Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Man Behind the Mask


The author of graphic novel masterpiece V for Vendetta reflects on the strange new life of his creation as a symbol of protest and resistance.
It all comes back to Moore – a private man with knotty greying hair and a magnificent beard, who prefers to live without an internet connection and who has not had a working telly for months "on an obscure point of principle" about the digital signal in his hometown of Northampton. He has never yet properly commented on the Vendetta mask phenomenon, and speaking on the phone from his home, Moore seems variously baffled, tickled, roused and quite pleased that his creation has become such a prominent emblem of modern activism.
"I suppose when I was writing V for Vendetta I would in my secret heart of hearts have thought: wouldn't it be great if these ideas actually made an impact? So when you start to see that idle fantasy intrude on the regular world… It's peculiar. It feels like a character I created 30 years ago has somehow escaped the realm of fiction."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Afraid to call a Liar a Liar

The Montreal Gazette headline is 'NDP accuses Tony Clement of doctoring Hansard'. 

Wow, thinks the reader, that's a pretty serious allegation, accusing someone of deliberately distorting the public record of Parliament is a big deal.  But look, the headline just says he's just accused of it, so if its just a case of he said, they said... what's that?

He unambiguously did it?  The Gazette article itself confirms he did in fact request that two times he answered in the affirmative to a direct question and said 'Sure' when asked if he would release records about G-8 spending be removed leaving a blank space in the record?

So then, wouldn't a more accurate headline actually be 'Tony Clement doctored Hansard'?

In the US, Willard 'Mitt' Romney lies about his own name and also releases a campaign commercial featuring Obama quoting a Republican - without including the few words before the quote saying that it was a quote.  That's unambiguously lying.  'Mitt' Romney is a liar.  But don't bother looking for articles in the American mainstream media printing the simple fact that 'Mitt' Romney is a lying liar who tells lies.

Because, as an exasperated Washington reporter once said, the mainstream media now "believe that being "balanced" means giving the same weight to a lie as you give to the truth"

And if that's the case, what possible use are they?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Alison Redford owes me an apology

Me and the millions of other Canadians and Albertans who care about the environment for suggesting that she has the right to go to Washington and lobby for the Keystone Pipeline but those who oppose the project shouldn't have the same right.
OTTAWA — Premier Alison Redford found herself Thursday embroiled in war of words with the federal NDP as she joined her federal Conservative counterparts slamming official Opposition MPs for travelling to Washington to speak to U.S. lawmakers against the Keystone XL pipeline.

In Ottawa, Redford made the comments the same day she sat down with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in their first official meeting to discuss federal-provincial relations.

The two Calgary politicians, who’ve known each other for almost three decades, spoke about issues such as health-care funding, immigration and a new Canadian energy strategy.

The premier, who arrived back in Alberta late Thursday night, had just returned from her own mission to New York and Washington earlier this week to promote Alberta and the province’s energy interests in the United States.

While the contentious issue of the proposed Keystone oil pipeline came up when she met with U.S. lawmakers, Redford said she did not actively lobby regarding it — unlike federal NDP environment critic Megan Leslie and natural resources critic Claude Gravelle.

“It is not appropriate for us to be providing advice to American decision-makers in that context and to be political activists,” Redford said about the NDP trip this week. “So I am not at all supportive of that and I’m disappointed about it.”

Redford maintained her role is clearly different from that of a federal MP, saying a provincial premier “has a certain set of economic interests, social interests and environmental interests.”
“Whereas what we see going on right now is members of Parliament who certainly represent their constituencies, but that’s the extent of their representation in terms of the Canadian perspective on this issue.”

Linda Duncan, the lone NDP member of Parliament from Alberta, said she was stunned the premier would say that elected officials travelling to Washington is inappropriate.

“I find that absolutely reprehensible,” Duncan said. “How dare they suggest that we don’t have a right to interact with officials from other trading nations. Absolutely appalling.”
How dare you Premier Redford?  How dare you?

Arguing that Canadians who have science on their side - both the science of climate and the science of economics - don't have the right to have their point of view represented while making an insultingly specious and lamely hypocritical argument that the rules are somehow different for her is so contemptuously despicable its frankly breathtaking.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

If Ezra Levant pushed his way into your house and wouldn't leave, wouldn't YOU call the cops?

OTTAWA - When the CBC's Mary Walsh shows up unannounced with a camera crew at Toronto mayor Rob Ford's house, the state broadcaster considers it comedy.
When Sun News Network's Ezra Levant pops up in the lobby of the CBC's Toronto headquarters with a camera operator, it's a matter for police.
Access to information requests have revealed then-director of operations and contingency planning at the CBC, Julie McCambley, authorized a call to police on Aug. 19 to force Levant to leave the 13-floor tower.
"Mrs. McCambley approved the ejection of the group with police involvement if they continued to be disruptive," reads an internal security report obtained by QMI Agency.
Levant showed up demanding a meeting with Hubert Lacroix, Ottawa-based president and CEO, or Jeff Keay, head of media relations.
The CBC denied the fiery talk show host any meeting and told him to stop recording his encounter with security.

"This is a public building and I can record here if I like," responded Levant.
Note that the source of this story is Canoe, ie Quebecor, ie Sun Media.  

Hence why an obnoxious, spoiled wannabe demagogue being told to get lost is treated as a major news story.

Punished for Overreach

The number one crippling tactical flaw of the American Republican party is a tendency to drink their own kool-aid.

Over and over they make the same mistake, confusing what they believe with what the majority of Americans believe.  They have managed through the enormous efforts of a right wing media to freight the terms 'conservative' and 'liberal' with enough rhetorical baggage that a slim majority of Americans identify themselves as conservatives but the media and political elite congratulating themselves over this repeatedly fail to drill down to specific positions on specific issues that make it clear that whether they realize it or not Americans are actually far more liberal then they think.

American Republicans blearily woke up today to the tragic revelation that last night was not a nightmare, they did in fact get their asses handed to them over and over the country last night.  They gulped nervously, looked ahead to next years big election night and collectively went "Uh, oh."
The results were not entirely unexpected. But the margins and the uniformity of last night’s election results tell an important story going into 2012. Across the country, Republican overreach coming out of the 2010 election was decisively rejected by voters in multiple states.

In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich’s signature anti-union legislation was rejected by an almost 2-1 margin. That’s a big win for the labor movement and will put in place a deep anti-Republican undercurrent next November. Kasich will be an albatross around the neck of the Republican nominee and there’s organization on the ground that will be an important force too.

But it wasn’t just Ohio. An anti-choice, anti-birth control “personhood” initiative was rejected in Mississippi. Maine voters rejected limits on voter registration — part of the larger Republican push to limit voting rights in 2012. And the author of Arizona’s controversial and trend-setting anti-immigration law looks to have lost a recall election.

What is telling about these numbers was not simply the consistency by which right-wing initiatives and candidates went down but in many cases the margins.

The larger political context remains one in which virtually every political movement and party is unpopular, in the climate of seemingly immovable crisis-level unemployment. But 2012 is looking to be quite different from 2010.
One wonders if Stephen Harper will take any lesson about reactionary overreach from last night?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

"just another bad thing that happened in downtown Vancouver

Somebody overdoses decently out of sight in the east end and the response from the Vancouver government, the media and too much of public is a collective shrug. Have it happen 15 blocks to the west and suddenly its an urgent public health and safety crisis.
Ashlie Gough was happy and healthy the last time she visited her father's house on Vancouver Island.
She was 23. After high school she had drifted a little - she studied tattoo design and travelled the world with a new boyfriend who was a scuba diver.
"She zig-zagged back and forth a bit and led an interesting life, but she was really starting to grow up," her father, Tom Gough, said on Monday.
On the weekend she went to visit friends who were camping out as part of the Occupy Vancouver protest and on Saturday she was found inside a tent, unresponsive. The cause of her death isn't official yet, but it may have been a drug overdose.
During an interview at his Vancouver Island home on Monday, Tom Gough appeared sombre, if not in shock.
His partner Glenda Mercer's voice broke as she detailed how cheerful Ms. Gough had been the last time she saw her.
"She was just on top of the world," a teary-eyed Ms. Mercer recalled.
Mr. Gough said his daughter was not involved in the Occupy protest against corporate greed.
"We don't want her made into some kind of poster child for the occupation because Ashlie's death had nothing to do with that," he said. "This has nothing to do with the tent city or Occupy Vancouver. She just happened to be there. It's just another bad thing that happened in downtown Vancouver."

