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Great post of the day

Cathie from Canada - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 08:43
Trump's problems summarized in a comment thread at Daily Kos:
First, a commenter quoted this from a Guardian article by Richard Wolfe:
There are three pillars to the temple that Trump has so carefully built around his most precious possession: himself. One is brand marketing, another is the masquerade of management expertise, and the third is the legal knowhow that props up the other two.
After just two weeks in the Oval Office, Trump has contrived to destroy his reputation on all three.Then in response to that, another commenter said:
He has also erected three pillars to the temple of the GOP —
Bannon for the white supremacists.
Pence for the religious right.
Priebus for the Tea Party.
As far as I can tell, those three pillars are holding strong.
And the fourth pillar--Wall Street— is reflected in his Cabinet. It's also holding, but may be the weakest link.Both very insightful, I thought.


Northern Reflections - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 05:55

Word has it that Donald Trump and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnball are not getting on well these days. But, on one issue, they are brothers-in-arms. Michael Mann and Christopher Wright write:

In an opening fortnight of controversial executive orders, President Trump has decreed the expansion of major fossil fuel developments including the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, and the neutering of long-standing environmental protections. In addition, he and his leadership team have made it plain they intend to dismantle many of the Obama administration’s climate initiatives and withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. All this runs in direct counterpoint to the rapid decarbonisation required to avoid dangerous climate change.

For Australian fossil fuel interests, President Trump’s war on climate appears particularly opportune. Just last week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his senior ministers floated the idea of government backing for new coal-fired power stations as part of the government’s response to Australia’s “energy security” and expressed reticence over the country’s Renewable Energy Target.

For a country that has nurtured world-leading innovations in solar photovoltaic and other renewable energy technologies and that is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change – be it in the form of record heat, devastating floods, more widespread drought, coastal inundation from sea level rise combined with stronger tropical storms, or the demise of the Great Barrier Reef – doubling down on the traditional fossil fuel energy path is particularly short-sighted.

If there is one characteristic that both men share, it is shortsigthedness. Both have leveraged profits against the future -- much like the Tobacco Lords of two generations ago:

Like big tobacco before them, fossil fuel advocates have attacked mainstream climate science to confuse the public and policymakers about the reality and threat of human-caused climate change. As a result, we have seen a full-scale assault on a century and half of established science. For many climate scientists this has involved attacks from conservative politicians and rightwing lobby groups, orchestrated campaigns of harassment via mainstream and social media, challenges to job security and careers, and in some cases, death threats. Indeed, as recounted in The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, one of us (Michael Mann) has been subject to all of those things.

Beyond destroying our politics and corroding public trust in science, climate change denial also threatens the future of a habitable planet and a viable global economy. As a growing body of research has revealed, the maintenance of a “fossil fuels forever” mentality has real implications for the future of global food production, biodiversity, social functioning and geopolitical security. Leading economies around the world have recognised that the decarbonisation of energy and transport systems are key to the future prosperity of human civilisation.  
No wonder Mr. Turnball isn't up in arms about Trump's phone call. They are Brothers-In-Denial.

Image: Free Malaysia Today

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 05:55
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Kevin Young, Tarun Banerjee and Michael Schwartz discuss how capital uses the exact tools it's working to take away from labour - including the threat of strikes - to impose an anti-social agenda on the public:
Capitalists routinely exert leverage over governments by withholding the resources — jobs, credit, goods, and services — upon which society depends. The “capital strike” might take the form of layoffs, offshoring jobs and money, denying loans, or just a credible threat to do those things, along with a promise to relent once government delivers the desired policy changes.

Government officials know this power well, and invest great energy and public resources in staving off fits by malcontent capitalists. The profoundly rotten campaign finance system is just one manifestation of business’s domination over government policy. The real power resides in the corporate world’s monopoly over the flow of capital.
Dewey’s analysis calls for the elimination of concentrated economic power — that is, the elimination of capital’s capacity to disrupt a nation by withdrawing investment. Only by targeting the “substance” of corporate power — rather than its shadow, the government — can major progressive change be achieved and sustained.

Expanding on this insight, we believe that progressive social movements should directly target business elites. They are the main enemies of change, but they also have the power to facilitate reforms if they face sufficient pressure. If movements can alter capitalists’ cost-benefit calculations, government action favorable to popular interests becomes much more likely.

