Sunday, September 30, 2007

Calgary Municipal Election: Freaks, Losers and Burnouts edition

You'd think if you're Richard Evans and you're running for office, with an election just weeks away, you'd have better things to do then cyber-squatting on domains for other people's screen names and re-directing them to NAMBLA's homepage. You'd be wrong.

The only thing more sad and pathetic then doing something so juvenile is having nobody but the terminally stupid and/or those with an axe to grind actually falling for it.

So aside from a professional internet troll, we also have Steve Chapman, a member of the Progressive Group for Independent Wingnuts Business, and partner in obsessive lunacy with Craig Chandler, the guy who thinks you shouldn't be allowed to live in Alberta unless you vote Conservative. He's running in my ward and this will be his third kick at the can. He came very close to winning last time, so if you live in Ward 8 and you'd rather not shamefacedly tell friends and family across the country 'yes that's the loonie who represents me.' vote early and often.

We've got some embarrassing incumbents too, like Ric McIver, who fanatically pursued supporting the troops with stickers on city vehicles, but voted against letting the ones serving in Afghanistan being able to vote in city elections.

So all in all, no crazier or more reactionary a mix than you'd find in city council elections anywhere in Canada.

Well, maybe a little.

UPDATE: I can't believe I almost forgot Ward 6 incumbent Craig Burrows, who thinks the real problem in Alberta is that workers have too many rights, specifically he'd ban their right to go on strike. This of course would create second class citizens out of Albertans covered by provincial labor laws - to be fair Alberta's labour laws already make Alberta's workers second class citizens - but wouldn't affect telecom workers, railway workers, federal civil servants, posties - anybody who falls under federal labour law. It's also pretty unambiguously a recipe for chaos and even violence.

See my first post on the election and Calgary Municipal Election: Support the troops edition.

Hit the Calgary label to see all my civic election posts.

Sunday Linkblast - September 30

Friday, September 28, 2007

The hot new teen fad: Self Immolation

The first thoughts that go through my head when I hear the words 'flaming axe' are Jimi Hendrix at Monterey. This apparently, is just another sign of how old I am, because it now means turning a lighter and a can of Axe body spray into an improvised flame thrower and igniting yourself for the amusement of your friends and a YouTube audience.

Of course anything's better than actually using the stuff as a cologne. Ever been trapped in close proximity to a teenager who thinks Axe, and lots of it, is an effective substitute for soap? It'll make you want to rip your eyes out and plug your nose with them if your sinuses don't shut down automatically in self defense.

To be fair, I remember friends doing this trick with oven cleaner or hair spray when I was a kid but primarily as an improvised weapon in the occasional battles between punks, headbangers and skinheads on the suburban streets of Vancouver in the 80's. These were not Einsteins- some of them were huffing the leftovers - but even they would have thought doing it to yourself for kicks would be moronic.

Is this just another example of evolution in action?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A promise that was never going to be kept

I said a year and a half ago in the halcyon days of April '06 that the Harper promise to create 125,000 new childcare spaces was a knowing lie. Conservative commentors were shocked, shocked at my cynicism.

Now here we are. The government admits that the promise won't be kept and the experts in the field shrug and say, yeah, their 'private investment' plan was never going to produce the spaces they said it would - it failed in the Harris government in Ontario and it was always going to fail federally.

They knew this. They can't claim it's come as a surprise.

So all over Canada, thousands of childcare spaces that would have existed under the Martin Liberal plan - flawed, insufficient, a desperate last minute plan to avoid well earned electoral annihilation, but at least a plan - do not exist. Parents that could have used those spaces as part of the task of increasing their household's economic stability, maybe even clawing their way above the poverty mark, are getting a piddling $25 a week and getting taxed even on that.

And the Conservatives who made a promise they knew wouldn't be kept shrug their shoulders and say 'whaddaya gonna do?'

Let's play a game

Just to continue on in the same theme of my previous post, let's see if anybody out there can provide an example of progressive social or economic policy -Deeds not words - by a federal Liberal government that wasn't forced on them by the courts or a minority government position - in say, the last 25 years. You know what? Forget the time-line, if you've got something that's thirty or forty or fifty years old, lets hear it. That will tell us something too.

Anyone?

