Northern Reflections

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"There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are absent." Leo Tolstoy
Updated: 14 min 23 sec ago

It Hasn't

25 min 16 sec ago

Conrad Black lives on another planet than the rest of us. He is untroubled by the anxieties of those of us who are mere mortals. That's why he believes that we've misunderstood Donald Trump. In Friday's National Post he opined:

Even in the week that he is nominated by the Republican party for the presidency of the United States, intelligent people fail in droves to understand what Donald Trump has accomplished. It was disappointing to read the editorial in this newspaper on Tuesday that “a Trump presidency would be a descent into the uncertainties of anger, bitterness, and division … a recipe for disaster.” This is a widespread view, but it is bunk. 
Lord Black believes that Trump has been grievously maligned:

These parrots of gloom should be celebrating the fact that one of the only moderates among the Republican candidates won. Senator Ted Cruz pitched his campaign to the Bible-thumping corn-cobbers with M16 rifles in the rear windows of their pickup trucks and announced that God had told him to run. Trump and Sanders are the only candidates who favour universal health care, and Trump, contrary to a great deal of unfounded over-reactive comment about him, never said anything remotely antagonistic about women, gays, African-Americans or Latinos who came to the U.S. legally.
And, he predicts, Trump will move to the centre and radiate peace, order and good government:

Now that Trump is the nominee, having come from the political wilderness and paid for his own campaign, he will drastically scale back the stylistic infelicities (which are as disagreeable to me as to most serious people, but are just part of his shtick). He is not ideological and will make the system work — he is, as he never tires of telling us, a deal-maker. In foreign policy, he will be neither trigger-happy like George W., nor an other-worldly pacifist like Obama. He will spend a billion dollars of the Republican party’s money reminding the country that legally and ethically, Hillary is carrying more dead weight cargo than the Queen Mary. He and Hillary will now both campaign toward the centre, but whoever wins, this is the last stand of moderation. One more debacle like the past four or five presidential terms, and the animals will be released. The paint-ball parks, the shooting ranges, and the teeming ghettos (scores of millions of Americans unnoticed by Norman Rockwell, Grandma Moses and Walt Disney) will not be gulled again by a limousine liberal in a neon pantsuit or a pseudo-blue-collar billionaire.
The animals have already been released. And they're furious at people like Lord Black. One would have hoped that his stay in a Florida prison would have acquainted  Black with the earthly existence of mere mortals. Obviously, it hasn't.

Image: theglobeandmail.com

Lessons From Weimar

Sat, 07/23/2016 - 05:06


In the wake of the Republican Convention, Charles Dermer writes that there are three lessons progressives should remember about the failure of Weimar Germany:

First, the German Left splintered and failed to create strong coalitions. The Social Democrats and the German Communist Party -- both large parties of Labor -- made little efforts to work together or to organize and coordinate closely with many of the remarkably progressive Weimar urban feminist, gay and civil rights movements. Much of the blame falls on the Communists, who decided to take their marching orders from Stalin, believing that the collapse of the German economy would lead to a Communist revolution. But the Social Democrats were also responsible, aligning themselves with conservative parties and aristocratic landed elites -- and supporting repression of Far Left movements while failing to reach out to and make concessions to either the Communists or the movements.

Had the Social Democrats and Communists formed a common bloc, working in a strong coalition with progressive urban cultural movements, they would have controlled the majority of Parliament and might have kept power. The lesson here is that we must wrestle with the potential ways in which the Democratic Party, the Sanders supporters and our major social justice movements might work together, building a coalitional front that can push back against the dangers posed by Trump, promote the aims of the Sanders "revolution," and help unite or "universalize" Left grassroots movements in a long-term effort to create a systemic transformation of militarized, racialized, patriarchal capitalism.

Second, to build a united front, all types of progressives must grapple with the real threat of a Trump victory and of a broader right-wing populist ascendancy, with or without a Trump victory. The German Left -- as well as the German corporate and landed gentry Establishment -- never took Hitler seriously, dismissing Far Right movements and believing Hitler had no large popular base. Likewise, many US progressives cannot imagine that Americans would embrace Far Right populism and elect an overtly racist demagogue such as Trump.

