Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hi Dick Cheney!

Is that how you spell the current VP-USA's name? For some reason, I don't remember and I can't be bothered to look it up.

Anyhow, ... just a quick word on his latest gambit for rationalizing his secretive ways.

Cheney is arguing that the agency that oversees the executive branch can't oversee him because his limited legislative duties have removed him from the executive branch. Earlier, and this was caught on "The Daily Show," Cheney had decreed that the Congressional overseers couldn't look into his discussions on energy policy with private sector energy executives, because he is part of the executive branch.

Numerous US constitutional scholars have pronounced this argument as absurd. It's hard to disagree. To take Cheney at his word, he's positing that the US "founding fathers" intended for the office of the Vice President of the United States to be beyond the reach of any of their system of checks and balances that applied to the President, the Senate, or any other such institution. No. According to this argument, the Vice President was intended to exist in some sort of constitutional netherworld, doing secretive, unstoppable work, crucial for any 18th century liberal conception of democratic government.

What's really going on here, of course, is that Cheney is once again revealing himself to be a not-so-bright, crude thug. This is yet another "fuck you" to the system of checks and balances that American government is based upon. Cheney has gotten away with everything else so far, and he's going to get away with this as well.

It's not a very clever ruse. But it didn't have to be. Cheney's not smart enough to come up with anything better, but it doesn't matter, does it?

Friday, June 29, 2007

What's the Point?

Having recently become a father again (and the whole process is going quite well so far), I'm filled with this desire to call up people who I tend to have had difficulties with, and try to wish them well, and tell them they can be happy.

It seems that the vast majority of humanity can agree on how precious children are, and how the ties of family, friends, ... our humanity itself, I guess, ... ought to be life-sustaining and virtuous, rather than burdensome and sordid.

One-on-one, we all seem to try to treat our personal circles of contacts decently.

But it's when we get to the wider-scale, the public political scale, that our ideas about how best to treat one another, how best to serve humanity, can become abstract, coldly abstract, and we can persist in the mindless pursuit of our schemes regardless of the personal costs to others.

What I mean is that most of us are well-intentioned, but different levels of intelligence, different worlds of experience, and different degrees of accuracy in the information with which we build our intellectual constructs, mean that some of us are more likely to achieve our intentions than others.

What is necessary, extremely necessary, is honesty to one's own self. If you are honest to yourself, you are more likely to tell the truth to others. When we come upon new facts, new arguments, that challenge our beliefs, the proper response is not to shut them out, and pretend that they haven't punctured your theories. The proper response is not to bluff, inventing counter-facts in order to escape from a genuine tight-spot in a debate. The proper response is to allow these new facts to set in, and let them do what they will to your mental sand-castles.

If you are going to pass on values to your children (and my first brush with the responsibilities of parenthood almost a decade-and-a-half ago is what made me truly care about values and changing the world at a time when I was seriously considering becoming a televangelist or a self-help guru) it is best if you yourself belief the values you intend to impart.

Be honest and truthful to yourselves and to each other and to the children.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I'm Back ...

But so what? I'm not posting anything today.

Because, that's why.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Gone Fission'

Busy making babies today.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hit Them When They're Down

Part of me thinks that as the bush II regime staggers to its end, as everything it's touched that turned to shit begins to dry out and crumble under its own weight, that when it comes to that moron's moronic supporters, the idiots who have been proven wrong time and time again, that perhaps what we should do is just ignore them, and concentrate on more productive things.

But ignoring people because they're fools, while sensible in most circumstances, is not the wisest course when the fools have power. We ignored these people before (I certainly did) and look at how low our political culture has sunk. Stephen Harper, who would have had us in Iraq if he'd been in power at the time, would have been telling Canadians that they need to "stay the course" at this very moment. Instead, he got to increase our presence in Afghanistan, propping up an increasingly unpopular government. A government being made increasingly unpopular in part due to the brutality of its NATO defenders.

This madness hasn't run its course yet in Canada, as it sputters and gasps in the United States. We must attack the American right-wing imbeciles and revel and gloat in their embarrassments, while at the same time, pointing out to the undecided the tragic effects of the right-wing's monstrous incompetence. And we must continue to hammer away at the continued stupidities and brazen lies of the Stephen Harper government.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Losing Your Human Rights

Under what conditions do we accept that a Canadian citizen can lose their rights in this country? Well, you can lose your freedom if you commit a crime. You can lose some of your property to cover your debts, or you can be forced to surrender some part of your private property to pay taxes at a level that is agreeable in a democratic society. (Regardless of the hysterical rantings of the Fraser Institute.) I suppose in Canada, your right to free speech is limited by libel laws and the US-phrase: "Can't shout 'fire' in a crowded theatre."

And, of course, you can be expected to surrender many of your rights (privacy, free speech, freedom of movement, religious freedom, control over your actions) when you go to your place of work.

If you don't like that, you can starve. Or, realistically, you can go on welfare, and be abused and mocked and scorned by government service agencies that will try to compell you back to another workplace to surrender your rights to, ... or by people in the wider society who have swallowed their pride and submitted themselves to the tyranny of the workplace, so why can't you? Work hard, study, and you might get a job that allows you your rights so long as the boss is a benevolent dictator, or so long as you're valuable enough that they tolerate your limited use of your human rights.

Of course, spending the majority of your waking hours in a position of subordination to a boss is going to have an effect on your behaviour as a citizen. And thank God, say the masters and their political hirelings! You'll have a mentality of compliance and submission ingrained into you. Accept what you're told. Do as you're told.

But don't worry. When you're not at work, but out shopping, or dining, or vacationing, the advertisors have told you you're a king or a queen. So treat those people paid to serve you as they deserve.

Is this a great world or what?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Wetzl on ParEcon

Today, I'm just going to point any readers' attention to this article: "Participatory Economics and the Self-Emancipation of the Working Class" by Tom Wetzl, from Znet.

It's a pretty decent intro to the whole subject of particiaptory economics that doesn't take too long to read. It provides brief critiques of the two major forms of political-economy: capitalism and state-led central planning. It also discusses the major planks of the ParEcon alternative, and that's what I'll focus on here.

Part of the answer to the question: "What is Participatory Economics"?

Some people react to Participatory Economics by imagining it to be a kind of blueprint of exactly how people are to live, like Edward Bellamy, Charles Fourier and the other 19th century “utopian socialists” tried to do. But I think that is a misunderstanding. As I interpret ParticipatoryEconomics, it is an attempt to specify simply an economic structure, a framework that will enable people to
control their own lives, and pursue lives as determined by them, based on their emancipation from class oppression.

What is meant by "Self-Management"?

The answer that Participatory Economics proposes is that the basic building blocks for economic decision-making be directly democratic worker councils, and federations of these, as the means to
implement self-management in production, and directly democratic neighborhoodcouncils, and federations of these, to implement self-management in regard to consumption.