Workers’ rights movements in the 1930s and civil rights struggles in the 1960s succeeded largely by exerting pressure on business owners, who eventually supported progressive policy reforms as a way of cutting their own losses. Business elites’ structural power was greatly mitigated — and in fact harnessed to movement goals — when activists imposed high enough costs.

Ultimately, the capital strike teaches us that reform is not enough. Power over investment brings power over the political process. - Speaking of which, Bill Curry and Sean Silcoff report that Bill Morneau's hand-picked economic advisers are pushing the Libs to delay retirement for working Canadians.

- Jean Comte reports on the EU's efforts to develop a common list of tax havens - with Canada currently looking to be among the candidates for facilitating tax evasion.

- Jim Edwards examines how the UK's economy is only getting more unequal with time, due in large part to the gap between homeowners benefiting from soaring property prices and renters facing stagnant wages and higher costs.

- Toni Pickard argues that progressives should make the case for a fair and generous basic income to ensure that a policy receiving support across partisan lines isn't used to undermine the welfare state. And Poverty Free Saskatchewan's submission to SaskForward points out some transformational changes which could end poverty in the province.

- Finally, the Star's editorial board highlights why we shouldn't take a bare request to "trust us" as the basis for providing unaccountable power to a surveillance state. And Elizabeth Thompson reports on the use of public resources to monitor peaceful activists for an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women.

The Sunny Humiliation of Rona Ambrose

Montreal Simon - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 04:50

For weeks Rona Ambrose has been attacking Justin Trudeau for taking a helicopter ride to the Aga Khan's private island, instead of swimming there.

But not any longer.

Yesterday in Question Period she was a mute as a carp.

And with good reason. 
Read more »

Of Sound in Mounds and Walking Evil

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 00:44

I've been doing this over a decade now so I should maybe explain the Mound of Sound business and my tenuous connection with evil.

In a previous life I indulged in journalism of sorts. I began in private radio in the early 70s.  Ottawa, for Canada that was "big time." I wasn't a bad reporter but it also helped to be able to cultivate a "Gordon Goodvoice" delivery. Yeah, I pulled that off really well.

That voice training and my amazing natural pipes stood me in good stead when I later forayed into litigation. That's where "mound" came from. There wasn't a corner of the courtroom where anybody still conscious couldn't hear me. And sometimes that can make quite a difference.  If I could deliver 100% of my argument in readily absorbable "press" prose to a decision maker and the other fellow got less of his argument across in a form that was difficult to digest, my client had a clear advantage. (Court reporters used to love it because it was, to them, almost effortless to transcribe)

But that wasn't the name that stuck. That was "Leo." It took me almost a year to catch on. Often, while I was working my way to my office, I would hear the law students chortle and mutter "Leo." Never figured that had anything to do with me. Later I was to learn it had everything to do with me. Like prairie dogs chirping at spotting a falcon overhead, the students warned each other of my presence by chirping "Leo."

Leo, it turns out, was an acronym for L-arge E-vil O-ne. I could never quite fault them for that. At 6'2" plus I did tend to intimidate, especially with that studio-honed baritone. One of those kids told me it had become like one of those stories only told at campfires. I think there was some affection there but, shit, I couldn't swear to it.

I was lucky to come from two amazingly staunch families that were as steeped in values as they were Canadian politics. We have a long, rich and faithful military tradition although I cannot claim we didn't sit out the Boer War. I take that back, we probably did give that a pass.

I'm not explaining all this to somehow bond with you. It's not to brag. I have this phobic thing about praise so the last thing I want is adulation.

It's just that I'm having a really tough time with everything that's underway now. Trump is sucking all the oxygen out of the room. I'm as guilty as anyone. Yes, Trump is a threat, possibly an existential threat but pure science shows that he's the least of these threats.

Trump can be neutralized. He can be removed for fitness (25th amendment) or for "high crimes and misdemeanors" (on which he's astonishingly culpable).

Or Trump can be "normalized." America could become the Land of Trump. America and the world could succumb to something insanely horrible. Unless we stop it.

I found this tonight and it made me feel just a bit better.


Has Donald Trump Already Managed to Break the United States? Is War Next?

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 19:13

Two important essays in Foreign Policy.

Harvard professor, Stephen Walt, writes that Trump has already ruined America's foreign policy at home and abroad, with allies and adversaries alike. He has also united a curious alliance of unlikely partners in opposition.