The Weimar Left and the German Establishment wildly underestimated the Far Right and Hitler's resonance during a massive economic crisis with a public with authoritarian tendencies. They lost touch with the working and lower middle class, especially the rural or small town population, who felt they were losing not just their jobs but their country and culture. They also never believed Hitler could gain so much support in his pursuit of genocide.

This leads to a third lesson: the need for a massive shift in the Democratic Party and a resurgence of progressive movements to solve the economic crisis and address the sense of national decline perpetrated by the Establishment itself. The Weimar Left, especially the Social Democratic Party, largely disconnected from grassroots urban progressive cultural movements, had no transformative vision or energy. It was an exhausted, reformist party offering no economic or social solutions. The Communists didn't even try, as they promoted collapse.
The inconvenient truth is that the Democrats have bought into neo-liberalism with almost the same fervor as the Republicans:

The Democratic Party in the age of Clintons, disconnected from social movements, has aligned with the corporate and military establishment. While Bernie Sanders resonated far and wide because of his urgent message of "political revolution" and democratic socialism, Hillary Clinton has only begun to -- at least in rhetoric -- embrace the importance of structural change. But to win, she has to take Sanders more seriously and respond not only to his demands but also to the demands of the civil rights, Black liberation, peace and environmental movements.

Germans made the mistake of believing that Hitler was simply a cook who would self destruct. That's what he eventually did. But what he left in his wake was utter devastation.

Image: www.slideshare.net

Leadership and Ideals

Fri, 07/22/2016 - 04:22


Rick Salutin speculates this morning that we may be living in a non-leadership moment. Consider what has happened in the United States:

It’s tempting to say Donald Trump is all leader and no ship: no party inclinations in any recognizable forms, nor typical policies, organization, strategy or scripts. It centres on him alone. Except for a literal ship, labelled Trump, that he flies in on and speaks in front of. He likes it so much, he flies it home to New York each night to sleep in his bed — which is kind of touching — then drops in again next day.
In the UK, Jeremy Corbin is Trump's polar opposite:

There’s now a full-blown leadership challenge to him, before he’s fought a single election — after being elected with unprecedented member backing. Why? After one of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, Hilary Benn, was sacked (as they say) for plotting against his leader — being the UK, foes are called regicides — Benn explained, “Jeremy is not a leader.” That’s what they all repeat. He won’t work ferociously, doesn’t build bridges or concoct complex strategies to ally with others and achieve power, utterly lacks charisma, seems uninterested in doing anything he hasn’t done for years. Yet somehow he hoovers up manic support. 
His opposition claimed that Justin Trudeau was not a leader -- but he has surprised a lot of people:

Justin Trudeau did it with all the basics of the old formula, though in his own rendition — which is worth keeping in mind. But something else is also going on, especially in the aftermath of the quashed hopes that attended Obama’s coming. Would you rather have a victory for plausible principles or one for leadership itself without believable ideals? Because in the UK at the moment it seems impossible to have both elements.
And that's the real question: Can leadership and ideals coexist?

Image: obrussa.com

Republican Death Notice

Thu, 07/21/2016 - 04:39


Brent Rathgeber writes that the Republican Party is dead. It's been replaced by The Donald Trump Show:

This is no longer the Republican Party; it’s becoming the Trump Party — bombastic, obnoxious and playing deliriously on the fears of white America. Trump has dumped the conservative Republican playbook — he favours brick walls over free trade, a police state over smaller government. His appeal is based almost entirely on xenophobia and many Americans (mostly, but not entirely, Republicans) seem to believe what he is saying about Mexicans and Muslims.

The only constant coming out of the Trump Convention has been the sustained, visceral and vicious attacks on Hillary Clinton. I’m no fan of the former Secretary of State, but one should rely on facts when attacking a political opponent — not wild hyperbole and unhinged fantasy. Given the lack of anything like substantive policy in his campaign, Trump’s strategy seems to be limited to malicious, often reckless, character assassination.