Participatory Economics defines self-management in terms of the following principle:

Each person is to have a say over decisions that affect them, and each person is to have a degree of say in proportion to the degree they are affected by them.

How will resources be allocated?

Through a process of social communication and interaction, which enables people to become aware of the social and environmental consequences of their consumption and production
proposals, a process of society-wide negotiation then ensues. There is a back and forth process and the plan itself ends up simply as the aggregation of the proposals from the base, from consumers and producers, once agreement is reached.

What will work be like?

And what we do is we re-design jobs so that they are balanced between skill and design work on the one hand, and the doing of the physical work, the less desirable or less empowered work.
We also systematically change the educational system to democratize access to expertise and information and training, we integrate this with the system of production itself. The idea is to facilitate everyone having the opportunity to have their skills and talents developed, and yet everyone also must do their share of the grunt work, the sheer physical labor of production.

Of course there's more. Check it out.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer in the City

So that's what "The Lovin' Spoonful" looked like.

It's hot. I spent about an hour or so on yesterday's post. So here's a YouTube link:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What to Do?

I was just reading a series of articles about the tragic results of the monstrously cynical treatment of the Palestinians (catch it here and here) and I was thinking about posting something about, you know, what the hell can ordinary people do to stop our leaders from causing one atrocity after another.

Then, I thought that I really didn't know what to say. So I thought that my blog entry for the day would be based on whatever was the top story at the CBC. Which turned out to be:

"After five quiet years, an explosion of refugees in 2006"

At the end of 2005, there were roughly 21 million people in the world on the move — refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons — forced from their homes because of war, famine or persecution. A year later that number had spiked to 33 million, an increase of 56 per cent, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in a just-published report.

I don't know why people are still fleeing Vietnam in such large numbers. Perhaps a right-winger can pontificate about the relentless evil of Vietnam's communist overlords and how this is the result of the defeat of the benevolent, capitalist West.

Except that thesis would really be blown all to shit by the fact that a large part of this international refugee crisis explosion comes from worsening conditions in Gaza (links above); The continually-increasing violence and misery in Afghanistan; US meddling in Somalia, and the charnel house that Iraq has become.

Even if Vietnam's huge refugee creation has something to do with their communist government, there is no way in hell that we here in the West can venture to say that we are a better option for the people of the world.

It's not as if we can hold our heads high about the situations in Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, or The People's Republic of the Congo, either. In those countries, we either backed super-corrupt despots who bled their countries dry until they were overthrown, or we armed perpetual insurgencies that wasted scarce resources and turned governments into authoritarian paranoids, or we imposed IMF programs that exacerbated poverty and enflamed ethnic tensions (that were themselves vestiges of imperialist-colonialist policies).

There are people in the West, "liberals," or "progressives" (and by this I'm including "social-democrats" like Canada's NDP, and European left and green party supporters) who believe that our system works. That while right-wing idiot parties, such as the US Republicans, or Canada's CPC, are horrid, that we have the democratic power to oust these parties and replace them with more moderate, sensible alternatives.

Even those who are aware of the delusion behind this belief (as those who elected Democrats in the 2006 mid-term elections, only to find out that this "anti-war" party was all rhetoric are finding out), there's still the belief that "Oh well, this is terrible, but it's still possible to work within the system to limit the damage and effect change in the wider society.

This sort of thinking is, I think, to a great degree inspired by the inability of even the most sensitive people to fully grasp the horrors that we've unleashed, and will continue to unleash, upon the people of the Global South. "It really is happening somewhere, far away. And don't we all see these refugees in our countries, starting life over again, in conditions far more peaceful?"

We don't really grasp the enormity of the hunger, the starvation even, the fear, the cold, the sadness and misery, the psychological scars of these people fleeing from rapist warlords, and our own militaries' air-strikes, and our own soldiers' bloodlust. (Think the US in Iraq if you're a shit-head starting to seethe because I'm dissing "the troops.") And we forget that the people who manage to get to the rich countries that have visited this upheaval upon them, where they can take shitty jobs and go through a cruel and humiliating process of applying for status and be condemned by racist morons for stealing jobs and living off welfare, are merely a trickle from the ocean of people condemned to filthy, dangerous camps. These camps are often in countries that are desperately poor themselves, but these countries are expected to support these numbers with fitful foreign aid and their own resources which are a fraction of ours, the people who caused the problems in the first place.

No, ... between 2005 and 2007, 10 million, ten million, 10,000,000 extra refugees were created in the world, and many millions of human beings have found themselves in this desperate condition because of us.

I have called for peaceful revolutionary change through the democratic process. Through breaking the power of capitalism to manipulate and distort government policies in the West by increasing the power of workers within their workplaces. This really seems to me to be critical and essential. We will not bring an end to this system of horror without radical, sweeping change. And it is a horrible system. It is a system that depends upon, relies upon, media manipulation, lowering living standards in the wealthy countries, propping-up dictatorships in the resource colonies of the South, both with our tax dollars and the bullets and death-squads that our tax dollars support. It is a system that occasionally sees the recourse to war and invasion in order to maintain itself.

Let's consider Iraq, and to a lesser extent Afghanistan. These were wars fought for control of oil. Iraq, the second-largest proven reserves of easily-obtainable Middle East oil was set to switch from pricing its oil in US dollars to Euros. This would have had an adverse effect on the US currency, which is threatened by US trade and current account deficits, which are to a large degree a cost of the "globalization" that has seen the dismantling of US industry in exchange for manufacturing capacity in poor countries where labour is cheaper. Inequality has grown within the US, and the trade balance is negative and unsustainable, but the owners of capital benefit from exchanging "expensive" domestic labour for cheap sweat-shop labour in the "developing" countries. Furthermore, the system depends on cheap fuel, for our unsustainable consumerist economy, and for the central importance of the automobile society.

Because of this, Iraq and Afghanistan have been invaded, their peoples traumatized, our hands drenched with blood. (Statements about WMDs, bush II's desire to bring "democracy" to the Middle East, the hunt for the evil Taliban or Osama bin Laden, will be met with suitable scorn here.)

We can devote ourselves to the futile quest to elect Democrats, or Liberals, or even NDP, Labour, Social Democratic, or Green parties, as if they can legislate away our undemocratic economic sector's dependence and preference for imperialism. We can follow the same path of marching in the streets calling for peace, shouting out our anger at imperialist governments that ignore us (as we've been doing for forty years with negligable effect). Or, we can seek to find the weakness of our system, and to clearly identify what latent, potential strengths we have within our political equations, and try to get to the heart of the problem, and bring an end to this inhuman system.

A Continuation

I handed the entry above to my partner (code-name "ephemeral") to see if it justified the use of a fair bit of my morning before going to work. She told me that it doesn't explain the "revolutionary alternative" and that I should go into more detail as to how my "solution" can somehow alter the present political equation.