Anyone at all?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Here comes the sellout

I hate to say I told you so..... actually that's a damned lie, I quite enjoy saying I told you so. So, on the subject of the Liberal Party's impending sellout of Canadians on the Conservative throne speech vote, I told you so.

Dion's so called tough conditions are the political equivalent of a beaten dog rolling over and exposing his vitals. Watch Dion leap on any marginal, purely notational Conservative compromises that pretend to cater to his 'demands' in any way shape or form.

We're staying in Afghanistan, we're abandoning Kyoto, there will be some minimal and almost completely theoretical nod to poverty - nothing more than we'd get from a Liberal majority government, so nothing much.

And Stephen Harper and the Conservatives will be staying in power with the active connivance and support of the other right wing party in Canada's parliament.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Voter Suppression

You could say that Voter ID laws are a solution in search of a problem given the paucity of evidence that any kind of wide-spread in person voting fraud exists, but of course they are a solution to a problem identified by the proponents of these laws:

Too many poor people are voting.

Underneath all the pious bleating about 'protecting the process' and 'fighting fraud' the underlying concern is nakedly partisan and tactical. The more people who vote - particularly among the lower socioeconomic spectrum, the more people who vote for leftists.

This was what was the most offensive about Harper's attacks on Mayrand, demanding that he do the Conservative's partisan dirty work for them. The changes that were demanded of Mayrand would have opened the door for a requirement for photo-id at the voting booth without it ever having to be debated by our elected representatives, and photo-id requirements are about weeding out the kind of people who don't have photo-id from voting at all.

And the kind of people who don't have photo-id aren't the kind of people voting Conservative.

In the US these kind of laws are of a piece with the mysterious and official looking signs that appear on telephone poles and walls in poorer neighborhoods just before election day warning that if you have traffic tickets you'll be arrested at the polling station, or that election day has been rescheduled and your new polling station is somewhere else altogether.

It's the more subtle end of the spectrum from armed racists demanding proof of citizenship from Latinos who show up to vote or the 'literacy tests' that used to be required in the South - that always seemed to have more stringent requirements the darker a prospective voters skin was.

The issue of requiring photo ids to vote in the US is now going to the Supreme Court, a Supreme Court carefully stacked with right wing Republicans, but one that has shown a certain independence from partisanship on at least some issues. It will be interesting to see how they rule.

Here in Canada progressives should start thinking about government ID drives similar to the registration drives the American system requires to get the vote out, but which have been hitherto unnecessary here. There are concerted efforts afoot to drive down the number of voters with specific partisan goals. This is a fight that needs to be won, but back-up plans predicated on losing it should be in place as well.

When even Bush gets it...

...how hard to understand can it be?

Although many conservatives condemned the university's decision to invite Mr Ahmadinejad, Columbia's right to do so was defended by the country's most senior Republican.

"I'm not so sure I'd offer the same invitation, but nevertheless, it speaks volumes about the greatness, really, of America," said George Bush. "We're confident enough to let a person express his views. I just really hope he tells everybody the truth.

"He's the head of a state sponsor of terror, and yet, an institution in our country gives him the chance to express his point of view, which really speaks to the freedoms of the country," the American president told Fox Television.
How will the 30%ers respond to Chimpy repeating what the hated liberals have been saying for the past week about letting Ahmadinejad have his say being part of what freedom of expression is all about?

Their heads might just explode from the sheer cognitive dissonance.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Drunken Lullabies

Flogging Molly

Sunday Linkblast - Sept 23

Saturday, September 22, 2007

So how will they justify it?

The Liberals I mean, and voting for the government throne speech next month.

They're going to, we all know it. The NDP won't, the Bloc can't so aside from the purely partisan selfish needs of protecting the Liberal Party from an election they're terrified of, how will Dion and the Liberals justify supporting Stephen Harper and his Neo-con agenda?

Updates: 'Nuh-uh!'
and: 'It's not you, it's me.'

On the Radio

Regina Spektor live at Lollapalooza

Calgary Municipal Election: Support the Troops edition

What is supporting the troops?

Is agitating for stickers supporting the troops?

Is taking the vote away from the troops supporting them?

As Calgary's excellent independent weekly FFWD reports, Ward 12 Ald. Ric McIver has been agitating since July for 'support the troops' stickers to be added to all city vehicles. The motion has been repeatedly voted down.

