Posts from our progressive community

The Arrival of Spring and the Con Climate Change Deniers

Montreal Simon - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 17:43

Well I have to admit that there were times during this brutal winter when I thought the blessed day would never arrive. But Spring is here at last.

The island ferry is running again after being grounded for days due to the thick ice.

And although my beautiful swans are still having trouble feeding themselves...

It seems the worst is over, except in Atlantic Canada.
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 17:22
The Wonder Years - There, There

The Homophobe and the Homeless

Montreal Simon - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 16:23

You might think that a church might be a safe place for homeless people to sleep. 

Considering how hard their lives are, and how little they have, and everything Jesus said about that.

But not at this church in San Francisco. 
Read more »

Finally, a Mulroney We Can Believe In.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 13:31

David Mulroney served as a deputy minister in charge of Canada's Afghanistan task force.  It seems he learned a thing or two from the experience, enough to know that we're at risk of repeating the same mistakes in our rush to war in Iraq.

"When I recently saw Foreign Minister [Rob] Nicholson musing that we'd apply some of the lessons of Afghanistan to our engagement, I kind of sat bolt upright because I think one of the problems is we haven't spent much time learning the lessons of Afghanistan," Mulroney said in an interview to air Saturday at 9 a.m. on CBC Radio's The House.

He said the lack of discussion about Afghanistan toward the end of the 10-year mission has kept Canadians from learning key lessons, which include being realistic about how much Canada doesn't know about a region and setting "often very modest" goals.

Mulroney also said Canada needs an exit strategy.

"When does it happen for us and who's around to pick up the pieces of what we've put in place. Until we've really talked honestly about that, I'd be very worried about our ability to pull something off in a place that's as challenging as that nexus of Iraq and Syria."

Readers of this blog may be familiar with how often we have decried the failure of our political and military leadership to have a full, candid and, above all, open post mortem on why so few things went right and so many wrong from our adventures in Afghanistan.  The lives lost and broken bodies of our soldiers will have been squandered if we don't come clean and learn the real lessons of their sacrifice.

A racist narrative unwinds

Dawg's Blawg - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 12:47
…and falls off the spool. Martese Johnson (above) is a junior at the University of Virginia: a member of the Honor Society, a leadership coach, an all-round good student. He was beaten bloody by liquor cops this past Wednesday, the... Dr.Dawg

Rules, Shmules: CONs Flout 'Em Again for Religious Pals

Dammit Janet - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 12:17
We know this: the Contempt Party of Canada breaks rules. Actually, more often they don't even acknowledge that there might be rules that apply to them or their pals.

The examples are legion, but here at DAMMIT JANET! we pay particular attention to transgressions relating to reproductive rights and/or religion (and it's drearily often "and," isn't it?).

Back in December, we reported that the Dominionist Association for Reformed Political Action got "special permission" to stage their garish little gasline flag stunt on Parliament Hill. (This MASSIVE event was intended to call attention to underground gaslines -- both male and female -- cruelly bunched together on a side lawn of Parliament Hill. Or something.)

Here's another more recent flouting of the rules, this time involving Jason Kenney, Patrick Brown, and Pakistani Christians, a key voter demographic, we assume.

A religious conference held earlier this month on Parliament Hill that featured Defence and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney as a speaker appears to have breached the rules governing House of Commons facilities.

The Conference on Religious Freedom, organized by International Christian Voice, was held March 11 at 1 Wellington Street, a building with committee rooms that is part of the Parliamentary precinct.Link to conference. Link to organization.

According to the rules, events may not include conferences, tickets may not be sold, and the sponsoring MP must be in attendance throughout the entire event.

The sponsoring MP was Patrick Brown, multitasking his job as MP with his campaign to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.

This was clearly a conference, tickets were sold, but it's uncertain whether Brown took time out of his busy schedule to sit through the whole thing.

Because he was busy. Four tweets from March 11 informed followers of four events he attended that day, including the Pakistani Christian one.

And gee, guess what! Patrick Brown is also a double-plus-good fetus fetishist endorsed for PCPO leader by Campaign Lie, which is hedging its bet by also endorsing Monte McNaughton (Rob Ford's choice).