And that may be the most alarming thing about Trump — nobody really knows what he wants to do as president. His speeches are generally too incoherent to allow for inferences about whether he stands for anything apart from racial prejudice and misogyny. He is unpredictable, offensive and a blowhard. He is one of the most polarizing figures to aspire to high office in a western democracy in ages.
Trump represents Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy in full fruition. His supporters are seething with resentment and not very bright. All they bring to the table is a long, hard hate. And Trump -- who has transformed the party into a cult of personality -- has focused that hate on Hillary Clinton.

Last night Ted Cruz refused to support Trump. He urged Americans to vote their conscience. Rethgeber understands Cruz' message. That's why he left the Stephen Harper Show.

Image: blackquillandink.com

Blind Stupidity

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 05:26
 
Andrew Nikiforuk writes that we falsely assume we can clean up oil spills -- because we believe we have the technology to do it:

In many respects, society's theatrical response to catastrophic oil spills resembles the way medical professionals respond to aggressive cancer in an elderly patient. Because surgery is available, it is often used. Surgery also creates the impression that the health-care system is doing something even though it can't change or reverse the patient's ultimate condition. In an oil-based society, the cleanup delusion is also irresistible. Just as it is difficult for us to acknowledge the limits of medical intervention, society struggles to acknowledge the limits of technologies or the consequences of energy habits. And that's where the state of marine oil spill response sits today: it creates little more than an illusion of a cleanup. Scientists -- outside the oil industry -- call it "prime-time theatre" or "response theatre."
Technology has its limits:

Part of the illusion has been created by ineffective technologies adopted and billed by industry as "world class." Ever since the 1970s, the oil and gas industry has trotted out four basic ways to deal with ocean spills: booms to contain the oil; skimmers to remove the oil; fire to burn the oil; sand chemical dispersants, such as Corexit, to break the oil into smaller pieces. For small spills these technologies can sometimes make a difference, but only in sheltered waters. None has ever been effective in containing large spills.

Conventional containment booms, for example, don't work in icy water, or where waves run amok. Burning oil merely transforms one grave problem -- water pollution -- into sooty greenhouse gases and creates air pollution. Dispersants only hide the oil by scattering small droplets into the water column, yet they often don't even do that since conditions have to be just right for dispersants to work. Darryl McMahon, a director of RESTCo, a firm pursuing more effective cleanup technologies, has written extensively about the problem, and his opinion remains: "Sadly, even after over 40 years experience, the outcomes are not acceptable. In many cases, the strategy is still to ignore spills on open water, only addressing them when the slicks reach shore."
The only way to avoid oil spills is to avoid oil. Yet the word from Cleveland this week is that the Republicans plan to revive the Keystone XL pipeline. It's called blind stupidity.

Image: thetyee.ca

"Great" Means "White"

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 04:47

As the Republican Convention unfolds, certain Republican loudmouths are given the stage. One of them is Steve King, a member of the House of Representatives from Iowa. Consider the following story from the New York Daily News:

One Iowa congressman may not know history, but he’ll go down in it for his ignorance.Rep. Steve King, known for his racially charged remarks, said Monday that non-white “subgroups” have not contributed to civilization.

Responding to writer Charlie Pierce’s MSNBC panel comments about “old white people” running the Republican Party, King preached his own race’s supremacy.

“I would ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?” the Republican said.

“Than white people?” moderator Chris Hayes interjected.

“Than Western civilization itself that's rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America, and every place where Christianity settled the world," King replied.
And, as a corollary to that thought, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan sent out a picture of himself yesterday, with what he figured were "the most number of Capitol Hill interns in a single selfie." You'll notice that there is not one person of colour in the photograph.

When Donald Trump proclaims that he will make America great again, there is a clear subtext. Great means white. He'll build walls to keep non-whites out. It's those folks who drive Republicans crazy -- because they know that white people are well on their way to minority status in the United States.