For starters, foreign leaders who like the United States are learning that being nice to Trump can hurt them at home (and earns them no favors in Washington anyway). Our adversaries — from the Islamic State to Beijing to Iran — have been handed powerful new arguments with which to embarrass, delegitimize, and undermine America’s image and reputation. And perhaps most remarkable of all, a president elected by the smallest percentage of the popular vote in history has seen his approval ratings continue to fall, even as an unlikely opposing coalition of opponents begins to form against him. If you’re still among his supporters, this cannot be an encouraging sign.

For the past 15 years or more, people like me have been consistently and at times powerfully critical of American neoconservatives. ...But as of today we’re on the same side, because the threat that Trump, Bannon, and their incompetent cronies pose to our constitutional order and core political values overrides our continuing differences on other foreign-policy questions. The neocons may change their tune if Trump does decide to attack Iran — we’ll see — but for now their concerns are justified and their warnings should be heeded.

It takes a danger of considerable magnitude to get realists and neoconservatives to agree on anything, but we agree on Trump. And you can add to that unlikely coalition the traditional left, the largely apolitical civil service, the heads of a growing number of major corporations, and many dedicated foreign-policy professionals Trump might have won over but didn’t even bother to try.
Professor Walt puts it all down to the lunacy that is Trump/Bannon.
Some pundits believe it is mostly a product of his own defective personality: a toxic combination of brashness, narcissism, sensitivity to the smallest slight, and utter disregard for truth or consequences. Another possibility — and they’re not mutually exclusive — is that Trump and his inner circle really do have a grand strategy; it’s just at odds with reality, internally contradictory, and destined to fail bigly. And a third possibility — also not mutually exclusive — is that the Bannon-Trump approach to politics is in fact driven by a paranoid view of the modern world that sees the global economy in strictly zero-sum terms (thereby ignoring a couple of centuries of economic knowledge) and thinks the white, Judeo-Christian West is now under siege from an implacable and powerful tide of dark-skinned people, and especially Muslims. Instead of recognizing America’s remarkable strengths and security and many unique virtues, the Breitbart worldview that has infested the White House believes it has to destroy our current democracy in order to save it.
God Save America - from Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.
From the Neo-Con side, Walt's fellow historian and FP columnist, Robert Kagan, sees Trump backing America into World War III.
Think of two significant trend lines in the world today. One is the increasing ambition and activism of the two great revisionist powers, Russia and China. The other is the declining confidence, capacity, and will of the democratic world, and especially of the United States, to maintain the dominant position it has held in the international system since 1945. As those two lines move closer, as the declining will and capacity of the United States and its allies to maintain the present world order meet the increasing desire and capacity of the revisionist powers to change it, we will reach the moment at which the existing order collapses and the world descends into a phase of brutal anarchy, as it has three times in the past two centuries. The cost of that descent, in lives and treasure, in lost freedoms and lost hope, will be staggering....

In the first decade of the 20th century, the world’s smartest minds predicted an end to great-power conflict as revolutions in communication and transportation knit economies and people closer together. The most devastating war in history came four years later. The apparent calm of the postwar 1920s became the crisis-ridden 1930s and then another world war. Where exactly we are in this classic scenario today, how close the trend lines are to that intersection point is, as always, impossible to know. Are we three years away from a global crisis, or 15? That we are somewhere on that path, however, is unmistakable.

And while it is too soon to know what effect Donald Trump’s presidency will have on these trends, early signs suggest that the new administration is more likely to hasten us toward crisis than slow or reverse these trends. The further accommodation of Russia can only embolden Vladimir Putin, and the tough talk with China will likely lead Beijing to test the new administration’s resolve militarily. Whether the president is ready for such a confrontation is entirely unclear. For the moment, he seems not to have thought much about the future ramifications of his rhetoric and his actions.

China and Russia are classic revisionist powers. Although both have never enjoyed greater security from foreign powers than they do today — Russia from its traditional enemies to the west, China from its traditional enemy in the east — they are dissatisfied with the current global configuration of power. Both seek to restore the hegemonic dominance they once enjoyed in their respective regions. For China, that means dominance of East Asia, with countries like Japan, South Korea, and the nations of Southeast Asia both acquiescing to Beijing’s will and acting in conformity with China’s strategic, economic, and political preferences. That includes American influence withdrawn to the eastern Pacific, behind the Hawaiian Islands. For Russia, it means hegemonic influence in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which Moscow has traditionally regarded as either part of its empire or part of its sphere of influence. Both Beijing and Moscow seek to redress what they regard as an unfair distribution of power, influence, and honor in the U.S.-led postwar global order. As autocracies, both feel threatened by the dominant democratic powers in the international system and by the democracies on their borders. Both regard the United States as the principal obstacle to their ambitions, and therefore both seek to weaken the American-led international security order that stands in the way of their achieving what they regard as their rightful destinies.