The Settler's Army

A report six years ago showed the Israeli Army rapidly becoming an arm of the Settler movement as theocratic anti-Palestinian forces gain increasing control.  Apparently its gotten even worse.
The 2005 Talia Sasson report on illegal outposts presented a clear picture of military forces renouncing their duty to impose law and order on West Bank settlers, not just Palestinians, which led to the growth of illegal outposts.
The report describes how soldiers turned a blind eye to illegal activity and even secretly cooperated with settlers and leaked them information; some officers lived in the outposts.
The army's clear preference for the settlements was bolstered by the identity of the soldiers deployed in the West Bank. The IDF units serving in the settlements were largely made up of settlers and other religious men, and the IDF also armed some of the local security teams protecting the settlements. Thus the social boundaries between the settlers and the IDF units were blurred.
Since the army has attempted to change the rules of the game and loosen the settlers' grip on military conduct, because of the government's political obligations, "price tag" revenge attacks on Palestinians have become the response of those who are unwilling to accept the new rules. That's what Alon was complaining about as his army career was coming to an end.
In fact, there is no better evidence of the undermining of the IDF's control over its forces in the West Bank than an order Alon had issued to restrict information about the army's plans to enforce order in the West Bank - out of a well-founded suspicion that the information was being leaked to the settlers to confound the orders of the top brass.
This is in addition to the soldiers' protests and threats to refuse to carry out their orders that already hinder the army.
The Simhat Torah incident, in which female soldiers were sent to an area about 50 meters away from the post-holiday hakafot shniyot dancing - even though they were already dancing separately from the men, in accordance with Orthodox practice - paints a similar picture.
In that case, the heads of the religious pre-military academies and the hesder yeshivas, which combine army service with Torah study, were making a concerted effort - in conjunction with the IDF rabbinate - to create a theocratic military culture.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Price

Republicans hate Keynesianism - unless its military Keynesianism sustaining southern and gunbelt constituencies with Military industrial complex jobs that require a constant state of fear mongering and international belligerence to sustain. 

The rest of the American population subsidizes these jobs by forgoing the kind of basic social safety net every other industrialized nation takes for granted and the rest of the world subsidizes them by living with a constant state of war or threat of war.

We are constantly told that America 'keeps the peace'.  In fact the USA may be the most profoundly destabilizing force on the planet, and this is why.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wildrose Push Poll?

I got an automated polling call last night and out of curiosity listened to it all the way through.

It very quickly became clear I was probably listening to a Wildrose Party push poll with lots of questions like "If you knew that PC leader Allison Redford supported the Liberal daycare plan of Paul Martin and opposed Stephen Harper's parental credit alternative and hired a campaign managr who didn't pay his debts would you be more or less likely to support her?"

They are going to harp on inneuendo and the vaguely moderate to liberal positions Redford has or had on a small number of issues and try to ride them into the legislature, but as I've said before, I think they over-estimate just how right wing Albertans really are.

Keep harping that she's basically a moderate conservative with some slightly progressive positions on childcare, healthcare and education and they may just cede the whole race to her.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

First lets shoot all the ...nurses?

There are thoughtful and important pieces to be said and written about the state of long term care in this country and the funding decisions by governments hostile to the public service that has brought it to the state it is.  Christie Blatchford's moronic and vicious rant that ignores funding decisions she agrees with while trying to blame everything on health professionals working night and day trying to keep the system working isn't one of them.
By the time I and most of my Boomer cohorts are in need, publicity will have lost its shine entirely, and nothing will work. There will be no get-out-of-jail-card free, period.
I accept that completely. It’s why, where I used to think that before I got really old I’d get me a gun so I could shoot myself, I now wonder if I won’t instead turn the weapon on some officious hospital executive, wanker bureaucrat or brute of a nurse.
That's right, nurses.  The men and mostly women who keep this strained system together, a profession that struggles with one of the highest rates of physical assault on its members of any in the medical field or out of it.  The people who clean bedsores and human waste and perform essential medical care on everyone who needs it.  Blatchford thinks the thanks nurses deserve is warmed over Nurse Ratched stereotypes and threats of physical violence.

Of course she's long established that she despises any public servant other than those in police uniforms, especially when pointy headed politicians are keeping them from administering the beatings some dark skinned scallywag really needs, but threatening violence against nurses?

Hope you don't need to use the healthcare system anytime soon Christie.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Huffington Post came to Canada (But they left the progressive politics at home.)

Like a lot of Canadian progressives I had read and enjoyed Huffington Post as an alternative to the traditional American news sources.  Sure they printed far too many credulous pieces about health fads, dubious diets and the appalling advocacy of certain idiot celebrities for the dangerous and discredited vaccine/autism link but like most of us I still cheered the news of a Canadian version.

Unfortuantely the new Canadian post AOL takeover version of Huffington Post is a very different creature.  Featured bloggers include far right former media overlord and convicted felon Conrad Black, who is given regular pride of place positioning for his self interested rants about being mis-treated by the American Justice system and venomous attacks on his enemies list including Rupert Murdoch.  He's also vigourously protected against any comments critical of his publishing and legal history as I can personally attest after watching my comments critical of Black get spiked after  originally being posted read and 'liked; by multiple readers.

Cranky long time eminince of the Canadian right wing media Peter Worthington gets a column and David Frum gets a column too, a former Bush speech writer and avowed Republican who by American standards is actually a moderate, but cerainly not by Canadian ones.  Lots of articles dismissing the fact that the NDP is Canada's official opposition and continuing the Canadian media's policy of pretending the only two parties that matter are the Tories and the Liberals.

Lots of articles and columns defending the Harper governent in general (certainly also critical ones) and for example a straightforward pr puff piece from an industry shill today promoting the latest PR rhetorical absurdity from the Oil Sands industry 'ethical oil'.

Canadian progressives can be forgiven for being disappointed in the mutant conservative leaning disappointment that Huffington Post Canada turned out to be.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Occupied Agenda

Ok MSM, you sneer that you can't get a coherant specific answer as to what the Occupy Wall Street crowds are protesting.  Here you go guys:

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Upset in Alberta

The party elite was behind Mar.  The other candidates, reluctantly, had decided the wind was blowing his direction and thrown their support to him - though not all their campaign managers could stomach it.

And then Alison Redford was announced winner on the second ballot.

Alberta Liberals want to kill themselves.  Redford will mow whatever of their progressive grass the NDP aren't already.  With both the Tory and Liberal party leaders coming out of the same Tory cabinet, if anything the Alberta Progressive Conservatives are now to the left of the Alberta Liberal Party.

The Wildrose folks are ecstatic and yeah, they might make a few pickups in the ex-urban borderland as a result of this leadership contest, but they over-estimate how conservative Alberta is.  Give voters a fiscally rightish socially moderate option they will flock to it - and may even be getting a little jaundiced about the fiscal side of conservatism too.

What put the stake in Mar, riding a big wave of presumed inevitability?  He was very obviously part of the same long standing old boy's network that has been running Alberta for years while the same urge leading to a surging Wildrose was to 'throw the bums out'.  Redford's mother died with days to go in the campaign which she held up under with visible grace and class.

And Mar in mid-campaign, for reasons best known to himself, re-opened the simmering healthcare privatization debate coming out firmly in favour of further private sector intrusion and the rich being able to buy their way to the front of the healthcare line.