I've got some stuff to do, some places to go, before heading off to work and such, but rather than write a separate entry tomorrow, I'll spend a minute to try to outline the revolutionary potential of "workers as citizens" and how it could conceivably bring an end to this nightmare.

If we democratically elect a political party dedicated to enshrining the human rights of workers within their workplaces as the law of the land, ... as constitutionally protected rights, ... here is what I envision happening.

Increased taxes on the wealthy and on corporations will be imposed, and these powerful groups will not be able to retaliate. Businesses will not be able to carry out threats to move elsewhere or withhold investment because their workers will not allow them to move and workers will have a say in their workplaces' investment decisions.

These increased government revenues will help governments pay for the transition period as workers, environmentalists, and policy planners decide what is a sustainable level of production and consumption in the West. Part of this transformation is going to inevitably mean the dismantling of much of the auto-industry, (which also means the steel industry, and the petroleum industry), and the switch from huge amounts of consumer goods towards necessary services, and the switch from petro-chemical based corporate farming to sustainable, organic agriculture.

If some "Green Party" simply tried to legislate all of this within the present status-quo, it would be a debacle. This is a gigantic enterprise and it cannot be centrally-managed. It has to be done at an industry, firm, and local level. If businesses lay-off workers and justify this with claims that the expenses of meeting environmental regulations, or whatnot, require this, there will be a backlash against environmentalism. If, however, people realize that our present way of life is unsustainable and that they are part of the problem, they will (under workers as citizens) be able to negotiate the ways that their own industries can reposition themselves to work more cleanly and efficiently, as well, they can negotiate with their firm and with governments that possess the revenues to help them, an equal income to finance them as they retrain for some more suitable line of work.

What does all of this (admittedly hurried and vaguely presented) have to do with, say, Iraq? Obviously, if we move away from the automobile society, away from the plastics economy, away from petro-chemical agriculture, there will be less need for oil. Therefore, there will be less "need" to invade countries and install Quisling despots to guarantee our access to this oil at favourable prices. Won't this mean poverty for the people in the oil-producing "less-developed" nations? Not at all. For one thing, few of the people in the OPEC countries ever get to enjoy these oil revenues anyway, and I'm pretty sure that the people of Iraq (at least) are starting to see their oil as a curse instead of a blessing.

But here's something else. As we in the wealthy countries transform our economies towards a more sustainable direction, we will be doing so while maintaining the investment in current high-level science and technology that are helpful in mitigating the harshness of nature. I don't believe the majority in the West want a headlong rush into eco-primitivism. We will be able to decide what technologies are essential and non-negotiable, in a democratic, rational fashion. We will keep the safety net of modern technological capabilities until we either no longer need it, and we can continue to invest in new technologies that will benefit us in the future.

In so doing, we will provide an alternative model for the "less-developed" nations, whose leaderships have traumatized their people by subjecting them to what they imagine is the same path to unsustainable "development" that the West did.

Okay, but what about the sweat-shop workers in the poor countries? Those jobs are terrible, but aren't we going to pull the rug out from under them if we bring textiles and manufacturing jobs back here?

Not necessarily. For one thing, we can provide a model, and aid assistance for more local development. Our tax dollars can go to provide a living income for all the peoples of the world. This will mean more dollars in the pockets of individuals in the South, able to spend on goods and services produced locally. If we in the West can make localized production sustainable, it will be sustainable everywhere.

As well, in some industries, such as pharmaceuticals, our corporations depend to some degree on flooding poor countries with subsidized products (or merely naturally cheaper products) which strangle nascent industries there, or devastate established ones. A more equitable arrangement of production and technology, to serve the people of the world, not a miniscule wealthy elite, is something that will be democratically popular and easily affordable.

The point is, that this is a huge job, and it has to be done organically, democratically, with as much input from those affected as possible, and we have to start not yesterday, but last week, if we're going to avoid oblivion.

And one of the consequences of doing this job is that it will reduce the capitalist economy's present need for under-priced resources and cheap labour from the Global South, which is such a major, if not central contributor, to the the refugee crisis that was the subject of today's post.

I said in an earlier entry that we have to account for the centrality of our economic lives to our lives in total. The power that the masters of production have over the world has to be realized, and dealt with, or our nominal political power will continue to be as relatively useless as it is at present. What good is a vote if you can't eat? What good is an anti-imperialism mindset if you depend upon it to survive.

I've got to get going. Please excuse any spelling mistakes and whatnot.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Alexander Cockburn as Global Warming Skeptic

In a couple of Counterpunch articles that I can't bother to link to, Alexander Cockburn pronounces himself a skeptic on global warming. He cites a couple of scientists, and says the whole thing is a scare-tactic perpetrated by big energy, corporate America, wanting to get in on the taxes, retro-fitting, bio-fuels, and all the other supposed scams that will be the necessary response to this imaginary crisis. Corporate America is aided and abetted in this charade by bourgeois "green" organizations that have lost any fire and radicalism they'd ever had and which are now merely grant-chasing organizations. They want the two billion dollars a year in research grants that the global warming scare delivers to them.

Cockburn's skepticism has met with two replies that I know of, ... one of them I can't find, but I might have read it on Znet, or on Cockburn's own "Counterpunch." It basically said that most of Cockburn's sources get their money from big oil. To me, that is just a cause for concern, it doesn't automatically discredit them. (Broken clocks right twice a day and all that.)

The other is this one, by George Monbiot: "The Conspiracy Widens" is much more devastating. It pokes far larger holes into Cockburn's authorities, and you can read it if you wish. My reason for posting today is to answer Monbiot's sadness in having to refute Cockburn:

I sign off with sadness. I have followed Alexander Cockburn's writing for many years and I have admired it. His has been an important and persuasive voice on many progressive issues. But I can no longer trust it. I realise that he is blinded by a conviction that he remains right whatever the facts might say. In his determination to admit nothing, he will cling to any straw, including the craziest fulminations of the ultra-right, and he will abandon the rigor and scepticism that once informed his journalism. I feel this as a loss. I am sure I am not the only one.

The thing is, Cockburn will still be a source for me as a critic of US empire and global capitalism. I've known for a long time that Cockburn is a Leninist, and he makes quiet apologies for the Soviet Union, and espouses a revolutionary doctrine that is quite dangerous and has a record of extreme failure. I've known for a while that he thinks petroleum is a renewable resource (some old Harvard chemist says that it's naturally created, continuously, in the bowels of the earth). Cockburn will remain a good source of critical reporting on some things, and we'll just have to take the good with the bad.

I've read Maoist critiques of capitalist "development" theory and practice. We can read the hypocrite Rousseau on the beauty of humanity. I'll read Hitchens on atheism and Democratic perfidy.

