Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Inconvenient democracy

Climenhaga nails one of the things that bugs me most about the Leap Manifesto. It would be impossible to institute its program in a democracy.

Literally impossible. You could not win power on this program and you could not institute this program even if you didn't spring it on the public until after you took power.

Its a program that casually writes off hundreds of thousands of jobs with an airy 'Oh don't worry, we'll provide training in windmill and solar panel maintenance.'

It's a program that would require confiscation, heavy handed federal control of key extraction and manufacturing sectors, tearing up trade and labour deals, revenue share agreements with First Nations and international contracts.  It would make stakeholders who are ideological friends of the theoretical Leap Manifesto enacting government winners and take people who would be expected to be ideological foes and rubbing their faces into the dirt.

You could do this in China. Indeed, some of the macro steps China is taking now that the way they've poisoned themselves is unmissable seem almost the inspiration here.

You could not institute this program in a democracy.

So this document then becomes the mournful song of the proud loser spelling out just how great things would be in defiantly impossible idealism if you fools would just be smart enough to pick him  - or something more sinister.

There is no persuasion in this document, just ingroup self satisfaction or exclusionary scorn for anyone too selfish and short sighted or possibly some kind of racist capitalist CEO lighting his cigars in boardrooms with hundred dollar bills and for WHATEVER REASON, just not willing to do what it takes to save the world.

People who want to take control of a democratic movement's agenda and possibly its leadership itself who ARE NOT interested in persuasion worry me, and they should worry you too.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Something else to remember.

The NDP hashes out its debates and policy differences and schisms right out in the open. We don't hide, we don't run from cameras and we stand by who and what we are revealed to be in public unhidden and uncensored.

The 2015 Wildrose AGM held its policy debates secretly hidden behind closed doors. The media was not allowed, the contents of these secret meetings were hidden and the results issued forth like proclamations from a shrouded politburo.

If you guessed this was to hide embarrassing rantings about lakes of fire, ungenerous remarks about gay and trans and Muslim and refugee and unionized people, nutty conspiracy theories and paranoid venom... Well how insultingly accurate of you.

Some parties have the courage to stand up forthrightly and say this is who we are, warts and all. We may not all agree and some of the things displayed may even be damaging but at least we aren't hiding our true selves.

A word of warning

To any Wildrosers and Conservatives making hay over the Leap Manifesto or planning to, think seriously about some of the resolutions passed at your own conventions and how much you want the public to believe your party or any government it might form would be bound by them.

The NDP has some people who let idealism overpower common sense. Your parties have some supporters who are straight up hate mongers with extreme and bigoted views far outside the Albertan and Canadian mainstream.

If you want to play dueling embarrassing convention resolutions that is not going to go as well as you think.

What a mess

I'm a proud New Democrat and I've always felt more sympathy for the left wing of the party.   I believe the party made a tragic and mindbogglingly stupid decision to run too far to the right during the election.

Mulcair had to go and deserved to lose.

But the vote to study and debate the Leap Manifesto (NOT adopt it, an important distinction you can expect to be roundly ignored in the coming days and weeks.) massively overcompensated and took the party too far left.

In ten days, and I'm sorry shell-shocked Manitoba New Democrats but its true, there will only be one NDP government in Canada. The convention just made its job far more difficult and its chance of reelection in 3 years far more fraught than it would have been.  That's a pragmatic, unambiguous reality that convention goers were warned against explicitly and chose to ignore.

The Leap Manifesto was a masterpiece of high level manipulative communication.  Long sections full of stuff that all progressives can find to agree with but inextricably bound with poison pills in every section couched in rhetoric deliberately designed to force 'If you disagree with this that means you also disagree with THIS' false conclusions.  I've already had one earnest and slightly hysterical young ND tell me that opposing Leap means 'attacking our environmental and indigenous allies'.  Leap and its supporters rhetoric is explicitly designed to result in such nonsense.

The Alberta NDP and its government and its supporters have been left with no choice but to denounce this manifesto and those who support it in harsh and unforgiving turns.  This will be devastating for party unity and I will be shocked if it doesn't result in increased support for following the example of every other party in the country and disconnecting the provincial and federal parties into separate entities.

