Monday, February 28, 2011

Pro-Life means Pro-Murder now?

Pro-Lifers have always been a little caviler about any life that is more than a few inches long and not attached to a placental wall, dismissing the very real medical necessity of conditions like depression, toxemia and even ectopic pregnancy which can never result in anything but the death of mother and child and has to be terminated.  Don't tell Bill O'Reilly though.

But now that casual dismissal of the health of real living women - so much harder to get broody and weird about, than a scrap of flesh that could potentially become a BAAAAABBBBYYYYY - has been revealed as a truly murderous attitude towards doctors, nurses and anybody who helps a woman exercise her right to get a legal medical procedure done.

First, it was South Dakota. Then Nebraska and Iowa. The similarly worded bills, which have quietly cropped up recently in state legislatures, share a common purpose: To expand justifiable homicide statutes to cover killings committed in the defense of an unborn child. Critics of the bills, including law enforcement officials, warn that these measures could invite violence against abortion providers and possibly provide legal cover to the perpetrators of such crimes.

That these measures have emerged simultaneously in a handful of states is no coincidence. It's part of a campaign orchestrated by a Washington-based anti-abortion group, which has lobbied state lawmakers to introduce legislation that it calls the "Pregnant Woman's Protection Act" [PDF]. Over the past two years, the group, Americans United for Life, has succeeded in passing versions of this bill in Missouri and Oklahoma. But there's a big difference between those bills and the measures floated recently in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa.

While the Oklahoma and Missouri laws specifically cover pregnant women, the latest measures are far more sweeping and would apply to third parties. The bills are so loosely worded, abortion-rights advocates say, that a pregnant woman could seek out an abortion and a boyfriend, husband—or, in some cases, just about anyone—could be justified in using deadly force to stop it.
A Planned Parenthood official testified last week at a hearing on Nebraska's LB 232 that such legislation "authorizes and protects vigilantes." And it isn't just abortion-rights advocates who fear the implications of the AUL-inspired legislation. "This could be used to incite violence against abortion providers," said Omaha's deputy chief of police, David Baker. The office of South Dakota's Republican governor—no defender of abortion-rights—has called the version of the bill introduced in the state's legislature a "very bad idea." (Following a national outcry, the South Dakota bill was shelved.)
Of course expect the pro forma denials.  Shocked! Shocked they are, that anyone could interpret this legislation to imply legal protection for the murderous assassins these 'mainstream' totally not all extremist organizations keep producing.  Just because they use language about 'murdering babies', 'genocide', 'death factories' and the like, or publish the names and addresses of the clinic staff they use such rhetoric about should in no way be considered the proximate cause for the murderous rampages their followers keep engaging in.

You know the Science Fiction novel I would have preferred stay fictional?  The Handmaid's Tale.  Too bad groups like these seem intent on some kind of large scale re-enactment.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Quote of the Day

What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy. And that’s why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators’ side.

They never miss a chance to bring it up...

Its hard to spin away that the government and police were monitoring and spying on an elected politician because of the positions he supported.  The Sun is left with the old reliable refuge of the conservative Canadian media whenever the subject comes up, of shrieking 'eugenics!'
During his long public career Douglas held many views that would seem shocking today.
In his 1933 master’s thesis, titled The Problems of the Subnormal Family, Douglas advocated the “unfit” be placed on state work-farms and be sterilized to prevent them from having children.
Douglas also advocated anyone who wanted to marry be subject to government testing to obtain certificates of mental and physical fitness. He saw this as a way to keep “subnormal” humans from marrying.
"Because this class tend to intermarry... the second and third generations are nearly always worse than the first. The result is an ever increasing number of morons and imbeciles who continue to be a charge upon society,” Douglas wrote in defence of eugenics.
Don't look for the context, The Sun of course does not advise their readers that such views were common at the time, nor do they print the many available quotes from Tory and Liberal elected figures from the same era saying the same things.

They don't mention that after a visit to pre-war Germany Douglas abandoned his previous support for eugenics - all it took was seeing it in action.

But in Alberta, the right wing Social Credit government kept forcible sterilization laws on the books until 1972 after they were voted out of power in 1971.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

He could just as easily be talking about Ezra Levant

The Calgary Herald: In praise of the right to lie to the public

The Herald's editorial board robustly defends the right of broadcasters, like the new 'Fox News North' Sun TV  for example, to lie to the public.
A committee of Parliament is asking the CRTC to change an existing regulation that bans the broadcast of "any false or misleading news." The committee wants the wording changed to apply to broadcasters who "knowingly" broadcast news that is "false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health, or safety of the public."
The committee misses the point. This ridiculous regulation should not even exist.

Good rule of thumb:

Anybody who refers to popularly elected union leaders as 'Bosses' is trying to con you.
"Sarah Palin also weighed in on the matter in a Facebook post on Friday, telling union members that they should break away from leaders.

"You don't have to kowtow to the union bosses who are not looking out for you, but instead are using you," wrote Palin.

"Wisconsin union bosses want union members out in the streets demanding that tax payers foot the bill for unsustainable benefits packages."
It's a transparent attempt to obfuscate that the real union bosses are the union members.

Union executives, Presidents, Council members, Business Agents right down to the level of Shop Stewards are elected by their fellow members, enact the policies their members tell them to and can be overthrown in these things called elections  if those members feel they aren't following the will of the membership.  I was a member of one where that happened.

Yes, like any democratic government including that of the United States itself, criminals or incompetents occasionally rise to positions of power.  The strength of the whole system is reflected in how quickly such figures are identified and removed.  I'd put union governance in general against the governance displayed by someone like Governor Walker coming to power.  Any day.