Cockburn is not lost to us. He wasn't ours to begin with. He's an individual. At least (unlike Hitchens) he hasn't placed himself at the service of any ogres with this eccentricity.

Monday, June 18, 2007

More on Harper's Guide to Fuck-up Parliament

From Alison at Creekside:

Faced with the prospect of testimony hostile to the Con environment plan from a witness previously expected to be 'friendly', Environment Committee Chair and Con MP Bob Mills attempted to change the witness line-up, and when over-ruled by the rest of the committee he promptly resigned as committee chair. No other Con agreed to stand in for Mills, thereby effectively shutting down the hearings.

Now, the CPC spin-meisters have attempted to explain this away as just standard operating procedure for all parties in Parliament. "Everybody does it." "It's just politics." Blah, blah, blah.

When was the last time you heard of Liberal MPs storming out of committee meetings as per a Liberal guidebook of obstructionism? When was the last time that you heard Liberal whips praising MPs who paralyzed a hostile opposition in a minority government while berating those who tried to make it work?

No, as bad as the Liberals are, ... the CPC is unquestionably worse. They're inspired by the loathsomely stupid and hideously corrupt Republican Party of the USA. Both parties where their contempt for democracy on their sleeves. As well as their contempt for their precious "rule of law." The law is only to be respected when it can be used against their enemies.

There will come a time when the "conservative" contempt for the rule of law, for democratic procedure, indeed, for all the standards of a decent society, will become ingrained in the beliefs of the population at large. That day might come that will see these cynical morons reap as they have sown.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

"Hortatory Subjunctives" (sp?) and "Gerunds"

In another ongoing scandal in bush II's Washington, the General Services Administration chief, bush II appointee Lurita Alexis Doan, is being investigated by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform [HCOGR] for having used her office (which looks after the real estate of the federal government and provides other services for the government) as a partisan tool to aid Republican Congressional candidates. (Get a Repug to show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies, provide renovation jobs during election times, give contracts to personal friends and fellow Repugs, etc.)

Apparently, under her "leadership," the GSA offices had a slide presentation about how all of this could be orchestrated. Like most bush II appointees, Ms. Doan has a terrible memory about her job. About that damning presentation, Ms. Doan remembers only coming in late, that there were cookies on the table, and that some of her staff weren't present. (That's what she said under oath to the HCOGR.)

With GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan and up to 40 regional administrators on hand, J. Scott Jennings, the White House's deputy director of political affairs, gave a PowerPoint presentation on Jan. 26 of polling data about the 2006 elections.

When Jennings concluded his presentation to the GSA political appointees, Doan allegedly asked them how they could "help 'our candidates' in the next elections," according to a March 6 letter to Doan from Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Waxman said in the letter that one method suggested was using "targeted public events, such as the opening of federal facilities around the country."

Ms. Doan testified that she had never used her position for partisan purposes or personal gain, but there was enough suspicion about her clumsy favouritism, that the Office of Special Counsel investigated her. To the bush II appointed Repug OSC chief, Doan blurted out that she was saving her real story for him. With regards to GSA staff who had testified to the HCOGR that Doan was indeed using the GSA as a partisan tool for the Repubs, she said:

the GSA employees who alleged her violation of the Hatch Act had exhibited "poor to totally inferior performance" and that they would "not be getting, promoted…bonuses or anything of that nature."

Unfortunately, for Ms. Doan, the Repug-appointed OSC chief had more respect for his own office than for Ms. Doan's blatant partisan corruption. When Doan claimed she was looking at her "Black Berry" during the slide show on helping Repug candidates (and therefore could not recall what had been said there), he asked to see her "Black Berry." He found no evidence of any activity on it. (She later claimed she had been reviewing her e-mail inbox.)

When he checked the performance evaluations of the employees who testified about her, he found none of them had received "poor to totally inferior" evaluations. When asked about this at a second appearance before the HCOGR, Ms. Doan blathered on about how there are numerous phases of performance evaluations. In her case, there are hidden, unseen, unverifiable phases that allow her to justifiably withhold bonuses and promotions without any fear of this being the result of retaliation for telling the truth. And, anyway, she didn't have the authority to withhold promotions and bonuses. Democrats on the HCOGR took this apart, asking why she'd tell the OSC investigators she'd withhold promotions when she couldn't (she was speaking hypothetically she said) and that she actually does have the ability to withhold promotions (she thanked them for informing her of this).

Basically, she's another ham-handed, stupid, Republican hack. Like all the half-wits and evil fuck-ups in the Gonzales Justice Department. What's noteworthy about Doan is her delusional self-righteousness and self-pitying whining.

The point of this post? At one point in her testimony, Ms. Doan said that her saying that her employees who testified against her had shitty performance reviews and would be punished, was just her using a "hortatory subjunctive."

My response to this statement was "What the fuck is a 'hortatory subjunctive'?"

It was then that another Democrat Congressman showed that while he might be just a member of another imperialist, corrupt, pro-corporate party of stupidity that is rapidly losing the loyalty of the American public, he is, like Clinton and many others, a smart, clever individual. I got a better understanding of "hortatory subjunctive" that just so happened to toss it all back in Doan's face.

More here. I have no idea what "plu-perfect" is either.

Where's the "gerund"? Well, I was watching a "Daily Show" clip and John Stewart had fun with White House grammar and mentioned a "gerund." When Ben Stiller came on later, he admitted ignorance about what a "gerund" was, and I was grateful, hoping to be able to get Stewart's earlier joke.

They deal with the subject at the beginning of this clip.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Harper a Separatist?

That's what JimBobby Sez:

I reckon Harpoon's more than just a firewaller.

I figger he's an out'n'out separatist.Unity, interprovincial harmony and good federal-provincial relations stand in the way of separatism. Federalism's failure is separatism's success. If Harper was a federalist, he'd be in trouble. As a separatist, he's doin' everything right.

To which, one of his commentators, "Frank Frink" adds this old Harper gem:

"Whether Canada ends up with one national government or two governments or 10 governments, the Canadian people will require less government no matter what the constitutional status or arrangement of any future country may be."

- Stephen Harper in a 1994 National Citizens Coalition speech.

An indepedent Alberta would provide Harper with a "firewall" par excellance, though it would prevent him from being able to project Canadian military power in slavish service to his American masters.

I was moved to post Jim Bobby's musings from reading this morning's CBC.

Harper's imbecilic taunting of "So sue me!" to premiers angry about alterations of signed accords on equalization with the feds, and Harper's own breaking of verbal promises has many premiers from Atlantic Canada and Saskatchewan quite upset:

Newfoundland and Labrador's premier says he would prefer to settle a fight with Ottawa over equalization in the court of public opinion, but is nonetheless opening the door to joining a possible suit launched by Saskatchewan.