All of it unnecessary as the market keeps the oil in the ground anyway and the supporters of Leap congratulate themselves on their moral and political correctness and sneer at the considerations required for basic pragmatic governance.

Saturday, April 09, 2016


My sympathies are usually with the left wing of the party and there's much about Leap that I agree with in principle.

The 'Leave it in the ground' movement is an unforced error damaging to both the provincial and federal party.

Why pick a fight the market is already winning for you?  The oil can't be squeezed out of the sand or pipelines built to ship it at the current price, it would be just barely profitable at twice the price.

OPEC may be finally talking about closing the spigots but Iran has years of sanctions to recover from and will be even more unwilling to follow Saudi lead than usual so an ocean of Iranian oil will be keeping the price lower for quite awhile.

Alberta's NDP government will be improving regulations, promoting renewables and shutting down coal plants in the meantime. 

This is a silly, alienating, unnecessary proposal that looks like an attack on Alberta while the goals of the resolution will largely be achieved by the market anyway.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

You want to be the one to tell him to go to the back of the bus?

This is Buck Angel.

If he  visited North Carolina he would be legally required to use the ladies room in public places and face jail if he didn't because he was born with a vagina.

It's possible the sterling brain trust that is the North Carolina Republican Party have not thought their vicious mean spirited assault on gay and trans people all the way through......

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Ezra Levant now openly embracing racist 'Cuck-shaming' meme popular with the American White Nationalist movement

It's a creepy, racist meme with its origins in fetishistic 'racial porn' and a clear implication of race treason.  It's used to attack political or commentary figures who the far right believe are betraying their race and has, for instance, been used to attack otherwise doctrinaire white right wing conservatives who commit the 'betrayal' of adopting non white children.
As Joseph Bernstein at BuzzFeed points out, cuckold refers to a genre of pornography where married white men willingly watch their wives have sex with other men, often black men. There is a full stable of memes to this effect circulating on the Internet. And as Bernstein explains, the derivative term means that the cuckolded husband represents white politicians impotently surrendering their assumed straight, white constituents to multiculturalism and liberalism.
But for the white nationalist movement, the term has come to represent much more – the ultimate insult to a politicians whose interests, they feel, should be closer in line with the mores and values of the ultra-conservative white nationalist right.
And now Ezra Levant's Rebel media has embraced this racist, fetishistic meme.

Ezra Levant appears to have descended to the depths of not just the American far right but the American white nationalist far right with even more explicit racism than is usual for him.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Question for the day

Question for the day, if Danielle Smith and Jim Prentice hadn't tried their ultimately disastrous little coup-slash-merger and both had gone into the provincial election leading their respective parties would the election result have been different?

Its an article of faith with right wingers that yes, it would. That the scandal hung over the election leading to the dismay that made people vote NDP purely as a protest vote against the government, certainly not because they actually wanted them to WIN.

Progressives believe the result would have been pretty much the same and in one of the few areas of accord Danielle Smith agrees, arguing the election results vindicates the unite the right attempt even if it failed. That she and Prentice had taken a long hard look at polling showing Alberta moving considerably to the left and tried to save Alberta from an NDP victory that happened anyway.

So is there an alternate universe next door where Jim Prentice managed to win and the Wildrose is either the opposition under Danielle Smith or in third party status? Or is Rachel Notley still Premier in the Alberta where Smith and Prentice never attempted their shotgun wedding of Alberta right wingers?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Alberta NDP outrageously refuse to stop governing just because it makes right wingers unhappy

The CFIB, a far right front group masquerading as a small business federation calls for the Alberta NDP to reverse all of the policies they were elected on because of the downturn.

If we were in a recovery the rationale would be 'cancel your policies so as not to risk the recovery.' If we were in good times their argument would be to 'Cancel all your policies to avoid causing a downturn.' There is NO CIRCUMSTANCE OR CONDITIONS under which they would ever support NDP policies - which mainstream economists would consider straightforward Keynesian stimulus and refusal to protect the well off at the expense of the weakest.

