Posts from our progressive community

Just A Reminder About The Regime Under Which We Chafe

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:04


In case you missed the story of yet another example of a Harper-led CRA threat against charities that object to the regime's policies of environmental despoliation, you can read about it here, here, or here.Recommend this Post

the so-called "y.a. debate" rages on, but doesn't a debate have two sides?

we move to canada - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 05:30
In June of this year, Slate ran a now-infamous piece called "Against YA," in which Ruth Graham argued that adults shouldn't read young-adult fiction, and should be embarrassed if they do. A flood of posts and essays were written in response; my own response is here. In the short term, as far as I can tell, not a single writer agreed with Graham.

Despite this lopsided showing, some headline writer (possibly here) dubbed this "The Great Y.A. Debate," and the name stuck. There must be people out there who agree with Graham - surely hers was not an original idea - but one cranky article does not a debate make.

I did find a few interesting essays that used Graham's piece as a springboard to unpack some interesting ideas and cultural trends.

A. O. Scott, in The New York Times Magazine, is one reader who found himself agreeing with Graham, and asking himself why. Scott's The Death of Adulthood in American Culture joins the crowded field of "things ain't what they used to be" stories, gazing fondly back on a time when a cultural elite drew a very bright line between "high" and "low" culture, a line that, if it still exists, is too blurry to locate and carries little cultural currency. Scott, however, reflects on his nostalgia and acknowledges its curmudgeonly (and sexist, exclusionary) nature. It's a nicely ambivalent essay... and it has very little to do with youth fiction.

In Henry James and the Great Y.A. Debate, Christopher Beha, writing in The New Yorker, uses the same so-called debate to muse on the state of the novel, how literature from different eras reflect entirely different worldviews, and why the work of Henry James is still, in Beha's view, relevant to the contemporary reader. It's a good piece, worth reading, and again, none of its ideas are stated or implied in Graham's essay in Slate.

Beha offers this comments on A. O. Scott's piece.
...Scott’s essay is an expression of great ambivalence. He isn’t happy about this trend in movies, but he also isn’t sure how justified his unhappiness is. He admits to “feeling a twinge of disapproval when I see one of my peers clutching a volume of ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘The Hunger Games,’ ” but he quickly adds that he’s “not necessarily proud of this reaction.” He is scrupulously mindful of what it means for a self-described “middle-aged white man” to pine for an earlier era of cultural authority. Indeed, the real subject of Scott’s essay turns out to be not the infantilization of culture but the decline of cultural—if not political or economic or social—patriarchy, and the ways in which this decline is reflected in the culture itself. He takes this change to be the underlying subject of several of the past decade’s prestige TV dramas—particularly “The Sopranos,” “Mad Men,” and “Breaking Bad.” In Scott’s view, Tony Soprano, Don Draper, and Walter White are “the last of the patriarchs.”

This is where the essay becomes a little confused, in my opinion. If we really are living through the decline of the cultural authority of the straight white male, that seems like a rich and appropriate subject for a sophisticated work of narrative art. The fact that we find this decline represented on television seems in this sense a sign of cultural maturity, one that cuts against the idea that our culture reflects an “essentially juvenile vision of the world.” Many shows now grapple more honestly with the world as it actually exists than did the sitcoms that I grew up watching, in which mom and dad had all the answers and were waiting in the wings to save us from our mistakes.

The strong ambivalence running throughout Scott’s piece emerges from the fact that he sees an intimate, even necessary connection between the decline of the straight white male’s stranglehold on the culture as a whole (which he views as all to the good) and the rise to dominance of a juvenile strain within popular culture in particular (which he likes a lot less). But even assuming that both of these things are going on, it’s not at all clear how much they have to do with one another. There is a difference between art that merely enacts a culture’s refusal to grow up—say, a Y.A. fantasy turned summer blockbuster marketed at adults—and art that engages thoughtfully with that refusal.The New Yorker also pointed to a 2008 article by Jill Lepore (one of my favourite writers in that magazine's circle), illustrating the long history of self-appointed reading gatekeepers. This one was a librarian who was horrified by E. B. White's Stuart Little. And not just any librarian: it was Anne Carroll Moore, who invented the idea of the children's library. Great reading: The Lion and the Mouse.