Trump and modern Republicans forget that it was their hero, Ronald Reagan, who urged that The Wall be torn down. And it was another Republican president -- Dwight Eisenhower -- who said, "Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him."


Image: theguardian.com

Leaders In Search Of Scapegoats

Mon, 07/18/2016 - 05:33

Where have all the leaders gone? That's the question Michael Harris asks over at ipolitics. The newly anointed and the wish to be anointed don't inspire a lot of confidence:

As the apocalypse beckons, the need for real political wisdom has never been greater. But no Titans have emerged. Instead, obscene caricatures of political leadership have risen to the top of several world establishments.

In Britain, Theresa May sits astride the absurd political ascendancy of the post-Brexit-referendum era. One of her first acts was to shut down the U.K.’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. Britain’s Tin Lady made another decision which is even more dangerous to the planet on the short term: putting the Brexit Boor and “serial liar” Boris Johnson in charge of foreign affairs.
One has to wonder about May's appointment of Johnson as Britain's chief diplomat:

Johnson is the man whose claim to fame is a bad mop of hair, pants that are perpetually on fire, and a yen for racism. Making him the country’s chief diplomat is like putting Bernie Madoff in charge of pension plan. After Barack Obama stuck his nose in the Brexit debate, urging the UK to remain in the European Union, Johnson responded by talking about the U.S. president’s “part Kenyan” ancestry.

Johnson’s previous remarks though made clear that his jibe wasn’t meant as a compliment. As reported in the Guardian, Johnson went on to describe Africans as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles.” Their problem, he opined, was “not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more.”
Over in France, Francois Holland is cracking down on civil liberties, but the attacks keep coming:

The government has used its extraordinary new police and anti-terror powers to round up and arrest hundreds of its own citizens. Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality — the clarion call of one of the world’s most famous revolutions — has morphed into an obsession with policing. Strange that. Civil rights are cancelled but terrorist attacks increase. The French once exported the Statue of Liberty to America. Today they are building a Statue of Oppression at home.
And, in the land of the Statue of Liberty, the choice is between Donald and Hillary:

Look at the choice facing Americans in this November’s presidential election — a political lifer investigated by the FBI for possible breaches of national security while Secretary of State; versus a to-the-manor-born ignoramus with a Jesus complex whose idea of big, international news is a new irrigation system for his golf course in Scotland.
They don't stoke inspiration. But they do stoke fear. Harris writes, "Frightened people always have an index finger ready to point to the external causes of their woes. They’re also more likely to ignore any part they played in creating the morass like, say, invading Iraq in the first place."

And, before we get too smug, let's remember that the guy we just sent packing set up a snitch line so that the paranoid among us could rat on those of us they felt engaged in "barbaric practices." When leaders go searching for scapegoats, anyone of us could qualify for that moniker.

Image: kavistechnology.com

Historians On Trump

Sun, 07/17/2016 - 04:48


As Donald Trump -- and now Mike Pence -- head for Cleveland, a group of prominent American  historians have decided to launch a full scale assault on Trump. With the help of filmmaker Ken Burns, they have set up a Facebook page that has been garnering millions of views.

Kenneth Jackson, David McCullough, Ron Chernow, William Leuchtenburg, Vicki Lynn Ruiz, Kai Bird, Joseph Ellis, Jonathan Alter, Alan Kraut, Sean Wilentz, Richard Moe and Todd Gitlin each offer their views on Trump.

It's scathing stuff. Is anybody listening? And is anybody asking what kind of a man Mike Pence -- who calls himself  "a Christian, a Conservative and a Republican -- in that order" -- really is?