I agree with Robert Creamer, that the radical right over-reached themselves in Wisconsin last week.  They counted on a lightning fast blitzkrieg attack on their political enemies.  Such a fundamental existential attack on the right of collective bargaining becomes far less likely to succeed thanks to Democratic Senators being willing to take the vital step of denying Walker a quorum to ram through his changes.  With public pressure building and both sides exploring recalls against the opposition's state senators the pressure on Walker's caucus will start to have an effect.  A lot of Republicans in the Wisconsin House are getting calls right now from former supporters telling them in no uncertain terms they weren't elected to gut worker's rights.

Best case scenario: This ends in Wisconsin with a fig leaf of some benefit cuts but the most contentious proposals limiting bargaining rights and other union busting poison pills like dues check off withdrawn.  Governors all over the country look at the angry crowds filling the legislature in Madison and decide there's other fights they'd rather spend their time and energy on.

If Walker and the radical right in Wisconsin succeed though, the ongoing class war against workers in North America enters a new and very dangerous stage.  Unions weren't granted the rights they have out of the goodness of the hearts of government and industry, they fought for them in the streets until government and industry decided organized labour was the safer route than an increasingly radicalized population in a world sliding into revolution on every horizon.

The grand compromise of the modern social contract was a peace treaty.  Generally speaking, tearing up a peace treaty means war.
"If you're going to take away bargaining rights, you leave them with what?  You leave them with what they had in the '20s and '30s, you leave them with the streets."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quote of the Day

Rising tensions in Madison and could presage the kind of labor unrest that hasn’t been seen in the US since the Great Depression, says Professor Bruno.
"If you're going to take away bargaining rights, you leave them with what?" he says. "You leave them with what they had in the '20s and '30s, you leave them with the streets."

Attention must be paid. Don't kid yourself that Conservative politicians in Canada aren't looking at Wisconsin with a mixture of calculation and longing. This is like the partisan attack our own loathsome right wingers tried with political financing; a deliberate act of war and an unambiguous existential threat to their political enemies and to civil society itself.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Alpha Flight 2011

The 80's Marvel Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight reported to Pierre Trudeau and the worst their government ever asked them to do was to try to kidnap Wolverine for defecting from Canada (?) but in the new 21st century reboot, they learn what it means to live in Stephen Harper's Canada:
...there is a change in the government not unlike when you see a government go from democracy to a facist state." Alpha Flight will be seen by the new Canadian government as the country's greatest traitors. 
Where's Captain Canuck when we need him?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Republican Governer Declares war on Workers

Taking away public workers bargaining rights with the stroke of a pen. How long before Harper tries to import this idea?
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said Friday that he was willing to mobilize the state's National Guard force in order to address the potential repercussions of his stated proposal to eliminate collective bargaining rights for state employees.
The Associated Press reports:
Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond wherever is necessary in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights from state employees.

Walker said Friday that he hasn't called the Guard into action, but he has briefed them and other state agencies in preparation of any problems that could result in a disruption of state services, like staffing at prisons.

On Thursday, Walker told the Associated Press that he will propose removing nearly all public employee collective bargaining rights to help plug a $3.6 billion budget hole.

Walker, a Republican who took office in January, said no one should be surprised by the move he will ask the GOP-controlled Legislature to approve next week given that he's talked about doing it for two months.

"This is not a shock," he said. "The shock would be if we didn't go forward with this."

But union leaders, and even some Republicans, were taken aback at the scope of his proposal.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

My Mommies help me with my homework

Arbitrary school rankings designed by the Fraser Institute to promote an anti public school privatization agenda?  Absolutely worthless.

Having a school for cultist polygamist kids get a perfect score?  Absolutely priceless.
A school for children in the polygamous commune of Bountiful, B.C. is among the highest ranking on the 2011 Fraser Institute Report Card. 
Bountiful Elementary-Secondary scored a perfect 10 mark. 
It tied with 12 other schools, mostly private schools in the Vancouver area, that also achieved perfect 10s. 
The Fraser Institute rates 875 public and private elementary schools throughout B.C. based on 10 key indicators using data from province-wide testing, known as the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) test. FSA tests are mandated by the B.C. Ministry of Education.
Fraser Institute spokesperson, Peter Cowley, said not much is known about what made Bountiful so successful on FSAs. 
“With regard to what techniques they may have used or how they taught in math, for instance, between kindergarten and grade 4, all those things may be interesting but we don’t have any long term record of success yet,” Cowley said. 
Jane Friesen, the director of Simon Fraser University's Centre for Education Research and Policy, said people should look at these rankings carefully. 
“It’s simply telling you how is a particular cohort of students in a school doing in a particular year. I think we have to be careful to not interpret those results as a measure of the effectiveness of the school and I think that’s where the real issue comes in,” she said

Friday, February 04, 2011

Shameful Opposition to Democracy

It's been fascinating watching various right wing and establishment 'liberal' commentators twist themselves into knots justifying their hostility to people fighting for democracy and their support for a vicious dictator.

As well as plentiful examples in the American media and political establishment, and the despicable fawning from Tony Blair for the malevolent Mubarak, here in Canada we have had the spectacle of the Globe and Mail scolding the courageous Egyptian protesters for trying to 'humiliate' Mubarak and then scrambling to reposition as events conspire to make them look ever more discreditable.  We've watched various political figures fear-mongering about the Muslim Brotherhood (with its membership of perhaps a couple hundred thousand in a country with a population of over 80 million.) to justify their defense of a military strong man who has held power for decades using torture, savage repression and a police force only one step away from death squads.

The argument is explicit:  That the problem with democracy is that it might mean some Muslims will vote.

This needs to be remembered.  This shameful display needs to follow them for the rest of their lives.

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