Nova Scotia has threatened to take similar action, although its key argument is that Ottawa has breached a contract by using legislation to amend the Atlantic accords.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

British Veteran on Afghanistan

From (originally from The Guardian: "The Afghans Are Sick of Our Armies Killing Their People"

But accidental or not, civilian deaths catastrophically undermine the entire Nato effort, as relatives of the dead, bent on vengeance, flock to the Taliban cause. As Pashtuns, the inhabitants of Helmand hold Badal, the pursuit of revenge, as a central concept of their social code, which is devotedly adhered to. “A Pashtun waited a hundred years for revenge,” a local saying goes, “and was pleased with such quick work.” Indeed, the Taliban are ruthlessly exploiting this mindset by deliberately engaging Nato troops from villages.

Afghans are sick of foreign armies killing their people. Their president, Hamid Karzai, has publicly
criticised Nato’s methods and warned that “bad consequences” will follow if civilian deaths continue unchecked. The Afghan parliament has called for a halt to Nato military offensives, and for negotiations with Afghan members of the Taliban. In Kabul last month, I met displaced civilians from Helmand province, some of the 80,000 to 115,000 people the UN estimates have lost their homes in the fighting in southern Afghanistan. “Why do British planes kill our people?”
they said. I struggled to answer.

And now, some sources detailing the destructiveness of NATO's airstrikes:

"Afghan civilian deaths damaging NATO"

The reliance on air power has led to a string of prominent episodes recently involving the deaths of large numbers of civilians, who often cannot escape being caught between NATO forces and the Taliban and its sympathizers.

Since the beginning of March [2007] at least 132 civilians have been killed in at least six bombings or shootings, officials say.

The actual number of civilians killed is probably higher, since the areas of heaviest fighting, like
in Helmand, are too unsafe for travel and many deaths go unreported and cannot be fully verified.


"Air war costs NATO Afghan supporters" (

But with so few boots on the ground, the increased reliance on air power has led to thousands of civilian deaths. The devastating air offenses are undermining support for the Afghan government, say human rights workers and Afghan officials, and are turning public opinion in the four southern provinces of Afghanistan against NATO forces, who took command of the south from the US in August.

[That Christian Science Monitor piece gives the impression that more Western soldiers are necessary to provide an alternative to indiscriminate airstrikes. But the fact of the matter is that even if one supports "the mission" in Afghanistan, the NATO countries and the US with its NATO-based and its independent special forces cannot provide more troops.]


"NATO continues slaughter of civilians in Afghanistan" (

The extent of civilian deaths is usually concealed by NATO allegations that the victims are insurgents. Villagers from the Kandahar area targeted during Operation Medusa claim dozens of locals were included in NATO’s body count of dead “Taliban”. A farmer, Toon Jaan, told the Canadian Press agency last month that 26 members of his extended family were killed during the Canadian military’s bombardment of the village of Sperwan.

These indiscriminate killings are a significant factor in encouraging Afghans to take up arms against the occupation. The ranks of the insurgency are continuing to expand despite the tremendous casualties the poorly equipped Afghan guerillas suffer in any direct engagement with NATO troops.

You know, we can talk about $39,000 spent on educating TEN THOUSAND Afghan children (works out to $3.90 a child). We can talk about a bag of candy here or there. We can talk about a soccer field in Kabul. But we also have to face this grim reality of the human toll of our airstrikes on the Afghan people. And the destruction of their poppy crops. And the families left behind when we shoot up people at check-points. And the anger that grows when Karzai's corrupt, brutal, police force and prison system oppress and torture Afghan civilians. Whatever we in Canada think of the Taliban is entirely irrelevant if we ourselves are causing so much destruction and suffering. Our victims aren't going to be thinking of our Canadian values vis-a-vis the Taliban. They're going to be thinking of the loved ones that we killed, the homes we destroyed, the bad government we installed, the livelihoods we destroyed.

It's time we grew up and faced reality.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Haiti Links

I'm so busy today. I'm embedding these YouTube links. One looks like a good movie about Haiti.

The other one is Mumia Abu-Jamal's take on the coup against Aristide:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Aristide and the "Chimeres"

I don't have much time to type today, but I thought that I'd post this while it was on my mind.

From Znet: "The Crucifixion of Haiti"

While Aristide’s opponents revived and embellished many timeworn accusations about his authoritarian tendencies, his extreme corruption, his involvement in “narco-trafficking” and
so on that were uncritically reported as fact by the mainstream press, perhaps the most serious claim made was that Lavalas had provided arms to gangs and used these “Chimères” to attacks its opponents and quell dissent. Now, like most good lies, there was a kernel of truth to these accusations: Supporters of Aristide had used violence against opposition demonstrations and some were members of criminal gangs. Robert Fatton, a bitter critic of Aristide and his supposed
authoritarian tendencies, gives an interesting interpretation the gangs’ motivations: "Lavalas's Chimères and followers are threatening the opposition because they believe that it is purposefully exacerbating the crisis to generate a chaos that would nurture the return of the military. They fear that CD's ultimate objective is to overthrow Aristide, and they are committed to using violence to prevent such an outcome.”(20) In light of recent events in Haiti, their fears seem to have been well founded. As for Aristide’s alleged support for the Chimères, not a shred of evidence has ever been produced. Indeed, Haiti’s current interim Ministry of Justice has settled for working with the
U.S. Justice Department to find proof that Aristide siphoned money from the state coffers into offshore personal bank accounts, apparently abandoning efforts to link the deposed President to the violence that occurred under his rule.

20. Robert Fatton, Haiti’s Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition To Democracy, 2nd ed., 2002.

The whole article is excellent. But I want to point out the actions of the "chimeres":

Robert Fatton, a bitter critic of Aristide and his supposed authoritarian tendencies, gives an interesting interpretation the gangs’ motivations: "Lavalas's Chimères and followers are
threatening the opposition because they believe that it is purposefully exacerbating the crisis to generate a chaos that would nurture the return of the military. They fear that CD's ultimate objective is to overthrow Aristide, and they are committed to using violence to prevent such an outcome.”

Recall that during the first coup against Aristide, the criminal Cedras regime had targetted this group of people for extermination. There were numerous atrocities, numerous mass graves. Aristide disbanded the unpopular foreign-implemented security forces and gave security over to people he could trust. There's no doubt there were excesses. But who the fuck are we in the West to condemn Aristide, or these people, who KNOW damned well that many so-called "oppositionists" are in fact US-paid subversives attempting to overthrow their government and subjec the Haitian people to more Duvalierist, Cedrasian, imperialist oppression?

