Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"A danger to themselves and to patients"

"(This government) is a danger to themselves and to patients.  That would be reason to certify this government under the Mental Health Act to the Alberta Hospital Edmonton, but guess what?  There's no room. They're going to blow it up." Former Tory MLA and Emergency Room physician Doctor Raj Sherman
Premier Ed Stelmach said he wanted no part of Ralph Klein's war against the public healthcare system.  Virtually his first act after winning the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership race was a firm renunciation of Klein's Third Way and a promise that the era of unending government assault on public healthcare was finally over.

And then he put far right ideologue and all around disgusting human being Ron Liepert in charge of the system and merged the highly effective and world recognized regional health board system into one bloated ineffective superboard because the regional boards kept noisily demanding the funding necessary to provide the care Albertans needed.  When Liepert managed to sicken and disgust all the health stakeholders and the general public with his intrinsic swinishness he was replaced with the more soothing and moderate sounding but utterly ineffectual former Liberal floor crosser Gene 'Mr Dithers' Zwosdesky.

An Australian health economist was hired who on paper at least looked like a supporter of public healthcare, but in practice turned out to be an arrogant, supercilious prat who seemed more concerned with chilling dissent from the front lines than giving them the support they needed.  The worst kind of bureaucrat, even if he was only enforcing the policies of the Alberta Government and working with the budget they gave him.

Now the mask has slipped.  One of their own has revealed the hidden agenda to manufacture the consent for the same old Tory anti-healthcare agenda.
EDMONTON — A leaked internal document from the Alberta government shows the ruling Tories plan to privatize health care after the next provincial election, opposition parties are charging.
The 27-page internal Alberta Health and Wellness presentation suggests the provincial government has a two-part plan to delist health services, legalize new kinds of private insurance and allow doctors to provide public and private health care at the same time.
Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky denied the allegations late Monday, but exiled Conservative MLA Dr. Raj Sherman confirmed its authenticity and slammed the government's plan.
"This is basically privatizing health care," said Sherman, who was Zwozdesky's parliamentary assistant until he was ousted from the Tory caucus last week for criticizing his own government's record on health care. "My understanding is that phase two is coming after the next election, and I absolutely can't support that."
...

For example, the presentation explains that health care providers don't have a level playing field, because doctors must opt in or out of the public system entirely while midwives and pharmacists can work in both sectors at the same time.
Consequently, the document calls for a "policy shift" that would "allow government the flexibility to regulate health provider commitment in the public system."
Another section — titled "Private Insurance Options" — says "there is no evidence that private insurance negatively impacts a public health system" and that "prohibiting private insurance limits choice in accessing publicly funded health services within Alberta."
The document then calls for a "policy shift" to "consider private insurance options for limited health services."
Finally, phase two calls on government to develop an "evidence-based process to determine health services that are fully funded, partially funded and unfunded services." Opposition parties see that as evidence the government plans to delist services.
"This shows clear evidence the government is entertaining notions of private insurance, a two-tiered system and a move toward what we believe is going to undermine the very foundations of the Canada Health Act," Liberal Leader David Swann said. "I think we should take this very seriously."
NDP Leader Brian Mason said the document is proof the Conservatives cannot be trusted with health care.
"This is, in fact, the smoking gun," he said. "In my view, this is more than a policy document. This is a strategic document, a political strategy, if you will."
This is a party with a deep ideological loathing for the very concept of 'public good'.  They hate Canada's 'socialized' healthcare system, not least, for just how effective, affordable and efficient it is.  It's an ongoing example of how the public sector does some things much, much better than the private sector does.  Plus it leaves money on the table that every fiber of their political DNA tells them should be in the pockets of rich insurance company executives and private clinic entrepreneurs.

They will keep trying this shit until they are driven from office. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

There's idiots in them thar hills

Neil Reynolds, The Globe and Mail's reliably goofy crotchety old libertarian outs himself as a gold bug, waxing rhapsodic about the good old days when men were men and a bank's only job was to trade paper for gold.
When World Bank President Robert Zoellick suggested the other day that the world needs to embrace a gold standard (of one kind or another) once again, he made Robert Mundell, the famous globe-trotting Canadian-born economist, look eerily prescient. Back in 1997, Dr. Mundell predicted a return to gold “maybe in 10 or 15 years” – in other words, by 2012. Here’s a distinctly improbable prediction that’s looking better all the time.
Of course Zoellick has been roundly mocked for this suggestion, including in the Globe itself a few weeks ago, and it really is a goofy idea, although a popular one with the magical thinkers who like to call themselves 'fiscal conservatives'.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), a top House Republican and possible 2012 presidential contender, gave a speech at the Detroit Economic Club this afternoon outlining his “prescription for a fresh start for the American economy.” The Detroit Economic Club is a “popular venue for candidates testing the presidential campaign waters,” and Pence is “working hard to cultivate support among the fiscal conservatives that are driving the tea party.”