Its like political Tourette's for these people.  Even when the public has consistently, year after year made it crystal clear that we want healthcare to stay publicly run and universal, even though by large margins we do not trust PCs with the healthcare file and will be suspicious of any meddling in it by them, even though Klein's dogged pursuit of the libertarian right holy goal of selling out Alberta's health to the insurance industry had more to do with his ouster than Tories admitted then or will admit now, Mar still decided to signal that he wanted to re-open the whole mess again.

Even far right candidate Ted Morton, unconvincingly trying to re-invent himself as a cuddly social moderate, condemned Mar's remarks and swore to keep his own grubby paws of healthcare given the chance to do so.

Redford did too, but quite a bit more convincingly.

The resurgence of the progressive strain in the Progressive Conservatives is actually a return to glory days under Lougheed, when the PCs were the progressive alternative to the far right and calcified Social Credit government.  The Socreds had been ruling about as long as the PCs have now.

Alberta's PC's feel the rumblings that build up under any long standing government.  In most provinces that discontent lets parties rule for just a few terms though the trend has been lengthening.  In Alberta due to careful gerrymandering the rural ridings have an engineered electoral dominance over the majority of the population and governments usually last four or five decades.

We basically have one party rule like China or North Korea.  Elections of the leader of the PC Party are far more important than provincial elections here. Politburo democracy.

Historically, the time is almost up for the Progressive Conservatives, if they had gone to the right they might have neutralized or at least minimized the damage of the Wild Rose Party, but the year long hell of the emergency room crisis culminating in a former Tory cabinet member becoming leader of the Liberal Party spooked them badly about the much larger if less noisy fiscal conservative/social moderate vote.

Redford was probably their best, most realistic chance at party renewal.  Her comforting soft progressivism will prove much more illusory than it sounds and Alberta will continue sleepwalking though the years in its strange blue dream.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Freedom for capital, not people

Neil Reynolds today demonstrates the traditional fondness of right wing libertarians for dictatorial authoritarian regimes with a column expressing almost unalloyed admiration for Singapore, a country even Reynolds is forced to admit is severely authoritarian.

Some may be surprised at how a self professed libertarian could seem so enthusiastic about a borderline totalitarian state with pervasive, constant surveillance, barbaric criminal law and a rigidly authoritarian state apparatus.  Silly rabbit, right wing libertarians don't want liberty for people, people sometimes use liberty to band together against the depredations of capital, and capital is the only thing Reynolds and his ilk want liberty for.  Capital and those who have it.

That's why right wing libertarians still profess misty eyed admiration for the murderous regime of General Pinochet in Chile, who came to power through a violent coup of an elected government and then used that power to decimate civil society ruthlessly suppressing unions, leftists and any and all opposition to his 'libertarian' economic agenda through torture, death squads and 'disappearences'.

So-called 'Free Markets' are the only freedom Reynolds gets passionate about, free people can become obstructive to that freedom through quaint concerns about the environment or workers rights or a decent social safety net and that's a freedom he seems to believe should be discouraged

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"There is nobody who got rich on his own."

Elizabeth Warren utterly shreds moronic 'class war' rhetoric:
“I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever,’” Warren said. “No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.

“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.

“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paul Krugman is 100% right

The Right have gone mad with rage at Paul Krugman's 9/11 post.  It's far too honest.
Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.
The most specious complaint is the disrespect card, like Krugman I would argue its far more disrespectful to those who died that day and in the Neo-con wars of choice since to perpetuate the mythology that allowed them.

I have no time for the 9/11 'Truthers'.  I believe 9/11 happened because 19 pissed off Muslims with x-acto knives made it happen, where we agree is that the Neo-con regime in the White House did leap on the terrible events of that day to perpetuate their own ideological agenda at the expense of hundreds of thousands of lives since that day.

9/11 was used to perpetuate lies and death and torture and vanished freedoms.  It baffles me that there can even be any argument about any of this.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Ted Morton's Email Cover-up

Ted Morton, the candidate of the far right for leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives who has touted his 'open and honest' approach to governance used a pseudonym email address, seemingly to thwart public access to his official ministerial communications.
Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ted Morton used a covert email for his internal communications while he was a government minister to evade potential public scrutiny, documents confirm.

Emails leaked to CBC News show Morton used the name Frederick Lee – his actual first and middle names – as an official government email address while he was minister of Sustainable Resource Development (SRD).

At a July 2007 meeting, the ministry’s communications director gave SRD staff an explanation as to why Morton used the email address.

“She informed us that if you see an email with the moniker Frederick Lee, not to worry about it, it was just the minister using that email when he didn’t want people to know it was him doing the writing,” former staff member Derrick Forsythe says.

Another ministry employee confirmed staff were told about Morton’s use of Frederick Lee for his internal communications.

Forsythe left the ministry several months later over what he characterized as ethical differences, including Morton’s use of an email alias, and the expectation that staff were to co-operate with this obfuscation.

“I thought it was wrong,” Forsythe says. “It never quite sat right with me … that he could use an email that wasn’t known to the public.”

"If you have a monopoly on God, you can get away with anything."

Rolling Stone's lacerating piece on the clergy abuse scandal should be the final nail in the 'few bad apples' defense as it lays out in detail the highly organized long standing policy of protecting and enabling abusers. 
The five co-defendants sit close enough to shake hands in the Philadelphia courtroom, but they never once acknowledge one another. Father James Brennan, a 47-year-old priest accused of raping a 14-year-old boy, looks sad and stooped in a navy sweater, unshaven and sniffling. Edward Avery, a defrocked priest in his sixties, wears an unsettlingly pleasant expression on his face, as though he's mentally very far away. He and two other defendants – the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, also in his sixties, and Bernard Shero, a former Catholic schoolteacher in his forties – are accused of passing around "Billy," a fifth-grade altar boy. According to the charges, the three men raped and sodomized the 10-year-old, sometimes making him perform stripteases or getting him drunk on sacramental wine after Mass.
Heinous as the accusations are, the most shocking – and significant – are those against the fifth defendant, Monsignor William Lynn. At 60, Lynn is portly and dignified, his thin lips pressed together and his double chin held high. In a dramatic fashion statement, he alone has chosen to wear his black clerical garb today, a startling reminder that this is a priest on trial, a revered representative of the Catholic Church, not to mention a high-ranking official in Philadelphia's archdiocese. Lynn, who reported directly to the cardinal, was the trusted custodian of a trove of documents known in the church as the "Secret Archives files." The files prove what many have long suspected: that officials in the upper echelons of the church not only tolerated the widespread sexual abuse of children by priests but conspired to hide the crimes and silence the victims. Lynn is accused of having been the archdiocese's sex-abuse fixer, the man who covered up for its priests. Incredibly, after a scandal that has rocked the church for a generation, he is the first Catholic official ever criminally charged for the cover-up.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Quote of the Day

As Britain's coalition government proceeds with an all out assault on the principles of universal healthcare Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee wonders why:
"The only explanation is that the very existence of an exceptionally successful nationalised health service is such an affront to everything Conservatives believe in that it's worth the political risk of demolishing it once and for all.
The same motivation for every conservative attack on universality and duty of service made by our own right wingers.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What made Jack Layton a better leader than Barack Obama:

“If you start with a compromise right at the beginning and no debate, you’re really only going with the status quo and buttering it up a little. No space is created for change to happen.” - Jack Layton

Mourning

I met Jack Layton in 2005 when I was in Ottawa lobbying parliament on behalf of my then union.  An infectious smile, boundless energy and deep sympathy for what my members were going through with an arrogant and intractable employer made me deeply glad he was the leader of my party.  I confess I was more excited at the time to get a parliament visitor gallery pass from Ed Broadbent and shake the hand of the NDP's old lion, but I'm so glad now that I got to meet Jack and I'm so grateful that Canada had his optimism his determination and his dedication to a better country.