This isn't Canada, where our political leaders stay within accepted ranges of dispute. This isn't Canada, with powerful foreign interests openly backing crews of mass-murderers to do their bidding. (Canadians are so asleep, or, like me, so fucking lazy, that the US is able to get everything it wants peacefully from us.) This is Haiti, a country with a population that has suffered terribly, in physical agony, from tiny minorities, often serving foreign interests. Politics is life and death there. We can't expect behaviour like Scandinavian democracies.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Vietnam Veterans Against the War

When war-mongers want to pretend that Iraq was invaded for noble purposes, and that the occupation (or "war" as they call it) can be "won," they also try to rehabilitate the US's barbarism in Vietnam as having been a noble cause that could have been won if only, oh lord, if only, the peace movement and the treasonous media hadn't convinced everyone that up was down, white was black, and that victory was defeat.

Part of the job of rehabilitating Vietnam is to go after critics of the Vietnam War. A particularly important group to discredit is Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and their "Winter Soldier" hearings.

Here's a couple of links that attempt to trash them: link, link.

Two of the main points of attack on VVAW are that the witnesses of the "Winter Soldiers Hearings" who testified to having witnessed or participated in atrocities in Vietnam were either frauds, who had never even served in Vietnam, or they were actual veterans who were lying, as they refused to make formal, sworn statements to military authorities about these atrocities.

The war-monger position on atrocities in Vietnam is that they did occur, but they were aberrations, and that the VVAW are a bunch of grandstanding dupes and frauds who must hate America.

But I recall reading an excellent defence of the VVAW Winter SoldierTestimony. I'll see if I can find it:

Nothing yet. But here's a response to one of the anti-VVAW sites above, from the VVAW themselves:

All this website really has to offer are the personal opinions of historians Burkett and Lewy, who seem to have had no personal contact with VVAW members and are instead relying on information from the Nixon Whitehouse. For obvious political reasons, the Nixon administration did its best in 1971 to discredit Kerry and the VVAW. They came up with one VVAW leader (Al Hubbard) who had lied about his rank and exaggerated his military service. And that was it. They did not identify any other phony veterans, nor did they identify by name a single fraud who provided testimony in Detroit.

Who were all the liars and frauds in the VVAW? No one seems to know. And what exactly were they lying about in Detroit? One or two possibly exaggerated stories aside, the great majority of those who testified in Detroit described the exact same kind of abuses and atrocities that
show up in the court-martial record of the war, in memoirs written by Vietnam veterans, and in histories written by academics. I don't understand how this website can so blithely dismiss the Detroit testimony when the stories told in Detroit mirror the documented war crimes committed at places like My Lai, My Khe, and Son Thang, and the documented illegal behavior of units like Task Force Barker and the Tiger Force of the 1-327th Airborne Infantry.

Still looking:

But there's this:

The problem with this line of analysis is that the Winter Soldier Investigation was never discredited. A handful of individual stories may have been called into question, but the main thrust of the soldiers' testimonies--that American atrocities were widespread in Vietnam--is today beyond dispute. Indeed the emergence of new evidence during the last 30 years has only solidified the winter soldiers' overall case.

And this (a report by Duke University Press that you gotta pay for).

And, finally, this.

Referring to a 1971 investigation organized by Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) in which Vietnam veterans described atrocities that they had witnessed or participated in, right-wing film producer Carlton Sherwood (producer of the anti-Kerry film Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal) falsely claimed that "everything that came from the Winter Soldiers hearing has been utterly discredited through volumes and volumes of books." In fact, research by Media Matters for America has uncovered no evidence that any witness testifying in the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation in Detroit has had his story discredited.

None of these are as comprehensive and detailed as the defences of the Winter Soldier Testimony that I remember reading a few years back. But together, they appear to have more credibility than the drivel spewed by the partisan "Swiftboat Veterans for Truth" morons who were given so much media space for their obvious fabrications during the election that bush II lost to John Kerry.

It's actually pretty pathetic and sickening that right-wing war-mongers continue to fart out this drivel. Winning an argument through lying isn't really winning the argument.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Fruits of Liberal Capitalist Democracy

This is another example of the way liberals discredit their own values:

The reasons can be deduced from the results of a wide-scale public opinion survey conducted by the respected Yuri-Levada Institute for the independent EU-Russia Centre in Brussels, and published in late February.

The poll showed that 35% want to return to the Soviet system, 26% think Putin’s quasi-authoritarian system is more suitable for Russia, and only 16% want western style democracy. Almost two thirds of the respondents prefer a strong state assuring security to citizens to a liberal state committed to upholding liberties. Instead of favouring separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers, they want an overarching state authority to coordinate the institutions of national power.

When choosing their priorities, 68% ticked “security”, 64% “housing”; and only 18% “free expression” with a measly 4% “free association”. As for national identity, 75% think of
Russia “as a Eurasian state with its own path of development” whereas only 10% consider Russia as “part of the west with a vocation to move closer to Europe and America”.


Popular opinion in the west holds that Russian President Boris Yeltsin ushered a new dawn in Russia with democracy and free market. This runs contrary to the prevalent perception in the
Russian Federation. Most Russians associate the Yeltsin presidency with the debilitating loss of a welfare state, high unemployment and inflation, mass pauperisation and gross inequality.

You see, present-day liberal capitalists are not real liberals. Today's liberal leadership has acquiesced to the needs of the capitalist system that their predecessors championed when it could plausibly be described as a multitude of independent individual economic agents, freely trading with one another according to "laws" of supply, demand, and consumer sovereignty.

It's doubtful that such a view of the market-place was ever reflected in reality. Perhaps 19th century liberals one day hoped that it would, but it never really happened. What did happen was that it produced an economic system prone to jarring cyclical ups and downs that left entire countries sullen and rebellious, to say nothing about the small capitalists ruined by these frequent depressions. But, as is obvious, the capitalist system produced winners to. People who amassed enough wealth and power to exercise an undeniable influence on the political scene. And it also produced the conditions that saw the creation of the corporate form of organization. The large corporations brought stability to many economic sectors, and were also able to finance the continual investment that produced the technological and consumer wonders of which modern-day liberals are so proud. But these corporations became giant monstrosities. Private bureaucracies governed by powerful capitalist collectives or teams of ruthless managers, that are capable of wielding far more influence over politicians than the powerful individual capitalists of the past.

The political system is therefore dominated by a relatively tiny elite, an elite that is tied inexorably to a system demanding constant economic growth for the institutions that they run. Eventually, growth is not possible by expanding markets, buying competitors, or improving efficiency. These institutions have to grow by slashing costs, both in labour costs, tax commitments, and in inputs such as raw materials. The first source of savings requires attacking their own workforces and getting their political servants to lower labour standards nationally. The second source of savings requires getting their political servants to rewrite the tax codes placing a greater burden on individuals and households to maintain the same level of public services. (It helps if you can argue that these public services are "wasteful" or an intolerable attack on individual "freedom" and shrink or eliminate them all together.) The last source of savings requires attacking national environmental regulations when the resources are domestically sourced, and installing corrupt, puppet regimes in other countries that sit atop these necessary raw materials.