The first item of Pence’s five-point plan for the economy is a “sound monetary policy.” Pence elaborated that he believes a return to the gold standard could create such a policy
The Thinkprogress piece links to an old article by Paul Krugman seeking to just scratch the surface of all the many and manifold reasons why this is an incredibly stupid idea:
 Very few economists think this would be a good idea. The argument against it is one of pragmatism, not principle. First, a gold standard would have all the disadvantages of any system of rigidly fixed exchange rates--and even economists who are enthusiastic about a common European currency generally think that fixing the European currency to the dollar or yen would be going too far. Second, and crucially, gold is not a stable standard when measured in terms of other goods and services. On the contrary, it is a commodity whose price is constantly buffeted by shifts in supply and demand that have nothing to do with the needs of the world economy--by changes, for example, in dentistry.

The United States abandoned its policy of stabilizing gold prices back in 1971. Since then the price of gold has increased roughly tenfold, while consumer prices have increased about 250 percent. If we had tried to keep the price of gold from rising, this would have required a massive decline in the prices of practically everything else--deflation on a scale not seen since the Depression. This doesn't sound like a particularly good idea.
Among other things, shifting to the gold standard would very quickly require rigid government price controls on the value of gold.  Not a very small government, non-interventionist idea.  But none of this simple logic keeps conservatives from pining for the good old days when things were simpler.
 
"Young man! I need to send this missive to the Prussian consulate in Siam - post haste! Am I too late for the afternoon auto-gyro?"

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Don't call me Shirley."

Veteran comedian and actor Leslie Nielsen has died in a Florida hospital, his family confirmed to Global News on Sunday evening. The Canadian actor was 84.
Nielsen rose to fame with roles in the Airplane and Naked Gun film franchises. He had apparently been suffering from pneumonia for more than a week.
He parlayed a square jawed earnestness twice, first playing it straight in straightforward heroic roles like the courageous star-ship captain in SF classic Forbidden Planet, in a role that clearly inspired Gene Roddenberry when he was creating Star Trek and Captain Kirk.

Then, years later, he got a second act, still playing it straight and heroically square jawed but this time as a straight up lampoon of the B-Movie heroes he had played before in classics like Airplane and the Naked Gun series.

Leslie Neilsen RIP.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Alberta's Tories: The Vindictive Retribution Party

Raj Sherman accuses Alberta's Premier of trying to get Sherman's medical license pulled in retribution for criticizing the government.  If true it means the response of Alberta's governing Tories to a wait time crisis in Alberta Emergency Rooms - is to first get rid of the only Emergency Room physician in their caucus and then try to reduce the number of Emergency room doctors by one.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach has been accused of trying to take away the medical licence of a former member of his caucus, a physician who was given the boot this week after criticizing the state of health care in the province.

The accusation by Edmonton representative Raj Sherman — quickly denied Friday by the premier's office — ratchets up the rhetoric in an increasingly nasty health-care debate that's already seen heads roll in the province.

Sherman was suspended indefinitely from the caucus of the ruling Progressive Conservatives on Monday after he assailed the premier, cabinet and Alberta Health Services over their handling of health care.

Speaking on a radio show Friday, Sherman, who now sits as an independent member of the legislature, alleged some Tory caucus members have questioned his mental stability.

He noted he received a call Thursday from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta telling him someone had phoned the organization and suggested his mental ability to function as a doctor has been compromised.

Sherman said his medical licence could be taken away if he doesn't submit to a mental assessment.

Sherman, elected in March 2008, still works part-time as emergency care doctor in Edmonton.

Sherman then launched into accusations against the premier, Children and Youth Services Minister Yvonne Fritz and Tory caucus whip Robin Campbell.

"I was told that the premier is going after my medical licence," Sherman said on the radio.