And rightly so; I have never once met anyone who doesn't support the troops - including among those most vehemently opposed to the Afghanistan mission. The 'support the troops' meme, one of the more toxic imported by Canada's right wing from America's right wing, is actually a rhetorical stick to bash those who oppose the mission.

Many - in fact the majority of Canadians at this time - believe supporting the troops means opposing the mission and believe, accurately I think, that the real message of 'support the troops' is 'support the mission' or by opposing it you are opposing the troops. The motion has been voted down every time it's been brought to council.

The same Ald. Ric McIver voted to ban mail-in ballots for city elections after a scandal involving fraudulent ballots during the last election. Ironically the scandal showed that the system worked, because the perpetrators were caught. But in a panicky rush to judgement the Calgary city council banned all mail-in ballots.

Which means the the same member of city council agitating for a shiny sticker to support the troops voted to take the vote away from Calgarians serving our country in Afghanistan.

But it's okay, because he supports shiny stickers even if he doesn't support the troops.

See my first post on the election.

Hit the Calgary label to see all my civic election posts.

Post-Net Neutrality

Confused by the whole net neutrality debate? Here's the explanation in one graphic nutshell:

Spotted at Boing Boing

Thursday, September 20, 2007

To Parity and beyond!

The Canadian and US dollar reached parity today for the first time since 1976. Some analysts predict it will soon outstrip the American currency.
"Fundamentally this country is head and shoulders above the United States on an economic basis."
So a mix of our economy rising and theirs staggering, really high commodity prices for our wheat and oil - and of course the fact that we aren't vomiting blood and treasure into a Mesopotamian quagmire makes a big difference. That and the housing bubble hasn't popped as bad on us as it did for them and we never had as big a sub-prime debacle.

I would argue that a big contributing factor is that with our mixed market approach we haven't fallen into the market fundamentalist trap that has beggared their infrastructure and destabilized their society with huge wealth imbalances. That and the old right wing dependence on massive deficit spending to paper over the deliberate wealth distribution upwards. They're one Chinese foreclosure away from complete paralysis.

We're headed in the wrong direction on all of these issues but the Americans are much further along on the road to ruin.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Alberta Oil Royalties Review: Albertans deserve another two billion a year

I'll admit to being surprised. I wondered what the frantic squealing I could hear through my window over downtown Calgary was this afternoon, turns out it was dozens of explosive prolapses in oil company boardrooms across the city.

A panel reviewing the fairness of Alberta's royalty take from oil and gas development said today Albertans are not collecting a fair share and recommended a massive jump in royalties paid by oilsands projects.

The six-member panel headed by Bill Hunter recommended that the government's overall take from oilsands projects be raised to 64%, from 49% today. The panel recommends leaving the 1% pre-payout royalty unchanged, but that the post-pay out royalty be increased to 33%, from 25%.

"Albertans do not receive their fair share from energy development and they have not, in fact, been receiving their fair share for quite some time," Mr. Hunter said in a letter to Alberta Finance Minister Lyle Oberg. "Royalty rates and formulas have not kept pace with changes in the resource base, world energy markets and conditions in other energy rich jurisdictions.
....

Premier Ed Stelmach, who launched the review last February, a promise he made in his leadership campaign to replace Ralph Klein, said he will respond to the report by mid-October.

"Albertans made it clear that examining the province's royalty regime was a priority to ensure they are receiving their fair share from energy resource development," he said.

The energy sector, the province's economic engine, is likely to be shocked at the recommendations after pleading for maintaining the status quo. Its view is based on escalating costs in the oilsands that generally make projects uneconomic when oil prices fall below US$50 a barrel. It had also argued for the status quo for conventional production, which in Alberta is mostly natural gas, because high costs and low commodity prices made the business increasingly challenging.

"The energy industry generally took the view that little in royalty and fiscal regime needs attention, while the municipalities, non-industry interest groups and the public were nearly unanimous in taking a different view," the report said.

Now Premier 'Special Ed' Stelmach will spend the next month frantically trying to figure out how to ignore the recommendations of his own review. Refusing to implement the housing review recommendations only cost the PCs Ralph Klein's old riding, how much will punting this report cost them?

