Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ipperwash Report Released Today

While I don't have the time to read it today, I think something as important as this needs to be commemorated.

Evidently, Harris is officially judged as having said "I want those fucking Indians out of the park!" but we're to understand that this was not an order to the OPP to actually clear "those fucking Indians out of the park."

Evidently the fact that the assault was instigated by the acting-chief of operations for the OPP, and that it came as a shock to the OPP official who was going home to rest, and who became frantic when he heard of his subordinate's surprise decision, isn't suspicous of anything.

I'll read more and see how they squared that circle.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Unsatisfactory Ruling

In recent debates, NDP MP Libbie Davies asked the Speaker of the House of Commons to force the government ["Canada's New Government"] to table the handbook that it had printed and given out to Conservative parliamentary committee chairs about how to obstruct meetings and, more importantly, tamper with witnesses:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege, specifically to claim that a contempt of the House may have occurred in the form of a document being crafted by the government that tells committee chairs to tamper with witnesses coming before committees.

She raised this as a question of privilege, as previous attempts to get the Prime Minister to do so voluntarily had failed.

Her position was that according to a National Post article by Don Martin, this handbook apparently instructed committee chairs to:

select party-friendly witnesses, coach favourable testimony, ... [chairmen] “should ensure that witnesses suggested by the Conservative Party of Canada are favourable to the government and ministry,” ... chairmen should also seek to “include witnesses from Conservative ridings across Canada” and make sure their local MPs take the place of a member at the committee when a constituent appears, to show they listen and care, ... chairmen should “meet with witnesses so as to review testimony and assist in question preparation.

Davies asked that the Speaker compel the Conservatives to produce this document, because the coaching of or tampering with witness testimony is in violation of parliamentary traditions:

page 132 of Erskine May's 21st edition, under the heading of “Tampering with witnesses”, states:

A resolution setting out that to tamper with a witness in regard to the evidence to be given before either House or any committee of either House or to endeavour, directly or indirectly, to deter or hinder any person from appearing or giving evidence is a breach of privilege has been agreed by the Commons at the beginning of every session since 1900, and there have been numerous instances of punishment for offences of this kind.

Corruption or intimidation, though a usual, is not an essential ingredient in this offence. It is equally a breach of privilege to attempt by persuasion or solicitations of any kind to induce a witness not to attend, or to withhold evidence or to give false evidence.

This matter was considered in 1935 by a committee of the Commons which reported that, in its opinion, it was a breach of privilege to give any advice to a witness which took the form of pressure or of interference with his freedom to form and express his own opinions honestly in the light of all the facts known to him; and the House resolved that it agreed with the committee in its report.

I wish to submit that the British parliament has clearly seen the need for impartiality of witnesses and has actually made it a breach of privilege to interfere with witnesses in any way that would affect or coach their testimony. The question that arises is whether those rules apply here. I believe they do and that they should.

In the sixth edition of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, citation 32 on pages 13 and 14, it explains that the privileges of the United Kingdom parliament were effectively transferred to
this House:

The right of the Canadian Parliament to establish its privileges is guaranteed by the Constitution Act and
the privileges thus claimed may, at present, not exceed those of the United Kingdom House of Commons.

(2) Parliament, in 1868, laid claim to all of the privileges of the United Kingdom House of Commons without specifying their exact extent.

Citation 32(4) states:

As Parliament has never delimited the extent of privilege, considerable confusion surrounds the area. Recourse must therefore be taken, not only to the practice of the Canadian House, but also to the vast
tradition of the United Kingdom House of Commons.

Therefore, witnesses before committees share the same privilege of freedom of speech as members in the U.K. and here. Committee privileges are covered in basically the same way in Ottawa in our House of Commons and in Westminster in terms of the powers of committees to
decide questions of privilege and in the ways that members' privileges apply as well. Even the procedure for reporting a breach of privilege is almost identical here in Canada to what it is in Westminster.


Mr. Speaker, you may question whether the applicability of the British rules against molestation, intimidation or tampering with witnesses applies here but I would contend that they do apply,
as laid out in Erskine May.

Since it is alleged that the government has published a committee manual that instructs
committee chairs to behave in a way that would alter the testimony of a witness before a committee, I submit that a breach of privilege and a contempt of Parliament may have taken place and, therefore, we must look into this matter immediately.

Mr. Speaker, I look favourably on your submission and I am prepared to move the appropriate motion, submitted to you earlier today in writing, should you find a favourable ruling to this question of privilege.


CPC House Leader Jay Hill replied to this by saying that opposition parties in the past have employed procedural tricks, including filibustering, to delay or block legislation and therefore, a concerted attempt by the government itself to block inquiries into such mundane subjects as complicity in war crimes, by subverting the entire work of parliamentary committees is just more of the same.

The opinion that mattered, however, was the Speaker's, and this was his response:

Had there been some evidence of tampering with a witness, I might have found there was a question of privilege. But there is no evidence whatsoever. What we have is a suggestion that some internal memo, manual or book, contains some suggestion that chairs should meet with witnesses. That is the most we have.

If some hon. member prepared a memo urging members to come into the House and raise phony questions of privilege, are we to take that as some kind of breach of the privileges of members of the House? I do not think so and I suspect such a thing might have happened before. I do not know but I suspect it might have.

I am not prepared to find a question of privilege on the basis of an article in a paper that
suggests there may have been a phrase in a document or manual that says that chairs should meet with witnesses to discuss their testimony.

Until there is evidence of tampering with witnesses, I do not believe that the Chair can find that there has been a breach of members' privileges. There is no such evidence before me and accordingly, I do not believe there is a question of privilege here.

I find this to have been an unsatisfactory ruling for a number of reasons: One, because he denigrates the importance of the charge, or the seriousness of the charge because it comes from "an article in a paper that suggests there may have been a phrase in a document or manual that says that chairs should meet with witnesses to discuss their testimony," as if the fact that this chicanery was discovered and reported upon outside of Parliament has anything to do with the seriousness of this assault on Parliament's abilities to do its work. Secondly, I think that it is unsatisfactory because the Speaker insists on being provided with proof of evidence of tampering, when the question is to verify whether or not the government is instructing chairs to tamper with evidence. Thirdly, I think that so far, the arguments that "everybody does it" misses the enormity of the situation as Davies presents it. This is not a question of the government using procedural tricks that are legal, just as the opposition parties use legal, procedural tricks, this is a case of a party document, printed by the government party, instructing its members to break the law.

In response to a question to compel the government to show that it conspired to commit a crime, the Speaker has essentially said; "Let's wait for there to be a crime committed and for which we then find a smoking gun. Then will I compel the government to expose itself."

Thanks for nothing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Canadian Left Must Seek Justice For Haiti

There have to be consequences for this precedent:


“Canada has made a significant contribution to stability in Haiti,” noted George W. Bush, in remarks to the media after meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in July 2006 (1).

Three years after Canada helped lead a coup d'état against the democratically elected government of Haiti, almost no one in Ottawa has been held accountable for this crime against the sovereignty of the hemisphere’s poorest nation.


Should a Leftist government ever win an election in Canada, we have to prepare the ground in Canada's political culture, that teaches people that foreign meddling in a country's domestic politics is illegal and unwelcome.

For this reason, we in Canada who are appalled, shamed, and saddened by the crimes of the Paul Martin Liberals against Haiti, and the perpetuation of these policies by fellow imperialist Stephen Harper, must work much harder to see that those responsible for this disgrace are punished.