"Now I'm going to break caucus confidentiality here. That's exactly what the premier said on the day they decided to throw me out."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stay Classy Toronto Sun

The Sun's headline for the debate between former British PM and Christopher Hitchens who is battling cancer:

Tony Blair debates dead-author talking

That's the way the cookie crumbles

Stephen Duckett's decision to eat a cookie instead of answering questions about problems plaguing the province's health system has cost him his job as head of Alberta Health Services, the largest medical organization in Canada.
His departure, however, has fractured the superboard and has political observers saying it signals growing chaos in provincial health care.
Internet video of Friday's cookie controversy has been watched, and mocked, tens of thousands of times.
Premier Ed Stelmach characterized acterized Duckett's comments as "offensive," while Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky admonished him immediately upon hearing audio of the bizarre two-minute exchange with reporters, which occurred after a daylong brainstorming session on Alberta's emergency care crisis.
Duckett's apology Saturday failed to quell the backlash.
After a hastily called meeting ing to discuss his future, the 14-member board decided Wednesday to dismiss its chief executive.
Duckett had a pomposity and unwillingness to be questioned or challenged that made him a poor choice to head a public health service and had managed to alienate a large percentage of frontline health workers.  The aura of entitled arrogance to his "Can't you see I'm eating my cookie?" response to the media was just the icing on the cake.

But ultimately he was working with the budget, and enforcing the policies provided by the Progressive Conservative government of Alberta.  And now he's providing that same government with a convenient scapegoat.  Nothing changes with his removal, and Albertans have put up with worse from his bosses without 'firing'  them in a provincial election.

This is theater.  The same people are mismanaging and undermining Alberta's health system who were mismanaging and undermining it yesterday and as long as they're still in charge nothing will change.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

G20 all over again

In the UK, a familiar police response to outraged protestors:
Police risked controversy today as they "kettled" several hundred protesters after clashes during student tuition fee protests.

Demonstrators were penned in by riot squad officers in Whitehall after a stranded police van was attacked and vandalised.

Scotland Yard said it will bring in portable toilets and water but said it was unclear how long people would have to remain.

The tactic, which police call "containment", was heavily criticised after up to 5,000 people were held during G20 protests in April last year.

Denis O'Connor, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said the move carries risks, particularly if vulnerable people are caught up inside.

He called on police to show greater flexibility, including allowing a controlled release of people.

Hundreds of people chanted "let us out" as a line of police officers reduced the size of the Whitehall pen.

Many argued the police were punishing everyone, rather than the handful of troublemakers.

At some point, all over the western world, we're going to wake up, look around and go "Hey, where did this police state come from?"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Life of a Conservative Cabinet Minister:

Searching for exit strategies.
Other Parliament Hill insiders agree speculation about Mr. MacKay's possible departure, former environment minister Jim Prentice's resignation, a trial balloon from B.C. that touted Heritage Minister James Moore (Port Moody-Port Coquitlam, B.C.) as a possible contender for the leadership of the provincial Liberal party, and a trickle of Cabinet aides who have left the government are signals that all is not well under Prime Minister Stephen Harper's (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) leadership.

"With these numbers, there is no way they can deliver a secure minority Parliament," Mr. Graves told The Hill Times. "I don't believe there is any way, if the Conservatives have less than 103 seats, that the NDP and the Liberals are going to let them form a government. There would be an immediate confidence measure within that slender a margin, within six weeks."
The conflict is irreducible: Harper can't win them a majority, he likely can't even win them another stable minority.  He's also likely the only person who can hold together the fractious big tent of far right Alliance members, moderate ceo/politician business conservatives and even a few lone red Tories.

They've peaked.  They got almost all the benefits of a majority with the cover of Liberal enabling of the neo-liberal agenda the two parties share but with the Tories taking the hit.  They have razor thin governing margins - enough so that they had to humiliatingly repudiate all their pro-business 'anti-trade barriers' rhetoric rather than lose Saskatchewan.  The next election is their Waterloo.

Unless...

What happens when the Liberals are forced into the choice of governance with the NDP and a truly progressive agenda - or following the lead of their ideological soul mates in the British Liberal-Democrats and siding with the Canadian political party they've shown they have the most in common with?

The Dignity of the Crown

What's going on with the prosecutor's offices in Ontario?
Emmily Lucas died seven years ago Tuesday.

Her battered body was taken off life support after 10 comatose days at the Hospital for Sick Children. She was 2 years old.

On Monday, the jury was dismissed in the second mistrial in the case against Erika Mendieta, Emmily’s mother, who was charged with second-degree murder in the toddler’s beating death.