Trump is batshit crazy, in a very lazy, narcissistic sort of way. Bannon is a far right ideologue, barking mad and borderline rabid.  Trump's national security advisor, former general Michael Flynn, is a conspiracy theorist, a real fringe type with a less than firm grasp on reality and a penchant for drifting into fantasy. In effect, when it comes to America's military muscle, the White House is a modern day lunatic asylum.

Is America Being Primed for a New Civil War?

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 11:04

On the right and the left in America there's talk of unrest, revolt, perhaps a new civil war or maybe just picking up the last one where it left off.

Chris Hedges today sounds the call for the left to make America ungovernable. The Guardian's Paul Mason argues that Trump's closest advisors want something equally chaotic.

A controversial and divisive US president is elected. State governments defy his will. Popular discontent erupts into low-level violence in several states. And then what?

We’ve been here before. In 1861, the newly elected president, Abraham Lincoln, had to be spirited through Baltimore on a secret train to Washington DC, to thwart a suspected assassination plot. Not long after he took power, a five-year civil war began.

Although it comprehensively lost the American civil war, the racist right in the US has for decades consoled itself by reading crazed “alternate history” novels, in which things turn out differently. Now, Time magazine has revealed that Steve Bannon, the White House chief of staff and Donald Trump’s closest aide, believes the next phase of American history should be as catastrophic and traumatic as the conflict of 1861-65.
While you ponder the parallels with today, consider this statement from Bannon, made on his radio show in December 2015 to explain the worldview of his Breitbart website: “It’s war. It’s war. Every day, we put up: America’s at war, America’s at war. We’re at war.

For Bannon, the No 1 enemy in this “war” is Islam, with China No 2. But there is also a fifth column in America to be dealt with as part of a “global existential war”. For Bannon, this fits into a generational theory of American power whereby the nation fulfils its destiny through a cycle of catastrophic crises: first, the revolution of 1776, then the civil war, then the intervention into the second world war and finally the crisis Bannon intends to provoke through Trump.

In Bannon and Gingrich, then, you have two men influencing the most powerful office in the world whose beliefs about the dynamics of US history could be best described as dangerous bullshit. Bannon fantasises about turning the culture war into a real one; Gingrich about the survival of an undestroyed south. Compared with them, Trump, whose fantasies appear to revolve around women, gold and tall buildings, has a much less dangerous imagination.

With the trashing of UC Berkeley in a riot against Breitbart star Milo Yiannopoulos, and with repeated physical clashes between white supremacists and anti-Trump supporters, the potential for escalation is clear. Dan Adamini, a Michigan Republican party official, tweeted that a “Kent State” solution should be applied to leftwing protesters – that is, shooting them dead, as the Ohio National Guard did in 1970.

This time, we are not facing cold-blooded conservatives defending an existing order, for whom the killing of four students at Kent State provoked a political crisis. This time, we are facing people who want the institutions of the US to explode. That’s what happens in the “Fourth Turning” theory that people such as Bannon believe in.

It’s chilling to acknowledge it but we must: large sections of the American right want another civil war. They have spent years amassing the weaponry for it; and their signifier of choice – hunting camouflage – also gives a major clue as to what they are thinking. In this situation, the choice of the US left, of minorities, of women should be: to resist – but do not give the enemy what they want.

The loudest squeal coming from the Trump camp last week was provoked by the judicial suspension of the anti-Muslim visa ban. Still louder squeals will be provoked if progressive-run states and cities begin to exercise their constitutional rights to defy Trump, as the San Francisco police did by suspending cooperation with the FBI counter-terrorism efforts.

Mass peaceful disobedience against Trump is a reality. Combined with judicial defence of the constitution, and determined resistance in Congress, it can ensure the White House becomes a padded cell for these fantasists – not the command bunker for American civil war 2.0.

Adding Insult to Injury

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 10:27

Trust Fareed Zakaria to remind us that Trump's loyal "Deplorables" are the same folks who gorge on the slops from the government trough.