Given Canada’s intimate involvement in Haiti over the past three years, it is unacceptable that this country’s elites have not been held accountable, and that the general public has been kept largely in ignorance. A 2006 study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, estimated that an additional 8000 people had died violently in Port-au-Prince alone following the coup.

Massacres have been reported over the three years of military occupation, including some carried out by UN forces. Violent attacks have continued, particularly in the poor slums like Cité Soleil, which are considered strongholds of Lavalas support. The UN’s participation in these operations has been ongoing, despite the February 2006 election of Réné Préval, a former close comrade of Aristide who was also the elected president between 1996 and 2001.

Monday, May 28, 2007

One Example of Stephen Harper Being a Tool ...

Well, I mean, first of all, he's an imbecile, dedicated to the destruction of a perfectly workable public health care system, and to replacing it with the inequitable monstrosity that his backers in the private health insurance scam enjoy in the US of A.

He's a brazen jingoist and militarist, moronically hitching his wagon to bush II's trainwreck of a foreign policy, and championing the continued slaughter and abuse of Afghanistan.

But here's a little gem in his own words. In an interview with pro-imperialist teleprompter reader Peter Mansbridge, Harper is asked for his opinion about the reasons why we Canadians are so lamentably ignorant of the value of the Afghanistan mission:



Mansbridge: “How do you explain, to yourself, the apparent lack of knowledge on the part of a good number of Canadians as to what we are doing in Afghanistan…?”

Harper: “You know, Peter, I don’t know if I am shocked by that. I’m not sure if it’s different on Afghanistan than on any other area of public policy."


Thanks to Seven Oaks. There's a link to the whole interview here.

But did'ja read that? Not only are Canadians woefully blind to the importance of supporting an unpopular puppet government, starving said government ofnecessary reconstruction dollars, and imposing a drug-eradication program that threatens hundreds of thousands with the loss of their livelihood and thereby threatening them with death from starvation, ... it seems that many of us are equally stupid about "any other area of public policy"!

Yikes! Ouch! This elitist leftist is truly humbled by Harper's withering scorn, delivered in that heartfelt populist manner of his. Yep. Canadians who don't agree with Harper's policies are all simply ignorant.

Actually, Stevie-Boy, it's YOUR party, and YOUR supporters who are the ignorant asshats. Most Canadians are aware of the failure of US-style health care. Most Canadians are uncomfortable with bloody imperialism. Most Canadians are suspicious of fascist law-enforcemen regimes. Most Canadians believe that Global Warming is a genuine threat, despite what oil-industry shills like yourself tell them.

I just saw that clip this morning and I remembered how offended I was the first time I heard that lying prick say it.

ht.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Intensity

Okay, this lazy, on vacation link, is of Will Ferrell's cameo in "Wedding Crashers." I wouldn't recommend "Wedding Crashers" to anyone looking for a deep, sensitive film. But we were looking for a comedy one night, and the pickin's were slim. I'd read that "Wedding Crashers" was pretty clever as contemporary comedies go, with a lot of broad humour, so we rented it.

It did have some pretty good writing, and it did have its moments, like the one in the clip. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play two slowly-aging bachelors who crash weddings, enjoy the free food and booze, and prey upon young women whose emotions are all in a tizzy because of the wedding environment that they're in. Vaughn and Wilson base their actions on Vaughn's mentor, a guy named "Chaz" who was the master of manipulation.

After life takes some unexpected turns, Wilson's character becomes demoralized and feels the need to seek out the mysterious Chaz and get some pointers. He's given up on love, and is thinking that maybe he should commit himself wholeheartedly to the manipulation and hedonism of the "crasher" lifestyle.

Chaz turns out to be a loser who never grew up. He's in his forties living with his mother (who yells at him to pick up his skateboard and who once tried to poison him). He's older now, and has found that he has to crash funerals in order to find young women who are emotionally distraught enough for him to manipulate into his bed.

In short, he's a truly repulsive character. But Ferrell plays him with such a maniacal intensity, he really appears to be enjoying his life and is completely oblivous to what a pathetic mess he's made of it. In his view, he's "living the dream!"

Ferrell doesn't make the lifestyle seem worthwhile, he does though convey the impression that he really thinks it is.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Mitch Hedberg

I guess that i should point out that I'm on vacation from posting anything significant for the weekend. Now that GDKitty and skdadl have taught me the mysteries of embedding youtube links, I'll regale yeez with these things until I'm ready to post again on Monday.

I'm kind of out of the loop, so I only discovered stand-up comic Mitch Hedberg yesterday, two years after he died. His whimsical flights of fancy are really funny at times, and his delivery makes them extra-endearing. Listen for the bits about fish and ducks. Well, here goes:




For those not in the know, yesterday's comic was "the loveable lush" Foster Brooks, on the Dean Martin Show.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Malalai Joya Expelled From Afghanistan Parliament

This is not top of the hour news, Ms. Malalai Joya's expulsion was a couple of days ago. I'm posting about the significance of this event.


They have used one of her recent comments during an interview as a justification for their move. In the interview, she expressed that the Afghan Parliament is worse than an animal stable whose many members are the murderers and enemies of Afghan people.


On May 21, 2007, with a gross majority, the Parliament dominated by warlords and drug-lords suspended Joya for three years and ordered the High Court to file a case against her. They also directed the Interior Ministry to restrict her movements to within the country. This means she is not allowed to travel outside Afghanistan.



From Human Rights Watch:


On May 22, a recorded version of Joya’s interview was shown during a session of parliament. Afterward, a majority of her colleagues found her guilty of violating article 70 of the Afghan legislature’s rules of procedure, which forbids lawmakers from criticizing one another. Joya’s specific crime was “insulting the institution of parliament.”


Human Rights Watch noted that members of parliament have regularly criticized each other, but no one else has been suspended.

“The article banning criticism of parliament is an unreasonable rule that violates the principle of free speech enshrined in international law and valued around the world,” said Adams. “The Afghan parliament should be setting an example by promoting and protecting free expression, not by stamping it out.”

Human Rights Watch urged the Afghan parliament to take steps to revise article 70 and ensure that elected representatives can speak freely without fear of suspension or lawsuits.


Just so we're clear here; these "Parliamentarians" who are oh-so-sensitive about the dignity of themselves and their institution called for Ms. Malalai Joya to be raped while she was an MP speaking in Parliament. If I have to point out the disgusting hypocrisy at work here, you probably vote for Stephen Harper and are incapable of grasping the monstrosity of this situation.

This article 70 is a pretty convenient little article. It can be ignored until it is useful, and then it can be applied to representatives of oppressed groups (oppressed by these very same parliamentarians) to give a patina of legality to their censorship and double-standards.

Speaking of double standards, KKKate at SDA has mentioned this shameful episode too. In KKKate's brainwashed, moronic eyes, the fact that she was merely expelled from the parliament, as opposed to being taken to a stadium and shot (a-la the Taliban) is supposedly a great thing.

Unfortunately for KKKate, as an astute observer ["Iberia"] points out, Malalai Joya has survived four assasination attempts against her, and she has had to pay for her own personal bodyguards, since the chilvarious warlord/Afghan MPs have refused to pay for her protection (not surprising since they're probably the assholes shooting at her).

No, she's just been threatened with rape and death, and she has survived four assassination attempts.

http://www.afghanwomensmission.org/awmnews/index.php?articleID=68

...but please go on and tell us about what a great democracy Afghanistan has become.


Sadly, but not surprisingly, after a short interruption (where one witless, ignorant clod "submitted" that Western Leftists were putting words into Malalai's mouth regarding her opposition to the present Afghan government) the "commentary" reverted back to shithead cries of "no negotiations with the Taliban" and all sanity verily hath fled.