A prosecutor from the first trial — assistant Crown attorney Paul Alexander — distracted the jury and intimidated the defendant by making faces while sitting in the gallery as a spectator.

“I’ve been involved in the criminal justice system for 30 years, and I can’t say that I’ve heard of a similar circumstance,” said Attorney General Chris Bentley. “It’s just very, very unusual.”

Last week, the jury wrote a note to Justice Nola Garton stating they wanted a man removed from the gallery. “We find him very distracting, and he is making strange faces all the time. We feel very uncomfortable with him.”

They did not know at the time who Alexander is.

The defence counsel brought forth a motion for a mistrial, and Mendieta testified — in the jury’s absence —that Alexander was rolling his eyes, shifting awkwardly, and making faces during Crown Attorney Allison MacPherson’s cross-examination.

“His look intimidated me a lot,” Mendieta said. “It made me feel very uncomfortable.”

Mendieta said it made her nervous, and changed the way she answered questions. She said she didn’t know she had the ability to challenge his presence in court until the jury wrote the note.
Factor in the bizarre and almost incomprehensible decision to proceed with prosecution against Stacy Bonds despite the clear video evidence of the abuse she had been subjected to by the police and we are left with a portrait of provincial prosecutor's offices seemingly being run without adult supervision.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The UK's lessons for Canadian Progressives

In the UK support for the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition plummets as Labour's new leader ushers in polls that would mean a slim majority for Labour if an election were held today.  The coalition the British public reject is the one between neo-liberals and conservatives, you know, like the government we have in Canada now in all but name.

Maybe its the natural result for any government in power in times of such intense economic uncertainty, or the afterglow of Labour electing a new leader and potentially heading in a more progressive direction, or maybe the UK public just figured out who's side the Lib-Dems have shown they are on the first chance they got for power.

Nick Clegg bleats about 'new progressives' being more about social mobility while 'old progressives' are about 'reducing inequality'.  This after he announced his coalition's massive increases to tuition costs drastically reducing access to higher education for anyone below a certain economic level.
The deputy prime minister claims that Labour, under Ed Miliband's leadership, is becoming the new conservative group of British politics, wedded to outdated ideas and stuck in an anti-pluralist rut.
Labour, he says, is in danger of turning high marginal tax rates, a large state, and "snapshots of income inequality" into shibboleths. For old progressives, personified by Miliband, "reducing snapshot income inequality is the ultimate goal", he maintains, and for new progressives it is "reducing the barriers to mobility".
What else is education, expensive beyond the range of the few without starting life in crippling debt, but a barrier to 'social mobility'?

No, there's nothing new about Nicholas Clegg's warmed over quasi-libertarian Thatcherism with a dose of sunny Reaganism.  Revealing that you are just another neoliberal who has abandoned Keynesian economics and progressive policy because you're still captive to the long since discredited cult of deregulation and starved government trickle down economics doesn't make you a 'new progressive' just an old fashioned sell out.

Speaking of Michael Ignatieff,
The Liberal caucus is clearly split over Mr. Ignatieff’s decision to support the Harper government. The leader’s support was given even before the details of the new training mission were announced.
The government formally laid out its plan on Tuesday. Last Friday morning, however, Mr. Rae told The Globe and Mail he supported the government, saying there was no need for a debate or vote in the House of Commons. Later that day, Mr. Ignatieff supported Mr. Rae’s view.
Liberal insiders believe Mr. Ignatieff would not win a vote and that is why it is being avoided. The Liberal leadership does not want to reveal a split in the ranks.
“If there was a vote, I think Michael would lose the vote,” the insider said. “He would lose the vote. I don’t think caucus would support him.”

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Meiso


From the album Meiso - DJ Krush with Black Thought and Malik B. remixed by DJ Shadow

Abuser with a badge


Ottawa Police officer Steve Desjourdy appears to have a serious problem with any woman who gets 'uppity' with him.
On Wednesday, we heard about an Ottawa-woman subjected to an illegal arrest and a beating by Ottawa police officers for no apparent reason at all. After being stopped while walking to a friend’s house, and then let go, Stacy Bonds …

… stopped and asked them why they’d stopped her in the first place.
That got her handcuffed, thrown in the back of a cruiser and spirited off to the police station, where police pulled her hair, kneed her in the back a couple of times, slammed her to the ground with a riot shield, cut off her clothes and bra while a few male officers watched, and strip-searched her.