At this point, one could note that, if we are to listen to America, almost 3 million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than for Trump (who received a share of the popular vote that was lower than Mitt Romney’s, in fact lower than most of the losers of recent presidential elections). And as for which of these groups makes America great, I’m not sure what criteria to use, but if it is generating wealth and contributing to GDP, it’s not even close. According to the Brookings Institution, the 500 counties won by Clinton produced 64 percent of U.S. economic output, while the 2,600 counties won by Trump produced just 36 percent of GDP. Use any economic measure — employment, start-ups, innovation — and the areas that score highest voted heavily against Trump.

The much-maligned urban elites may be out of touch with the rest of the country, but they still pay its bills. A few years ago, The Economist compared how much each American state contributed to the federal coffers against the funds they received from Washington. The basic pattern is simple: It is blue states, which voted against Trump in 2016, that fund the red states that voted for him. From 1990 to 2009, excluding Maine (which split its votes between the two candidates), Clinton states collectively paid $2.4 trillion more in federal taxes than they received in federal spending, while Trump states altogether received $1.3 trillion more than they paid.

Is the Great American Heist, Part Deux, Coming Soon?

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 10:04

The planets are aligning nicely. Republican House, check. Republican Senate, check. Republican White House, check.

It was this very alignment that prevailed during the Panic of 1907, the Great Depression of 1929 and the Great Recession of 2007-2008. Seems like those Republicans are out to repeat the past.

Goldman Sachs is in the house, the White House. Plenty of clout in the Trump cabinet and the Great Orange Bloat is in a mood to deregulate - check, check and check. One of his first targets is to rescind the regulatory protection known as the Dodd-Frank Act.

Don't let me forget to mention Hyman Minsky. But first, Glass-Steagall.

Glass Steagall, refers to four provisions in the US Banking Act of 1933 that were intended to regulate America's banks in ways that might prevent a recurrence of the Great Depression. A line was drawn between commercial and investment banking. A bank could be one or the other, just not both. A bank could be a bank or it could be a casino. Ordinary people and small business used banks. Speculators out for larger but higher risk returns went to investment banks.

During the Clinton years, congress repealed the Glass Steagall part of the Banking Act in 1999 and the party ensued until the casino went bust in 2007.

Up here in the Great White North, Canadian banks wanted to follow suit and hectored Paul Martin (well Jimmy's dad lets him take the car) but Martin said no, banks are banks. Harper took the first steps to let banks have their way but the Great Recession hit early and he had to fall back on Martin's policies.

Anyway, in the wake of the Great Recession, Messrs. Dodd and Frank set about to put the genie back in the bottle. It took years to mop up all the blood but banks were again restrained.

Now Trump has his eyes set on  scrapping Dodd-Frank.  Josh Brown, a.k.a. "The Reformed Broker," writes that, "the nightmarish period of excessive [bank] stability will be coming to a close."

According to White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, the former president of financial crisis experts Goldman Sachs, “We have the best, most highly capitalized banks in the world, and we should use that to our competitive advantage. But on the flip side, we also have the most highly regulated, overburdened banks in the world.”

Cohn deftly sidesteps the fact that our “most highly capitalized banks” have gotten that way thanks to the very regulations and increased capital requirements that are now on the menu to be carved up. To which we say, good riddance. It’s about time that America’s deposit-taking institutions got back to the business of leveraged speculation, empire building and unchecked expansion that made this country what it is today – a culturally divided paradise of extreme wealth disparity and populist rage.

The tens of millions of Americans who came out to vote for Donald Trump and the subsequent hundreds who attended his inauguration have grown sick and tired of the burdensome protections and safeguards that have been put in place for them. All across the nation, working class people yearn for a world in which Citigroup and Bank of America can borrow unlimited sums of money for concentrated bets, trade in exotic securities that are barely understood and sell whatever products they want to whomever they choose.

In eliminating toxic investment choices from the consumers’ grasp, the quasi-marxist Department of Labor has taken our freedom to not retire away from us. The idea that financial professionals should be forced to sit on the same side of the table as their less knowledgeable customers is the biggest regulatory overreach since the outlawing of asbestos in building construction. These limitations on our liberty will not stand.

So, I think you know where Josh stands. Now we've got Glass Steagall out of the way, Dodd Frank out of the way. We've covered the Great Panic of 1907, the Great Depression of 1929 and the Great Recession of 2007-2008. Oh yeah, and the unitary Republican governments that prevailed during all those calamities. Right, on to Hyman Minsky.
It was in the early 50s that economist Minsky described the dynamic that drives America's perpetual bubble economy. I'll let professor Randall Wray give you the basic idea.