Thank you so much Jack, my sympathies to his family and to all feeling the same aching sorrow I do this black morning.

UPDATE: Jack's farewell letter.  And now I'm crying again.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Police left rape victim tied up, naked and surrounded by officers for FIVE HOURS

More evidence that many police officers extend their 'us and them' attitude to all of us not just criminals.
A woman who was bound and sexually assaulted by her then-neighbour, Col. Russell Williams says the police left her tied up for five hours after responding to her 911 call.
Laurie Massicotte says Ontario Provincial Police officers told her they had to leave her in the harness, fashioned by Williams, until an OPP photographer arrived to take pictures of her in the restraint.
"I was left for five hours, still in my harness, still tied up, naked, lying under a comforter," Massicotte, 47, told the Ottawa Citizen in a telephone interview Friday.
"Five hours, no medical attention. I was in total shock. I didn't know what the heck was going on."
The OPP, she said, treated her like a criminal in the early hours of the investigation.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Michael Coren: Repugnant Racist

Dawg has the story about 'respected' Canadian political commentator Michael Coren and his idea of a clever quip about the London Riots "It's not blackberries, it's black thugs."  Ignorant, racist and factually incorrect as extensive coverage of the multi-racial nature of the rioters clearly showed.
I must admit that I was sceptical when a reader reported this, but there is Michael Coren, in all his ugly racist glory, @3:22.
As “Canadian Patriot” (who has my apologies) says, we should all be submitting complaints to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, pronto.
Send a complaint to the CRTC as well, as reader Lorne suggests.
Just do it.
Let this latter-day Senator Bilbo handprint his messages of hate and try to pass them out on the streets of his native Tottenham. There is no place for this filth on Canadian airwaves. SunTV is a disgrace.
UPDATE: and for those who think this was a one off slip of the tongue he expanded on his theme in his Sun column:

"The overwhelming majority of the young punks who began the rioting, fighting, looting and burning were black. That is truth, not racism."

"They are the offspring of broken families, who cannot control their appetite for fathering children with numerous women, who shoot rivals and innocent people with indifference, and who define themselves by how much vulgar jewelry they wear and how much fearful “respect” they receive from law-abiding neighbours."
Again, important to be crystal clear; it's NOT the truth - extensive photographic and video evidence of multiracial and all white crowds of rioters make that clear - and it IS racism.

UPDATE 2: He's not too fond of 'teh gays' either.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Conservatives trying to silence an inconvenient widow again

When Suzanne Trepanier tried to speak to parliament about the Conservatives ideological war on anyone they consider insufficiently supportive of Israel and how it resulted in her husband being driven to an early grave they fought tooth and nail to silence her.

Now once again another inconvenient grieving widow is making them uncomfortable so they are trying to threaten her into silence.
The federal Conservative party has sent a threatening email to the widow of an asbestos victim in the latest chapter of Canada's debate over the hazardous mineral.
A top Tory official is warning the woman to stop using the party logo in an online ad campaign against the controversial industry -- a campaign she started after her husband died of an asbestos-related cancer.
Michaela Keyserlingk, whose husband Robert died in 2009 of mesothelioma, has been running an online banner since the spring that reads, "Canada is the only western country that still exports deadly asbestos!"
Conservative party executive director Dan Hilton warned Keyserlingk to stop using the Tory symbol immediately.
"Failure to do so may result in further action," Hilton wrote in a July 29 email which carried the subject title, "Unauthorized use of trademark." The email, which The Canadian Press obtained from Keyserlingk, went on to advise her: "Please govern yourself accordingly."
The exchange comes as Canada faces intensifying international criticism over its asbestos exports and the Quebec government mulls whether to help revive one of the country's last-remaining mines -- a decision that could come as early as Monday.
Canada, which barely uses the hazardous material domestically, exports the bulk of its asbestos to poor countries.
Keyserlingk concedes she may not have the right to use the logo, I'm not so sure, I would think it falls under fair use for political speech.  Regardless its another example of this government's standard response to criticism; bullying.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lumpen but Organized

Chilling reports from London suggest a highly organized and brisk efficiency and what can only be described as cold blooded professionalism among the organizing leadership of London's deadly riots this week.
Thick black choking smoke blew down Market Street, one of the main shopping thoroughfares in Manchester last night, as the city caught the contagion of rioting that is sweeping through Britain. The Miss Selfridge shop had been set alight, only one of around 100 shops smashed and burned as upwards of 2,000 rioters rampaged through the city centre streets.

Thugs wearing ski masks and hoods, armed with sticks and metal poles moved in six or seven groups, each several hundred strong. They ran from hundreds of riot police in full gear, occasionally stopping to confront them, but mainly dodging down side-streets and alleyways, wreaking havoc as they went. Windows were smashed at Marks & Spencer, Diesel clothing shop and a Bang & Olufsen store. Shop mannequins, which had been torn from the shattered windows, lay on the streets like bodies.

At one point 1,000 rioters confronted the police in the central Piccadilly Gardens, throwing stones, bricks and rocks they appeared to have brought with them. The rioters laughed and cheered as they went about their destruction. Police, on horses and in white tactical aid unit vans with protective black grids over the windscreen, pushed the rioters down Market Street but the thugs broke into smaller groups and slipped away to reform elsewhere.

...
There was evidence everywhere that the riot had been organised and was being directed. Earlier in the day police had arrested a man in Wigan who had been inciting violence on Facebook. Later seven others were arrested by Cheshire Police on similar charges.

But eyewitnesses on the street reported group leaders among the rioters issuing orders. Boys on fast BMX bikes were acting as spotters to report to the leaders where the police were moving. They appeared to be carrying messages between different groups.

One Arndale worker, Rayhan Rezi, 27, told a reporter from the Manchester Evening News: "A small minority would go in one direction to divert police officers and the remaining ones were smashing windows. It was a small minority who were hooded up wearing hats and sunglasses and doing the damage; most were just watching and had come for the loot." Large numbers of curious bystanders remained in the city all evening. Some just gawped; others teetered on the brink of joining in. "Everyone into Oldham Street," one riot leader shouted at one point – and the mob turned and acted on the instruction.
This isn't a new phenomenon in the UK.  Bill Buford's masterful book about the English Soccer Hooligan culture Among the Thugs described similar organization among the hard old men leading thoughtless young thugs in battles with supporters of other teams and the police.  The ones smashing windows may just be alienated youths with no stake in the UK's severely stratified society or the communities they are burning down, but the organizers display an unambiguous experience and skill in the ancient profession of riot for profit.

As Mick Jagger said, It's just a shot away, and its cold-eyed old men in the back of the crowds firing the starter pistols.

Educated to Hate?