But let's take the notion that women in Afghanistan are not forbidden from walking around outside now, and can even cast-off their burqhas, and even sit as members in parliament, and that this somehow justifies continued support for a brutal and corrupt puppet government and an imperialist occupation.

I mean, let's establish once again, that the Taliban is an byproduct of US-Saudi-Pakistani support for the anti-Soviet Mujahiddeen (an army of Islamic fundamentalists) and Saudi-Pakistani support for fundamentalist primary schools in the wake of IMF-mandated destruction of Pakistan's secular education system.

In other words, yes, the Taliban was an aberrantly misogynistic regime. Even by the standards of Afghanistan and the Northern Alliance warlords, the Taliban was worse. But they themselves were a product of Western interference. We have no right to crow about defeating the Taliban since we helped to create the fucking problem in the first place. Furthermore, we have no right to crow about defeating the Taliban since the government we've installed is hardly better and in fact worse (mass rapists) in some respects, than the Taliban.

And there's the thing, ... Malalai Joya, the women of Afghanistan, and anti-imperialists in the West are not to be told to fall on their knees in eternal gratitude for our creating a government that is "not-as-bad" and is in fact, plain terrible, by any sane evaluation.

Western democratic-capitalist politicians expect an awful lot for not being as obviously bad as Stalin or Mao. But we should always demand more from politicians than that they not be as bad as the worst mass-murderers on the planet!

And the fact of the matter is, it is because of the vigilance of bleeding-heart complainers like the libertarian left, the non-Soviet, non-Leninist, Marxists included, that our governments limit their mass murder to death squads in the peripheries, and to slow-starvation via IMF structural adjustment programs and via the laws of advanced capitalist market realities, as opposed to deliberate mass slaughter of tens of millions. (As I type these words, I have difficulty even granting them that when I consider history.)

It is because of bleeding-heart lefties that bush II and Harper do not go absolutely hog-wild with the slaughter on the level of Stalin and Mao, and NOT due to any traces of their own humanity or because of the concerns of the factually-morally blind, deluded "torture, execute first, ask questions later" scumbags who cheer them on.

It isn't democracy to be told that "the present government is not as bad as the worst possible option so shut up and do what you're told."

And I will always resist being ground-under by idiots whose grasp of the meaning of democracy is so limited that they actually believe rot like that.

Malalai Joya's travails are further arguments for why we must oppose this occupation, this insane war, and to remove governments such as bush II's, Harper's, or whatever craven Liberal government or Democratic Party government puts itself in their place.

The lion's share of the problems that we, and more importantly, that Malalai Joya, RAWA, and the women of Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan, now face, can laid at the feet of the right-wing, pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist West. It is past time that they SHUT UP and let sensible people try to repair the damage they have made and rebuild their lives.

In other news, our own putrescent glob of corruption, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a brainwave that he shared with the troops in Afghanistan:

"Canada's work in Afghanistan is not complete."

Duh, d'yah think Stevie??? The Kabul-Kandahar highway, built at premium rates by a foregin contractor, is now falling apart and has been converted to a toll road. (Afghans have plenty of money, so no prob.) There's still some farmers and their families who haven's starved to death. There's millions of Afghans to be bombed by NATO airplanes. There's millions of desperate refugees being forced back into that country that we haven't placed back on its feet after 5 years of occupation.

I don't have the stomach to read anymore of that lying puke's drivel.

First Places I heard about this travesty:


BreadnRoses

The Galloping Beaver

Creekside

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Morons Celebrating the Latest Victory in Iraq ...

For posterity's sake, I post a comment that may or may not get posted (and might still get deleted) at a popular (with the knuckle-draggers) website. They've recently been cheering how successful the war in Iraq has been going, and how their sources put the lie to the tired, four year old story about chaos in that country. (Which of course, would come as news to bush II who feels compelled to extend tours of duty and ship over tens of thousands of more troops.)

WuttEyeRote:

What's that I hear? Someone comparing Iraq to the recently independent United States of America in 1783? That's so inaccurate it's crazy.

You guys simply refuse to quit don't you! Seventy percent of Americans have wised up to the lies and delusions of you bushlovers, and all your self-congratulatory hooting about your superior knowledge isn't going to change that.

It isn't funny anymore people, give it up. It's been longer for the US than World War II. Germany and Japan combined were more peaceful once significant military operations were concluded, than is Iraq today.

If you think it's so peaceful and so successful, why is bush II considering sending 40,000 more soldiers? Why does Iraq have millions of refugees? Why are there over one-hundred thousand dead?

You might believe that you're governments are implementing democratic reforms in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that's more a testament to your deep, unmanageable stupidity and gullibility than it is to anything going on in the real world.
Please, for your own sakes, give it up!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Harper Visits Afghanistan

From CBC:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has responded to criticism of his government's handling of the mission in Afghanistan by making an unannounced visit to the war-ravaged country.

The surprise two-day trip comes after weeks of opposition attacks on his government's allegedly incompetent handling of the Afghan detainee controversy.

...

Unlike [his] last trip, this one is designed to emphasize Canada's non-military contribution to rebuilding of the country.

The prime minister handed out pencil cases to students at a local school for underprivileged children. He dropped in on painting, acting, woodworking, and music classes at the Aschiana School in a tightly guarded compound in the capital's downtown core.

The school received $39,500 in annual funding from the Canadian government and provides education to more than 10,000 Afghan children.

So, let's get this straight you dishonest fuckface: Like the Lying Liberals, you were careless and lazy about ensuring that any prisoners we took would not be handed over to torturers, but unlike the Lying Liberals, when confronted with evidence that Canada might be complicit in torture, you and your party sputtered "Support the troops!" (as if concern for human rights was inconsistent with wishing the troops a safe return home), some of your less intelligent members vocalized the bloodthirsty sentiments of your slavering, but thankfully numerically small, base, and you and your entire government launched into a clumsy, keystone kops routine to try to obscure your criminality and stupidity. As a result, your stupid party has seen its support drop from previous months.

So, now you take this expensive trip, to prove what exactly? That you can fly in an airplane? That you can hand out pencils?

No, don't worry Harper. I've figured it out: We've spent $39,000 on this school. It's all part of our plan to reconstruct Afghanistan by paying one dollar out of every ten dollars we spend on Afganistan on initiatives that provide you with cynical, "heartwarming" photo-ops, while we spend nine dollars out of ten continuing to blast the country to pieces.

Case in point:

Warmaking trumps "reconstruction" In early September, the 2,300 Canadian troops in Kandahar launched a massive ground assault in Panjwaii district, code-named "Operation Medusa" and backed by U.S. troops and airpower. Residents were warned in advance of the offensive to leave their homes and villages.

The assault was declared a huge success several weeks later. "More than one thousand" enemy fighters were said to be killed. But reporters saw few bodies of resistance fighters.

Canadian and NATO authorities admitted that fighters had staged an orderly retreat and appealed for more troops into the area. Canada quickly dispatched several hundred more soldiers, and for the first time it will be deploying tanks. Deadly attacks on Canadian and other NATO forces resumed within days of the "victory."

Meanwhile, some 20,000 residents were made homeless after their homes, villages and crops were destroyed in the fighting. Winter is approaching and they face an uncertain future.



Recently, the Globe & Mail came into possession of a handbook that told CPC Parliamentary Committee members how to obstruct committee business through constant, pointless debate of procedural and bureaucratic minutiae. I must say, Mr. Harper, that your contempt for our intelligence revealed in this stupid trip of yours is about equal to your proven contempt for the democratic process evidenced by that nauseating handbook.