Now if you want a more entertaining look into modern Casino Capitalism and the venerable Hyman Minsky, go to NetFlix and check out Terry Jones' delightful "Boom Bust Boom"
That's Minsky with the GlassesThen you might read James Galbraith's "The Predator State," assuming you have stomach left for reading.
Why, after the Great Recession, would they do this again? In part because "they" made a lot of money. They saw it coming. That much was obvious when they began trading in trillions of dollars worth of credit default swaps which were nothing more or less than huge bets on bad investments.
Now as Trump advisor and Goldman alumnus Gary Cohn puts it, "We have the best, most highly capitalized banks in the world, and we should use that to our competitive advantage." It's time to harvest that crop again.

The Second Civil War

Northern Reflections - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 07:13

The battle lines have been drawn. Donald Trump says he wants to "make America great again." Chris Hedges says he wants to "make America ungovernable." He warns his readers that the Trump Crew worship the god of Ignorance. Their motto is "Burn It Down!"

“Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too,” [Steve] Bannon told writer Ronald Radosh in 2013. “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

The Trump regime’s demented project of social engineering, which will come wrapped in a Christianized fascism, can be implemented only if it quickly seizes control of the bureaucratic mechanisms, an action that Max Weber pointed out is the prerequisite for exercising power in industrial and technocratic societies. Once what the historian Guglielmo Ferrero calls the “silken threads” of habit, tradition and legality are gone, the “iron chains” of dictatorship will impose social cohesion.

The Trump regime is populated with blind fanatics. They believe in one truth, which is whatever they proclaim at the moment (any such declaration may contradict what they said a few hours before). They are possessed with one idea—conflict. They venerate a demented hypermasculinity that includes a sacralization of violence, misogyny, a disdain for empathy, and the self-appointed right to engage in bouts of frenzied rage. These characteristics, they believe, are a sign of masculinity. The highest aesthetic is militarism, violence and war. Without conflict, without enemies real or imagined, their ideological structures and racism collapse into a heap of contradictions and absurdities. They will attempt to thwart nonviolent, nationwide resistance with force. And they will attempt to stoke counterviolence, including through the use of agents provocateurs, as a response. If we speak back to them in the language of violence, we will fail. We will be transformed into the monsters we seek to defeat.

Bannon and his followers on the “alt-right,” self-declared intellectuals, ferret out facts and formulas that buttress their peculiar worldview and discard truths that contradict their messianic delusions. They mouth a few clichés and quote a few philosophers to justify bigotry, chauvinism and governmental repression. It is propaganda masquerading as ideology. These pseudo-intellectuals are singularly incurious. They are linguistically, culturally and historically illiterate about the Muslim world, and about most other foreign cultures, yet blithely write off one-fifth of the world’s population—Muslims—as irredeemable. 
The only defence, Hedges writes, is in the kind of non-violent resistance that makes the United States ungovernable. Americans are about to enter their Second Civil War.

Image: OS Net Daily

Electoral Reform: Graphs and Percentages

Fat and Not Afraid - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 07:00

Late last week our Prime Minister broke one of his biggest election promises; that the Liberals would not be moving forward with electoral reform. I'm not surprised, but I am disappointed. The first past the post system we currently have isn't any good when we have more than 2 parties running for election. Some might argue that, seeing as how the Conservatives and the Liberals have been the only parties to ever form government, we DO only have 2 real parties, but they'd be missing the point.

One of the reasons the Liberals decided against election reform was most of the Canadians who answered their survey at MyDemocracy.ca said they were 'somewhat or mostly satisfied' with how our government currently works. They cited at 67% rating, which was a combination of the somewhats at 50% and the verys at 17%. Using that logic, I say that we should definitely move forward on electoral reform, and here's why:

70% of Canadians polled said they wanted several parties to govern and be responsible for decision making. Figure 3.1.3

That right there? Shows how much and how differently Canadians want this country run. We want our parties to work together to create a better Canada. We're tired of one party, who only won maybe 35-40% of the vote, to have 100% of the power and make 100% of the decisions.