Holocaust drama on Iranian state TV

So the most popular show on Iranian TV right now is called 'Zero Degree Turn' a drama about the Holocaust. It shows Jews being dragged off to the concentration camps by the Nazis and the hero is a Palestinian Iranian who sneaks Jewish refugees out of Europe. In order to appear on state TV the program had to be approved by Iranian religious authorities.

The show, the most expensive production in Iranian history, has drawn an avid audience of Iranians riveted by the plight of its characters.
"Once, I wept when I learned through the film what a dreadful destiny the small nation had during the World War, in the heart of so-called civilized Europe," said Mahboubeh Rahamati, a Teheran bank teller.
Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel. The program was made with their active cooperation.

Since the story of this TV show appeared in AP and Wall Street Journal articles the right wing blogosphere has jumped on an untranslated story in the German magazine Spiegel claiming the program is actually anti-Semitic or at least anti-Zionist and actually blames the Holocaust on Zionists who wanted to force European Jews to re-settle in Palestine. The International Herald Tribune reports that although some Iranian hardliners have certainly put this interpretation on the show it does not seem to have appeared overtly in its story-lines as of yet.

So far at least the biggest objection of the 'bomb Iran' crowd may be that the show doesn't fit the narrative of genocidal Nazi Iran.

Monday, September 17, 2007

New York Times unblocks

As predicted by several commentators the New York Times will stop charging for access to the Times Select portions of their website effective at midnight tomorrow.

For me and many thoughtful progressives - the most important part of this news is that the columns of Paul Krugman will now be available for free. I've already added him to my blogroll in anticipation.

Yet another nail in the coffin of traditional cash flow models for the Internet.

UPDATE: To all my new visitors from Australia, (Crikey, but there's a lot of you.) thanks for dropping by and feel free to check out the rest of the blog.

That desperate keening sound...

...is Jason Cherniak whistling past the graveyard.

Say hello to the new federalist progressive alternative in Quebec:

Iraq government expels Blackwater

After an incident where Blackwater operatives sprayed a Baghdad street with automatic fire killing eleven people, including one policeman, and wounding 13, the Iraq government has revoked the secretive private mercenary army's license to operate in the country and ordered them to leave. The shooters may even face charges, although some commentators claim they have complete immunity.

There was some doubt whether the order was still in effect, or that the Iraq government would even be allowed to expel Blackwater, after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to personally apologize for the incident.

Blackwater currently run all security for western officials and most visitors to the country. They are widely despised by Iraqis as arrogant and violent mercenaries. They've also been used domestically, notably in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Their tactics have led to controversy before as in this video.

``They're famous for being very aggressive. They use their machine guns like car horns. But it's not the goal to kill people.''said Robert Young Pelton, an independent military analyst and author of the book ``Licensed to Kill.''

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sign of weakness?

Bush is apparently about to name retired judge Michael B. Mukasey as the new Attorney General.

This has been described as Bush attempting to avoid a bruising confirmation battle that he might not win. There was some speculation that he'd go with an ultra partisan far right choice like Ted Olsen. Apparently not. The liberal Alliance for Justice put Mukasey on a list of four judges who, if chosen for the Supreme Court, would show the president's commitment to nominating people who could be supported by both Democrats and Republicans

Famously picky legal expert Glen Greenwald gives Mukasey a thumbs up for fairness. He's undoubtedly right wing but is known to follow the law strictly even if he disagrees with it. He stood up against the Bush administration on the detainee issue as well.

Did Bush and his team feel like they couldn't win a fight for the kind of divisive candidate they would have picked in the past?

Sunday Linkblast - September 16

  • Mayrand is right
    Politicians who want bureaucrats to enact controversial laws so they don't have to are the apex of gutlessness, and yes I'm pissed that the NDP joined the pile-on too. Parliamentarians were warned the law didn't mandate removing veils last year and chose not to do anything about it. Demanding that a civil servant make laws rather than follow them is cowardly, lazy and anti-democratic.

  • Thousands march on Washington
    The elites continue to drift further away from the American consensus.

  • Krugman on American health care
    Is the only real workable solution politically possible?

  • Universality become more inevitable in America
    Even Republicans are left to hoping they can minimize it at best: "Let me tell ya, if we don't do it, the Democrats will," warns Republican Mitt Romney.

