Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Quality Control

Jurassic 5

Fraser Institute's 'independent review' of UN Global Warming reported leaked and critiqued by DeSmogBlog

Fraser Institute 'Analysis'” of IPCC Report Out of Date, Oil-Soaked and Incorrect.

Before the Fraser Institute could even release their bought and paid for hit job of the IPCC Report on climate change, DeSmogBlog has leaked it and launched an impeccably sourced and scathing response.

While the Fraser Institute claims the IPCC report was written by UN bureaucrats and their 'independent' response is by scientists, the truth turns out to be the opposite. This is the kind of journalism the Mainstream media should be doing and isn't.

Once again the Fraser Institute blatantly acts as a paid PR firm defending its client's interests. Any report in the MSM that uncritically parrots their own self-description as an independent think tank is either knowingly or negligently abetting a fraud.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A tale of two presidents

The rule of law, ultimately, is about putting restrictions on power.

Both the American and Venezuelan constitutions go out of their way to put roadblocks between the executive branch and absolute power. In both nations the current occupants of the executive branch are attempting to circumvent these roadblocks. Bush among other things, through signing statements asserting a theory of unitary executive tantamount to an imperial presidency, Chavez through an "enabling law" passed by a legislature made up almost entirely of his supporters giving him the power to rule by decree for a year and a half.

Of course Chavez won all of his elections and still holds massive popular support for his rule and his agenda while Bush came to office through the good graces of the vote counting in a state run by his brother and judges appointed by his father - and oh yeah, is now polling at the kind of numbers that made Nixon resign.

In both cases however, and despite whatever good intentions may be behind these two men's power grabs, their actions are deeply threatening to the very idea of civil society.

If democracy is to be more than a brand name then those claiming the validity of it's imprimatur must also respect it's restrictions.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday Link Blast - Jan 28

Friday, January 26, 2007

Bush is so bad he's making Americans envy us for Harper

This was the case that caused Pat Leahy to have a genuine and intense outburst of rage after Alberto Gonzales placidly recited his mindless buzzphrases to defend the administration's conduct here. It is hard to see how anyone doesn't have a similar burst of outrage when thinking about what our government has done, and continues to do, to Maher Arar ...
At least the Canadian Government seems to be run by people with a minimal sense of conscience and decency. The contrast with our own government, in this case at least, is depressingly glaring.
Of course the difference is mostly one of political expediency rather than political courage; Harper's Tories are dealing with a mess they can righteously pin on the former Liberal government - though the Conservative Party cheering section at the Western Standard was still slandering Arar barely months ago. South of the border this is a scandal that is a threat to the current government rather than a previous government made up of the opposition party.

Harper faces political and legal dangers if he takes any action other than what he's taking - the Bush administration can't admit an innocent man was tortured for the same reasons the Harper government must. And admitting that Arar is innocent and taking him off the no-fly list leaves them responsible for sending an innocent man to a country they knew would torture him.

They will never admit that.

But hey, we can watch Leahy slowly flay Gonzales with words on live TV some more.

Update: Mike is disapointed that Harper can't be classy for one frickin' day without going to the partisan place.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

All that You Give

Cinematic Orchestra with Fontella Bass, a little something to catch some mellow in the mid-week...

Transnational Labour citizenship

The biggest flaw of globalization is that it's benefits are weighted so overwhelmingly to elites. This of course, because while capital can be effectively transnational, labour so far cannot.

Here's a fascinating and ambitious proposal for what a truly transnational labour movement might ultimately look like. Recommended.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fancy that.

Today the Globe and Mail, the national daily newspaper arm of Bell/CTV Globe Media, Canada's largest private media and phone company, sternly decried the decision of Venezeula's elected President to re-nationalize several resources, most notably the country's largest phone company CANTV.

Thank heavens for their clear-eyed and unbiased views on the subject.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Chavez plans to nationalize phone company

I worked for a phone company that used to belong to the people it served and was sold out to the highest bidder. When I was there, it was like Venezuela's major phone company CANTV, partly owned and disproportionately dominated by American phone giant Verizon.

So I've seen from the inside - and the outside on a picket line - what privatization did to service, management culture, respect for the customer base and any kind of idea of duty to the public.

Like so many examples of the 'wonderful benefits of competition' the result has been reduced service, increased prices, poisonous labour relations and a gigantic public infrastructure created by public will and public funds profiting a small executive and investor class.

Remember paying your phone bill at a counter? Remember getting the phone service you asked for when you asked for it? Remember offices in your neighborhood? In your community at all?

I actually heard managers say with a straight face that our customers had to readjust their expectations of what they should expect from their now private phone company.

When you hear the executive class, the compliant mainstream media, the free market ideologues and the rest of the usual suspects fulminate about the tyranny and dictatorial behaviour of a leader keeping a promise he made before he was re-elected with a massive majority, think about a utility or service in your community that used to be public and/or regulated and now is private. Remember good service, good jobs in the community and low bills.

You might find yourself envying the Venezuelans.

Which is of course, what is upsetting the Chavez haters most of all.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Danger of Love

From Zap Mama and DJ Krush

The Masters of Mendacity

"“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it,

people will eventually come to believe it."

-attributed to Jospeh Goebbels

"Follow the Money."
-Deep Throat

The Fraser Institute continued it's long and faithful service to Canada's business community in 2006 with a series of 'studies' on everything from healthcare and the environment, to education and basically any public sector effort to protect citizens from crushing poverty that might infringe in any way on the excesses of big business.

For example last month they released their annual report on Canada's government debt, designed to create public alarm about rising levels of government debt and push for severe cuts to health and social spending.

As is usual for Fraser Institute releases, it's full of punchy media friendly pull quotes implying that fiscal armageddon is right around the corner and that the only solution is to burn Canada's social safety net to ashes and replace every public sector enterprise with profitable private sector ones.

Promoting such a radical program naturally requires a pattern of blatant misrepresentation of the facts verging on outright lies.

It requires both useful idiots and cynical propagandists in a compliant media - owned by huge conglomerates and family empires - eager to uncritically report scare stories that promote a free market uber alles meme that is of direct financial benefit to them.

And of course, promoting such a counter-intuitive and selfish program takes money.

Money from Exxon Mobile to pay for global warming denial, money from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to finance a relentless promotion of private health care through a steady stream of deceptive and alarmist pronouncements about our public system. Money from and to Conservative political movements in Canada and the US.

They've even taken money from big tobacco to deny the health dangers of smoking. If you've got the cash they'll carry your water - they are simply ideological shouters for hire.

Much of their careful misinformation, particularly on social programs like universal health care, seems intended for an American audience as much or more than it is for Canadians. The American articles invariably use the Fraser Institutes alarmist ad hoc attacks to argue that universal health care in Canada is a failure that Canadians bitterly oppose - a mistake that Americans should avoid making themselves.

That the overwhelming majority of Canadians look at the American experience with big pharma/big insurance company gangster model healthcare and shudder, is kept from the American public. The fact that even the most right wing Canadian politicians in the most right wing of regions of Canada cannot openly attack universality safely is oddly never mentioned in these screeds at all.

When will Canada's mainstream media start treating the Fraser Institute as what it is: Simply a sophisticated PR firm with a conscious strategy of presenting bought and paid for propaganda as serious studies, and deliberate distortions as facts?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


A genteel but disturbing horror story animated by Norman
McLaren and the National Film Board in 1952.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Gerald McBoing Boing

From the mind of Doctor Seuss, the classic tale of alienation and acceptance:

New Year's Day Link Blast

And my holiday gift to you:

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