I say furthermore that anyone who supports this party is either ignorant or contemptible.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Imagine What Could Be Achieved Through Democracy

I keep saying this, because I continue to think that it's true: The economy must be democratized if we are to have any hope of achieving humanity's survival (to say nothing of achieving justice).

How can we prevent a "capital strike" by business in response to serious pro-environmental legislation? Only if the workers themselves are protected from politically-motivated layoffs through their own democratic control of their workplaces.

How can we know what an enterprise is truly capable of with regards to implementing environmental reforms and phasing-out destructive policies? Only if the ordinary workers have access to the relevant information. We don't want the state to be able to pry into all of the records of everyone everywhere. But workers, possessing the same access to information rights that they presumably enjoy as individual citizens from their own government, will give the inhabitants of each workplace the necessary information.

How can we maintain high levels of employment as a socialist government initiates a more just level of taxation, in order to finance necessary public works and to provide a decent standard of living for all? Only if workers everywhere are knowledgable about their companies' true financial standing, and are able to block politically-motivated layoffs and to dismiss the inevitable cries of poverty from business.

Note: In no way, shape, or form, am I insisting that all businesses in Canada are swimming in cash. If this has nothing to do with your own enterprise, then these statements have nothing to do with you. But corporate malfeasance and self-interested lying are not alien to capitalism, and democatic oversight and control will reveal that as a society we possess the resources necessary for our society's transformation from a doomed, consumerist-capitalist roller-coaster, to something based on sanity, justice, and sustainability.

Oh yeah, good link here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Afghan Refugees Forcefully Returned

The massive human tragedy, created by decades of imperialist ambitions and patriarchal religious delusion is about to take a new, perhaps more depressing turn.

Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan are being forcibly returned to their war-torn, devastated homeland.

Almost 30 years after Soviet tanks rolled into Afghanistan, Pakistan is still home to more than two million registered refugees and Iran to more than 900,000. As many as one million more Afghans live in Iran as illegal immigrants.

...

The flare-ups heighten international concerns that both Iran and Pakistan have accelerated measures to purge their Afghan populations. With violence in Afghanistan at record levels and basic services already overwhelmed, their moves could be catastrophic for the region, analysts say.


We like to crow about all the great stuff we do for the people of Afghanistan. But the reality is that the Soviet-US struggle, the criminal warlords, the Taliban, and the renewed US mass-slaughter after 9-11 has produced a massive human catastrophe.

The SENLIS Report (linked to elsewhere on this blog and easily searchable) reveals the 5-years of failure on the part of Western-backed reconstruction. This disaster has failed the people of Afghanistan, and now close to 3 million more people are to be added to the mix.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thinking About the Working Class Again

It just occured to me the other night; I was reading a textbook on "Industrial Relations" and in the chapter on unions, the authors wrote that no matter what school of thought you come from, everyone has to acknowledge that in the relationship between employer and employee, it's not a question of will there be conflict, but when and in what form this conflict will take place. The authors went on to say that in the earlier years of industrial capitalism, in the absence of unions, industrial relations appeared to take the form of naked class warfare. So they were arguing for a view of unions as a means of maintaining industrial peace.

But here's the thing: They mentioned that in those early days, the relationship between capitalists and workers was quite clearly antagonistic and violent. True. And as many historians point out, these battles were not really all that significant to outsiders (unless an important railway or coal-strike started to inconvenience thousands or millions) because many people were still farmers, many people were small producers, and many had renounced the working class to work as "professionals" in administrative occupations.

But, later, as unionization took hold, and maintained industrial peace to a degree, many of these administrative workers began to unionize themselves. At the same time, small producers and independent farmers shrank continuously as a portion of the working population.

The thing is, we're at a period of de-unionization, and neo-liberalism triumphant, and it seems to me, we're getting closer and closer to a society of raw, economic relationships, the naked use of power to suppress people who work for wages, ... and this time, while most are not "blue-collar" industrial workers in the Western democracies, the vast majority are wage-workers, and this means that when the battle is joined again, there won't be the vast numbers of farmers and small businessmen to dilute the battle, ... to represent another point of view. It will really be workers versus employers and the politicians who serve them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thwap Web Site

Another THWAP out there.

The Importance of the Economic Realm

We have accepted nominal political equality and democracy, but we have resigned ourselves that public control over the economy must be limited to a bare-bones social welfare provision and to [contested] oversight over natural monopolies (Canada-Post) or unprofitable, but essential, sectors.

So, decisions about employment, investment, the direction of our country as a whole, our ability to intelligently adapt to the limits of the environment, the possibility of working cleaner, more equitably, etc., etc., ... all of this is in the hands of private actors inspired by the profit motive.

The majority of us will live our lives as supplicants to the owners of capital, and we will live in denial [at least liberals and "conservatives" will] of the impact of huge inequalities of wealth and power on the democratic process. We will imagine that a government controlled to a great degree by capitalists, including (and especially) corporate criminals, will protect our rights and our standards of living, and respond to issues that the majority demands, even if they run counter to the wishes of the capitalists.

This is where we are now. This is where we apparently wish to stay. So long as we refuse to push for the recognition of the democratic, political, and human rights of workers within their workplaces, we will be forced to acquiesce to the undemocratic, inhuman demands of profit, and our political rights will amount to the crumbs we have now.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Latest Reading

Now I'm almost through John Charmley's Churchill's Grand Alliance: The Anglo-American Special Relationship 1940-1957. A rather caustic, realist appraisal of the attempt by Winston Churchill to preserve Britain's fortunes with US support. Charmley portrays Churchill has naive and out-of-touch with the reality of international relations, perhaps blinded by racial delusions about the community of interests of the English-speaking peoples.

It's decent, the way realist works are, at depicting the strategic blunders and hypocrisies of the main players. But since it isn't informed by any sense of justice (beyond the mewling hypocrisies of liberalism I mean), it attempts to portray Anthony Eden's preservation of Western interests in the Middle East as a good thing.

The plundering of finite resources and the maintenance of unrepresentative figurehead rulers is never going to be a winning program with the relevant subjective peoples.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Some Good Movies

Lately, we've been homebodies, staying in and watching movies.

Here we go:

"Robots" - Kinda strange take on problematic mothers, and a bit too much about the big, noble capitalist who can make everything right again. But the whole point for me was to watch it stoned, and it was quite enjoyable to watch whilst high. And, maybe it was just "Stoner-Thwap" getting conned, but the second time the doorman robot-puppet opened the gates for the hero, i was kinda taken in myself.

"Capote" - Really artistically done. Really well-written, acted, filmed. I got the sense (from Phillip Seymour Hoffman's masterful work) of a deeply talented writer, who's gift is to really feel and communicate what is going on, in any particular moment. This makes him a sort of split-personality, seemingly callous individual. This version Truman Capote is, in fact, a callous character, a manipulative character, but his redeeming characteristic is that he also feels very deeply about what he's experiencing during any particular moment. His tears for the doomed murderer are real, as is his exploitation of him.

"The Assasination of Richard Nixon" - Sean Penn plays Sam Bicke, a sadsack American failure who decided to take his revenge on the system by going after one of the masters of the system, then-president Richard Nixon. How? By crashing a passenger plane into the Whitehouse on a day that Nixon is scheduled to be there. Based on a true story. The character of Bicke is portrayed as a deeply flawed character, but one whose flaws also reveal important qualities. Bicke's tragedy is that he cannot coherently articulate, rationalize, or control his idealism, he isn't possessed of either the self-control, or the brains, to direct his qualities.