It is good for these people to get the general public to buy into the idea that the government is the source of most of their problems, due to its incompetence, elitism, wastefulness, or whatever. This softens people up for your attacks on labour, environmental, and other standards, and for the shredding and weakening of the public sector. If public services fail due to cut-backs, it's portrayed as the inevitable result of government waste and incompetence. And the electorate doesn't see the democratic process as a means of restoring necessary services and taking power away from those are attacking them. Instead, voting is an irrelevant act, the government cannot help you, and it is clearly in thrall to a small powerful minority, and there's simply nothing that can be done.

This process leads to reduced political participation at home, and, when it is "spread" overseas, a-la, bush II, or Paul Martin Jr., it likewise discredits democracy. When "Western-backed" (or "US-backed") uniformly means that you are a puppet, giving away the nations resources for a song, making your people available as a pool of cheap labour for foreigners, and accepting foreign-loans to pay for the military and para-military forces necessary to compel acquiescence to this system, then "Western" democracy is discredited.

When this whole gamut of theft and repression is accompanied by demonstration elections, Western-style political parties arguing about minutae to do with neo-liberal policy options, and when values such as free speech, economic freedom, etc., are only used selectively as clubs to bash opponents to this system (the FARC, Chavez, Aristide, Saddam Hussein, etc.,) these values are corrupted in peoples eyes.

So, Boris Yeltsin was lionized in the West as a "democrat" and a "free market reformer" even though he shelled the Russian Parliament, served the country on a silver platter to a tiny band of "oligarchs," and presided over a shocking drop in the peoples living standards. Who is to be surprised if the people become disillusioned with "democracy" when its a cynical tool of Russian and international capitalist criminals? Who cares about "free speech" when it just means that capitalists can condemn government attempts to protect the people, while genuine social-justice activists are hounded and persecuted?

I guess what I'm saying is that it's pretty obvious that our elites don't really give a shit about democracy and it shows. But for people who long suffered under authoritarianism and tyranny, if their first and only experience of "democracy" is the monstrosity created by neo-liberalism, they're going to reject it. And the human race is the poorer for it. What we have to do is rethink the power of democracy, and to strategize about how we can use our nominal political power to control and then neutralize the numerically weak elites who distort and deform our present political system.

Of course, this means genuinely pursuing economic democracy. Democracy in the workplace. So long as we have no rights in the workplace and no human rights to the means of subsistence, so long will we be less than equal citizens.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"Liberal" Types and Official Enemies (Finished!)

The commentator who was the subject of my last entry appears from her blogger profile to be a US liberal of sorts. And she's gotten me thinking about liberal types who construct these elaborate justifications for imperialist actions against regimes that are "official enemies" of the capitalist system.

"Babette" was opposed to the government of Haiti's Aristide, and from her blog, it appears she's also concerned about Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. No doubt the Taliban, Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic, the Chinese in Tibet, North Korea's Kim Il Jong, Zimbabwe's Mugabe, etc., etc., all figure in her rogues gallery of international villains. To say nothing of the governments of Iran and Syria.

Of course, some of those aforementioned governments are quite dastardly. But the liberal disconnect comes with the belief (or the sales pitch) that the Western capitalist democracies are passionate about defending human rights, defeating "evil" and righting wrongs wherever they may be. So, of course, the alleged crimes of Aristide against the poor of Haiti, or the Taliban's outrages against the women of Afghanistan, justify Canada, or the US, or France, or the UK, or NATO, to fly in, cannons blazing, to topple these hateful regimes and introduce democratic reforms to the grateful populations.

Which, by this point in my life, I find so-o-o tiresome. The US-led capitalist democracies have been propping-up dictatorships, TEACHING and PRACTISING TORTURE for decades. Our governments have been caught lying time and time again about their own policies towards us, and their policies towards other countries. It beggars belief that anyone can believe that we are fit to intervene militarily anywhere in the world, regardless of the "collateral damage" to innocent civilians, to bring "peace, order, and good government" to any part of the globe. It is astonishing that anyone can believe the lies of Western leaders anymore.

A few liars and embittered militarists aside, the vast majority of the population in the West recognizes that the US war in Vietnam was an atrocity, built upon lies. It really was the first imperialist war that had to be conducted in a mass democracy, sold to a public educated, empowered by decent living standards, and able to access a news media that was relatively free, and, as such, the Vietnam War was eventually seen for the crime that it was, the population revolted against it, and the governments that had conducted it were disgraced.

I was able to understand the failure of the general public in the West to be hoodwinked by their politicians into supporting that war, especially given the brutal nature of the enemy that was sold as the real enemy in that conflict, the mass-murdering dictatorships of the USSR and the PRC. But I was really depressed to see Western electorates back our first Gulf War with such witless enthusiasm. Then the cynical dismemberment of Yugoslavia. The rejection of negotiation with the Western-created Taliban in Afghanistan. And finally, with a year's build-up, and a justification based on the most obvious, clumsy, stupid lies, by an unelected president, in an area that just happens to be sitting atop a treasure-trove of oil, the Western electorates once again lazily, stupidly, pathetically, tragically, gave their trust and loyalty to the most brazen pack of criminals and thugs to occupy the White House for a long time, perhaps ever.

And it seems that there are two major cheerleaders justifying these conflicts. Right-wingers ("conservatives") and liberals. These two groups are significant minorities, perhaps together they might approach half the population, but there is, I think, a larger bulk of the population that is generally uninterested in capitalist politics, and which takes its cues from the shifts in editorial policies in the media and the climate created by the more vocal partisans in their local communities. The right-wingers are easy enough to figure out and more easily discredited (they discredit themselves), first and foremost is their blatant militarism and their racist hatred of whoever it is their masters tell them we'll be fighting next. They often embarrass themselves with their naked bigotry towards the mostly brown populations the imperialist nations find themselves invading. The "conservatives" mostly want to destroy the bad guys, and teach all the stupid people in their shit-hole countries not to fuck with us. They tend to blindly and wildly support the most blatant lies and incompetence of their own parties (witness the blind devotion to the bungling bush II and the thieving, cynical, thick-headed Cheney, even in opposition to the almost unanimous criticism of the US military leadership, or the Canadian Canuckleheads lining-up to defend the ignorant, lazy Gordon O'Conner and the laughable platitudes and disgusting deceptions of Stephen Harper here in Canada).

But it's the liberal defenders of imperialism who seem to me to be the greatest threat.

And now that I've reached the subject of my fucking post, I find that I've been typing for far too long, and I'll post this, and come back later when I get time, and finish it.

Okay. Here's a few free minutes. Let's see what happens.

Yes, liberals appear to be a graver threat than right-wingers, when it comes to the problem of imperialism. Because while the right-wing appears to be motivated by racism, bloodlust, and a gullibility regarding their own party's lies that borders that borders on the ludicrous, liberals appear to be motivated by concerns about democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. They seem to genuinely want to help the peoples in the countries that their governments are invading. There is a selflessness in their concern for the world's poor and oppressed that can influence the mushy middle of the Western body-politic. And that's what makes them dangerous. The right-wing's appeal is limited by normal human intelligence outside of the debased corporate culture of the United States. The liberal wing can appear to be guided by loftier, more enduring motives.