Throughout, I am left wondering if anyone on the "against" side of "Against Y.A." has read any youth fiction other than The Fault in Our Stars or The Hunger Games and has read any children's fiction other than Harry Potter. Often I'm left wondering if they've read even those, or merely read about them.

These essays are all worth reading... as are many youth novels.


The Journey to the End of the Con Regime

Montreal Simon - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 04:49


I was watching them make a music video on an old schooner in the harbour yesterday, when I suddenly realized that in exactly one year, if Stephen Harper doesn't break his own law, we'll be voting in a general election.

And then, like the cabin boy lashed to the mast on a ship of female pirates, I thought oh boy this could be a long and exhausting journey eh?

Because while just a few days ago I was almost sure that Harper was going to go for an early election, maybe even a late fall election. In a last desperate kamikaze move to seize the moment, by posing as a Great Warrior Leader, and catch his opponents off guard.

You know, his Tora Tora moment....
Read more »

Wow.....

Anti-Racist Canada - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 12:08
So, we received an email at the ARC email account today. Given the subsequent emails we have received it appears we are not the only ones who received it. That email contained some photographs and a message.

We're going to get some legal advice regarding whether or not we can post the photos here. One way or another, we have to suspect that Paulie is having a really, really, really, bad day.

This is NOT Paul Fromm's Wife! 
Paul Fromm is an adulterer 
Adulterers be DAMNED! 

"But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” - Rev. 21:8

Party of One: The Book That Will Help Destroy Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 10:19


Eight years ago when I started attacking Stephen Harper and his ghastly Con regime, it sometimes felt lonely out there.

Almost nobody, and certainly nobody in the MSM, was attacking him like I did. Many of the old poobahs in the blogosphere thought I was over the top. That he was bad but not THAT bad. And that I should grow up.

Then a few years ago things started to change. The blogosphere caught fire, Lawrence Martin wrote his book Harperland.

And now Michael Harris' new book Party of One should just about seal the record and finish him off. 
Read more »

John Tory, the leading Conservative Party candidate for Toronto...

The Ranting Canadian - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 10:03


John Tory, the leading Conservative Party candidate for Toronto mayor, has gotten endorsements from the Conservative Toronto Sun (after they previously promoted the Ford brothers), the Conservative Globe and Mail, Conservative Toronto city councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a bunch of other lesser-known Conservative city councillors, federal Conservative Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper  and other Conservative MPs.

I haven’t seen an official endorsement from the Conservative National Post, but their coverage of Tory has certainly been in his favour.

Gee, you think it might be because John Tory IV is a long-time, dyed-in-the-wool, hardcore Conservative partisan? Anyone who still believes Tory is some kind of progressive because he isn’t as loud, aggressive and impulsive as the Ford brothers is delusional.

Just because a bunch of right-leaning, pro-privatization Liberal politicians (and a few Olympic athletes for some reason) have also endorsed Tory doesn’t mean he is somehow not a right-wing, capitalist, dismissive, patronizing elitist.

It’s interesting, but not surprising, that the “strategic voting” crowd that, in every single provincial and federal election campaign, says we have to only vote Liberal to keep the Conservatives out, is now demanding that we vote for one Conservative mayoral candidate to keep another Conservative mayoral candidate out.

The same bunch of unprincipled manipulators who said the sky would fall if we didn’t vote Liberal (instead of NDP or another party) to keep the Progressive Conservatives out of Ontario, and keep the Conservative Party out of  federal power, now say the sky will fall if the Conservative Doug Ford beats the Conservative John Tory due to vote splitting. They want us to ignore the fact that Tory is a diehard Ontario Progressive Conservative and a federal pro-Harper Conservative, and that he would work hard to push their agenda at Toronto city council.

