Saturday, September 26, 2015

The comparison of ultra orthodox Haredi with the Taliban is routinely made in Israel and the Israeli media

Harassing, abusing and even assaulting women on planes and busses when they don't give up their seats to a Haredi man. Stabbing a teenage girl to death at a gay pride parade, burning a Palestinian infant to death.

Not surprisingly, within Israel and the Israeli media itself the Taliban comparison is routinely made.

But criticisms and comparisons frequently made by Israelis are apparently beyond the pale when noted by anyone else.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Seriously, the Facebook Likes story is a big deal

A CBC reporter finds himself unwillingly 'Liking' the Conservative Party

When asked, the Liberals, NDP and Greens firmly denied that they would ever buy Facebook Likes stolen from Canadians with malware.
The Conservatives said it was 'an internal party matter' and refused to answer any more questions.
Third-party websites or videos that you are clicking on may have malware embedded in them, and you won't even know, that's the thing. It's very insidious in how it can happen and it's also very quick." 
It turns out there are lots of people out there selling "likes." 
Suddenly you are liking companies, organizations, even political parties, and unless someone tells you, or you check your settings, you wouldn't know anything about it. 
"Peer-to-peer recommendation is huge," says Parker. "If I know you well and I see that Reg likes a certain brand, and I'm looking to shop, maybe I say, 'Well, if Reg is liking that, maybe I need to take a second look.'" 
This liking business happened to chocolatier Constance Popp, too. 
She loves chocolate, but when a friend told her that she had somehow "liked' the Conservative Party of Canada on Facebook, it left a sour taste in her mouth.
"And they asked if I purposely liked it," says Popp, "and I said no, and I found myself having to defend that I really didn't do that." 
So the question is, are political parties buying phoney "likes" on Facebook? 
The Liberals, Greens and NDP all said pretty much the same thing. They said they buy advertising, but they don't buy likes.The Conservative Party's director of communications, Cory Hann, however, said: "Thanks for reaching out to us. On this question, it's an internal party matter."  
It could be argued that response doesn't really answer the question at all.
This is a big deal.  This is identity theft by way of computer crime and Canada's governing party describes their participation in it as 'an internal party matter'.

It's actually a criminal offense.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Harper's new campaign fixer is a virulent racist

First this:
Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are reaching overseas for expert election help in a bid to regain their footing and halt a slide in the polls, bringing in globetrotting Australian campaign doctor Lynton Crosby.
Crosby is known as the Wizard from Oz, and is considered one of the world’s top political strategists. He helped David Cameron retain the prime minister’s office in Britain, and just last month engineered victory in Sri Lanka’s election.
Crosby also helped Boris Johnson get elected mayor of London.
The Conservatives have looked abroad for ideas in the past, but this is the first time they’ve brought in a fixer from overseas in mid-campaign. The campaign had already been speaking to Crosby, but he joins the team as they refocus following several weeks of being forced off their main messages.
Then this:
The man David Cameron has picked to head his Election campaign once launched a foul-mouthed rant against Muslims.
Outspoken Australian ‘fixer’ Lynton Crosby used the phrase ‘f****** Muslims’ in a diatribe while working for London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Mr Crosby’s outburst came earlier this year as Mr Johnson’s aides discussed whether to devote more attention to wooing the ethnic minority vote in his battle with Labour’s Ken Livingstone.
According to a source, Mr Crosby said Mr Johnson should concentrate on traditional Tory voters instead of ‘f****** Muslims’. The source added: ‘He definitely used that phrase’ and said: ‘Lynton’s view was that chasing the Muslim vote and other ethnic groups was a waste of time –  and he frequently expressed himself in very strong terms. Some people found it very offensive.’
 So we can assume Harper's re-calibration will not be to chase the Muslim vote.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Grownups are now running the Show

Unapologetic common sense about stimulus during recessions.

The Friedmanites of the Calgary School still repetitively reciting their stale and discredited creed will howl and chant their anethemas and clutch their stained copies of the Fountainhead fearfully to their breasts.