Here's another odd twist to the story.
According to the bylaws, applications for room use must be approved by the Sergeant-at-Arms in consultation with the party. The Sergeant-at-Arms position, however, has been vacant since Kevin Vickers left to become ambassador to Ireland.We remember Kevin Vickers, don't we? The hero of the October Parliament Hill shooting -- part of the ostensible urgent need for the fascist Jihadi Terrorists Under Every Bed bill -- whisked off to his reward in the Emerald Isle before he could add any useful details to what actually happened that fateful -- for civil liberties in Canada -- day.

Patrick Brown did not deign to return the Ottawa Citizen's call for clarification but International Christian Voice's chairman said he was unaware that ticketed conferences were not allowed.

Who approved the event? Will anyone take responsibility for or try to explain the irregularity?

It's unclear whether any further investigation is underway.

In case you were wondering, besides Jason (The Virgin) Kenney, attendees included Andrew Bennet, Ambassador for Religious (Only If Christian) Pandering and former headmaster of a finishing school for home-skuled precious little souls, Don Meredith, ordained minister with some dodgy credentials and Conservative Senator, and Raymond de Souza, ubiquitous fetus fetishist who needs no introduction here. Bal Gosal, cited by Brown as co-sponsor, did not tweet that day aside from retweeting Brown's.

The (ongoing) lesson?

To paraphrase Leona Helmsley: "We CONservatives don't follow rules. Only the little people without important Christian and/or anti-choice connections follow rules."

Whacking Iran - Maybe Sooner Than You Might Think - The Warmonger Digest, vol. 2

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 11:57

It's reported that the Saudis have given Israel a green light to overfly Saudi Arabia should Netanyahu decide to launch an attack on Iran.

Jerusalem and Riyadh do not have diplomatic ties, but unconfirmed reports have swirled for years of coordination between them against the common enemy of Iran, a partnership that may ramp up should the world powers reach a reportedly emerging deal that would allow Tehran to continue enriching some uranium.

There's some suggestion that NATO tacitly approves of an Israeli air war on Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Israel may be given the green light to attack Iran on behalf of NATO powers if NATO feels it could not sell a direct war in Iran to their populations back home. Regime change in Syria is a prerequisite before an overt attack on Iran can take place however, as Damascus is an important Iranian ally in the Middle East. If a military assault on Iran occurs it would be difficult for the arena of conflict to be contained to the Middle East, as it has the potential to rapidly escalate into a wider conflict involving Russia and China.

Western nations have been engaged in attempting to covertly overthrow the present Iranian regime for decades, a country that has been placed under sanctions by an assortment of nations for years. Regime change in Iran has been a dream of Western foreign policy strategists for decades, with Iran pinpointed in a strategic paper written in 2000 by the neoconservative thinktank, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), alongside countries such as Iraq, Libya and Syria. Retired US four star general and former NATO commander, Wesley Clark, also revealed a plan circulating around the Pentagon in 2001 to attack 7 countries in 5 years, with Iran named as one of the seven.

I wonder if Israel will be able to wait until it gets those F-35s.

Germany Alarmed at NATO's (and America's) Ginned Up Claims on Ukraine

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 11:28
A Warmonger and a FearmongerAngela Merkel thinks that Germany (and the rest of the West) is being conned by NATO and the U.S. inflating the Russian threat to the Ukraine.

General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander in Europe, stepped before the press in Washington. Putin, the 59-year-old said, had once again "upped the ante" in eastern Ukraine -- with "well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery" having been sent to the Donbass. "What is clear," Breedlove said, "is that right now, it is not getting better. It is getting worse every day."

German leaders in Berlin were stunned. They didn't understand what Breedlove was talking about. And it wasn't the first time. Once again, the German government, supported by intelligence gathered by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency, did not share the view of NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

The pattern has become a familiar one. For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. 

Over and over again, Breedlove's numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America's NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.

...But Breedlove hasn't been the only source of friction. Europeans have also begun to see others as hindrances in their search for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict. First and foremost among them is Victoria Nuland, head of European affairs at the US State Department. She and others would like to see Washington deliver arms to Ukraine and are supported by Congressional Republicans as well as many powerful Democrats.