It’s too bad that many Torontonians have fallen for this bait-and-switch trick and will vote against their own best interests and their own core beliefs to elect someone they don’t even want as mayor.

To the sleazy, dishonest manipulators out there, I have one number and one letter to say to you: 4 and Q.

————————————————————————————————-

The song linked above is “4Q” by Blitz.

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 09:13
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Thomas Frank reviews Zephyr Teachout's Corruption in America, and finds there's even more reason to worry about gross wealth buying power than we could identify before:
We think of all the laws passed over the years to restrict money in politics — and of all the ways the money has flowed under and around those restrictions. And finally, it seems to me, we just gave up out of sheer exhaustion.

According to Teachout, however, it’s much worse than this. Our current Supreme Court, in Citizens United, “took that which had been named corrupt for over 200 years” — which is to say, gifts to politicians — “and renamed it legitimate.” Teachout does not exaggerate. Here is Justice Kennedy again, in the Citizens United decision: “The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach. The government has ‘muffle[d] the voices that best represent the most significant segments of the economy.’ ”
You read that right: The economy needs to be represented in democratic politics, or at least the economy’s “most significant segments,” whatever those are, and therefore corporate “speech,” meaning gifts, ought not to be censored. Corporations now possess the rights that the founders reserved for citizens, and as Teachout explains, what used to be called “corruption becomes democratic responsiveness.”
Let me pause here to take note of another recurring peculiarity in corruption literature: an eerie overlap between theory and practice. If you go back to that “censorship” quotation from Kennedy, you will notice he quotes someone else: his colleague Antonin Scalia, in an opinion from 2003. Google the quote and one place you’ll find it is in a book of Scalia’s opinions that was edited in 2004 by none other than the lobbyist Kevin Ring, an associate of Jack Abramoff who would later be convicted of corrupting public officials....State governments subject to wealthy corporations? Check. Speculators in legislation, infesting the capital? They call it K Street. And that fancy Latin remark about Rome? They do say that of us today. Just turn on your TV sometime and let the cynicism flow.
And all of it has happened, Teachout admonishes, because the founders’ understanding of corruption has been methodically taken apart by a Supreme Court that cynically pretends to worship the founders’ every word. “We could lose our democracy in the process,” Teachout warns, a bit of hyperbole that maybe it’s time to start taking seriously.- Matt O'Brien highlights Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill's research into the gross inequality of opportunity in the U.S. by comparing the income levels of college graduates from poor families to those of high-school dropouts from wealthy ones. And Patricia Kozicka reports that Edmonton schools are putting their thumbs on the scale against the poor even further - withholding such basic aspects of social participation as lunch breaks from students whose families can't afford extra fees.

- Meanwhile, Ellie Mae O'Hagan examines Bolivia's experience as an example of a more fair distribution of wealth leading to economic and social improvements:
According to a report by the Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington, “Bolivia has grown much faster over the last eight years than in any period over the past three and a half decades.” The benefits of such growth have been felt by the Bolivian people: under Morales, poverty has declined by 25% and extreme poverty has declined by 43%; social spending has increased by more than 45%; the real minimum wage has increased by 87.7%; and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean has praised Bolivia for being “one of the few countries that has reduced inequality”. In this respect, the re-election of Morales is really very simple: people like to be economically secure – so if you reduce poverty, they’ll probably vote for you. - Meanwhile, Tony Burman notes that ill-advised austerity is exacerbating the spread of ebola in all kinds of countries - including the ones who wrongly presumed they didn't need to prepare for it.

- Glen McGregor reports on how Canada's opposition parties are increasing their use of data analytics in the lead up to the 2015 election.

- But of course, changes in party voting will only translate into policy improvement if people are willing to demand that it be followed up with real change. On that front, Thomas Walkom challenges the opposition parties to make clear which of the Cons' destructive policies they'll reverse. And Jim Coyle's review of Michael Harris' Party of One reminds us why we need a new government to restore a commitment to democracy in the face of Stephen Harper's contempt for the idea.