  • After fifteen years of lobbying for it...
    ...the Canadian Recording Industry Association now quietly opposes the "private copying levy". If buying blank discs requires paying a huge tax that goes to the music industry on the assumption that you will use the discs to copy their material - doesn't that mean that you've paid the music industry for the right to legally copy their material?

  • Israeli raid on Syria
    Dry run for attacks on Iran?

  • The CBC's idea of a 'representative Albertan':
does not speak for me

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Of course it was about the oil

“I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,”

Friday, September 14, 2007

Neo-con media psy-ops and Amir Taheri: Here we go again

As some of you may recall, last May Canada's leading neo-con media outlet The National Post hammered the final nail into the coffin of their already minimal credibility by publishing articles claiming that the Iranian government was planning to force Iranian Jews and other non-Muslims to wear identifying badges JUST LIKE THE NAZIS DID!!!

Within hours the story had been discredited and the National Post was forced to retract it and ultimately make a grudging apology.

The source for the story was Amir Taheri, an Iranian who was the editor of Iran's largest newspaper under the Shah and is currently a client of Benador and Associates, the leading Neo-con pr firm. The Nation revealed that the whole thing was almost certainly a deliberate psy-op on a par with the classic 'Iraqi soldiers shot Kuwaiti babies in incubators' bunkum that helped sell Gulf War I.

This week ABC News was forced to admit that one of its consultants/reporters Alexis Debat was apparently a serial liar who had faked a PhD, lied on his resume and fabricated interviews with figures like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, former UN chief Kofi Anan and former head of the federal reserve Alan Greenspan.

The Taheri connection? The false interviews were printed in French neo-con journal Politique Internationale, which Amir Taheri was listed as editor of,from 2001 to 2006. As Attywood points out many of the made up interviews with fake inflammatory quotes were with noted opponents of the neo-con agenda.

Debat was the primary source
for the recent story about major bombing operations planned for Iran. Was this story true? Was it intended to increase the drumbeats for war with Iran?

There were warnings last week that a big push for war with Iran would be rolled out through various neo-con think tanks and White House friendly media outlets this week. Was this just one of the more blatant lines of attack?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Calgary's municipal election

It's a month away and I've recently dove into everything I could find on the candidates and issues. Here's the wiki page - unsurprisingly facing accusations of partisan re-writing.

For mayor, I find myself leaning towards the incumbent Dave Bronconnier. This would be the first time I've voted for an incumbent...hmm, I think the word I'm searching for is ever. He stood up to the provincial government on broken promises and won. Anyone who can make Alberta's Tories as uncomfortable as Bronco manifestly has earns points with me.

Plus he used to work for Telus until they fired him. That's a major character reference in his favour.

My ward is Ward 8, the heart of the inner city. The incumbent Madeline King has a pretty good record of concern on homelessness, and she didn't fall for the silly and divisive 'support the troops' sticker hysteria. On the minus side her solution to inner city crime is to put video cameras everywhere. A short sighted piece of proto-totalitarianism with zero evidence that it would actually reduce crime by increasing surveillance.

I'm leaning towards Lindsay Luhnau. Enthusiastic, young, idealistic with great environmental cred. She won't win but the level of support she gets might inform the policy positions of whoever does.

The only thing that might swing me to King is if it looks like perennial loser Steve Chapman might win. He's a member of the Progressive Group for Independent Fascists - Business, and buddy buddy with Craig 'vote Conservative or fuck off' Chandler.

See: Calgary's municipal election Support the Troops edition

Hit the Calgary label to see all my civic election posts.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Shock Doctrine

I'm sure most of my readers have already heard about the book and seen this harrowing promotional film by Childern of Man director Alfonso CuarĂ³n, but just in case you've missed the media roll out:


I'll be picking up the book on payday. The current issue of Macleans has an interview where Klein more than holds her own against Kenneth Whyte, an interviewer who seems heavily committed to the 'everything's ducky and getting better all the time' narrative.

My favorite portion of the exchange:

Give me the attributes of fundamentalist capitalism.

They're almost the attributes of every fundamentalist: the desire for purity, a belief in a perfect balance, and every time there are problems identified they are attributed to perversions, distortions within what would otherwise be a perfect system. I think you see this from religious fundamentalists and from Marxist fundamentalists, and I would argue that [Austrian economist Friedrich] Hayek and [University of Chicago economist Milton] Friedman shared this dream of the pure system. These are brilliant mathematicians, in many cases, so it looks perfect in their modelling. But I think anyone who falls in love with a system is dangerous, because the world doesn't comply and then you get angry at the world.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

American teen suicide rate jumps alarmingly

The teen suicide rate in America, particularly among preteen and teen girls has spiked alarmingly. The link between anti-depressants and suicidal ideation in adolescents has been mentioned as one possibility.