He deeply loves his family. He deeply wants to try and work on his problems with his family. But he fails his family as a provider because he cannot deal with the world of business. He sees the fraud and dishonesty of business, of sales, and of the American dream, with the ill treatment suffered by the powerless, especially blacks, in that country. He swallows his pride, stows his ideals, and attempts to play the game, but still fails.

Perhaps the best example of his clumsiness is his attempt to join the Black Panthers. As a white man, he's obviously going to have problems in achieving this. But he tries to convince the BP representative that he's a victim, just as US blacks are. In fact, the BP could vastly expand its membership if it acknowledged this identity of suffering and allowed white victims in too. For that, they'd need a new name. Bicke suggests "The Zebras," for obvious reasons. For equally obvious reasons, the BP representative is skeptical.

Some intense violence at the end, as the flawed Bicke finally snaps and conducts his botched hijacking.

Friday, May 11, 2007

As this "Daily Show" segment ably displays, Alberto Gonzales testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was a calculated effort to convey the impression that he was and is too stupid to know what was going on in his department. The object was to feign greater stupidity than that which Gonzales actually suffers, in order to continue to continue to stonewall Congress on its desire to investigate bush II's attempt to turn the Justice Department into his own personal weapon against his enemies and to keep it from prosecuting his friends.

Gonzales is not a particularly gifted fellow, but he's not as brazenly stupid as he affected in that public display. But if he is going to put on such a show to obscure the illegal actions of himself and the administration he serves, the fall-out from this public profession of gigantic stupidity and incompetence should not be easy to avoid.

The fall-out, as John Oliver puts it, must be highly personal, for Gonzales has disgraced himself. I paraphrase:

"Could you do that John [Stewart]? An educated man with self-respect; children you have to put to bed at night; a wife, whose love you want to deserve, a community ... [etc., ]"

Well, it was gratfiying to see Democratic Congressperson Maxine Waters treat Gonzales as the absolute idiot he so happily pretended to be, and to watch the asshole bristle under her scorn.

http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/05/10/what-do-you-know/

This is how Gonzales should be treated from here on out. "You want to play this game? We'll play this game. You will be humiliated and derided each and every time that you appear before us. This is the price you pay for attempting to disguise your crimes with an aura of childish ignorance."

Now for the "stuff" section.

The 5 Muslim men recently arrested for their inane plot to attack an army base, has got both sides of the debate on the "War on Terror" [that is; the stupid, right-wing, war mongering side and everybody else] quite excited.

To the morons, this is proof that all Muslim Americans are enemies of the state, and some fascists are even advocating mandatory tracking collars for them.

To the people with half a brain, this puts the lie to bush II's stupid and callous "turn Iraq into a charnel house so that we can fight our enemies there instead of in America" policy. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of ordinary police work in protecting the country from terrorism.

I obviously concur with what the people with at least half-a-brain are saying, but I'd just like to add that I don't see these five men as being indicative of anything all that frightening.

In an environment where they and their co-religionists are assaulted, scorned, insulted, attacked, raped, robbed, killed, it isn't all that odd that a few more headstrong individuals among a people numbering in the milions, are going to attempt to lash out.

But furthermore, these fellows, like the many young men arrested in Toronto for attempting to buy fertilizer from police informants, do not appear as if they would have done more beyond blowing smoke on the internet and in private conversations, were it not for the presence of agents goading them on and making the tools for their fantasies available. And even if they had gotten their weapons, they don't appear to have been very intelligent about the use they'd put them to.

This is a disturbing story, but it is not an earth-shattering one.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Marketplace of Ideas

Numerous commentators have spoken about the enormous efforts the corporate right-wing has made to insinuate their values and opinions into the popular culture.

"Think-tanks," pressure groups, genuine "grass-roots" and "astro-turf" organizations, churches, public relations, marketing, etc., etc., on top of the already existing corporate newsmedia and pro-capitalist government propaganda.

These commentators and other activists say that we on the Left have to get our act together meet this challenge.

But the thing is, we did meet this challenge, with popular magazines, grassroots pressure groups, and other forms of outreach, including the work done by unions and left-of-centre political parties.

The fact of the matter is that we're out-gunned because we're out-spent. Corporations can instantly form organizations with full-time, paid staff, comprising experts in media relations and in the technical issues of whatever issue it is they're concerned about, to lobby, pressure, and lie, about anything they want.

We on the Left will never be able to meet this challenge word for word, commercial for commercial, reporter for reporter. The Left is sustained by unpaid volunteers, activists who have been damaged by one particular outrage and who are left without the resources to go on, but a burning anger against the system that injured them, and on the thinly-spread money of union and party membership donations.

We can't achieve parity, unless we pursue something else, something focused, something that will pay off major dividends to all concerned.

That is why I advocate for citizenship rights for workers. Give workers access to their employers' P.R. slush-fund money. Split it 50-50. So if the shithead Fraser Institute used to get $20,000, now it gets $10,000 and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives gets the other ten grand.

Actions like that will help tilt the culture wars in our favour.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Extent of My Patriotism

Yesterday I was watching "The Daily Show"'s coverage of the Republican presidential candidates debate. One of the questions asked was "What do you like least about America?" (Or some such drivel.) "The Daily Show" played the clip of Mitt Romney stammering: "G-gosh! I-I LOVE America!" -- which was probably the "right" answer for the sort of idiot who would even introduce such a stupid question into a political debate.

This reminded me of the time, I was reading a left-wing blog and they mentioned Stephen Harper being asked whether he "loved" Canada. Harper is supposedly a cold, cerebral personality (which is not to say that he's all that bright) and apparently he replied with some qualified, sensible statement. The blogger said something to the effect that Harper should have some ready-made, patriotic platitude at hand, because that's what Canadians want to hear and that's why Harper is a cold fish.

I rather thought that a qualified response is the most sensible way to get out of such an inane question.

What does it mean exactly, to "love" one's country? Does it mean that if you find yourself on the US-Canada border, you find yourself overwhelmed by the desire to have sex with the earth on one side of the imaginary line but not the other? Does it mean you love everything Canadian, including Ontario black-flies, residue from the Alberta tar-sands project, and Paul Bernardo?

Once you say "no" to loving any of those things, or any other unappealing aspect of Canada, then you have to admit the fact that "loving" a country is a ridiculous concept. Nation-states are artificial constructs that have been designed to compel our loyalties and devotion, and they expend considerable resources to ensure that we do so. But there is no natural patriotism.

What we do share as Canadians is a heritage that has its good points and its bad points. But we don't share anything so deep as to justify the exclusion of the rest of humanity from our affections.

I am grateful to have been born in Canada, one of the few countries in the world that provides almost all of its people with a tolerable standard of living. I am grateful for the circumstances of history, and for the people who fought to make this a democratic country. I am saddened that we had to usurp this land from its original Aboriginal inhabitants, and I am ashamed of the way we have tried to eradicate those people and deny our debts to them. I am ashamed of our disgraceful imperialism in Haiti, and I am angry about the lies and deceptions of our imperialism in Afghanistan. I am proud of Canada's international reputation. I am proud of the way we tend to peacefully settle our differences. I am angry at the way that true Quebec nationalists were oppressed and brutalized after 1837, but I feel a little proud to think of the efforts of Baldwin and LaFontaine to work together to support each others' efforts to win their political rights.

Canadian politics has been too pragmatic and moderate for my tastes, but, in the long-run, perhaps that has all been for the best. It's impossible to tell if our plodding way forward was the best way that this game could have been played, and whether more radical solutions would have led us to disaster.