We Dodged a Bullet - This Time.

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 08:52


The floudering of the Russian bulk carrier, Simushir, is bound to become some sort of benchmark for the debate over tanker safety off the British Columbia coast.  It shouldn't.  Here's why.

Simushir isn't a supertanker.  It's a bulk carrier.  Its manifest does include some bunker oil and some diesel but there's also mining equipment and "chemicals" in its holds.

500 tonnes of bunker oil and 60 tonnes of diesel does not a supertanker make. Modern supertankers come in two flavours - VLCC, or very large cargo containers, and ULCC, or ultra large cargo containers.  VLCCs can carry up to 320,000 deadweight tonnes of cargo.  ULCCs up that to 550,000 tonnes.

The Simushir and a supertanker - apples and oranges.

A supertanker catastrophe isn't likely to occur where Simushir floundered.  The Russian cargo ship wasn't in the Hecate Strait, Dixon Entrance or Douglas Channel where the supertankers of Harper's dreams will operate.

The Simushir was drifting in the relatively benign waters on the seaward side of Moresby Island.  It's the equivalent of a kids' waterslide at a community park compared to white water rafting through Hell's Gate.

A potential, even if relatively modest, disaster was avoided when the Canadian Coast Guard coastal patrol vessel, Gordon Reid, managed to tow the Russian ship out to sea, 40 kms. from the coast of Moresby Island.  The Reid was just enough ship to tow the bulk carrier but, even then, it lost all three of its tow lines in the process.

In the well-documented, diabolical storms that rake the Hecate Strait, with an actual VLCC in distress, the Gordon Reid would probably be reduced to assisting survivors.

Bunker oil isn't Dilbit - diluted bitumen.  Bunker oil is oil.  Bitumen is diluted tar.  The sea is somewhat capable of dispersing conventional oil through surface wave action so long as the spill isn't too close to any shoreline.  Dilbit, however, doesn't have the physical properties of conventional oil.  Once spilled, the diluent or condensate separates out.  The diluent heads to the surface, the denser bitumen congeals and heads to the bottom, carried to its final resting place by deepwater currents.  Spread over a very large area and at great depths the bitumen is out of reach of oil spill responders and their "world class" equipment.

It took a massive and protracted effort to scrape most of the bitumen from the bottom of the shallow, slow-moving Kalamazoo River in Michigan.  You can think of the Kalamazoo fiasco as a best case scenario.  You can also think of a major bitumen spill on the northern BC coast as the worst of worst case scenarios.

At Kalamazoo, the burst Enbridge pipe dumped about a million gallons, just under 24,000 barrels, of dilbit into the river.  The Exxon Valdez, a large supertanker for its time, lost somewhere between 11 and 32-million gallons of crude oil (not bitumen).  Modern VLCCs and ULCCs carry far more still.

So, we dodged a bullet this time, several in fact.  The Simushir was no supertanker.  It was carrying a modest cargo of bunker oil and diesel.  It wasn't in the treacherous inshore passages of the northern BC coast.  By local standards, the winds and sea state were moderate enough to allow a Coast Guard patrol vessel to tow the bulk cargo carrier out to sea and safety, buying enough time for an ocean-going tug to arrive on scene - eventually.

Simushir is a wake-up call but the point to remember, when it's held up as an example of our "world class" rescue services, this time we were holding all the aces.

Michael Harris' New Book

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 08:23


Veteran journalist and current national affairs columnist for iPolitics, Michael Harris, has just had his new book on Stephen Harper published. While the 500-page tome, entitled Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover, may offer nothing startlingly new to those of us who follow national politics closely, it serves as both a useful reminder of the democratic depredations Harper is responsible for, as well as an alert to those who are so disengaged as to regard him as a benign presence on the political landscape. While few of the latter will likely read the book, I suggest it would be a useful exercise to email the link to this Star article about the book to friends and associates who might fall into that category.