...To be sure, neither Berlin's Russia experts nor BND intelligence analysts doubt that Moscow is supporting the pro-Russian separatists. The BND even has proof of such support.

But it is the tone of Breedlove's announcements that makes Berlin uneasy. False claims and exaggerated accounts, warned a top German official during a recent meeting on Ukraine, have put NATO -- and by extension, the entire West -- in danger of losing its credibility.

At the beginning of the crisis, General Breedlove announced that the Russians had assembled 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and warned that an invasion could take place at any moment. The situation, he said, was "incredibly concerning." But intelligence officials from NATO member states had already excluded the possibility of a Russian invasion. They believed that neither the composition nor the equipment of the troops was consistent with an imminent invasion.

The experts contradicted Breedlove's view in almost every respect. There weren't 40,000 soldiers on the border, they believed, rather there were much less than 30,000 and perhaps even fewer than 20,000. Furthermore, most of the military equipment had not been brought to the border for a possible invasion, but had already been there prior to the beginning of the conflict. Furthermore, there was no evidence of logistical preparation for an invasion, such as a field headquarters.

...there are many at NATO headquarters in Brussels who are likewise concerned about Breedlove's statements. On Tuesday of last week, Breedlove's public appearances were an official item on the agenda of the North Atlantic Council's weekly lunch meeting. Several ambassadors present criticized Breedlove and expressed their incredulity at some of the commander's statements.

...Although President Obama has decided for the time being to give European diplomacy a chance, hawks like Breedlove or Victoria Nuland are doing what they can to pave the way for weapons deliveries. "We can fight against the Europeans, fight against them rhetorically," Nuland said during a private meeting of American officials on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference at the beginning of February.

...Nuland has also been open -- at least internally -- about her contempt for European weakness and is famous for having said "Fuck the EU" during the initial days of the Ukraine crisis in February of 2014. Her husband, the neo-conservative Robert Kagan, is, after all, the originator of the idea that Americans are from Mars and Europeans, unwilling as they are to realize that true security depends on military power, are from Venus.

When it comes to the goal of delivering weapons to Ukraine, Nuland and Breedlove work hand-in-hand. On the first day of the Munich Security Conference, the two gathered the US delegation behind closed doors to discuss their strategy for breaking Europe's resistance to arming Ukraine.

What a tag team, "Made in America" fear mongers and war mongers.  It's dismaying to realize that our own government, and a good number of our opposition, are right in there with them.  NATO is pretty obviously bent.  Instead of a military, mutual-defence alliance it has been allowed to become a very dangerous instrument of geo-politics.  Enough.

Making Po' People Vote

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 10:45
Barack Obama has been musing about the benefits of Australian-style, compulsory voting.  Nothing would scare Republicans more than that sort of law, especially in this period of demographic change.

The people who don't vote, the marginalized (code for poor and minority), probably aren't fond of those who wear the boot that's been on their neck all these generations.  I expect the same holds true for the disaffected youth vote.

Know who else would be crawling out of their leathery hides if such a thing came to be?  The Koch brothers (Lothar und Wolfram), the entire Adolf Coors family, Sheldon Adelson, Mittsy Romney, Ted Nugent, Team FOX News and that whole gang of thieves and brigands.

It's an awfully fine idea.  Can you imagine Stephen Harper transformed into electoral ground beef, extra fat?

Netanyahu's "Dog Whistle" Might Have Fetched the Hounds

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 10:10

Maybe some day Benjamin Netanyahu will be known as the founder of the state of Palestine.  Strange things are happening.  From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Already the US is hinting that it might support a United Nations Security Council resolution that recognises Palestine along pre-1967 borders.

Until now it has repeatedly refused to endorse the resolution and Israel has always been opposed to it, insisting that only negotiations can bring about a lasting peace and agreed borders, but a US official has told The New York Times that Washington is "in a reality where the Israeli government no longer supports direct negotiations. Therefore we clearly have to factor that into our decisions".

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described Mr Netanyahu's comments as "extremely worrying".