The Guardian has a bleak and disturbing piece about the education system of Israel.
Nurit Peled-Elhanan, an Israeli academic, mother and political radical, summons up an image of rows of Jewish schoolchildren, bent over their books, learning about their neighbours, the Palestinians. But, she says, they are never referred to as Palestinians unless the context is terrorism.
They are called Arabs. "The Arab with a camel, in an Ali Baba dress. They describe them as vile and deviant and criminal, people who don't pay taxes, people who live off the state, people who don't want to develop," she says. "The only representation is as refugees, primitive farmers and terrorists. You never see a Palestinian child or doctor or teacher or engineer or modern farmer."
Peled-Elhanan, a professor of language and education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has studied the content of Israeli school books for the past five years, and her account, Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education, is to be published in the UK this month. She describes what she found as racism– but, more than that, a racism that prepares young Israelis for their compulsory military service.
 One of the constant themes in attacks on Hamas and the Palestinian authority is fury over textbooks that tell the story of the creation Of Israel from the Palestinian point of view and for undeniable examples of anti-semitism.  It appears dehumanizing propoganda as 'education' can be found on both sides of the seperation fence.
Perhaps not surprisingly for someone of such radical views, Peled-Elhanan is deeply pessimistic about her country's future. Change, she says, will only come "when the Americans stop providing us with $1m a day to maintain this regime of occupation and racism and supremacy".
She said that within Israel, "I only see the path to fascism. You have 5.5 million Palestinians controlled by Israel who live in a horrible apartheid with no civil and no human rights. And you have the other half who are Jews who are also losing their rights by the minute," she says, in reference to a series of attempts to restrict Israelis' right to protest and criticise their government.
She dismisses the Israeli left as always small and timid, but especially now. "There has never been a real left in this country." She believes that the education system helps to perpetuate an unjust, undemocratic and unsustainable state.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

American aviation inspectors asked to pay to do their job

This is not something that should be happening in a mature and functioning democracy, and of course thats the point, it isn't.
The latest budget blockade in Congress is forcing inspectors responsible for maintaining safety at the nation’s airports to work for free, and charge work expenses to their personal credit cards, raising the possibility that soon many of America’s biggest airports will have no federal safety inspections at all.
“I’m at a loss for adjectives to describe how tragic, horrible and idiotic this is,” says Chris Oswald, vice president safety and technical operations for the Airports Council International.
About 40 inspectors are responsible for checking everything safety-related at the nation’s busiest airports. They inspect everything from cracks in the runway to whether safety lights are working and fire trucks are ready to go, says Dr. Mike Hynes founder and owner of Hynes Aviation Services, an aviation safety consulting company.
The inspectors are among the 4,000 F.A.A. employees furloughed by the budget impasse. But the agency’s leaders have asked the inspectors to continue working without pay.
Hat Tip to BoingBoing

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Right Wing Christianist Terrorism

My family heritage is Norwegian.  I'm actually glad my grandfather, a gentle first generation immigrant farmer didn't live to see what happened this month, it would have broken his heart.

What happened was an act of right wing Christianist terrorism.  An assault on pluralism, democracy and the political left.  The despicable Glenn Beck went so far as to insinuate the Norwegian Labour Party run summer camp full of murdered children was akin to the 'Hitler Youth'.  Bill O'Reilly and the rest of Fox News were quick out of the gate to insinuate that the massacres must have been perpetrated by Muslims, and just as quick to denounce any reference to the killers self pronounced Christian faith.

Remember its not terrorism unless its brown.

Another act of terrorism took place in the US this week, ignored utterly by the media and the political right.   Because remember, When Christianist right wingers fire-bomb Planned Parenthood clinics that certainly isn't terrorism. 

I'm tired of pretending.  Tired of protecting their feelings.  It's becoming increasingly clear that the conservative right wing impulse is fundamentally incompatible with pluralistic democracy.

Are all right wingers violent fanatics?  Of course not.  But how much self reflection and denouncing of the mentality behind Norway and the violent attacks on reproductive rights have you heard even from the moderates?  How many times have you heard even moderate conservatives attack the principals of multi-culturalism with much the same terminology in the 'manifesto' of Anders Behring Breivik?  They are quick to label all Muslims and the Islamic faith with the label of terrorism and equally quick to howl with outrage when the tables are turned.

The same impulse behind the absolute refusal to accept democracy if people vote the 'wrong' way behind the Tea Party's refusal to accept the election of a Democrat, the birthers refusal to accept a black President could possibly be a 'real' American, our own Conservatives labeling the basic rules of parliamentary democracy that allow coalitions as illegitimate - all evidence that to increasing swathes of the right wing Democracy only counts if it returns the 'right' result.

From now on the suspicion and stigma that the right insists Muslims and the Left be viewed with should be applied equally to the political right and fundamentalist Christianity.  After Oklahoma, doctor shootings, Norway... how many times do they have to demonstrate how dangerous they are?

UPDATE: Sabina at News of the Restless lays out the roll call of dishonour

Friday, July 15, 2011

Like looking in a Mirror

"Mr Murdoch has no loyalty to anyone or anything except his company. He has difficulty keeping friendships; rarely keeps his word for long; is an exploiter of the discomfort of others; and has betrayed every political leader who ever helped him in any country, except Ronald Reagan and perhaps Tony Blair. All his instincts are downmarket; he is not only a tabloid sensationalist; he is a malicious myth-maker, an assassin of the dignity of others and of respected institutions, all in the guise of anti-elitism." - Conrad Black 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

NDP blasts Harper's Domestic Spying plans

Its been so long since we had an opposition that actually opposes the government on principle rather than purely political expediency while sharing most of the same agenda, its still jaw dropping to see.
TIMMINS, ON – If the Conservatives get their way, police will be soon be able to track every e-mail sent, every website visited and every comment left on Facebook - all without warrants or judicial review.

“Canadians do all manner of business and personal pursuits on their cell phones and online,” said New Democrat Privacy and Digital Affairs Critic Charlie Angus. “These provisions would force local phone and internet providers to spy on Canadians.”

Conservatives have indicated that "lawful access" provisions will be included in their omnibus crime legislation this fall. Experts warn this would legalize widespread snooping on average citizens – all without a warrant. Telecom providers would also be forced to install surveillance software giving police the ability to track internet and mobile phone activity.

“The Conservatives' ‘lawful access’ proposal essentially means it’s open season on the privacy rights of Canadian citizens,” said Angus. “The real question here is why are the Conservatives pushing for such widespread changes and starting such a full out attack on personal privacy and liberty in Canada?”

Angus said New Democrats support modernizing policing powers to deal with digital issues, but pointed out that removing the requirement for warrants altogether opens the door to all manner of abuse by security officials.

“Without oversight or limits, the question isn’t if abuse will occur, it’s how extreme will the abuse be,” said Angus.
The so called 'Libertarian' Harper government has always been very concerned about the freedom of capital to move jobs, resources and money at will with no concern or consideration given to the best interests of Canadian workers or consumers because such considerations are intolerable restrictions on the freedoms of the rich and powerful.  The freedom of people is less important and indeed can get in the way of the 'liberties' of the legal 'persons' that corporations have become. 

The wholesale abandonment of the social contract by the rich and powerful has reached the limit of what can be achieved through the democratic process.  The Canadian people can be conned into thinking that our taxes - that is to say the taxes of the rich and powerful - can keep getting cut forever with no ill effect but then when that blatant lie is exposed by the constant drum beat to abandon healthcare or the whole social safety net in general we dig in our heels. 

Someday soon the elites will lose patience with that refusal and our 'immature and unserious' insistence on maintaining a basic level of publicly owned and administered care for all and that's where the spying powers Harper is trying to ram through and all those new prisons come in.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rupert Murdoch's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Over the course of literally only a few days Billionaire, Media Baron and all around malign influence on the world Voldemort Rupert Murdoch lost the jewel in his British print crown when he was forced to shut down the 168 year old News of the World tabloid, irretrievably damaged and possibly crippled his enormous power over British politics and culture and now has been forced to abandon a gigantic TV deal worth billions that seemed like a certainty to be approved by government regulators only days ago.

All three main political parties were poised to call on News Corp to abandon its offer in a vote in the House of Commons later on Wednesday.

The move leaves News Corp's key strategy for UK corporate growth in tatters. The proposed £8bn deal has been in train for more than a year, with the first offer tabled in June 2010.

It is the one of the biggest setbacks the 80-year-old media mogul has ever suffered and follows 10 days of revelations about the true scale of phone hacking at the News of the World, the paper Murdoch shut down last week.
With Conrad Black heading back to prison it doesn't seem like a good time to be a ruthless far right media baron. 

But its a very good time for fans of schadenfreude.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Life by the drop

Treasury Board President Tony Clement, who arranged for $50 million dollars in 'G8 infrastructure funds' to be funneled to his own Ontario riding, promises the Harper governments proposed $4 billion dollars in spending cuts 'will not endanger the health and safety of Canadians'.
OTTAWA — Treasury Board President Tony Clement has pledged the Harper government will not endanger the health and safety of Canadians once it decides where to slash $4 billion in annual spending from the federal budget.