Some pretty impressive people offer solid testimony against the kind of 'regime change' that has been instituted under the Harper cabal. One of them is Farley Mowat who, in the last months of his life, said this to Harris:
“Stephen Harper is probably the most dangerous human being ever elevated to power in Canada”.

“We took Parliament for granted, but, like the environment, it turns out that it is an incredibly delicate and fragile structure. Harper has smothered MPs and is destroying Parliament.”Jim Coyle, the article's writer, points out that Michael Harris has always been drawn to stories of injustice and abuse of power. It is precisely what he found in researching Harper's reign:
“A lot of the things that (Harper) was doing struck me as not only unjust but unjustifiable.

“In doing the research I found I was not the only person who thought so, and people a lot smarter and more involved in the system understood the nature of the threat that he presents.”Says former Commons Speaker Peter Milliken:
“Parliament can hardly be weakened any more than it already is. Harper can’t go much further without making the institution dysfunctional. He is trying to control every aspect of House business. In fact, it will have to be returned to its former state by someone if we are to have a democracy.”Powerful and damning words from a respected parliamentarian.

Another devastating indictment comes from veteran diplomat Paul Heinbecker, a former ambassador to Germany:
“Canada’s diplomacy is hugely different under Harper”. “It is a reversal of our history.

“We have become outliers. We are seen as more American than the Americans, more Israeli than Likud. Given what our foreign policy has become, I would not have joined the service today if I were a young man.”Former information commissioner Robert Marleau joins in on the condemnation of Harper's contempt for anyone or anything that disagrees with him:
[W]hen his government was found in contempt (of Parliament), Harper treated it like a minor, partisan irritation. Parliament is now a minor process obstacle.

“Canadians are sleepwalking through dramatic social, economic and political changes surreptitiously being implemented by a government abusing omnibus bills and stifling public and parliamentary debate”.

“Mr. Harper has not played within the rules. Having attained absolute power, he has absolutely abused that power to the maximum.”
All and all, Harris' insights appear to be ones that we have an obligation to share with less-informed and less-engaged Canadians.

Recommend this Post

Dig faster!!!

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 07:30
Shorter Greg Rickford:
It has come to my attention that after eight years of propagandizing for pipelines and demonizing anybody who points out environmental concerns, nobody considers Conservatives to be even faintly credible in protecting the public interest. But I'm sure we can win people over with my bold new strategy: another year of propagandizing for pipelines while demonizing anybody who points out environmental concerns.

Stephen Harper and the Deadly Politics of Ebola

Montreal Simon - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 04:11


The scene couldn't have been more ironic or more appalling. For even as the Ebola epidemic raged out of control, and Oxfam sent out a desperate call for more boots on the ground, in Africa. 

On Saturday Oxfam took the unusual step of calling for troops to be sent to west Africa, along with funding and medical staff, to prevent the Ebola outbreak becoming the “definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation”. It accused countries that did not commit military personnel of “costing lives".

And leaders like Obama urged Americans not to surrender to fear and hysteria.

There was Stephen Harper, with a strange look on his face, receiving an award for helping stamp out polio, while cranking up the fear factor.
Read more »

Nosferatu200 Will Be Back Soon

Anti-Racist Canada - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 14:36
While it has been fun being the regular writer for the blog, I always knew my tenure was to have been brief. Soon I will revert to merely providing the occasional article which might be a welcome relief to some of the regular readers.

It seems that Nosferatu200 has complete her final leg of retracing the Silk Road from Xiang to Kashgar and will be returning in the next few days.

Things I've learned as a regular writer?

1. I'm not as funny as I thought I was.
2. Writing regularly is hard, especially when one has the attention span of a fruit fly (what I'm saying it I occasionally become detracted by shiny objects and multi-colored lights).

I've been told by Nos that despite her absence, she has been collecting information which will find it's way to the blog soon. 