"It cannot be more alarming – to have [Mr Netanyahu] do something which no leading Israeli politician has ever done – to rule out the prospect of a two-state solution," he said.

Summing up the week in Israeli politics, Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy said: "They voted for the man who admitted to having duped half the world during his Bar-Ilan speech. Now he has torn off his mask and disavowed those words once and for all. Israel said `yes' to the man who said `no' to a Palestinian state."

Daniel Levy, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said, "No one has been taking seriously the idea that you will get a two-state solution under Netanyahu, but if you can maintain the pretence, if the Palestinians are willing to maintain it, if the US and the EU are willing to maintain it, then it can be business as usual."

...The tactics Mr Netanyahu used to get elected – coming out against a Palestinian state – will have far-reaching consequences on Israel's standing in the international community, warns Daniel Seidemann, political commentator and an expert on Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.

"There are people who only recently have heard the opposite from him – US Secretary of State John Kerry, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for example – and I believe that tactics that Netanyahu used to get re-elected will haunt us for a long time.

"Netanyahu plays on Israeli fears and anxieties the way the virtuoso plays on a Stradivarius," he says.

Is it even possible for the Americans or Euros to play this game again?  How will they respond to the continued annexation of Jerusalem, more illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories or the next time Israeli deathware is dispatched to "mow the lawn" in Gaza?

Apparently There'll Be a Solar Eclipse Today. I'm Staying Juicy, or So I'm Told.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 09:43
For some, maybe, but apparently not for us.  Here's what EnviroCan says is in store for us on the wet coast:

Rain, at times heavy, continues. A series of storms moving onshore from the Pacific will bring waves of rain to the South Coast through today and tonight. Juicy saturated air will bring rainfalls exceeding the warning criteria of 50 mm in places. The storm system is expected to move east of the regions by Saturday morning. In strong southwest flow patterns like this, air channelled through Barkley Sound will bring heavy rain to the area from Qualicum Beach to Fanny Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island. The rain here should ease to a few showers this evening as the front shifts to the east. Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Rainfall Warnings are issued when significant rainfall is expected. Environment Canada meteorologists will update alerts as required. Please monitor local media or Weatheradio.
"Juicy" air?  Juicy as in just waiting to be squeezed?  Juicy delicious?  

Thomas Friedman: You Cannot Win that Dirty and Just Walk Away Like Nothing Happened.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 09:35

In today's New York Times Tom Friedman writes;

The biggest losers in all of this, besides all the Israelis who did not vote for Netanyahu, are American Jews and non-Jews who support Israel. What Bibi did to win this election was move the Likud Party from a center-right party to a far-right one. The additional votes he got were all grabbed from the other far-right parties — not from the center

When the official government of Israel is a far-right party that rejects a two-state solution and employs anti-Arab dog whistles to get elected, it will split the basic unity of the American Jewish community on Israel. How many American Jews want to defend a one-state solution in Washington or on their college campuses? Is Aipac, the Israel lobby, now going to push for a one-state solution on Capitol Hill? How many Democrats and Republicans would endorse that?

Warning: Real trouble ahead.

You cannot win that dirty and just walk away like nothing happened. In the days before Israelis went to the polls, Netanyahu was asked by the Israeli news site, NRG, if it was true that a Palestinian state would never be formed on his watch as prime minister, Netanyahu replied, “Indeed,” adding: “Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel.”

The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself - Unfortunately Fear is Winning

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 09:29

The fuel of the authoritarian state is always the same.  It's fear.  Distorted, wildly inflated, even irrational, fear is the cheap and dirty solution to grasping, holding and perpetuating power.

The Israeli election was a master class in the exploitation of a people through the application of fear.  On election day Netanyahu used fearful images of shady foreigners busing Arabs "in droves" to the ballot boxes to subvert Israel's democracy and bring down the state.

This is not to say there aren't people and things we should rightly fear.  There are and there are plenty of such people and things.  Yet the focus we should bring to these genuine threats can be easily masked and diverted by contrived and inflated and irrationally powerful but largely made up fears.