In an interview Wednesday with Postmedia News, Clement spoke candidly about the approach he will take to the job as he leads a government wide review of 67 departments and agencies.
Of course an ideologically driven austerity budget that strangles the fragile economic recovery in its crib is rather the definition of endangering the health and safety of Canadians, and while spending is being cut in most areas there still seems to be billions to waste on expensive military hardware and unnecessary new prisons as crime rates continue to drop. 

Like the $50 million available for his own riding (including border security funds for a riding that isn't on the border), Clement seems to be able to find the funding for Conservative ideological pet projects and constituencies if not for basic government services already slashed to the bone by both Conservative and Liberal past governments.

Canadians, If you believe already starved public services can absorb another $4 billion dollars in cuts with no ill effects I have an ideology driven right wing political party to sell you - oh wait, you already bought it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Beyond Contempt

A right wing tabloid newspaper, like Fox News owned by Rupert Murdoch, hacked into a missing 13 year old girls cellphone, listened to and erased messages interfering in an investigation and misleading police and family into thinking she was still alive when in fact she had been the victim of a serial killer. Lets hear it for another example of conservative 'family values'

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron promised an inquiry on Wednesday into a "disgusting" phone hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's News International that has outraged Britain and cast a shadow over the mogul's plans to buy control of broadcaster BSkyB.

Britons, he told parliament, had been "revolted" by the affair, in which tabloid journalists from the News of the World were said to have tapped into the mobile voicemails of crime victims, including an abducted schoolgirl later found murdered.

"We do need to have an inquiry, possibly inquiries, into what has happened," said Cameron. He faces questions on his own judgment, for hiring one former News of the World editor as his spokesman and for maintaining close relations with another, now a top executive and confidante of the international media baron.
UPDATE: "Hey, while we're being just completely disgusting, lets hack into the cellphones of the families of dead soldiers."

UPDATE 2: With a major TV deal worth billions potentially at risk due to public outrage Rupert Murdoch stunned his critics by announcing the tabloid accused of hacking the phones of crime victims and the families of dead soldiers would be shut down. A stunning reversal for a media mogul who has exercised unofficial veto power over British politics for years.  Will this satiate or embolden the critics of his bloated empire that includes newspapers and TV channels worldwide?  Could anything similar happen to Fox News for instance?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SUN Host complains about being bullied for bullying a guest

In the 'willing to dish it out but not willing to take it' department we have Sun Host Krista Erickson who's revolting 'interview' with dancer Margie Gillis included belligerent and abusive behaviour including shouting Gillis down, refusing to let her answer - the frankly inane - questions Erickson asked and the juvenile mockery of Gillis's artistic career exemplified by her bizarre arm flapping gyrations would be an utter embarrassment for a real journalist.  Erickson is probably proud of her performance.


It has however, sparked the most complaints in the history of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, over 2000 at the time of writing.  The council is plaintively begging people to stop sending them in as they're overwhelmed.

Now I hate to call any woman a vacuous tart, even one who is actively promoted as such, The Sun chain's idea of how to promote her as the journalistic face of  Fox News North SunTV was to make her one of their Sunshine Girls. 

I feel the need to stress that I'm not kidding about that.

She's been whining about being 'bullied' by the many artists and ordinary Canadians who have robustly expressed how utterly she embarrassed herself by her moronic performance. 

She's also very indignant on behalf of the poor harassed conservative politicians 'bullied' into supporting art projects they don't believe in by the aggressive hordes of scary artists

Once again the right wing tendency to paint anyone pushing back against their bullying as the aggressor.  Always an amusing display of cowardice, whining and hypocrisy.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Toronto Police Swear off Kettling

Toronto police will never again use the controversial crowd control technique known as kettling, which was employed for the first and last time in the city’s history during last year’s G20 summit.
The decision was revealed to the Star in a police statement Tuesday, along with the information that two Toronto police superintendents were “responsible” for commanding and controlling G20 policing in the city outside the security fence.
On June 27, the final day of the G20 summit, some 300 protesters and bystanders were boxed in, or kettled, by riot police at Queen St. and Spadina Ave. for about four hours.
Not long after the enclosure, rain began to fall in torrents as some stood shivering in summer dresses and tank tops.
“The crowd control technique implemented at Queen & Spadina on June 27 will not be used again by the Toronto Police Service,” spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said in the statement, a response to a list of G20-related questions sent by the Star.
They won't concede it was a mistake to use it at the G20 - being the subject of numerous legal actions that's hardly surprising - but they claim they never plan to use the tactic again,

On the one hand, good that public pressure has made the police bend on a widely condemned policing tactic, but it also just seems like they're throwing the public a bone to try to evade responsibility for the police riot that victimized so many.

And what about other police forces?  Will the RCMP and the major city forces across Canada also disavow the tactic?

UPDATE: Another thought, as the tactic was literally found illegal by British courts and the British police now face potentially millions in court costs from lawsuits from those it was used against before being outlawed, perhaps the police simply want to avoid the tactics legality being considered by a court.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Guilty of Bribery

Not just bribery, but bribery with the goal of avoiding compensating poverty stricken villagers they had poisoned.
A Calgary energy company pleaded guilty on Friday to bribing a foreign government official six years ago.

Niko Resources Ltd. is an oil and gas producer with operations in Southeast Asia.

The firm was charged under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

Company officials admitted in a Calgary court that the firm bribed a Bangladeshi government minister in 2005 following a blowout at one of its fields.

The company provided a vehicle and free trips to Canada and the U.S. to the government official who was in charge of how much nearby villagers would be compensated by Niko for the blowout.

Both the Crown and defence lawyers are recommending a fine and victim surcharge amounting to almost $9.5 million.
Their CEO was the highest paid executive in Canada last year.  Someone should do a study on the linkages between executive compensation and corporate cultures of corruption.

Resolved: It's funny when bad things happen to bad people

THE CANADIAN PRESS — Conrad Black's ailing wife collapsed in shock Friday as the disgraced former media baron, his impassioned plea for leniency falling on deaf ears, was ordered by a U.S. judge to serve several more months behind bars.

Barbara Amiel, who suffers from an autoimmune condition and arrived at the courthouse looking fragile and unwell, keeled over moments after Justice Amy St. Eve revised Black's sentence to a total of 42 months.

"I still scratch my head as to why you engaged in this conduct," St. Eve told Black as she delivered the news to stunned onlookers during a moment of high courtroom drama.

"Good luck to you."

Having already spent 29 months in jail, and with additional credit for good behaviour, Black is now expected to spend between eight and 13 more months behind bars.

"How did this happen?"

The always classy Glenn Beck prepares to end his TV run with as much class and sensitivity as he's always shown.
Glenn Beck said Thursday that he will be visiting the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz in a visit to Poland, and he'll broadcast a special from a town outside of the camp because this will help him "figure out," he says, "how did this happen?
How did it happen?  It happened because people listened to a blow hard, right wing demagogue promoting fear, resentment, eliminationism and conspiracy theories.  Does that answer your question Glenn?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Peanut Gallery

The Conservative Heritage Minister Jason Moore and Liberal Party Leader Bob Rae apparently have nothing better to do but hang around the fringes of the NDP convention kvetching.  They both have observer status and are using it to repeat stale old stereotypes.
 VANCOUVER — The NDP’s proposal to drop the word socialism is only a cosmetic change and the party is as radical as ever, Conservative MP James Moore said Saturday.
Moore, who is also the heritage minister, was an observer at the NDP’s national convention in Vancouver where delegates plan to debate scrapping the word “socialism” from the party’s constitution on Sunday.
“It’s cosmetic, it doesn’t mean anything,” Moore said. “What matters are policies. . . . And the policies here clearly take the NDP further to the left on issues like employment insurance. Forty-five day work year? . . . Canadians know that these simplistic solutions to complicated policy items are the hallmark of the hard left and that is what the NDP is proposing here,” he said.
Bob Rae confined himself to pointing out the NDP should just do what Liberals do; talk about how great it would be to propose government make positive changes in Canadian's lives - but we can't be trusted because we actually mean it!
“What is happening here, many of these resolutions we may agree with . . . but it is the sum of these resolutions that is completely, completely, unrealistic if you consider the situation in which the world economy is and where Canada is, where we need a lot of fiscal discipline, which is something that we Liberals are able to provide but the NDP at the federal level, doesn’t have this sense of responsibility,” Dion said.