But grownups are finally running the show in Alberta.
Alberta’s NDP government may boost spending on public infrastructure as a salve for an ailing provincial economy that has been battered by the slumping price of oil.
Finance Minister Joe Ceci told reporters Wednesday the government has received and is reviewing a report from former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge that it commissioned this summer to examine Alberta’s capital spending.
Ceci said the government isn’t ready to make announcements, but noted increasing capital spending — on infrastructure projects such as roads, hospitals and schools — would give a shot in the arm to private sector companies contracted by the government to do the work.
“Where we’re in a down cycle economically, counter-cyclical spending by governments on public infrastructure is seen as a good investment, especially in this low (interest rate) borrowing time,” Ceci said in Banff, where the NDP caucus was holding a retreat.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Sleazy Partisan Attack

The takeaway that reliably partisan hack Warren Kinsella gets from the tragic death of Alan Kurdi, while farcically decrying the way others have made partisan hay over it, is that NDP MP Fin Donnelly should resign.
If this is true – if, contrary to what he claimed to the media, no application at all was made on the family of that boy – he should resign.  He has not only tried to politicize that child’s death, he has lied to do so.
His logic is that since no formal refugee application had specifically been made for Alan Kurdi, it was deceptive to argue the family had been denied.

Tima Kurdi had in fact applied to sponsor her other brother Mohammed but when that application was denied for his not having UNHCR official refugee designation she hadn't even tried to apply for the rest of the family.

This was, of course, because they didn't have that UNHCR designation either.  Almost nobody does making it impossible for almost any privately sponsored Syrian refugees to get into Canada for a very simple reason completely under Immigration Minister Chris Alexander's control which is why he is being held responsible.
The Conservative government imposed a new rule for potential refugees in 2012 — a change refugee groups say is squarely to blame for why so few Syrians have made it to Canadian soil.
The rule also appears to have played a key role in the government’s refusal to let a B.C. woman, Tima Kurdi, privately sponsor her brother Mohammed Kurdi and his family to come to Canada.
After Mohammed’s application was returned to Tima, their other brother, Abdullah, tried to flee with his family from Turkey to Greece. Their boat capsized and Abdullah’s two young sons and wife all drowned. Pictures of three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body washed ashore in Turkey shocked the world this week.
The refugee groups say they have repeatedly called on Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and the government to exempt Syrians from the rule — which says the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) or another country must first designate a person as a refugee before immigration officials will consider letting them be privately sponsored to come to Canada.
But they say their requests have been ignored.
 So it is perfectly, technically correct to say that the Kurdi's hadn't officially applied for Alan and his family after it was made clear by Mohammed's rejection that any such application would be automatically denied, perfectly accurate while simultaneously despicably, grotesquely deceptive.

But Kinsella is more eager to score points against the NDP than in holding this wretched, squalid government with the ultimate responsibility for the death of Alan Kurdi and many more like him to account.

UPDATE: From the Guardian, who get it even if Kinsella doesn't:

Thursday, September 03, 2015

The Attitude Behind It

If You Care

If you care about the economy, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about healthcare, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about privacy and civil rights, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about veterans, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about the lives of First Nations people and native children getting a fraction of the education funding that the rest of Canada's children get and thousands of women abducted and murdered,  you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about corruption, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about democracy and open, responsive governance, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about Canada's standing in the world, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about the environment - at all - you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

You CANNOT vote for Stephen Harper.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What's so hard about that?

Believing Harper just means believing that a paranoid, micromanaging control freak with a history of taking an active heavy hand in even the slightest minutia of the PMOs office, was completely unaware of convoluted months of scheming from those closest to him  to deal with a brewing scandal involving a star Tory Senator and serious financial malfeasance.

And then that this PM, known for his vindictive take no prisoners approach to betrayal and failure and those he considers enemies kept most of these trusted advisors on, even to run his reelection campaign, despite months and months of them lying to him to cover up unethical activity resulting in a huge scandal that has damaged his electoral prospects.

What's so hard about that?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Astonishing, Infuriating and ultimately terrifying.