BREAKING: Russian Ship Threatens BC Coast Again

Montreal Simon - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 14:32


Well it looks as if Stephen Harper has jumped the gun again. For this morning he tweeted this:

Thank you to the @CCG_GCC's Gordon Reid and others for the great work they are doing off the coast of the Haida Gwaii off the coast of BC.
— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) October 18, 2014
After it looked like the Canadian Coast Guard had managed to avert disaster by towing a disabled Russian ship away from the B.C. coast.

Until the tow lines broke. 
Read more »

We Haven't Had This Much Fun Since the Cold War

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 13:46

Sweden's armed forces are hunting for a mystery (i.e. Russian) submarine in waters off Stockholm.

"We have begun an intelligence operation ... involving ships, helicopters and several ground units," Commander Jonas Wikstroem told reporters, adding that the operation was based on a tip-off from a "credible source."

Wikstroem did not specify how close the operation was to the Swedish capital but said that the military was informing the public as the area is "heavily trafficked.

In recent months, Swedish media have reported an uptick in Baltic Sea maneuvers by the Russian air force, including a close encounter between a Swedish spy plane in international airspace off Russia's Baltic Sea coast.

"As the government has said, the situation has deteriorated in the Baltic Sea," Wikstroem said, adding that no weapons had been used in the current operation.

At the height of the Cold War, Soviet submarines were regularly detected in Swedish waters.

Deep thought

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 13:18
It's always a relief to know our governments are constantly negotiating free trade deals to make sure no possible bidders are unfairly shut out of public procurement processes. That is, unless they're Canadian.

Saskatoon snatches defeat from the jaws of victory

Cathie from Canada - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 12:30
So you might think that the reluctant LRB ruling both the transit lockout and the pension bylaw illegal would have provided the Saskatoon civic administration with a great opportunity to rethink their whole strategy with this labour dispute, and come up with something that would work better.
But you would be wrong!
The city strategy of trying to starve the bus drivers into an agreement was never going to work, and now it is in tatters -- the drivers know they will eventually get their back pay for the 27 days the strike has lasted so far.  But the union was so happy about the LRB ruling, that the drivers would have cheerfully gone back to work without an agreement, and they would not have dared to go on strike.
So the city could have jumped at the opportunity to get everyone on board with the obvious way to end this dispute -- the same pension changes as everyone else, a slightly higher percentage increase than the rest of the city unions got, but with a longer contract to justify the difference. There, done!
But no.
Clearly, the city was in the wrong with this lockout, and that what the LRB ruled, but the powers that be in the city administration just couldn't accept "losing".
They doubled down by immediately issuing a new lockout notice to the transit union.
“My first thought is ‘Oh my goodness, they’re going to do this to the citizens of Saskatoon again,’ ” ATU local 615 president Jim Yakubowski told reporters outside City Hall Saturday morning. “They don’t deserve that, nor do our members deserve this.” And the people are furious:
I am profoundly disappointed in @cityofsaskatoon. They missed an opportunity to fix this mess: http://t.co/0021cbEILX #yxetransit #yxecc

— Tracey Mitchell (@TMitchSK) October 18, 2014

The City of Saskatoon's actions toward their employees and citizens have reached indefensible levels. I am ashamed. #yxe #yxetransit

— Paul Thompson (@paulbthompson) October 18, 2014

#yxecc, the students at #uSask deserve much better leadership from you. This has cost #yxe enough. End this nonsense. #yxetransit

— USSU Executive (@USSUExec) October 18, 2014

@cityofsaskatoon/#yxecc have issued another lockout on #yxetransit. #yxe, this isn't leadership. It's politics at the expense of the people.

— Jordan Sherbino (@JordanSherbino) October 18, 2014
I don't know how this will end now, but it isn't going to be pretty.

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 08:14
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Michael Rozworski observes that the NDP's $15 per day national child care plan has irritated all the right people - while still leaving ample room for improvement in the long run once the first pieces are in place. And PressProgress notes that the Cons' opposition to the plan is based squarely on their view that women fail to raise their own children if they have either careers or care support.