NDP leader Jack Layton told Postmedia News Friday that the party really needed to tackle the stereotype that it was a bad fiscal manager.
“Our opponents like to try to suggest that, for example, we would run up deficits and that sort of things, actually the biggest deficit ever run up was by Mr. Harper not by the NDP. And Second, the NDP, when we’ve had the opportunity to be the government in different parts of the country, we have the best record of any party in balancing the budgets,” Layton said, noting “there were a couple of exceptions.”
“Bob Rae was clearly an exception — he’s now leading the Liberal party,” Layton said.
Like Ghandi said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Austerity for thee, but not for me

Senior Conservative officials broke federal rules to shower $50-million on the riding of the minister now overseeing Ottawa’s austerity plan, according to the final audit of a G8 program that fuelled opposition charges of pork-barrel politics.

In her last report, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser said the funding for the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund was approved by Parliament under the guise of a border initiative. The money was then distributed to projects in the riding of Treasury Board President Tony Clement without any input from civil servants, in a clear breach of federal policies dealing with transparency and accountability.

Tories respond to Auditor-General's G8 findings “It is very unusual and troubling. There is no paper trail behind the selection of the 32 projects,” said John Wiersema, the interim Auditor-General who recently took over from a retired Ms. Fraser. “I, personally, in my career in auditing, have not encountered a situation like that.”

...

The report provides embarrassing ammunition to Mr. Clement’s critics, who noted that his main task at the moment is to find wasteful spending as part of efforts to bring down the annual federal budget by $4-billion.

“That’s rich,” said NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair. “When we see that he’s the most wasteful spender in the history of the Canadian government since the sponsorship scandal.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus called the program a “slush fund for pork-barrel projects” in Mr. Clement’s riding.

As the government started seeking approval for the fund in Parliament in 2009, it buried the initiative in a larger $83-million item identified as the “Border Infrastructure Fund.” As such, when Parliament approved the funding, “the request only indicated that money was to be used.
Albertans will be familiar with the brand of politics; billions spent on paving dirt roads in sparsely populated but reliably Conservative rural ridings.  Giant state of the art hospitals for small town Alberta while in Calgary one of the few remaining hospitals left is blown up in a festive ceremonial atmosphere.

Get used to it folks, rewarding their supporters and punishing anyone with the temerity to vote against them is practically the Conservative raison d'être

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Fetus Fetishist Abduction Fantasy

Current Republican Senatorial candidate and former New Jersey judge (!) Kenneth Del Vecchio who runs a sideline as a maker of right wing, religious themed straight to video movies is releasing a pro-life suspense thriller where the 'hero' kidnaps three women planning to have abortions and holds them prisoner for months until their pregnancies are carried to term.
The movie, called "The Life Zone," was produced by Del Vecchio's "Justice For All Productions," and is premiering Saturday at the Hoboken Film Festival in Teaneck, N.J. A press release describes the festival as "one of the nation's largest film festivals, which Del Vecchio founded and chairs."

From the release:

The controversial premise of THE LIFE ZONE: three women have been kidnapped from abortion clinics and are being held for seven months--until they all give birth. The film, which appears to cut right down the middle, examining the topic from both sides, offers a powerful, anti-abortion climactic twist.
The press release also invites pro-lifers specifically to come check out this "historic event."
In the spirit of right-wing genre films, the preview is rather hokey, opening with an old man in the shadows saying in a scary, scratchy voice: "You have all committed a terrible sin." He later tells the three kidnapped women via video conference ('cause what's scarier than that?): "I am your jailer."

It may seem a tad ill-advised to make a pro-life movie where the heroes are creepy kidnappers, but "The Life Zone" preview attempts to counter this with some dialogue gems like: "You were all on the operating table, all ready to commit murder ... Your babies will be given life just as God planned."
So like Saw, if the crazed serial killer was a religious fanatic presented as the 'hero'.

The pathology on display is quite revealing about the anti-choice mindset.

Monday, June 06, 2011

A convicted felon with delusions of grandeur

That it was published in the paper that used to be his own personal Hearstian plaything and vanity project must add insult to the injury of this damning report:
Conrad Black was not the model prisoner depicted by his legal team, rather he “projected the attitude that he was better than others” and treated some of his fellow inmates “like servants,” according to documents filed by the U.S. government in court.

In two affidavits sworn by a unit manager and an education specialist at Coleman Federal Correctional prison in Florida, where Lord Black spent 29 months, the former media baron is depicted as a haughty inmate and an uninspired tutor.

“Black initially demanded special treatment, expecting counsellors to prioritize his requests over those of other inmates,” said Tammy Padgett, the unit manager of Lord Black’s prison ward.

“During the time that Black was at Coleman, I observed that he gathered a following of inmates who performed services for him, acting like servants,” she said in a two-page affidavit filed by U.S. prosecutors in advance of a June 24 re-sentencing hearing.

“These inmates cooked for Black, cleaned for him, mopped his floor, ironed his clothes and other similar tasks. This is not at all frequent at Coleman.”
“Based on my interactions with Black, he projected the attitude that he was better than the others in the class, both faculty and students,” Ms. De LaGarza said in her affidavit. “A lot of the inmates looked up to him, and there were some who saluted him each day in class.”
...
Lord Black’s lawyers have asked the trial judge to release Lord Black for time served.

According to Ms. Padgett, Lord Black’s case manager while in prison noted that on the day before the Canadian-born businessman was released on bail, he told her in “words to the effect of, ‘I believe I should be addressed as Lord Black from this point forward.’ ” Apparently, the case manager refused.
Like Al Capone in his furnished luxury cell stuffing bills into guards pockets when they delivered his cigars.  Another petty, sleazy, grubby little criminal who thinks he still is owed the respect of the peons.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

War of Words

The Republican Party is trying to censor people who call the Republican plan to end Medicare a Republican plan to end Medicare.
Attention, people, this is important: The battle over whether it’s true that the Republican plan would “end Medicare” is about to play out in a critical way in New Hampshire.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which oversees House races for the GOP, has written a sharply-worded letter demanding that a New Hampshire TV station yank an ad making that claim. Whether the ad gets taken down could help set a precedent for whether other stations will air Dem TV ads making this argument, which is expected to be a central message for Dems in the 2012 elections.
The TV station has thankfully declined:
The liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee has won a round against the National Republican Congressional Committee -- with the liberal group turning back an effort to get an ad targeting Republican proposals on Medicare pulled from broadcast.
Replacing a program of direct government payments to senior's doctors with a voucher program to get seniors to buy their  own - more expensive - private health insurance unambiguously ends the current Medicare program and replaces it with something that is neither THE Medicare program or even A Medicare program.  That's a government market support program for the private insurance industry. An industry that coincidentally has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the Republican Party and Republican candidates.

If a political party ever gets to dictate what is allowed to be said based on whether it conflicts with their own deceptive rhetoric that means giving them control over defining consensus reality itself.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The World Turned Upside Down

CANADA PRESS -- OTTAWA - A new poll suggests New Democrats appear to have consolidated their support as official Opposition to the Harper Conservatives, particularly among women and urban voters.

As a new Parliament opens following the May 2 election, the Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests the majority Conservative government has the support of 37 per cent of respondents -- down from the Tories' 39.6 per cent of the popular vote on election day.