The officer who used scissors to cut off this terrified woman's clothing and underwear? Officer Steve Desjourdy who had only four days before been temporarily demoted for repeatedly tasering and kicking a woman in a cell.  The vicious assault on Stacy Bonds - who is black, giving the story even more disturbing overtones of racism - was videotaped in full.  The officers involved and the Crown had to know that any claims that Bonds at any point resisted or assaulted her abusers were flatly contradicted by the video record showing a terrified and unresisting girl being horrifically abused.  The Crown still chose to press charges against Bonds.

They apparently didn't expect the judge to actually watch the video.
Now, how big a moron do you have to be to pull a stunt like this? These cops are on video — which one assumes they are aware of, it being a police station and all — and they molest an innocent woman, then lay false charges, which can be easily disproved. Did they think Bonds would just go away and not mention the experience to anyone? Did they think no one would notice the video? Did they figure three male cops and one female cop was appropriate force to use against a lone, 100-pound female?

Or, being clearly of limited mental capacity, did they just figure the rest of the world was as stupid as they are?

The judge, rightly, denounced the whole episode, noting there was ”no reason, apart from vengeance and malice, to have left Ms. Bonds in the cell for a period of three hours and 15 minutes half-naked and having soiled her pants, before she received what is called a blue suit. That is an indignity toward a human being and should be denounced.”
Never thought I'd be approvingly quoting a Kelly McParland column but miracles do happen.

Officer Desjourdy must be fired.  That's just the bare minimum for the Ottawa Police to restore the trust of the Ottawa public.  Otherwise any Ottawa woman stopped by an officer would have to wonder if it's this vicious predator behind the badge. 

Anybody else without a badge would probably be facing a long prison term for physical and sexual assault - why should a police officer be any different?  Shouldn't the standards in fact be higher?

Dawg has been covering this extensively and made a public offer to help finance any suit Stacy Bonds wishes to bring against the Ottawa Police.

UPDATE: The Ontario Special Investigations Unit has taken over the investigation of the police officer's behavior.  Well, good thing we have no reason to believe the investigation will be a farcical whitewash.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Self Destructing BC Liberals

Meanwhile, the freshly fired Mr. Bennett – his cellphone and cabinet credit card cancelled before he could hop on a flight to Victoria – arrived in the capital for an extraordinary 35-minute gathering in which he described what it was like to serve under Mr. Campbell for the past decade.


“He’s not a nice man,” Mr. Bennett said.


The Kootenay East MLA said Mr. Campbell has reduced members of his caucus to tears, and recounted an incident when he was left wiping the Premier’s spittle off his face after Mr. Campbell leaned close to yell at him.
Mr. Campbell is a bully whose intimidation tactics have created a government caucus and cabinet that suffers from “almost a battered-wife syndrome,” said Mr. Bennett.


“I’m tired of the bullshit that goes on in politics and I’m really tired of the way that Gordon Campbell thinks that he can just run on people,” he said.


“I’m a tough guy, I can take it. But I’ve seen him do it to other people in caucus.”
I'm getting flashbacks to the last days of Bill Vanderzalm.  He brought the BC Social Credit party down with him through scandal, extremism and completely losing the public trust.
 
With Gordon Cambell though, the level of public loathing is really quite remarkable.  He's despised as a liar, a bully and an arrogant autocrat with a contempt for the public.  After announcing it only weeks after the election where they denied any plans to introduce it, nobody believes the Campbell and the Liberals weren't planning to bring in the HST even while they were denying it. 
 
There's a meme developing, promoted by Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail, among others that Campbell has been mistreated by the public, and the hatred and opprobium he's received is deeply unfair and part of a trend that discourages qualified people from wanting to serve.
 
On the contrary, I suggest that the contempt and disgust Campbell is held in by the BC public is a healthy sign of an engaged and socially concious population rejecting a lying, contemptuous bully who treats them like easily bribed children who can be convinced to believe transparent lies. 
 
That's a good thing.

