald Trump wants us to move on, and forget that his friend Vladimir Putin stands accused of deploying his cyber army to help him win the election.

But it's just not going to work. You can't just wish away something like that, or try to shift the blame...

Or undermine your own intelligence agencies.

For it will all come back to haunt him, over and over again.
Read more »

Keith Olbermann's Message to Donald Trump's Supporters

Montreal Simon - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 05:16

It would be almost unbelievable, if it wasn't happening in Trumpland where madness has replaced reason.

U.S. intelligence officials have informed Donald Trump that Russia meddled in the U.S. election to help him win, but he's just shrugging it off. Or blaming the Democrats.

And to make matters even worse, many of his supporters feel the same way he does.
Read more »


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