The Tyee's comprehensive document of indictment against the Conservative government is something every Canadian should read to be reminded in the aggregate of the many crimes and misdemenors of this corrupt and dangerous government.
Stephen Harper and his Conservatives have racked up dozens of serious abuses of power since forming government in 2006. From scams to smears, monkey-wrenching opponents to intimidating public servants like an Orwellian gorilla, some offences are criminal, others just offend human decency.
This is more Nixonian than Nixon, more Dick Cheney style malevolence than even the savage former Vice President would have ever dared to indulge himself in.  Stephen Harper makes Vladimer Putin look like a cuddly devotee to the rule of law.

Stephen Harper's government is an ongoing, organized criminal enterprise.

The Quintessential Conservative MP

Sunday, August 09, 2015

The Pendulum Swing

There seems to be a resurgence for the left in electoral politics.  Bernie Sanders is drawing huge crowds and worrying establishment Democrats and in the UK Jeremy Corbyn, originally a protest nomination for Labour party leadership and very much a UK equivalent of Sanders is causing alarm among Blairite Labour Party elites by giving every sign that he might be about to win.

And of course here in Canada the so called center left Liberals are a distant third while the left wing NDP is a credible contender for government itself.

The so called center left parties like Canada's Liberals internalized the message post Reagan that the only alternative was neoliberal economics and politics run for the benefit of the few and the wealthy with at best, some token nobelese oblige thrown to the poor as their policies swelled their ranks.  Emboldened, the political right charged ever further down the field to the kind of far right extremism that conservatives once purged from their ranks dragging the hapless moderate middle with them.

Now Canadian Liberals, Wall Street Democrats and Blairite Labour Party grandees all watch in shock and fury as the progressives they have repeatedly used, abused, lied to and disrespected abandon them in droves.  'Such people are unelectable!' they howl 'You are throwing power to the far right!' - who they share almost all the same policies with - but such alarmist rhetoric is based on outdated views of the electorate at large.

In the US the public at large elected a black man named Barack Hussein Obama as President in 2008 and re-elected him four years later and will elect any of the Democrats currently vying for the nomination Clinton, Sanders, ANYONE over any of the lunatics currently cage-battling to run the Republicans.

In Canada the NDP just elected a majority government in the most right wing province in the country and is polling in the lead federally.  In the UK the Labour Party just lost the most recent election largely because they became too right wing to keep the support of Scottish voters who turned to a left wing nationalist alternative and until they realize that if people want to vote Tory they will vote Tory not Tory lite they will be in permanent opposition. 

Far from being a disaster Corbyn is their only hope.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Acting with principle makes the difference

Desperate, poll driven policy designed to triangulate with ruthless electoral precision and avoid giving the government something to attack them with has driven the Liberal Party down to third party status.

Firmly and conscientiously opposing the Government's hop, skip and a jump from a police state overplay with C-51 was viewed as a catastrophic mistake by the NDP.  Commentators confidently predicted that Thomas Mulcair had misread the public mood after the attack on parliament and this would be where the Liberals, more in tune with the electorate would pull away into firm second place and Harper, most in tune of all, into the lead.

Instead, despite the great effort of the media to create that narrative, the Canadian public recoiled in disgust from the savage, ideological Conservatives and also the blatant, amoral schemers the Liberals openly pronounced themselves to be.

"“I do not want this government making political hay out of an issue … or trying to, out of an issue as important as security for Canadians,This conversation might be different if we weren’t months from an election campaign, but we are,” - Justin Trudeau

And so the rights and freedoms of Canadians are knowingly and openly sacrificed to protect the Liberal Party of Canada's standing in the polls.  This has always been the Liberal Party's MO, Trudeau's just the first leader stupid enough to admit it openly. 

Meanwhile the NDP stood on principle and staked out a position that was deeply unpopular in the polls, and benefit now from being there waiting when the Canadian public reached the same conclusion.

That's called leadership, its something voters remember in the polling booth.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The Fraser Institute's Incredible Shrinking Credibility

The American media notices just how much a joke the Fraser Institute is.

Soon it will just be the Calgary Herald left, breathlessly repeating the Fraser Institute's nonsense as if it had any credibility or usefulness.

Well the Calgary Herald is the staggering drooling joke of Canadian print journalism, which considering the embarrassing fish-wrapper competition is very strong in this country is  really saying something. 