The neglect hits home

"I'm sick and tired of throwing my father in the pickup truck every time he's dying. My own father has had to go to the ER five times and almost died in the waiting room." -    Dr. Raj Sherman, Edmonton Tory MLA, Alberta's parliamentary assistant for health and an Emergency Room Doctor
Sherman crated a stir by circulating a letter harshly attacking the government for a string of broken promises to fix the province's Emergency Room system.  He writes that his trust in Premier Stelmach “is severely tarnished”.
“The premier made a promise to the ER doctors in writing and has broken his promise not only to the ER doctors, but also to the seniors, the 1.8 million Albertans who present for emergency care, and their two million family members, and to all frontline healthcare professionals.”
After recounting his efforts to pass on ER doctors’ concerns to government, Sherman added: “It’s time that I also take one for my team that I trust, the front-line ER doctors. Please stay tuned for my public comments.”
Having lost the trust of the one medical doctor in their caucus, the Tory government's attention to the health file still seems focused on their new Health Act, shaping up as just another incremental attack on public healthcare.  
 
It's pathological really; when Stelmach won the internal vote that made him premier he firmly and publicly renounced Ralph Klein's open war on public healthcare and those who supported it.  There was an all but open acknowledgment that the ideological fixation with delivering Alberta's healthcare system into the waiting clutches of the insurance industry was spectacularly unpopular and helped end Klein's career.  
 
But then he put health in the hands of the repulsive Ron Liepert.  A far right, bullying ideologue on a file that the public manifestly does not trust the government on.

When Lipert finally alienated every stakeholder and the public enough that the clamor grew too loud, he was replaced with Gene Zwozdesky, former Liberal turned floor crosser and one of the token moderates in the government.  Zwozdesky is a much more soothing presence, but is famous as a Mister Dithers who never actually accomplishes anything.  

Now after years of neglect the system has reached its breaking point.  The government bleats that we're spending more on healthcare than ever, more than every other province, but that ignores the massive structural damage caused by the criminally stupid cutbacks of the Klein years that much of the recent spending has been used to paper over and repair.  And it ignores that as a percentage of the province's GDP, a far more useful measurement of need and affordability, the province is spending much less than it used to.

This government will forever by synonymous with a healthcare system undermined and under attack.  Thinking anything is ever going to change with them is purely pathological.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Scenes of Horror

Our government and right wing media worked overtime to whip up fear and contempt for the Tamils who huddled in a ship's hold for weeks in a desperate effort to escape from their former home to Canada. Some of you probably remember the Toronto Sun's inexcusable and unforgivable 'Lock and Load' editorial.  Most especially, every effort was made to avoid  giving any validity to considering Tamils escaping Sri Lanka refugees.  The preferred terms were criminals and terrorists.

Now, new footage has gotten out of the final war zone making it quite clear why desperate Tamils were willing to cram their whole families into a ships hold for an uncomfortable and dangerous flight to escape the clutches of victor's justice in Sri Lanka.  Warning the following footage is graphic and horrifying.



Doubtless conservatives will consider the source of the story, Al Jazeera, to be reason enough to discount it, but the pictures speak for themselves.

And they speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Poisoned North

In Canada, it's in very remote places, it's 40 below zero, nobody is going to that neighborhood. In the U.S., in West Texas, people live where the oil reserves are and so you couldn't have the type of environmental impact that they are doing in Canada, where they are basically destroying the environment. If a bird flies over a river near the oil sands, the bird dies just from flying over the river. It's that toxic. They are just dumping all the waste into the waterways. If you did that in the U.S. you would be in jail.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Will George Soros end up owning Fox News?

As Ezra Levant and Sun Media learned to their regret, George Soros and his lawyers DO NOT stand idly by while deeply irresponsible media figures and outlets tell despicable and horrific antisemitic lies about him.  Are Glenn Beck and Fox News about to learn the same painful lesson?
George Soros survived the Holocaust. He is Jewish and when the Nazis caught up with his family his father saved his life by bribing an agricultural official to pretend Soros was his Christian godson. At one point, that man took the fourteen year old Soros to survey and appraise the property that had been confiscated from another Jewish family. Obviously Soros did not have a choice in the matter. Soros eventually survived the Holocaust.

To most this would be an amazing and harrowing story of survival during the Holocaust. To Beck it was an opportunity to paint Soros as an anti-Semite and smear him with one of the worst lies I have ever heard.

First Beck started by horribly warping this story on his Fox News show. He said of Soros:

[When he was] 14 years old, he had to help the government confiscate the land of his fellow Jewish friends and neighbors.
That's not what happened at all as you can see from above. He didn't help confiscate people's land. He didn't actively participate in betraying his Jewish neighbors or friends. The implications are horrible. But what Beck did next is much worse. He twisted the story further until he came out with this inexcusable lie on his radio show:

[H]ere's a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps.
That lie takes my breath away. That is a lie that cannot be told.