Nobody seems to have thought to ask how many of them had loved ones serving in Iraq.

Sunday Linkblast - Sept 9

Eyes

Just watching our new DVD of Season one of Heroes and remembered how much I liked this short and sweet tune by
Rogue Wave

Arguing with everyone

So I was invited to join a message board called Argue With Everyone. My girlfriend laughed, and said that it was hard to believe that a name like that would appeal to me.

This is my introductory post there:

PROLOGUE:
Well I was incited to join this forum by an email letting me know my blog had been added to Argue With Everyone's links. I've added Argue to my blogroll as well.

How much I participate here is an open question - most of my ranting goes on at my blog and although I enjoy participatory ranting I'll probably be focusing mostly there.

INTRODUCTIONS:
My name's Cliff, I've been a journalist, writer, editor, union activist and designer. I'm a 37 year old Canadian and I live with a redhead and a cat.

ON IDEOLOGY:
I'm in the links section here as a Liberal. This works as well or as badly as any label. In Canada we actually have a Liberal Party and here I would be considered considerably to the left of them as I support the Canadian social democrat party the NDP.

The word liberal actually comes from liberal economics and in the latter half of the 20th century came to also represent progressive social policy. In fact though, both classic liberal and neo-liberal economics apply much more to conservative social policies than to progressive ones.

In fact I have little use for the classic left/right paradigm, a two dimensional model and a relic of the 20th century. I much prefer the four dimensional Political Compass system that quantifies an economic axis and a political one, ie: Authoritarian/Anarchist and Free Market/Managed Economy.

On this scale I register as -7.00 / -5.74 so almost anarchist in the political axis and comfortably socialist in the economic one.

This makes sense to me. The only strain of conservatism I have any respect for is Libertarianism - at least they're intellectually consistent: They want both money and people to be free. They're very clear-eyed about the potential threat to liberty and freedom represented by big government, but seemingly blind to the equal, in some ways even bigger threat to freedom represented by big business.

I'm sure everyone can think of a conservative spouting about freeeee-dom - and then promising to do everything in his power to limit peoples freedom to marry the person they love or take the chemicals they wish or to practice certain religious beliefs... the list goes on.

As another lefty libertarian Robert Anton Wilson once put it: "Conservatives want government off of people's backs, liberals want government off of peoples fronts"

And a lefty libertarian doesn't want government or big business on either.

So there you have my ideology - in a nutshell at least - it's based primarily on a belief in balancing needs, as a heavily populated post-industrial society pretty much has to be, and a belief that precision of language is necessary to debate any of these issues.

ON CLARITY:

Capitalism and the free market do not mean the same thing. Capitalism is as much a distortion of the free market as socialism is, in fact capitalism is really just socialism for the rich.

When you use the word liberal, you should probably specify if you are referring to liberal economic policy or liberal social policy or some Frankenstein combination of the two - ie: Kensyian economic theory.

When somebody brays about freedom are they talking about economic freedom? Personal freedom? Both? Some of the major figures of conservative ideology ranted a lot about the lack of freedom in Soviet Russia but now support totalitarian excess right out of the KGB play book. They really were only ever objecting to communist economic theory while apparently being bang onside with Soviet beliefs on monitoring, interrogating, torturing and imprisoning any vaguely defined threats to the power of the state.

IN CONCLUSION:

Being a pragmatist, I look around at the world for the area with the longest, most consistently effective mix of economic growth mixed with personal freedoms and care for society's weakest members and the winners in all categories are the Scandinavian social democracies. Some of that success does stem from being very homogeneous socially and culturally true, but I believe the results are completely transplantable.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Timeline

With just over 500 days left in the administration of George W Bush, Keith Olberman issues his most damning indictment yet.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I support the troops

See brilliant skit by This Hour has 22 Minutes on TV.
Add brilliant skit to my blog a minute later.
I love living in the 21st century.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Labour Day

Checking in on the American Labour movement. The drumbeat of negative stories about labour trends can obscure small but real signs of progress.