- Meanwhile, Simon Enoch, Canadian Doctors for Medicare and the Saskatchewan NDP caucus are all rightly critical of Brad Wall's attempt to sell for-profit, two-tier medical diagnostics (as a precursor to for-profit, two-tier treatment). And even Murray Mandryk is willing to acknowledge that this particular Wall idea is something short of magical.

- Heather Mallick writes that the consensus that we can't count on burning every available drop of fossil fuel as a resource management strategy extends from Naomi Klein to Mark Carney.

But Alison confirms that any charity daring to lend its voice to the cause will face an immediate crackdown from the Canada Revenue Agency at the Cons' behest - while gun advocates can apparently serve as political foot soldiers with impunity.

- Lana Payne reminds us of the historic misuse of EI funding by Con and Lib governments alike to fund general programs rather than benefits for the workers who have paid into the program. And Dennis Howlett proposes three relatively simple steps which could ensure that there's ample revenue available to live up to our social values.

- Finally, Jane Gingrich observes that strong and visible social programs may result in more predictable voting patterns than comparatively hidden social spending:
Voters in higher visibility states, defined here as that use the tax system to make spending more visible (i.e. by providing generous benefits and taxing them back) find it easier to estimate benefit levels. These voters also attach greater importance to welfare issues in electoral surveys.

The implications of these differences are subtle but important. Voters in higher visibility contexts are not necessarily more pro-welfare or in favour of higher taxes and spending. However, they do tend to weigh these issues more heavily in their political choices. Put differently, they tend to pick parties closer to them on welfare issues, rather than other issues. Of course, the relative importance of the welfare state to voters varies across time and place, depending on how political parties discuss these issues and the spectrum of choices that voters have.vi  Nonetheless, in general, voters in countries with high-visibility welfare states are more ideologically consistent in voting, and in particular, vote in ways consistent with their preferences on redistribution and state spending.

The implications of these findings for the welfare state in the UK are mixed. On the one hand, changes that make spending more visible to either recipients or taxpayers – such as the move to the universal credit for income support benefits – may actually heighten the salience of the welfare state. If voters can better understand what the state is doing, and for whom, they may begin to attach more weight to social policy in their political decision-making. Given how widespread benefit receipt is these movements could galvanise support for the state.

On the other hand, my work shows some of the most ideologically consistent voters in wealthy democracies are supporters of lower taxes in Scandinavia, a group that consistently votes for non-socialist parties. More visible spending can also clarify the revenue side, potentially creating support for anti-tax and spending groups.

With An Eye To The Future

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 06:42


It is to state the obvious that all progressives long for the day that the Harper regime is ousted from office. What is not so obvious, however, is what shape our country will take once that happens.

There are those who place their faith in Justin Trudeau. Others look with hope to Thomas Mulcair. And then there are others who see little to cheer about in the leadership or politics of either.

The other day The Mound of Sound, who falls into the latter category, wrote a post on leadership, concluding with the following observation:
The thin gruel served up today is a bowl filled with petty technocrats that come in varying flavours of authoritarianism. It's a bland and self-serving offering, devoid of vision, courage and commitment. I fear he is all too correct in his assessment, one that is intimated by Thomas Walkon in today's Star. Entitled Stephen Harper’s legacy fated to endure, Walkom offers the proposition that it is far from certain that the dramatic changes Harper has made during his tenure will be undone by a government led by either the NDP or the Liberals:
True, both the Liberals and the NDP expressed outrage when Canada Post announced its plans [to cut home delivery] last December.

True also that, after a rancorous debate in the Commons, both voted against these plans.

The New Democrats sponsored a cross-Canada petition to oppose the cuts. Alexandre Boulerice, the party’s critic for Canada Post, continues to raise occasional questions in the Commons.

But Canada Post is plowing ahead with plans to eliminate home delivery for almost 1.3 million households by the time of next year’s election.

And neither Mulcair nor Trudeau is promising to reverse that decision if the Conservatives are defeated.On Harper's tax cuts:
They won’t touch them.