Image: politico.com


They Never Were

Sat, 07/16/2016 - 04:45


Tony Clement wants to be leader of the Conservative Party. Perhaps he believes that the third time will be the charm. But, Bob Hepburn writes, there are five reasons Clement should reconsider his bid:

First, Clement deservedly earned the title of “The King of Pork-Barrel Politics” for his disgraceful role in doling out $50 million in special projects in his riding that were to be related to the 2010 G8 summit in Huntsville. Instead, most of the money went to totally unrelated projects far from the summit site, such as renovating bandshells and gazebos, planting flowers, repairing public washrooms and paving roads in his riding.
Second, Clement became an international joke when he enthusiastically killed the important long-form census of 2011. He saw it as an invasion of privacy for asking such delicate questions as how many bathrooms are in your home. The move so outraged Munir Sheikh, the country’s chief statistician, that he quit in disgust.  
Third, Clement is talking up his immigrant background, but he has a lot to answer for on immigration. Despite being a senior cabinet minister, he did and said nothing over the last few years as the Harper government deliberately dragged its heels in allowing Syrian refugees to come to Canada. He also kept his mouth shut when his cabinet colleague Kellie Leitch proposed a snitch hotline clearly aimed at Muslims where people could report “barbaric cultural practices.” 
Fourth, Clement is a Harper clone — and happily so. Like Harper, he is stiff, devoid of charisma and uninspiring. He is well-liked by the out-of-favour Harperites and offers voters nothing fresh, from his call to stop funding the CBC to Iran-bashing that voters didn’t see — and reject — in Harper himself in the last election.
And, fifth, there is Peter Mackay. Hepburn is sure he too will throw his hat in the ring. Mackay also has lots of skeletons in his closet. But, at least, he seems less moribund than Clement.
All in all, they're not an inspiring bunch. But, then, they never were. 
Image: Chris Young/Canadian Press

Bring On The Independents

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 04:49

Patrick Bazeau walked back into the Senate yesterday, the charges he faced having been dropped. What does that say about the government and the man that brought the charges? It's pretty clear that the Harper government was a smear machine. And, in the end, the smears didn't stick.

But the Senate still needs reform. Tasha Kheiriddin writes:

In recent months the Red Chamber has been going through its own version of rehab, working to show that it actually is a chamber of sober second thought, rather than a den of feckless spendthrifts. It voted to amend the government’s assisted suicide legislation (though it ultimately passed the government’s more restrictive version), amended another piece of legislation conferring unionization rights on RCMP officers (which will come before the House in the fall) and, most recently, issued a report calling for better integration of Syrian refugees.

The Liberal government also is keen to give the Senate a makeover, appointing new senators with the help of a committee process and opening up Senate seats to “applications” from interested Canadians. “We are beginning to see how a less partisan, more transparent, accountable and engaged Senate on public policy issues will act,” said Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the Senate. “It has been a very intense period of change.”
The changes will have to be internal. There will never be enough support in the provinces for wholesale change or abolition. So it will be up to the  Senators themselves to design that change. That should be a little easier to do when the majority of Senators are officially independent.

Image: cbc.ca

Another Betrayal

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 05:28


Stephen Harper's public career has been filled with betrayals. He added another one last week. Brent Rathgeber writes:

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean was in the crowd for this year’s riding association BBQ — feeling less than festive, no doubt. Patrons were expecting Harper merely to announce that he was resigning as their MP. Instead, he enthusiastically and unequivocally endorsed Jason Kenney for the leadership of the PC Party of Alberta — instantly turning a social gathering into a campaign event.

It’s important to remember just how unusual an action this was for the former prime minister. When Harper was running things, Conservative MPs were expressly discouraged from wading into provincial politics. When the Harperites were in power, PMO staffers frequently reminded caucus members that, as the federal government, “we” had to deal with the people in power at the provincial level, no matter what party “they” represented.

But with the PCs out of power in Alberta and the CPC in Opposition in Ottawa, the rules seem to have changed. Either that, or the MP for Calgary Heritage assumes the rules that applied to his caucus don’t apply to him. They don’t apply to interim CPC leader Rona Ambrose either; she also endorsed Kenney, as Harper encouraged all CPC members in Alberta to join Kenney’s campaign to lead the PC Party into oblivion.
Harper always maintained that he made the rules -- and he could break them. But Alberta's Progressive Conservatives and Wild Rosies are not happy:

You’ve already heard about the pushback in the PC camp. Progressive PCs such as MLA Sandra Jensen and former MLAs Thomas Lukaszuk and Dave Quest are openly questioning whether Kenney’s vision clashes with the PC party’s platform.