We have a term for those who manipulate others with fear.   They're called "fearmongers."  Although it's fallen into desuetude (look it up), monger used to describe a merchant or trader of sorts - fishmonger, cheesemonger, ironmonger. Today, however, it's mainly used to describe the low life types who spread or stir up things discreditable - warmongers, whoremongers, and, of course, fearmongers.  The thing to keep in mind is that they're all cut from the same cloth.  Benjamin Netanyahu and our own Stephen Harper are cut from the very same bolt of cloth, made to measure.

Let's say you're presented with two glass goblets.  One, you know, is full of a really vile-tasting wine.  The other, you're made to believe, contains battery acid. You have to drink one.  Which will it be?  Of course you'll swill down the terrible wine.  You might be angry about it when you discover the alternative wasn't acid at all but just a glass of ordinary water but by then it's too late.  You drank the wine.  Mission accomplished.

I tell you "this is bad."  You believe it's bad. You do precisely what I want you to do even though you don't like it.

From AlterNet:

"Whenever one group uses fear to manipulate another, someone benefits and someone pays,” wrote sociologist Barry Glassner, in the 10th anniversary edition of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things.  As he noted, “Threats to the U.S. financial system, obscured from public view in part by endless attention to the ‘war on terror,’ undermined America’s national security more than Osama bin Laden and his organization ever did.”

...George Lakoff, a nationally known linguist and author has analyzed how language and the media shape conservative and liberal dogma. “Basically, what you’ve got are monopolies running your life in any dimension and it’s not mentioned. It’s not discussed. It’s not a topic of conversation. It’s not a topic of legislation. It isn’t something that’s out there.”

Instead, American media is filled with pro-corporate and anti-government propaganda.

“Corporations run your life all the time,” Lakoff continued. “Look at the corporate ads on TV. Corporation ads are innocent. They have nice little sounds. Think of the music in oil company ads and the people in them. It’s like, ‘We’re pleasant. We’re progressive. We’re making progress. We’re cute,’ etc., when they’re actually running your life.”
...“You have all of these progressives out there who went to [liberal arts] school and did well thinking that all you have to do is tell people something once, give them the facts, they’re all reasons to the right conclusion,” he said. They think “that’s all you can do, or should do, when that’s utterly false… That’s not how the brain works.”
Lakoff said repetitive, fear-based moralizing sticks—and the GOP knows it, in the same way that corporate marketing experts do. “In politics everything is based on morality,” he said. “Mainly, you want your policies to be right, not wrong. What counts as right varies between progressives and conservatives. The conservatives, when they go to school, take business courses and marketing courses. Marketing professors study neuroscience and cognitive science… They’ve been doing it very well for 40 years.”
Repetition of fear-based messaging—without a steady counterpoint or context to stop that drumbeat—has been shown to affect the brain patterns that determine how people think, Lakoff said. It is akin to repetitive exercise that creates muscle memory. Depending on whether one is more inclined toward a liberal or conservative ideology, one can hear the same words but reach different conclusions.

...Lakoff said pollsters have spread a false myth that there is a political center. What really exists are varying degrees of conservatism and liberalism—two bell curves, not one. The absence of strong, clear, morally based messages from Democrats has allowed the GOP to demonize government, which pleases their corporate sponsors. Meanwhile, corporate publicists keep touting their good deeds, he said, and “you don’t hear anything else.”

“You don’t hear anything at all,” Lakoff said. “Let me give you a simple example. What are pensions? Pensions are late payments for work already done. They’re part of wages. When a company says, ‘Well, I can’t afford to pay your pension anymore,’ or when they cut public servant pensions, they’re stealing your money. They’re stealing your wages. Who says it? …The Democrats say, ‘Oh, well, we can’t say stuff like that.’”

Fear is a cudgel.  It's a weapon.  It's a hallmark of illiberal democracy that fear is used against the monger's own supporters, his loyal constituents.  Harper does it all the time, it's his standard operating procedure.  He uses fear as a yoke to harness his supporters to pull his wagon.  He uses fear as blinders to keep their eyes from straying to things he doesn't want them to see or start thinking about. He uses fear to keep them from hearing the lies in his words.  He uses fear to rob his own people of their power and their reason.
As Glassner observes, when Harper uses fear to manipulate the Canadian people, "someone benefits and someone pays."