This answer was reflected again, somewhat differently, a little later in the survey, when 62% of those surveyed said they wanted several parties to work together, even if it takes longer for things to get done. Figure 3.4.1

The next question discovered that 68% of Canadians said a party with a majority should have to compromise with other parties, even if it means changing some of it's priorities. The follwing question again gave a 70/30 split in favour of having multiple governing parties that agree. Fig 3.4.3

The Liberal Party was handed a clear mandate and they threw it away. Justin Trudeau had a chance to cement his legacy and stand up as one of Canada's greatest Prime Ministers but he and his party balked, probably hoping to get reelected in 2019 with a comfy majority. I doubt it. People will remember this enormous broken promise and vote accordingly.

Meanwhile, the NDP have jumped on this opportunity and are promoting electoral reform strongly in their ridings and with their candidates. I can only hope that with with Trump in power in the states, and the ass-backwards way that he came to power, Canadians wake up and make positive changes to that these kinds of absurd power-grabs stop happening.

A Reason For Hope

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 06:29

Although the White House is currently overrun with a band of lunatics that has quickly brought about very dark days, I can't help but think that there are reasons for hope. That I, an inveterate cynic, hold such a view astounds me, but the signs are unmistakable.

Or consider this array of magazines, whose covers leave do doubt about the medium's values and sensibilities. Here are but two of many:

Then there are the strong commitments to justice shown by the number of Canadian and American lawyers who are providing free assistance to travelers caught in Trump's Muslim ban.

As well, large protests are taking place in West Palm Beach near Trump's exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort; charities that traditionally hold fundraisers there are under intense pressure to go elsewhere rather than lend any scintilla of legitimacy to this rogue executive.

What I find especially heartening is that, unlike many protests and demonstrations of the past, these seem dominated by young people, not the graybeards of my generation. Is it possible that the Trump presidency has awakened, not just the dark forces of racism, division and hatred, but also a political consciousness that is strong, defiant and contemptuous of repression? Can it be that Americans, who like to think of themselves as fair-minded and open, are stung by the dark image of the U.S. that Trump is propagating both at home and worldwide?

Consider what Tony Burman has to say:
... the resistance to Trump’s rule is beginning to build in every corner of America, and in many parts of the world. This silent majority — yes, majority — is no longer silent.

It began the day after Trump’s inauguration with the breathtaking women’s marches in more than 600 American cities, as well as many world capitals, denouncing his policies. This event is now regarded as the largest day of demonstration in American history. Since then, there have been countless protests across America, both inside and outside of government, fuelling a growing resistance movement similar to the emergence of the conservative Tea Party in 2009.

Some of the protests have been evident in overflowing town halls and besieged congressional offices, while others have been more discreet. In an unprecedented act of disapproval, more than 1,000 State Department employees signed a letter condemning Trump’s anti-Muslim ban.

In Austin, Texas, meanwhile, the sentiment was more dramatically expressed.

Every year since 2003, a small group of Muslims in Texas have met in Austin to visit with lawmakers. It is called “Texas Muslim Capitol Day” and last year’s event was disrupted by protesters shouting anti-Muslim slogans.

At this year’s event on Tuesday, more than 1,000 people showed up to form a human barricade around the Muslim group to show solidarity.So palpable is Trump's hatred, so clear is his racism, it would seem that the better angels of our nature are beginning to reassert themselves. Give those angels time to coalesce, and there is no limit to what they might accomplish.Recommend this Post

How The Europeans Are Trolling Donald Trump

Montreal Simon - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 05:30

When you see the way some of Europe's most respectable magazines are portraying Donald Trump, you get a pretty good idea what many Europeans think of him.

For their covers couldn't be more brutal or more incendiary.
Read more »

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 05:13
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Sarah-Taïssir Bencharif discusses her experience facing prejudice against Muslims in Canada. But Ashifa Kassam reports on the growing public response to violence, as communities across the country formed "rings of peace" around mosques during their prayers on Friday.

- Meanwhile, Maher Arar points out how Canada's security state has been built around Islamophobia. And Manisha Krishnan argues that any real security threat comes from the radical right.

- But then, Kyle Curlew makes the point that we should be more skeptical of the basis for an unaccountable and intrusive security state to begin with. And CSIS' wanton intrusions into personal privacy (which it can't even be bothered to document) look to reinforce the position that the only reasonable direction to pursue is that of dismantling baseless surveillance.

- Finally, the Star's editorial board writes that it's long past time for the federal government to stop breaking its promises and obligations to Canada's First Nations.


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