In Oregon and across the country, we are seeing fresh examples of how the union movement is pressing the case for moral capitalism and a renegotiated social contract.

There has been a quiet revolution among home health care and child care workers who care for the very young and the very old, two of our most vulnerable populations. Until they became union members, they were paid meagerly and granted minimal social respect.

Through unionization and collective bargaining, these workers are now leading much more dignified lives, posing basic questions about our social priorities, and are becoming models for engaged citizenship.

A sophisticated, union-led campaign has prompted more and more Americans to ask if Wal-Mart's employment and social practices reflect American values and represent the kind of corporate behavior that serves the public good.

Following Oregon's lead, union-backed measures to raise the minimum wage triumphed in six states in 2006, underscoring public support for a moral capitalism that would provide workers with a minimum standard of sustenance and security.

And the growing attention being paid to developing programs and policies that strengthen families by granting workers more paid leave represents an emerging issue that has wide social appeal and that the union movement is uniquely qualified to lead.

Although language and values are critical, strength and power also are necessary if the union movement is to spearhead an effective drive for moral capitalism. As public intellectual Walter Lippmann once observed: "The Golden Rule works best among equals."

In Canada where the whole idea of Labour Day originated, we have the same mix of good news and bad. We got Supreme Court vindication of the right to organize, but we also now have an inter-provincial corporate bill of rights masquerading as a trade deal. At least we do in BC and Alberta.

The recent Fraser Institute mash note to Alberta's bracing contempt for its workers was a reminder of how far we have to go here, but the tide seems to be turning as we settle in for a long stretch of a bull market for workers rights. The most simple of market concepts is on the side of Alberta workers now: Scarcity increases value.

We came heartbreakingly close to getting an anti-scab bill through parliament. It would have only applied to workers in federally regulated industries and contrary to self-styled economic right winger Stephane Dion's spin when he killed it, would have in no way threatened essential services. Canadian Labour needs to remember this act of betrayal going forward. We need to remember who our friends are and who they aren't.

If you can this year, stop at a picket line and shake hands with the people on it. Bring them some coffee or a box of Timmies, or just stop to tell them you're with them. I've been on the receiving end of that kind of unsolicited support and it makes a difference.

The Toronto Star has a Labour Day Quiz.

If you love her, buy her a gun.

Superhero romance from Furnaceface.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Big Push on Iran next week?

If this report is true, expect the drumbeats for war with Iran to become deafening next week. The Vice President has issued his instructions.
His source spoke with a neocon think-tanker who corroborated the story of the propaganda campaign and had this to say about it: “I am a Republican. I am a conservative. But I’m not a raging lunatic. This is lunatic.”

Is she really going out with him?

Posting his duet with the Shat the other day just made me want to indulge in some classic Joe Jackson.

Sunday Linkblast - Sept 2

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Republican Closet

The whole Larry Craig scandal reminded me of this classic Onion piece about Ted Haggard last year:
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO—Evangelical leader Ted Haggard, who stepped down last week after confessing that he purchased methamphetamines and various services from a male prostitute, revealed Wednesday that he was repeatedly molested by an unnamed Republican congressman in the late 1990s. "We would communicate on the Internet and then meet in his Washington office to, I thought, discuss faith-based initiatives," said Haggard in a tearful admission in which he asked for the forgiveness of God and his congregation. "Before long, he had progressed from praying alongside me to having me sit on his lap at his desk, and then to touching me in my bathing-suit area. I trusted the congressman, and he violated that trust." Authorities have not acted on Haggard's allegations, saying that Republicans are often accused of wrongdoings simply because so many of them lead secret gay or criminal lifestyles
Of course, as others have pointed out, it's not gays who cruise for sex in public washrooms - they've got bars for that - it's straight men with the occasional closeted urge for man on man sex using the 'wide stance' come on.

Conservative talking head Joe Scarborough makes the surprisingly rational point
that the Democrats openness to gay members immunizes them from the charges of hypocrisy that sink so many Republicans.

The argument has been made that the only morally defensible 'outings' are of self hating gay political or religious leaders who attack openly gay people from the closet. The next gay Republican scandal is already brewing, a steaming mess of rentboys, far right politicians, networks of religious homophobes and murder suicide.

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