Their objections are not pragmatic, nonpartisan, reality based or any other variation of 'Just the facts ma'am.' that they pretend they are. They are ideological and based on economic theories strongly disputed by the majority of serious economists. The theories that opposed pensions, public health care, infrastructure spending, child labour laws, the very existence of minimum wages or basic labour and environmental standards as tyranny.

These are extreme radicals far outside of the Alberta mainstream being puffed up and supported by a right wing media controlled by corporate interests who benefit directly from such theories being implemented.

Like the angry extremists calling for Albertan's democratic will to be annulled because the election didn't turn out the way they had hoped, they are driven by a profoundly antidemocratic animus to the will of the people.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Judge who berated rape victim is a Conservative Party hack

In September of 2014 Judge Robin Camp of the Alberta provincial court acquitted Alexander Scott Wagar a six foot one 240 pound man of the rape of a 100 pound 19 year old girl.  Throughout the trial the Judge repeatedly referred to the alleged victim as 'the accused', asked her why she just didn't just keep her knees together and pronounced from the bench that "sex and pain sometimes go together, that — that's not necessarily a bad thing."

The case was successfully appealed and will be retried.  Three months after the appeal was filed Justice Minister Peter Mackay appointed Camp to the federal Bench.The fact that Camp had TWO appeals against his rulings for basic mistakes of law and grotesque breach of impartiality would have been completely available to Mackay at the time he appointed Camp.  Camp is now barred from hearing cases as the case against him heats up.

Alberta Attorney General Kathleen Ganley has forced an inquiry into the conduct of Federal Court Justice Robin Camp after his controversial remarks during a sexual assault trial surfaced late last year.
By asking the Canadian Judicial Council to move the complaint to a formal inquiry, the council will skip the review panel phase of its investigation.
Camp got his law degree in South Africa in the 1970s when apartheid was still the law of the land.  He is an Alberta Tory Party insider, Managing Partner in the same law firm as Alison Redford's husband in commercial law (The same law firm at the center of a roiling scandal over improper tendering of Alberta's tobacco company litigation.) before being appointed to the provincial bench by the government of the day.  Because he was already a provincial court judge he could then be appointed to the Federal bench without the same kind of vigorous review other candidates have to go through.

He was also on the board of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a far right legal group founded by Reform Party and Wildrose party member John Carpay who once berated Ralph Klein for failing to use the Notwithstanding clause to block gay rights.   With connections to the Fraser Institute and other far right groups and secretive about their funding despite the explicitly political nature of their activism they are known for their opposition to human rights legislation and hate speech laws, their defense of Trinity Western University over its discrimination against gays and their attempts to override democracy and undermine public healthcare through legal assault. 

He's a prominent, high profile member of the Canadian right wing establishment.

The Conservatives, both provincial and federal were so eager to get a true believer  Conservative insider on the court they appointed a monster.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Memories of the Apocalyse

The thing about contemporary American crime and thriller cinema, cop shows, serial killer horror movies, every piece of pop culture that assumes a huge level of violence in the world that requires a violent armed hero, is that it is documenting a period in America when a huge percentage of its population was suffering from chemical brain damage.

The huge crime rate spike in the US that started in the early 60's and then dropped just as precipitously in the early 90's exactly parallels the introduction of leaded gasoline in the 1920's and its replacement with unleaded in the early 1970's.  A generation suffering from lead poisoning which lowers intellect and degrades impulse control came of age at once and the poorer the neighborhood the worse the poisoning was due to lead paint, leaded windows and proximity to industrial activity.

Then a new generation came of age born after the introduction of the catalytic converter and the mass switch to unleaded gasoline with just enough less lead in their environment to miss the tipping point that causes major IQ impairment and violent impulse control issues.  Suddenly a massive police state apparatus built when sky high violent crime stats were assumed to be the new normal is using tactics designed for a far more violent population than they are dealing with.