The ADL has now condemned Beck's statements as "horrific."

Michelle Goldberg has a terrific article in The Daily Beast explaining how Beck's two part series on Fox News Channel about George Soros was classic anti-Semitism. He even named the series "Puppet Master." Nazi propaganda used to call Jews the "wire pullers."
Cenk Uygur goes on to say that Beck has finally crossed a line with a horrific lie that should end his career permanently.   Fox employees should be resigning en masse in protest and guests cancelling appearences if Fox does not firmly and immediately repudiate this despicable racist lie- unambiguously reminiscent of Nazi propaganda - by ending Beck's show.

Godwin's law doesn't apply if the lie told comes right out of Joseph Goebbels's playbook

Monday, November 08, 2010

Victims of Crime, Victims of the State

It's almost beyond belief.  Politically active engaged citizens fighting to expose a cancer of white supremacist gangsters operating with impunity in their city, the hate crimes capital of Canada.  Assaulted in a vicious home invasion, very likely by members the violent far right organizations they are fighting to expose, and the state...

...comes into their homes and threatens to take their children if they don't cease their political activities.

No, really.
Words fail. Apparently the Devines, by engaging in anti-racist work, have been "asking for it." When they are attacked, Calgary Social Services steps in to blame them, rather than the bums who assaulted them. Perhaps--I wouldn't be surprised--they also go after the children of rape victims, threatening to apprehend the kids if their mothers insist on wearing "provocative clothing." - Hat Tip Dawg's Blog
Right wingers make a fetish of opposing oppressive state intrusions into the lives of Canadians.  Here we have brave Canadian citizens fighting to make their city a better place by exposing terrorists, and being subjected to vicious criminal assault as a result, and the government's response is to threaten to take away their children.

So much for concern for the victims of crime.  Or does that not include lefty activists fighting far right wing terrorists?

Update: In Jason Devine's words:
Social services have just visited the Devine' residence to investigate whether to remove the children into state custody. Jason, a grad student at the University of Calgary pointed out that "[I am], being condemned as a father for doing good work". Jason says "I will be calling on Calgary police protection of my home to satisfy social services concerns for the safety of my children." 

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Bringing the War Home

The new Call of Duty: Black Ops commercial titled There's a Soldier in All of Us is disturbing.

 
It's unnervingly effective and immersive. Ordinary people, adults, kids, in school clothes and work clothes rampaging through a generic dessert town shooting and blasting away to the Rolling Stone's Gimme Shelter.

Lots of operatic slow motion action movie tropes like the 'shooting both directions and dropping your guns' thing.  Everybody's smiling and having a good time.

If you have the nagging feeling that something seems to be missing, you may notice the complete absence of whoever it is they are annihilating.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Escaping the Clutches

The Catholic church is upset with the waning of their influence in Spain, the country is going through the same kind of accelerated transition from a reactionary, church dominated society to a progressive, majority secularist society that Quebec did in the 60's with the Quiet Revolution.  The new government has removed mandatory religious instruction from public schools, legalized abortion, and liberalized divorce laws. 
Pope Benedict XVI has warned of an "aggressive anti-clericalism" in Spain which he said was akin to that experienced during the 1930s.
You mean when the Church was siding with Spain's fascists in the Spanish Civil War? 
Correspondents say many Spaniards turned away from the church following the rule of General Franco, as democracy and secularism became synonymous.
So become associated as an institution, with supporting dictatorship, brutal tyranny and elite control of politics, economy and culture and identified as the main cultural opponent of democracy and progress and then complain when it ultimately leads to large scale social rejection.

This is authoritarian and hierarchical cluelessness of an epic scale.

UPDATE: The Christian Science Monitor, predictably, digs a little deeper.  Spain is the only European country that officially does not have separation of church and state.  The state is officially neutral on religion but in practice the Catholic church has legal advantages over other faiths and state supported control over large chunks of the education system and other areas of social spending - to the tune of over nine billion dollars a year in taxpayer funds.  The current government has been proposing serious functional reforms that in practice would start bringing Spain's balance between church and state in line with the rest of the industrialized world. 

Short of Vatican City, Spain is the last refuge for Vatican control over state structures in a country that does have a large majority who identify as Catholic but where only about 20% of the population consider themselves practicing or observant. 

The fact that the Pope is fighting tooth and nail to keep that dominance is revealing.

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