What you haven’t heard is how Harper’s endorsement is going over with the Wildrose crowd. Many Wildrose supporters were stunned by it, and by Harper’s decision to publicly snub Jean.
Mr. Harper has always believed that leading a political party implied kingship by Divine Right. He has provided yet another illustration of who he is.

Image: mapleleaks.com
 

Appreciating Good Fortune

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 04:55
 
Britain is in crisis. The United States is roiling. But, in Canada, we're pretty sanguine. Lawrence Martin writes:

In Canada, it’s the 1960s in an entirely different optic. None of the rage and tumult. Rather, a new harmony. As we hit 150 years, with our relative unity, peace and prosperity, it’s akin to the time of the centennial. Crises elsewhere make us look even better. A haven of stability and hope.

Just like 50 years ago, there’s a Camelot North aura brought on by a new-styled leader. On Pierre Trudeau’s ascension to power in 1968, The London Spectator wrote, or rather hyperbolized: “It was as if Canada had come of age, as if he himself singlehandedly would catapult the country into the brilliant sunshine of the late 20th century from the stagnant swamp of traditionalism and mediocrity in which Canadian politics had been bogged down for years.”
In the UK and the U.S, baby boomers are making their last stand. In Canada, the torch has been passed to the next generation:
The Canadian advantage is not just in avoiding the fracturing in the United States, Britain and elsewhere. Rather, we’ve crossed a threshold. With this government we finally have given the boot to the baby boom generation, a generation which has dominated Canadian life for four decades.
Today’s government is young not just by age but in spirit and, by contrast to the venomous partisanship of its predecessor, attitude. The United States is about to elect a president who will be 69 (Hillary Clinton) or 70 (Donald Trump). Britain’s soon-to-be new leader, Theresa May, is turning 60. In neither country will the thinking at the top be at one with the mindset of the new generational wave.
The well-aged political leaders, particularly those on the right, sustained much of their support from old whites or those with old white attitudes. They mock Justin Trudeau for an alleged lack of substance. The younger generation would tell them about his substance; that it is racial tolerance, that it is gender rights, that it is preserving the planet, that it is social justice for native people, that it is open and fair democracy.
One would be wide to remember that what happens in Britain and the United States eventually makes its way here. But there is no law against appreciating our good fortune. 
Image: nationalnewswatch.com



 

Dallas In Context

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 05:15


Chris Hedges puts the recent violence in the United States into a larger context. It's what happens, he writes, when the corporate state has become firmly entrenched:

Globalization has created a serious problem of “surplus” or “redundant” labor in deindustrialized countries. The corporate state has responded to the phenomenon of “surplus” labor with state terror and mass incarceration. It has built a physical and legal mechanism that lurks like a plague bacillus within the body politic to be imposed, should wider segments of society resist, on all of us.

The physics of human nature dictates that the longer the state engages in indiscriminate legalized murder, especially when those killings can be documented on video or film and disseminated to the public, the more it stokes the revenge assassinations we witnessed in Dallas. This counterviolence serves the interests of the corporate state. The murder of the five Dallas police officers allows the state to deify its blue-uniformed enforcers, demonize those who protest police killings and justify greater measures of oppression, often in the name of reform. 
Therefore, policing becomes militarized. And the response is also militarized -- a sniper on the rooftop. All of this takes place in a community which lacks empathy:

Neoliberalism, like all utopian ideologies, requires the banishment of empathy. The inability to feel empathy is the portal to an evil often carried out in the name of progress. A world without empathy rejects as an absurdity the call to love your neighbor as yourself. It elevates the cult of the self. It divides the world into winners and losers. It celebrates power and wealth. Those who are discarded by the corporate state, especially poor people of color, are viewed as life unworthy of life. They are denied the dignity of work and financial autonomy. They are denied an education and proper medical care, meaning many die from preventable illnesses. They are criminalized. They are trapped from birth to death in squalid police states. And they are blamed for their own misery. 
Something to think about in these days following the death of Elie Wiesel.