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 07:59
Assorted content to end your week.

- Both Edward Keenan and the Star's editorial board take note of Thomas Mulcair's plan for urban renewal, with particular emphasis on its appeal across party lines:
Speaking directly to Toronto city council and Mayor John Tory, who won election largely on the basis of his promised SmartTrack “surface subway,” Mulcair said he would be a partner on transit: “Together we will get the people of Toronto moving.”

No wonder Tory declared himself “gratified and pleased” with Mulcair’s approach. Other elements of the NDP’s urban agenda include:
  • Appointing a minister responsible for urban affairs — someone to advocate for cities in federal cabinet when key decisions are made.
  • Delivering long-term, stable funding for affordable housing.
  • Identifying, within the first 100 days of taking office, “worthy extensions” of social housing investments that are set to expire and highlighting new spending necessary to ease a crisis in affordable housing.
  • Introducing $15-a-day child care nationwide, and funding 164,000 daycare spaces in the Greater Toronto Area alone. This should be of significant help to the 20,000 families in this city currently on waiting lists for affordable care.
  • Accelerating immigration process-times so families can be reunited faster — an important consideration in Toronto, which serves as a magnet for newcomers to Canada.
These are all valuable initiatives. Mulcair is demonstrating a clear understanding of Toronto’s needs and has made addressing them a welcome priority. - Meanwhile, Carmichael Outreach is offering a series of proposals to address Regina's shortage of affordable housing. But as Wanda Schmockel reports, developers are determined to avoid having a dime spent on those efforts when it could instead be funnelled toward new profit centres. 

- Michael Geist follows up on how C-51 stands to harm Canadians' privacy. And Democracy Watch calls attention to the complete lack of internal and public accountability within CSIS as another reason to be concerned about handing over unchecked powers.

- L. Ian MacDonald discusses the need to move beyond the Cons' primeval politics in talking about security and culture, while Michael Den Tandt notes that the Cons' goal is to have us soaking in fear. Tim Harper observes that the bigoted bozos who were once so desperately suppressed by the Cons' central command now represent the party's most prominent public faces. Michael Spratt writes that the Cons are wrong on both the law and the facts in their anti-niqab fearmongering. And John Cartwright highlights the role of organized labour in pushing back against prejudice and inequality.

- Finally, Richard Trumka points out that attacks on unions serve the sole purpose of suppressing wages and working conditions. Bryce Covert discusses how work is far from a guarantee that a family can escape from poverty. And Robert Reich observes that we shouldn't count on employment relationships or other work conditions returning to how they previously operated:
We need a new economic model.

The economic model that dominated most of the twentieth century was mass production by the many, for mass consumption by the many.

Workers were consumers; consumers were workers. As paychecks rose, people had more money to buy all the things they and others produced — like Kodak cameras. That resulted in more jobs and even higher pay.

That virtuous cycle is now falling apart. A future of almost unlimited production by a handful, for consumption by whoever can afford it, is a recipe for economic and social collapse.

Our underlying problem won’t be the number of jobs. It will be – it already is — the allocation of income and wealth.

A Tale Told By An Idiotic Orwellian

Northern Reflections - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 06:39


Remember when Stockwell Day used to lead the cabal which today passes for the Conservative Party of Canada? Those were the days when Day insisted that the St. Lawrence River flowed into Lake Ontario, not the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Well, the party has returned to the days of yore. The prime minister and his acolytes have returned to their bedrock base and are spouting all kinds of idiocy. Michael Harris writes:

Conservative MP John Willamson offered his insights on the competition between “whities” and “brown people” for jobs. Not to be outdone, his caucus colleague Larry Miller invited people who insist on wearing the niqab to “stay the hell where you came from” (presumably he wasn’t talking about Scarborough).
And Stephen Harper is promoting the idea that those who believe they are too far away from a police station should buy their own guns for their own protection -- except, he says, that's not what he meant:

So, yeah, a campaigning prime minister gave the green light to vigilantes — much the way he did to Islamophobes, anti-First Nations bigots and anyone who hates environmentalists. Former Ontario attorney general Mike Bryant said Harper’s words were a direct invitation to commit illegal acts.