So law, policing policy and pop culture in the US assumes a vastly more violent society than currently exists due to everyone involved in its formation and maintenance coming of age during a mass violent brain damage epidemic that for the most part ended decades ago.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Overheated Rhetoric, Overheated Supporters

Brian Jean bears personal responsibility for the extreme attacks and threats against Rachel Notley from his supporters that he is finally, belatedly speaking against.

The government mishandled the rollout of what they saw as a commonsense implementation of rules that have been clearly on the table since long before the election as inevitable components of any future farm worker legislation.  Rules that have been discussed and consulted on and refined for literally years.  The suggestion that they are now being implemented too quickly with insufficient consultation is absurd on its face.

Brian Jean led the charge against rules he knew had been consulted on, that he knew would inevitably come in by judicial fiat if the government didn't legislate them first, that he knew would not impact traditional family farming or cooperative seasonal activities between neighbors.

Rules that he knew both he and the Wildrose had supported in whole in the past.

Despite all these things that Brian Jean knew, both he and his party engaged in a despicably dishonest and irresponsible assault on Bill 6, seemingly entirely for partisan gain.

Brian Jean needs to remember who his supporters are.  Brian Jean needs to remember that overheated rhetoric when delivered to overheated people is frankly and unambiguously dangerous incitement.

The Official Opposition of Alberta is a right wing party that defined itself in right wing rebellion against... a right wing government.  These are not conservatives, either small 'c' or big 'C'. These are radicals, extreme right-wingers by Canadian standards, who viewed the the PC government, easily the most right wing governing party in Canada, hostile to labour and the environment, light on regulation and fighting equal rights for gays to the bitter end....with utter contempt.

The Wild Rose was formed to oppose this as too moderate and liberal!

Brian Jean is trying to appear reassuring and rational and sunny.  He is leading a party of far right extremists and he needs to remember that the next time he's thinking of throwing a match into a pool of gasoline.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Who would have thunk it

The cesspool of drooling, maniacal hatred becomes too much to ignore and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean feels compelled to call for a minimum of basic civility - or at least no more death threats - in a Facebook post this morning.

His supporters furiously turn on him in the comments section for opposing death threats and violent rhetoric.

The Wildrose sows hatred and contempt for the democratic choice of Albertans with apocalyptic rhetoric and blatant lies about government policies - policies they actually used to support until their was political hay to be made in railing about socialist tyranny - and are then surprised with what they reap.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Losers don't get to appoint the Refs for the next game

The Conservative attempt to stack the deck with a massive wave of appointments, many not even starting till after the election was a shocking and almost (Turner tried it too.) unprecedented abuse. 

You do not handcuff an incoming government like that and it bespeaks utter contempt for democracy and the will of the people.

 Now of course the government's objection is not entirely so high minded; the Liberal Party of Canada is primarily a carefully tooled loot dispensing machine. Tying their hands on patronage appointments must have offended them on an existential level.

 All of these people should have offered their resignations the day after the election rather than wait to be asked and should be publicly shamed if they resist being shown the door now. There will doubtless be lawsuits over this but the principal that you don't try to imprint your government on appointed positions just before an election every poll shows you are about to lose should have been respected.

Then there's this wonderful Freudian slip from Rona Ambrose who seems to have a very limited palate of emotional affect, mostly just flinty-eyed and grimly seething which makes her customary word salad in defense of the indefensible even funnier:

"[J]ust because it was a Conservative government doesn't mean none of these people are qualified. There's a lot of incredibly credible, qualified people," she said.

Incredibly credible indeed.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Falling for it

Somebody attacked a guy with a knife on the London subway.

Not scared enough about a piece of random street crime on the other side of the world yet?

Okay he also shouted scary Muslim stuff at the same time.


Congratulations, you just told angry, frustrated, egotistical potential maniacs all over the world that the best way to get noticed for once is to shout Muslim stuff when they do what they already would have done.

And gave the real terrorists what they want. Terror.

19 teenagers alone have been stabbed in London this year, there's been a surge in knife violence. But this one is getting worldwide news because the stabber had some dodgy Islamist pamphlets in his flat and shouted about Syria when he committed the crime.

Hook, line and sinker.

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