Image: cnn..com

Sometimes, A Blessing Is A Curse

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 05:20


Jason Kenny has headed back to the Calgary Stampede, proudly waving to the crowds. But, Michael Harris writes, it's easy to spot the phonies:

Jason Kenney is taking part in a parade — riding in the back of a 1958 Ford Fairlane, with an army tank behind him, and a gas-guzzling 1959 Caddy in front carrying fellow-delusional Michelle Rempel. I guess the cars were interesting. (At least Premier Notley rode a Pinto that wasn’t made in Detroit – the kind with four legs, not an explosive gas tank.)
Like Stephen Harper, Kenny claims to be a son of Alberta. But Kenny was born in Ontario -- Oakville to be precise. And he has had an interesting political journey, claiming various residences along the way:

As for his resumé, Kenney left university to work for the Saskatchewan Liberal Party. That led to an odd post for a guy who would one day run the right-wing Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and after that, spend so much time at Harper’s side dismantling Canada: Kenney became executive-assistant to Ralph Goodale, now Canada’s public safety minister in the Trudeau majority government.

Later, Kenney bounced around like a rubber ball, from Liberals, to Reform, to Canadian Alliance and finally to the CPC. He then entered a decade of celebrity and someonehood as cabinet minister, organizational Machiavelli, and heir apparent in the event Harper had died of fright reading political polls in 2015.
He has always had a nose for the main chance. And his nose brings him back to  Alberta to, he says, "unite the right." But Albertans may not buy the package:

Kenney’s conversion on the road to being a mere MP smacks of the worst kind of political opportunism. Someone should ask Kenney when he decided to save Alberta — before or after the Harper government’s crushing loss? And what will he tell the voters of Calgary Midnapore? They thought they were voting for a federal MP. Will they really believe that he always wanted to be a provincial messiah for a discredited Conservative party but just forgot to tell them about it when he was soliciting their vote? What would he have done had Dear Leader won the federal election, returned to Alberta to perform a by-pass operation on the beating heart of Conservatism, or settled down into some jammy ministerial post in Ottawa?

On the face of it, there is monstrous presumptuousness operating here, exactly the kind that consigned the Alberta PC’s last carpetbagger, Jim Prentice, to the ash-heap of political history. Does Kenney really think that Albertans will swallow the story that the carnage in the oil patch is Notley’s doing? And why would Wild Rose want to unite behind a man whose party couldn’t get a single pipeline built after a decade in power, and which aligned itself with a PC party in Alberta that mismanaged one of the greatest resources on earth and then told Albertans they were the problem when the bitumen hit the fan?
On the weekend, Kenny got Stephen Harper's blessing. Sometimes a blessing turns out to be a curse.

 Image: flickr.com


The Last Of His Generation

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 03:27
 
It's been a week since Elie Wiesel's death. Avi Benolo writes that he was the last of his generation:

His generation was the generation of the 20th century that struggled to put a broken world back together. His generation was the generation of Martin Luther King Jr. A generation that fought for social justice and humanity. It was a generation that spoke about not being silent. In King’s words, “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Similarly, Wiesel would argue “we must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

With Elie Wiesel’s passing, the great generation that empowered us and guided us to speak out against repression, violence and hatred - is gone. Gone are the icons who refused to shake hands with the devil, choosing instead to impart their righteousness through their actions and wisdom. Mahatma Gandhi, one of the first leaders widely revered for his non-violent methods, gave the world a new path toward freedom. He put the responsibility for social change on each and every one of us, instructing, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” And so, each of us becomes the centre – the bridge and the pinnacle – for expressing goodness.
Besides King and Gandhi, that generation included Helen Keller, Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela. Like Weisel, they believed that the greatest sin was indifference and it spread with silence in the face of evil.

Benolo asks, "Who will take their place?" So far, there don't appear to be a lot of successors.

Image: cruxnow.com