“It’s vigilantism,” said Bryant. “People are going to find themselves facing the criminal justice system and being charged with serious crimes if they decide to follow what the prime minister is suggesting.”

Ah, but this is Harperland, where the words mean what the man says they mean. The PM insisted it was “patently ridiculous” to interpret his words as an incitement to vigilante acts. Why? Because all he was trying to do was show that the Conservative Party of Canada was pro-gun owner, while the other parties are clearly anti-. The words themselves meant nothing; the sentiment was everything. As usual, most of the press corps assumed the supine position.
You have to ask yourself, who would buy this kind of idiocy? If the polls are to be believed, there are lots of idiots to be had for the taking. The strategy is transparent:

Harper has simply made the calculation that if the way to give a chameleon a nervous breakdown is to put him down on plaid, the way to win an election in our disappearing democracy is to offer Canadians only two flavours — vanilla or chocolate.

That means hitting the hot buttons, over and over. Before oil prices tanked, greed was the button of choice. Now it’s fear. It makes things starkly simple — black and white, good and evil. As simple as War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery … and Ignorance is Strength.

More About That Gun Thing, Mr. Harper

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 06:19

Despite Stephen Harper's strong warnings last year about its dangers, two professors of criminology have thrown caution to the wind and 'committed sociology.'

In today's Star, Irvin Waller and Michael Kempa use that dark art to question Mr. Harper's recent professed enthusiasm for the use of guns as personal protection, especially in rural areas.

The professors assert that the facts, never especially useful to an ideologue like Harper, suggest otherwise:
In Canada, home invasions and violent assaults by strangers in rural areas are so rare that they are virtually unrecorded and unreported threats.

And random gun violence is only slightly more likely in urban areas. A quick glance at our recent police data confirms 505 homicides last year for our whole country of 35 million.

More importantly, of the 131 murders with a gun, 85 were gang-related shootings, which by definition do not occur in our typical rural communities. So you are left with 46 gun murders or less than 10 per cent of the total. There are few occasions where guns are likely to be useful for self-defence.Beyond those indisputable facts, however, lies another element that makes Mr. Harper's demagoguery dangerous:
Suggesting that gun owners have their weapons ready for self-defence will encourage rural Canadians to break our laws requiring ammunition and guns to be stored separately. These laws are important because it is well-known that storing loaded weapons increases the suicides, accidents and murders that occur in emotional situations, especially in those tragic cases involving domestic violence.Another statistic shows the folly of having loaded weapons readily available:
Nearly nine out of 10 Canadian homicide victims are killed by someone they know, too often their distraught spouse or separated partner. By loading up more guns, Canadians can expect to have more innocent victims killed, not fewer houses invaded by strangers.Towards the end of their piece, Waller and Kempa commit full-bore sociology:
Rather than take the easy path of following some of the U.S.’s worst gun failures, rural safety in Canada would profit most through developing crime and violence reduction programs that have been proven through mostly American research. Massive databases of program evaluation results confirm that sensible prevention approaches that provide non-violent conflict resolution training in schools and community centres protect two of the most over-victimized groups in our society: women and youth.Clearly, their words will be lost on a heart as densely obdurate as Harper's. One can only hope that there are sufficient numbers of Canadians who have not been infected with the prime minister's dark visions and philosophy and recognize his ideology as the true danger stalking all of us.Recommend this Post

"How did we get here?" . . I hate to have to ask. . .

kirbycairo - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 05:39
"How did we get here?"

This is the timeless question of people who find themselves in a country (or world) being enveloped by the politics of hate, fear, militarism, jingoism, and fascism. This is the question that people find themselves at war inevitably ask when the bullets start flying and the bombs start dropping. "How did we get here?" or "How did we let our leaders take us off this precipice?"

Well, it may be a frustrating and a timeless question, one that is painful to ask and one that is even more painful to answer, but if you have been paying attention to Canadian politics over the last ten years, you know the answer.