I think Canada has a rich, and encouraging history, and I applaud everyone who is working now to try to make this country better. But whether I "love" this space enclosed by artificial lines on the globe is something that requires a qualified answer.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Iraqis are doing it for themselves ...

I'm actually not all that optimistic about the possibilities of human nature. Around thirty percent of us are going to end up dragging us down the way Conservative Party of Canada voters do to Canada.

But I honestly believe that ordinary people possess the ability to govern themselves. What's happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, the United States, and Canada (for instance) is corporate, militarist, statist greedheads and warmongering masturbators [as opposed to reg'lar masturbators natch!] are poisoning minds and establishing structures of domination, to ensure that people are fighting over twisted metaphysical notions, as well as fighting for their very survival.

An article from CommonDreams.Org presents one example of ordinary people trying to rise above the garbage of the powerful to construct a sane way forward.

Planning Iraq’s Future: A detailed project to rebuild post-liberation Iraq. The 250-page peace plan was written over the past two years by 108 Iraqis that included Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, Assyrian
Christians, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and other minorities, the majority of which are still in Iraq.


Numerous other plans for Iraq have also been written by groups opposed to the occupation. Some, like that written by the Association of Muslim Scholars, the powerful Sunni clerics’ organization, have been submitted to the United Nations. Planning is underway for a high-level
meeting next month which will coalesce the numerous Iraqi projects.


“We are forming a very broad unified resistance front that represents the will of the Iraqi people,” says Hana Ibrahim, co-author and director of the Baghdad-based NGO Women’s Will. “We are
growing very large, so maybe we won’t agree on every detail, but we don’t need to. We can put smaller differences aside to agree on the most important point, ending the occupation of our country. What’s important is a unified resistance front.”

Monday, May 7, 2007

Geo-Politics n' Stuff

In this post, I quote at length from a right-wing commentator from SDA who appears to have half a brain. The commentator's nom de guerre is "Warwick." As you can see if you follow the link to his blog, he is possessed of a frighteningly violent hatred of leftists.

We [leftists] are all "leftards," and we can only argue with insults and pleas about our subjective feelings, and when we're faced with genuine facts we fold, or simply increase the ad hominem attacks and blah, blah, blah.

Now of course, as
Canadian Cynic documents so well, the qualities of indifference and resistance to facts, juvenile insults, and plain stupidity are at least as pronounced amongst a group of Conservatives called "The Blogging Tories" as they are among leftists. Certainly many of us on the left can fall into patterned thinking, and some of us are ignorant of the facts of many issues. But as someone who started out centre-left, and then, upon reading Chomsky's Massey Lectures Necessary Illusions and then John Raulston-Saul's Voltaire's Bastards, which started me on the path to radical leftist (yes, I know that Raulston-Saul is a liberal, fuggedaboutit), I find Warwick's certainty about the greater stupidity and contemptible nature of the left to be distressing. I read both sides of the political spectrum for ten years in my journey across that spectrum. To be a "radical" of any sort requires a conviction and a certainty that I didn't have when I started. Reading conservative, liberal, Marxist, and anarchist, and other writers for a decade left me with the firm belief that it is the radical libertarian left that has the most coherent and fact-based view of the world that we live in. And that generally, the farther one travels across the political spectrum from left to right, the more one enters the realms of stupidity and sheer madness.

Now, Warwick impressed me with his ability in the debate on SDA, with his ability to offer an interpretation of the significance of the Geneva Conventions that decriminalized Canada's and the Afghan government's treatment of the Taliban prisoners. I'll say that his interpetation is arguable, so far as I know, though again, for the record, I'll stick with the interpretation that I offered from Michael Byers in
The Guardian (which I will discuss below) than with Warwick's. Also, in an earlier debate with commentator "Wayne," I quoted an American official who said:

We [the United States] do support the principle that, should any doubt arise as to whether a person is entitled to combatant status, he be so treated until his status has been determined by a competent tribunal, as well as the principle that if a person who has fallen into the power of an adversary is not held as a prisoner of war and is to be tried for an offense arising out of the hostilities, he should have the right to assert his entitlement before a judicial tribunal and to have that question adjudicated.3"

As well as the International Committee of the Red Cross which says:

Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third Convention, a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, [or] a member of the medical personnel of the armed forces who is covered by the First Convention. There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can fall outside the law.1

(Both of these sources quoted from Human Rights Watch. ) And while the article has to do with US treatment of detainees, the commentary is relevant for this issue of international law.

So, for me, Warwick's position, while arguable, doesn't cut it. And, as far as I was concerned, my preferred interpretations of the Geneva Conventions did the trick for me, and I didn't have to look any further to justify my position. Warwick, out of some sort of spite, did more research for us "leftards" and found references to the UN Treaty and Canadian law that showed that Canada's treatment of prisoners was illegal in other ways if it wasn't in actual contradiction of the Geneva Conventions. So, thanks for burying yourself even more Warwick!

The thing is, while Warwick has half a brain in my estimation, he's still out to lunch in so many ways. And as such, his utter contempt for the Left is unwarranted. The way I see it, his possession of half a brain puts him light-years ahead of his probable colleagues and he's gotten a little full of himself, dominating the conversation as he no doubt does amongst the morons.

So, what will follow is the attempt of a nobody on the Left (me) picking apart a post by a nobody on the Right (Warwick). I do this because I have less and less time and ability to construct much that is both original and positive (at least for the moment), and to offer an example of a genuine debate between two competing world-views.

Let me assure you all (especially the spam-bots who constitute the most frequent visitors to my site) that I've considered how this could be construed as a very pathetic pissing contest between myself and someone I can't be bothered to debate with on SDA, but it is not that. I have not encountered much in the way of a decent intellectual position on the Right for a while (I've been in semi-seclusion from mainstream media for a fair bit), and I welcome the opportunity to engage with it.


We begin our tale with Warwick's response to the Guardian piece by Michael Byers that I linked to above:



Thwap,
The Guardian in the UK is a marxist, anti-Semitic rag with zero credibility.

Actually, the Guardian is a relatively decent source, and anyone who hangs out at SmallDeadAnimals really ought to be careful about using the phrase "zero credibility." I just noticed the "anti-Semitic" comment for the first time. The term gets tossed around so frequently that it's lost all meaning and I can't be bothered to even address this slur. We continue ...



It's also wrong. Not surprisingly.


Well, okay, ... we'll see ...



If you believe everything you read in the papers you're doomed to a life of ignorance.


Point taken. Back at'cha.



Rummy has bugger all to do with the GC.


Here, Warwick is referring to the article's discussion of the status of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners, and [now] disgraced, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's unilateral determination that these prisoners be categorized as "illegal combatants."



According to Rumsfeld, the detainees "will be handled not as prisoners of war, because they are not, but as unlawful combatants". (This from The Guardian piece.)

Warwick continues ...

The GC's are crystal clear. Try reading them.


Actually, I've read the relevant parts of them. I'm not an international law lawyer, but I've read the parts about combatant prisoners of war. Warwick's disdainful admonition to me about actually reading about the subject I wish to talk about is kinda ironic, as we'll see ...



The GC's that is, not the guardian's fantasy/wishful thinking. Just because some leftard with a journalism degree says something, doesn't mean it's correct. Instead of "this interpretation" from obviously biased left-wing journalists with no more credibility on the matter than some joe on the street, why don't you look up the conventions and do your own homework? Think for yourself. Read the source, not the spin.