Mulcair would raise corporate taxes. However, he says an NDP government would not reverse any of the personal income tax cuts Harper has introduced.

Trudeau says his Liberals wouldn’t reverse any tax cuts at all — personal or corporate.

Both parties slammed Harper for cutting the GST. Yet, if elected, neither would raise it back to its previous level.Walkom point out the further damage Harper could do before he is tossed from the political arena:
Harper may be able to torpedo his rivals’ pre-election spending plans simply by giving away, in the form of tax cuts, all of Ottawa’s expected multi-billion dollar surplus.

The result? Even if Harper loses the next election, much of his legacy seems fated to remain.Such is the timidity of today's political 'leadership' that I fear both the Mound's assessment and Walkom's predictions are all too accurate.Recommend this Post

In Beleaguered Calgary, a Tireless Multi-Tasker Toils

Dammit Janet - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 05:48
Poor Calgary. While home to many good and decent people, it is also headquarters for PetroState Canada as well as the country's most disgusting and self-righteous gang of fetus freaks, the Canadian Centre for Bioethical *ptui* Reform (CCBR), whose gory website you can look up yourself if you've a mind to.

They've plagued various parts of our fair land with their crap, but Calgary is their home base and special target.

When they're not dropping traffic-accident-causing gore banners over highway overpasses, they're stuffing residential mailboxes with their faked-up abortion porn.

The citizens of Calgary have fought back in various ways over the years. But after the last assault, when yet another appeal to the city to do SOMETHING resulted in arms flung up in helplessness, a group of parents (kinda ironic, eh?) decided to start a petition.

Oct 8, 2014 — We are now past 200 signatures which is a great feat in only 84 hours. Calgary City Council has put it forward for discussion but a city lawyer has stated there is little they can do. We disagree. Denver, Colorado has banned these images already. Hamilton, Ontario is in the midst of restricting them too. We have the bylaw already written for them. All they have to do is pass it. Please keep sharing, post on your social media and telling your friends and family. We need to keep the pressure on to make sure this can be passed as a bylaw here too. Please start using #protectyyckids and #yyccc when posting on twitter and facebook.
Please sign it and help stop the shameless misinformation and egregious shock.

Out of this kerfuffle though came an interesting tidbit, from the investigations of one pissed-off recipient of the anti-choice propaganda.
The Calgary teacher said he was just as shocked, however, when he started looking into the CCBR and found a staffer for Health Minister Rona Ambrose supporting the group’s more controversial actions online.

Daniel Gilman, who is listed in the federal government’s employee directory as an assistant to Ambrose, said in a tweet last year he’s “thankful” for the CCBR “project” that involves hanging graphic banners from overpasses above major roadways, including Deerfoot Trail in Calgary, where earlier this year a minor car crash occurred below one of the banners.

[The image has been digitally blurred by Metro.]

And here's young Daniel waxing all poetical-like about the recent moronic display of underground gasline markers on Parliament Hill. Link.

The gasline markers were the work of We Need a Law, an astroturf front for the Dominionist Association for Reformed Political Action, so it appears that Mr Gilman, like all good political assistants, is a multi-tasker, able to serve many masters and mistresses.

His boss, THE FUCKING FEDERAL HEALTH MINISTER, should be proud.




h/t for the YouTube to Alison in the comments here.

Stephen Harper the Big Lie and the Merchant of Venom

Montreal Simon - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 04:56


It's hard to tell these days whether Stephen Harper is lying because he's desperate, or because he's lost his moral compass.

Or on a day like yesterday, because he's simply delusional. 

He says he doesn't want to sound paranoid, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper is concerned his own federal bureaucracy is trying to bring back the long gun registry "through the back door."

"I don't want to feed paranoia, but as prime minister I can tell you I share the frustrations of our caucus members," said Harper, before alluding to "bureaucratic initiatives that we think are effectively trying to put the long gun registry back in through the back door." "This is not something we can tolerate." 

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