Apparently we get here through a fairly simple formula. First, have a media that is compliant or supportive of the government's rightwing agenda. Easy peasy - we have had that for a while now. Then take a political party that is rooted in racism, militarism, sexism, and corporatism. Check. Then let that party in government so it can legislate more or less by stealth for ten years or so, gradually undermining the courts, the democratic mechanisms, the legislative branch of government, the legal mechanisms that are meant to protect people against the arbitrary use of power, etc. Got that. Now, over a period of a decade or so let that government gradually change the mood of the nation and create a space in which racism, militarism, and jingoism become once again socially acceptable. And suddenly you find yourself in the midst of a national decline toward fascism in which the federal leader can blatantly lie about major national and international issues with little fear that he will be called out on his lies, in which the leader can use inflammatory, racist language and the racist slime that once hid in the corners of our society are suddenly free once again to proclaim their racism from the rooftops.

Sadly, this is where we now find ourselves. And as progressives we are startled by the speed and ease with which the nation slid toward fascism and racism. But we are only surprised because we, as progressives so often do, underestimated the remarkable ignorance, hate, and malleability of the general population.

Well, the jig, as they say, is up. Genuine fascism is at the gates, so to speak. Oh, of course, at the moment our fascism is not the same as that which manifested itself in various countries of Europe in the 1930s. At the moment we have a friendlier, more 'legitimatized' form of fascism. But make no mistake about what is going on. At the moment we are just pushing that proverbial envelope of racism and militarism that once defined Euro-fascism. But it will surely take only one more election victory (gained by an ever more compromised electoral system) to push us into a more full-fledged form of fascist/corporatist government.  It is not a long way from a government proroguing parliament specifically to avoid falling, to a government cancelling or overturning elections. And if you think such things can't come to our seemingly quiet and 'peaceful' nation, I have only one word for you - VUKOVAR!

Stephen Harper and the Night of the Living Dead

Montreal Simon - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 03:13

As you probably remember, when I saw that Stephen Harper had poured gasoline on the flames of bigotry in Quebec, and I saw how his words had galvanized the Bloc Québécois.

I portrayed him as the man who had helped bring the Bloc back from the dead.

And I knew that it wouldn't be long before other zombies would stagger out to take advantage of the situation.

And sure enough out of his PQ crypt came Pierre Karl Péladeau. 
Read more »

Chris Alexander unplugged

Creekside - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 02:33

David Climenhaga dissects Alexander's speech here and links to the entire Ukrainian Canadian Congress event but I thought I'd extract Alexander's remarks for posterity.

Alexander is particularly outraged about any mention that Ukraine might have a neo-Nazi problem, which he blames on a :

 "dangerous ideology. Which is present in our own city of Toronto! Which is present across Canada! Which comes to us through state-sponsored Russian channels that are preaching absolute poison." 

while evidently being unaware Canada has a Right Sector chapter of its very own.

Perhaps he'd rather hear about it from the BBC :

or the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany last month :

Climenhaga : 
"Alexander was followed as speaker by Andriy Parubiy, deputy chairperson of the Ukrainian parliament and founder in 1991 of that country's evocatively named Social-National Party, which the Wikipedia describes as having "combined radical nationalism and neo-Nazi features" before changing its name to Svoboda ("Freedom") in 2004.In his speech Mr Parubiy said his fighters in Ukraine are standing for the entire civilized world.
He says "Canada has an “authoritative voice” on the conflict in eastern Ukraine and could help persuade the United States to send lethal weapons to Ukraine."

"This is going to be  great struggle," said Alexander, " We are just at the beginning of this struggle."

Is the Canada Revenue Agency Helping Build the Monument to Harperism?

Montreal Simon - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 15:41

Last night I told you how more and more decent Canadians are joining together to denounce the monstrous Memorial to the Victims of Communism.

The ghastly monument Stephen Harper is building to himself.

Just to pander to the ethnic vote, and stick another knife into the Supreme Court.

Well today it seems that the builders of that monstrosity may be getting some help from the Canada Revenue Agency. 
Read more »


Subscribe to aggregator - Posts from our progressive community