Now, if our esteemed, a trifle conceited, and all too abrasive Warwick had bothered to read the Guardian piece, he'd see that Michael Byers is not a journalist, but, rather, a professor in international law at Duke University and a visiting scholar on this subject at Oxford. It says so, right in the link. So, ... about doing some reading? To repeat: I've read the section on the status of combatants taken prisoner during times of war, and certainly Michael Byers and all the other people I've quoted have spent far greater hours studying the entire body of international law. They disagree with Mr. Warwick, and for myself, not in possession of any hard-on to have my tax dollars pay for torture, have chosen to agree with them.

Next, Warwick addresses my disbelief that the Geneva Conventions could be written in such a way that an entire category of combatants could possess no human rights whatsoever, but instead gives them all the status of spies or saboteurs who can be shot on sight:


The GC's were written for another time. That you can't believe they would condone summary executions is a factor of your world view melded to the times you live in. There are other, more recent, treaties and conventions as well as the legal systems of the countries themselves. If a Canadian summarily executed an Afghan prisoner, he would not be in violation of the GC's but would most certainly be in violation of Canadian military law. The GC's are static. Canadian law is not. Is that too hard to get your head around? There have been no updates of the GC's since the 4 GC was signed. Do you think that a document from 1949 is going to live up to the standards of 2007? Think!


There's those references to other sources of law that undercut all the right-wing slavering to have these people tortured or shot on sight. But supposedly, we on the Left are all "leftards" because we say it violates the Geneva Conventions. Warwick's defence of his bloodthirsty, rabid compatriots: "You idiot leftards!! It doesn't violate the GC's! It violates Canadian law and the UN treaty against torture!! Grow a fucking brain!!" (It leaves one at a loss for words, doesn't it?)


That the GC's allow this or that doesn't mean they ban any investigations on the matter. You can investigate whether Rummy had gas last night. That isn't against the GC's either. If the executed person was not an illegal combatant and the soldier executed them anyway, they are subject to the rule of law. Self defence is legal. In your analogy you can murder someone and since self defence is legal there will be no investigation, right? Wrong. Your analogy is illogical. Any event can be investigated as to its legality.

So, this is the part that impressed me. (After a fashion.) Okay, according to Warwick's interpretation of the Geneva Conventions, the Taliban, without identifying markings or any of the Convention's other safeguards have no status and no rights, but if anyone is summarily executed in Afghanistan, or anywhere, there can technically be an investigation to see whether that person was an illegal combatant or not. The argument seemed technically valid and from where I'm sitting, it could go toe-to-toe with an interpretation such as Byers's or the ICRC's as to which was the most logical reading.


That's not to say that I don't think the taliban are in need of a bullet. I'm just saying they're unlikely to get one. It's valid to say that you don't agree. It's not valid (as in factual, correct, truthful...) to suggest that the GC's agree with you or your biased marxist friends at the Guardian. They don't.


And so concludes Warwick's position on the Geneva Conventions, including the evidence of his refusal to take the two fucking seconds required to find out that it's not an opinion piece on international law written by a journalist, but by an international law expert, and blah, blah, blah. Now, however, we get into geo-politics (hence this extended post's title!) where our Warwick goes right off the rails, and shows himself to be in need of some friendly assistance:



As for failing the people of Afghanistan, running away and leaving them to the Taliban will help them how?


This was in answer to my statement that the reason the Taliban is growing in popularity is because we've failed the Afghan people. Warwick's response is to ignore the entire point that Afghans are joining the Taliban because we're failing them, and to convert it right back to his familiar territory of condemning "cutting and running." Again, we should stay, and kill more of them, to ensure they submit to our puppet Karzai and his corrupt warlord partners? Christ, why did we get involved with this nightmare?


The US didn't work hard to create the Taliban but defeat the soviets. You've heard of the cold war, no? The US supported the Afghans against the soviets. 9/11 was their thanks. The Allies also sided with Stalin in WWII. That wasn't to suggest the US or UK had a big love of the Soviets.

Yeah Einstein, I've heard of the Cold War. And the US supported the Mujahedeen, including Osama Bin Laden, together with Pakistani intelligence and Saudi oligarchs, in order to drag the Soviets into an expensive quagmire. Imagine if I got a criminally-insane psychopath and armed and trained him to become a hit-man to take out a personal enemy, and then once the deed was done, attempted to walk away from the whole situation. Who would weep if I were to suffer some sort of blow-back from such an idiotic enterprise?

But, let's deal with the lame analogy now: Yes, the Allies fought on the same side as the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany. In the first place, Nazi Germany was in a position to crush the recently industrialized Soviet Union, and thereby obtain all the gigantic natural resources within the USSR's boundaries, which would have made Hitler's empire a match for the United States almost, and would have condemned countless millions to genocide. The Soviet Union emerged from World War II a battered, exhausted, nominal "super-power" that was never able to project itself outward in the way that a German Nazi super-power would have been able to, or as the United States was able to do.

Secondly, Britain found the Soviets to be allies when they both found themselves at war with Germany. They did not have an alliance beforehand. And the United States did not get into the war on the Allied side until Hitler was helpful enough to declare war on it.

Thirdly, in Afghanistan, US policy makers knew damned well that many of the people they were arming and training (with the assistance of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) had a deep, underlying hatred of the United States and Israel. These policy makers knew that the men they were arming and training were religious fundamentalists of an extreme sort. When the Soviets were bled white and the goals of the Carter administration had been met, these lunkhead policy makers imagined that they could simply walk away from this army of fundamentalist lunatics??

Fourthly, when US policy makers walked away from Afghanistan, what did they leave behind? Criminal warlord gangs who subjected that poor nation to further violence, looting, and rape. That is, until the extreme fundamentalist ascetic Taliban managed to win general loyalty due to their relative lack of corruption, and consign the criminal warlords to a pocket in the north where they became the "Northern Alliance."

The US did a great deal to create this nightmare, and for warmongers to accuse decent, peace-loving people as being "Taliban lovers" is hypocritical in the extreme.

As for the Saudis, their money and vicious brand of islam is at the root of the problems globally. Why we don't isolate them along with Iran is beyond me.


Indeed, it's a real head-scratcher, ain't it? Especially since the US is not only not isolating the Saudis, but actually supporting them. Boy, what a mystery! A mystery, that is, only if you're one of the failed, deluded followers of "conservatism," who thinks that the US "War on Terror" is genuine and not a cynical cover story about controlling oil reserves.

To say that oil has anything to do US policy in the Middle East is to win the insult "conspiracy theorist" from braindead right-wing dupes. Of course, to them it's impossible to say that it's about oil, even when the [p]resident
says so. "All right, all right, ... of course it's partially about oil. Nobody is that naive. But it's also about democracy and transformation of these backwards, violent societies."

Yeah right. About that
democracy. And about that violence.

They're doing the muslim world no favours. Ask Pakistan.

Warwick is no doubt referring to Saudi funding for the Madrasas (the ones that produced the Taliban). Someone else we can thank for those obscurantist Madrasas is the US-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF) that instructed Pakistan to cut its education budget (among many other things) and was utterly indifferent as to what would replace public education.

As Timothy A. Canova describes it:

Now is not the time to push such strategically important countries as Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines with IMF-prescribed austerity measures that often result in rising unemployment and budget cuts for health and education programs. These countries already have high levels of unemployment, as well as large, restive Muslim
populations. In an age of suicide bombers and in a world threatened by wayward chemical and nuclear material, these mass unemployed can soon become dangerous weapons of mass destruction.