NDP support stood at 34 per cent in the poll, up from 30.6 per cent of the popular vote, while the third-place Liberals slipped to 15 per cent in the survey, a loss of almost four percentage points from their election day total.
In other words Canadian progressives have internalized the new reality and the traditional polling position between the Liberals and the NDP has been almost completely reversed. 
 
A lot of progressive voters who voted Liberal because they believed the constant hype that they had no choice are now firm NDP supporters and if we can retain and expand on that support the NDP is now the opposition party with as legitimate a shot at forming government in the future as the Liberals ever had - more so because we haven't utterly burned our bridges in Quebec the way the Liberal Party has.
 
It's going to be very entertaining to watch all the smoking gears from rhetorical 180's as various Liberal supporters provide tortured or non-existent rationales for why it was always very, very wrong for the NDP to try to supplant the Liberals as official opposition and government in waiting but not for the third party Liberals to be spoilers in the future.
 
The international example is that once a centrist party loses its aura of inevitability that it will always be either the government or the opposition - it never comes back.  If people want to vote for a right wing party they will vote for a real right wing party, if they want to vote for a progressive party they vote for a real one. 

The fate of a centrist power brokerage party with no firm positions or philosophical underpinning once it drops to third party status the first time is to be squeezed out of existence going forward.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Stoking Fear

Salon has an interesting piece about the strange obsession of Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report with tracking down and hyping stories of violence between whites and blacks:
In an era when urban white flight is reversing and violent crime is at record lows across the nation, this world of race riots and constant violent attacks on innocent Caucasians exists only in the imaginations of Matt Drudge and the paranoid suburban and exurban white people he wants to keep terrified. Stoking those racial fears goes beyond cynical political point-scoring. To devote so much energy to attempting to make whites terrified of blacks is just vile.
Speaking of Christie Blatchford...
Christie Blatchford's columns will soon be back in the pages of the National Post, parent company Postmedia news network announced on Wednesday.

Veteran journalist Christie Blatchford is joining Postmedia News, which will see her columns return to the National Post. Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press

The veteran journalist will begin her new job on June 13, as a national columnist for the newspaper she previously wrote for from 1998 to 2003. She will also file stories for other Postmedia outlets, such as The Vancouver Sun and Ottawa Citizen.

The Quebec-born writer, who has worked for Toronto's four major daily newspapers, is "a game changer in the world of journalism," company president Paul Godfrey said in a statement.

"People who love her, and even those few who don't, always read her."
Good to know her hard hitting and long running series on all the Scary Violent Dark People who scorn the law and menace defenseless peace loving caucasians will have a venue...

Incoherence

Former BC Liberal Party leader Gordon Gibson's column in the Mop and Pail today is an excellent example of the essential policy incoherence and inherent cognitive dissonance that are the core features of neo-liberalism's Canadian strain.

He correctly identifies the essential problems of the Canadian Liberal Party; the impression that they stand for nothing and the generation of squabbling internecine battles and jockeying for power and influence that have hollowed the party out. He suggests they need to stand for something again, for policies that will make them stand out from the other parties.

Where to find unique policies? The obvious places are the “third rails” of politics, the ones others fear to touch. These are things like our drug policy (insane), our prison policy (likewise), our immigration policy (revolutionizing Canada on an ongoing basis without debate), democratic reform, the importance of supporting Canadian culture, a leadership of ideas (not cash) in things that matter to ordinary people like health and education, a focus on the young (who are the future) instead of the old (who are the past, but have the votes), aboriginal policy (an ignored disgrace) and so on.
So these are the supposed policy areas where the Liberals can endeavour to stand out from the NDP who Gibson identifies as the target the Liberals should be focusing on, (Remember all the whining from Liberals over the years that the NDP was being mean to them instead of going after the Conservatives? - We're about to see how purely a projection that was based on how they play the game now that they're the third party.) they are without exception, areas where the NDP has consistently been out in front of the Liberals and seeking progressive change while the Liberals have dragged their feet at best and been openly obstructive at worst.

What distinction do they plan to draw? Making promises and critiques in direct variance from their own governing record is hardly a new and innovative Liberal approach.

"...a leadership of ideas (not cash) in things that matter to ordinary people like health and education"
Classic. The usual neoliberal implication that all it will take is 'new ideas' to fix these services and proposing new spending doesn't qualify. Of course the reality is that ideas about fixing programs like healthcare are all about funding decisions, the false economies of cutting or scrimping on costs now VS the long term fixes and savings that often involve large initial investments.

Healthcare waiting times for instance; we know that the silver bullet fix for wait times and ballooning acute care costs is to massively expand long term care space. We know that spending the money now to get elderly Canadians with long term medical needs out of hospital beds, and too often hospital hallways and into extended care spaces is how you solve waiting times and reduce acute care health costs in the long term because we have an excellent example of such a policy providing these benefits in the UK.

The Tony Blair Labour government did a lot of things wrong, from slavish support of the Bush administration's quagmires in the Middle East to a pandering and reactionary approach to criminal justice that demonized youth and turned the British people into one of the most surveiled populations on Earth to name just two examples. On healthcare however, they instituted long term fixes with long term benefits, and they did so by 'throwing money at the problem' and opening thousands of extended care spaces.

But neoliberals are still trapped in a stale 'Keep starving the state and scrambling for so-called innovative new ideas to compensate for it' paradigm. A failed model that has long since reached its limit for even minimal effectiveness. The real third rail, the real 'dangerous idea' that a political party can use to distinguish themselves from the others is to take the lumps for speaking an unwelcome truth about the unsustainable and irresponsible trickle down revenue collection policies inherent in years of tax giveaways to corporations and the ultrawealthy by both Conservatives and the Liberals.

That's the third rail Gibson and the Liberal Party show no interest in touching, dooming them to the roadkill in the middle of the road fate he warns of.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Whose Blackberries were they?

Interesting. The Toronto Sun is still reporting it's Rookie PC candidate George Lepp's junk that was posted to his Twitter stream while every other media source is uncritically repeating Lepp's claim that the package in question must belong to whoever stole his Blackberry.

Is it just that the original version makes for a better story?  Nobody's in the office to update the story?

Or is this another sign of the breach between the Sun chain and the Conservative movement that opened during the campaign when they accused the Conservatives of trying to plant a phony Ignatieff story with them?

UPDATE: Lepp's PR guy denies aver admitting they were Lepp's meat and two veg:
The Sun story says Alan Sakach, communications director for the Ontario Conservatives, told the paper the device was operating on camera mode in Lepp's front pant pocket when it went missing.
But Sakach quickly denied the report, telling the Toronto Star the image was not of Lepp and that he has no idea how it was taken. “This is crap journalism,” Sakach told the Star, accusing The Sun of misquoting him.
Clearly some kind of identity line up is called for here.  Presumably there are ... distinguishing features.

Rolling in the Deep

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Canada's proud role sabotaging Mideast peace

As part of Harper's longstanding policy of defining pro-Israel to mean pro-Likud he jumped to serve Netanyahu when the Israeli PM asked him to throw Obama under a bus.
At the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper thwarted an announcement Friday by the G-8 countries that would have supported U.S. President Barack Obama's statement that talks between the Palestinians and Israel should be based on the 1967 borders with exchanges of territory.
The grateful thanks of Israel's far right government were delivered by vicious racist and ethnic cleansing proponent Avigdor Lieberman:
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke over the weekend with Canada's foreign minister, John Baird, and thanked him for Canada's position during the G-8 deliberations. "Canada is a true friend of Israel and with a realistic and proper view of things, it understands that the 1967 borders do not conform to Israel's security needs and with the current demographic reality," Lieberman said.
'current demographic reality' being a polite euphemism for 'years of illegal settlement building on stolen land.'

Remember when Canada's role on the world stage was something to be proud of?

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