It only makes sense that they would be joined at the hip to the most embarrassingly stupid right wing propaganda operation with pretenses to serious political and economic criticism in Canada. Again, a title with a lot of competition but one the Fraser Institute stoops to conquer.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Conflicted about Foothills

This is hard, I'm conflicted and not happy to be writing this.

Bob Hawkesworth has thrown his hat into the ring for the Foothills by-election to replace Jim Prentice who took his ball and slunk home on election night resigning his seat before the votes that won it for him were even counted.

Bob is a stellar candidate, experienced, skilled and a great potential addition to Alberta's NDP government.  He kept the NDP fires burning in Calgary during some dark years and I'd be glad to see him in government now that the party is in ascendency.


He had the chance to run in the general.  He could have put himself out there, back in the startlingly recent days when running as a New Democrat in Calgary was quixotic at best.  He didn't.  Anne Wilson did. 

Anne Wilson is a criminal lawyer specializing in legal aid cases who put her life on hold to make a kamikaze run against the leader of the mighty PC dynasty in Calgary Foothills in order to bring attention to starved social services in Alberta.  While Bob sat the General out, she was campaigning hard against the leader of the PCs.  And ultimately came within a few thousand votes of beating him as the orange wave crushed the Progressive Conservative Party.

Lots of commentators recognize that between the wave, the government's honeymoon and lingering anger at Prentice's punk move on election night Calgary Foothills is an extremely likely pickup for the NDP in the coming by-election.

And now, Bob Hawkesworth has thrown his hat in the ring.

And as much as I like him, as much as I think he'd make a great candidate and a great MLA that offends my sense of justice.

Anne Wilson put herself out there, she knocked on doors and put up signs and committed months of her life to give the NDP a voice in a riding that was an all but guaranteed PC win.  Bob sat the General out, there no shame in that, he's put himself on the line in a lot of elections and won some and lost some, he was in fact the guy who beat Jim Prentice the first time he ever ran for office decades ago. He had every right in the world to take a break from campaigning, maybe he was saving himself for the federal race or had family considerations or just didn't want to expend the energy on an all but guaranteed loss.

But Anne Wilson did.

She put her life on hold she campaigned hard and she came within a few thousand votes of defeating the leader of the PCs in the party's stronghold.

And now Bob Hawkesworth wants to, forgive the hyperbole, swoop in and benefit from the orange wave that Anne Wilson along with all the other NDP candidates helped create in the general.

Once again, Bob is awesome, he's a great guy, he'd make a great candidate, a great MLA and probably with his long experience a great cabinet minister.

But pushing aside the woman who put the work in during the general now that the byelection is a much better bet for an NDP candidate leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A week of big wins for Progressive Americans (But a very bad week is coming for abortion rights)

This was an amazing week of wins for progressive Americans. 

Obamacare has defeated what was probably the last chance to strangle it in its cradle and there's not just no path to kill it now, there's no time left to kill it before it becomes a beloved and untouchable program the way Medicare did.  In a few years the Republicans will be denying they ever opposed it.  Much the same story as their once fierce opposition to Medicare which they will now scramble to promise to support at every opportunity.

A horrifying massacre proved to be the tipping point for one of the most divisive symbols of the culture war right wing media hustlers are trying as hard to stoke as the race war terrorist Dylan Roof was trying to inspire.  Instead he was the catalyst to turn white southerners away from a divisive symbol of the war he was trying to start.

And then the Supreme Court declared once and for all and everywhere in the United States that gay Americans are equal and their love is equal.  A ruling met with public joy and public mockery of those who didn't share that joy.  A massive social transformation in America has brought gay Americans unambiguously into the American family.

Next week the other shoe will drop.

Expect the Supreme Court to savagely restrict the medical choices of American women, possibly just by declining to hear a challenge to a Texas law poised to wipe out abortion access in the state, the trend the last few years of massive growing acceptance for gay Americans has been darkly mirrored by ever decreasing access to abortion for American women, particularly poor and minority women. 

A look at the cases the Supremes have left to rule on and their voting history on abortion restriction cases indicate the right to abortion is in severe and immediate danger.

A week of victories doesn't mean the battle to sustain and expand progressive policies in America is over.

It's never over.

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