In Pakistan, nearly a million boys and young men are now enrolled in religious training schools known as madrassas that preach radical Islamic fundamentalism and militant jihad. This compares with apublic school system that now educates some 1.6 million Pakistani children. Aswealthy Saudis, acting out of religious conviction, increase their funding of Pakistani madrassas, the best the IMF can do is preach the free market religion of smaller government and fiscal austerity, a policy mix that is sure to result
in further cutbacks in public education funding in Pakistan and other poor countries.


And of course, the US can thank Pakistan for its good work on nuclear non-proliferation, can't it? All of this stuff, US support for Saudi oil sheiks funding fundamentalists, IMF destruction of living standards, obviously fraudulent democracy in Iraq, slaps on the wrists for Pakistani scientists peddling nuclear secrets, Pakistan's sheltering of the Taliban, etc., etc., if one is a deluded right-winger who believes that the US government means what it says when it launches a "War on Terror."

Get it straight, once and for all, ... this is about control of strategic resources. That's it. Finito. Over. Occam's razor and all that. The US government doesn't give a shit about democracy, terrorism, or anything but US wealth and power. And it doesn't give a shit about the wealth and power of the majority in the US either. Hence scandals like Walter Reed, and unarmoured humvees, and extended tours of duty while Repugnican profiteers cavort with high-priced escorts and Cheney's Haliburton overcharges the troops for rotten food. It's realpolitick to protect a criminal government.

Anyhoooo ..... Warwick decides to lecture me on the "realities" of Afghanistan; specifically the phenomenon of more and more Afghans joining the Taliban. I'd argued that it was because we'd failed these people and have imposed a corrupt and brutal government on them. Of course, Warwick disagrees:


If you have ignorant peasants in a crappy place

Whoa, nice bit of disgusting arrogance there. I think I'll call you an "asshole" for that one. "Ignorant peasants" 'eh? Yeah, really fucking ignorant to think you have to fight back against the forces that are destroying the crop you need to feed your family, and whose police and tax collectors rob your house and rough up your family. You're so fucking stupid and ignorant that you join the Taliban, forgetting all about their horrible record on women's rights. Except for the fact that religious misogyny is rampant everywhere there, and the warlords are 4/5ths as nauseating as the Taliban and they throw in gang-rapes and murders to boot. "In a crappy place." So, Afghanistan is a "crappy place" is it? Then why the fuck are we there? To punch some sense into some "ignorant peasants" to quietly live their "ignorant, crappy" lives in their "crappy" country and to ignore the plundering of the puppet government we've imposed on them?

being indoctrinated into an ideology of hate, you will always have a percentage
that are willing to join.

Yeah, darn that awful "ideology of hate." The one that existed before we gave significant elements weapons and training. The one that the Saudi princes continue to fund and support. An "ideology of hate" quite similar to the anti-Arab, anti-Muslim filth spewed by the denizens of littlegreenfootballs, free republic, and small dead animals, ... wherein all "Muzzies" are subhuman garbage to be tortured and killed with impunity.

Human nature.


Yeah, an inevitable thirty percent (down to 28% so far as support for bush II has been going lately).


That's what we're fighting.

You can count me out on your "war on human nature," thanks so much.


Karzai is corrupt. The place isn't good. But your criticism needs to take into account reality.

Oh, ho! Ho! Ho! Do tell. (You can imagine I'm getting tired right now.)

It must be balanced with what is possible. How can you reconstruct buildings currently being blown up? You can rebuild when the bullets and bombs are still flying. Nothing is doomed to failure unless you have a media and a left-wing political class that is openly calling for failure. That's your side. The taliban would meld into the woodwork if they thought we had the intestinal fortitude to see the job through.

Yes, but if you're going to close up like a clam to the very concept that a BRUTAL, THIEVING GOVERNMENT, propped-up by VICIOUS WARLORDS and OCCUPYING TROOPS isn't going to produce any ill-effects, then I suppose you'll inevitably fall back to the stupid, deluded, notion that this is all about "intestinal fortitude. That if we simply stick in for the long-run, the people will eventually come around to our policies of violence, murder, hypocrisy, corruption, and indifference.

No my friend, ... "intestinal fortitude" is not what we need. What YOU need, is to give your head a shake and stop imagining that corrupt politicians like bush II and Stephen Harper give a shit about the "little guy" in Canada, the US, or anywhere else including Afghanistan. You're a dupe my friend, and people are dying needlessly for your delusions.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Hillier: "Don't Believe Everything You Hear."

Canada's top general has (according to him) been hearing a lot from Canadian soldiers during his pointless and idiotic journey through the country lugging the Stanley Cup around.

Apparently they're PISSED OFF that the attention being paid towards the possibility of Canada being implicated in war crimes is distracting everyone from the real story: Our contribution to ensuring that Afghanistan remains at the bottom of world statistics for incomes, economic growth, literacy, calorie-intake, life-expectancy, and so-on and such-forth.

What's the big deal about torture anyway?? One all day the good people will slaughter all the bad people. (ht)


"Hillier says Canada is working with the Afghan government to get the facts in these allegations."

Following this, Hillier will fly to California, to help O. J. Simpson find the real killer of Nicole. Hillier will also pointlessly show the Stanley Cup to Simpson. (Hopefully this won't distract them from their mission.)


"He says the Foreign Affairs department is taking the lead in dealing with the government in Kabul. "

He continued: "So go and bother THEM! And LEAVE ME ALONE!!!" Whereupon he collapsed in tears to the ground, pounding and kicking as he wept into the dirt.

"He cautions Canadians against taking as fact every allegation that's made in Afghanistan. "

Oh, don't worryRick. I'm w-a-y-y-y ahead of you on that one.

In Which Paul Martin Continues to be Revealed as WRONG

In this post, I made reference to an article in The Walrus by former Paul Martin employee Tim Murphy, entitled; "Noble Ambition," ... the cover story was "Paul Martin Was Right." Since I consider Paul Martin Jr. to have been one of the most noteworthy failures among Canadian prime ministers, I took issue with that title's claim and hence you see the series of quickly-typed screeds we have here.

I've just time (and inclination) to point out this portion of Murphy's tribute to his former boss:

Paul Martin is a socially progressive fiscal conservative. His sensibilities and political instincts are those of a new Liberal who, much like a Red Tory, believes in targeted public-sector investments based on understanding where world economies are moving. The point is to look outward, not inward. Over and above the headline-grabbing appetites of those in the race to lead, for the Liberal Party of Canada to win the next election it had better look closely at the Martin economic record. Martin’s policies fitted Canada’s needs for twelve-plus years, and, as the veil is lifted on Prime Minister Harper’s economic plan, it is clear that the Conservatives see wisdom in many of Martin’s core economic ideas.

Which, if you'll notice, is another way of saying that Paul Martin, the guy with all the nauseatingly earnest "progressive" rhetoric, actually was so right-wing that a bushlover ideologue from the National Citizens Coalition (that'd be Stephen Harper), would actually be impressed enough with his policies as to steal 'em, and that this adaptation of a so-called progressive's policies by a right-wing Tory hack, would go virtually unnoticed by most Canadians.

That's almost enough for today. I just wanted to get a little dig in on this howler ...

Too shrewd to admit to theft, the Harper government’s economic agenda — — has been lifted almost verbatim from the 2005 Liberal “Plan for Growth and Prosperity.”

Wow. So the Conservative Party of Canada was stealing ideas from one of Paul Martin's book of campaign promises?? Maybe that means that this time those ideas will actually get implemented. Or maybe it's that windy rhetoric is common to all political parties.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Happy Mayday!

I'll be taking part in a study, but there'll be stuff happening here and here.