The difference is radiated by their respective parties. Here in Canada, Stephen Harper's embarrassingingly gigantic love for anything the bush II regime does, and the gross incompetence with which he and his cabinet pursue their work, and his utter indifference towards human rights abuses, it's all reflecting badly on him and Canadians are quickly losing their faith in him. The Liberals, on the other hand, while they are just as imperialist, just as willing to make the US-dominated international system work, simply do a much better job of selling their shit. They masquerade it with all sorts of high-flown language like "the responsibility to protect" and they try to avoid the excesses of militarism which Stephen Harper can't seem to control. The Liberals might even genuinely believe their bullshit themselves, the way their followers do.

The problem is, whether it's their followers, or the mushy middle, who decide to follow Liberal policies out of faith in their rationalizations, is that this is the abuse of peoples' nobler sentiments for ignoble ends.

And the targets of our liberal "concern" always end up being regimes or democratic governments that are trying to remove themselves from our systems of domination and pursue their own autonomous path. And it isn't their "undemocratic" practices, or their "human rights abuses" that are the real cause of imperialist anger. Oftentimes these are only invented.

What's prompted this post was the simultaneous condemnation of Haiti's Aristide and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, on the web-page of a recent commentator. Of all the politicians in the Western Hemisphere to attack and condemn, this pleasant, sincere liberal decides to focus on Aristide, twice the victim of US-backed coups, and whose party reflects the majority sentiment of Haiti (and whose followers might be a tad impatient with foreign-financed "opposition" members who subjected them to torture and murder in the past), and Hugo Chavez, whose real crime (it should be obvious) is trying to force his country's tiny rich elite to share some of its wealth with the poor majority, and for attempting to get his country out of its servile, exploitative relationship with the United States.

It's just so tiresomely predictable that the US government and corporate media will point to actions on the part of these governments that can be construed as threatening to liberal values of limited government and protection of human rights, as signs of incipient totalitarianism, when they're really just attempts to fight back against US-orchestrated subversion. While bush II spies on Americans, jails people indefinately without charges, practices torture, lies to the media, lies to Congress, attempts to use the Justice Department as a partisan tool to inflict partisan "justice," violates international law, attempts to ram through a pro-corporate oil bill through the Iraqi Parliament, all this while having never been elected, ... it is Aristide and Chavez who must answer to the enflamed outrages of Western liberals.

While Colombian death squads, with their leadership being part of the current Uribe government, mutilate union leaders and pro-democracy activists, while the Mexican conservatives steal another election and murder journalists, while grinding poverty afflicts people throughout Latin America and the leftist opposition is brutalized, it is only Aristide, Chavez, and the old stand-by Fidel Castro of Cuba, who must explain themselves to these liberal sheep.

And any attempt to explain this convenient focus on the crimes (real or imagined) of official enemies as being Western imperialism, is attacked as being a justification for these crimes (real or imagined). But what happens when we give our governments our support in their attempts to "spread democracy"? The governments in question are toppled, to be replaced with something worse. And our media conveniently drops its concern for the people of the countries that we've just destablilized, and the area reverts back to the slow burn of inequality, malnutrition, torture, and massacres. And we the people of the West are discredited. Our "liberal" democratic values are discredited. And it is sickening.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Haiti, Aristide, and Some Liberals

A recent commentator responded to my post about how the Canadian Left must do more to seek justice for Haiti, by taking issue with my good words for deposed, democratically elected President Aristide.

For the record, my case for the restoration of Aristide is not due to my belief that the man is flawless. I'm quite sure that he might have gone power-mad, or turned corrupt, just as I'm also quite sure that he might have remained an admirable character to the end of his time in power, trying to make the best of an impossible situation.

My case for the restoration of Aristide is partially based on the really indisputable fact that the regime we installed there immediately after the coup was far worse than his, but it's more due to the fact that Canada, France, and the United States have no business, absolutely no business whatsoever, financing and arming rebels against democratically elected governments. Especially ones that are relatively benign. Especially when we install ones that are relatively far worse.

One of the things I was told to look at to establish the irrelevant argument that Aristide wasn't perfect though, was the amount of money Aristide's government spent on the services of lawyer Ira Kurzban of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). The issue being: how can anyone justify the president of a desperately poor country paying enormous sums to one individual? One source I was told to check out was Michael Diebert. Well, I googled "Ira Kurzban" and "IJDH" and found an article by Michael Diebert, including the quote:

In a similar vein, when Mr. Kurzban writes that Haiti’s 2004-2006 interim government paid a U.S. law firm $250,000 a month retainer solely to bring against Aristide a civil suit that was ultimately dismissed, he errs in that the case was in fact withdrawn with an option to refile, not dismissed. When it comes to the subject of expenditures, Mr. Kurzban declines to reveal that, according to US Department of Justice Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings, his own law firm received an astonishing $4,648,964 from the Aristide government of behalf of its lobbying efforts alone between 2001 and 2004 [14], and that Mr. Kurzban still serves as Mr. Aristide’s attorney in the United States.

I don't know what planet Mr. Diebert lives on, but here on earth, while it seems extraordinary at first, four-and-a-half million dollars over 3 years for a US law firm's work providing lobbying for an entire country (that within the world's super-power, the governments of which have always had a hate-on for you) really isn't too surprising.

Contrast this with paying a law-firm $250,000 a month (which works out to one million dollars every four months, three million a year, passing Kurzban's entire bill in less than half the time) to pursue one case, one part of one vendetta against a single man, ... and you wonder why Diebert had the temerity to introduce the subject in the first place!

But who is this Michael Deibert anyway? I decided to do some looking and found this Znet Exchange between him and Justin Podur. I'd actually read this a couple of years ago, but had forgotten about it.

It's pretty obvious that Deibert knows a lot of details about Haiti. His arguments aren't very strong however. Two cases in point are 1.) His bizarre condemnation of Kurzban's $4.6 million bill for 3 years of general work for the government of Haiti, and his indifference to the $250,000 per month (which would $9 million charged for three years, on one case that was withdrawn), and 2.) His inability to see that it is senseless to justify the overthrow of Aristide for his crimes when Aristide was replaced by a government that was far worse by any comparison.

What else can we say about Deibert? Besides the fact that his mountain of details, gained from ten years' knowledge of Haitian politics appears to have overburdened his ability to reason? Well, this telling segment of Podur's final reply to Deibert gives one cause to wonder if those details of ten years' work that have so unhinged Deibert might even have been hallucinations:

Some of Deibert’s book is first-hand reporting, and as such is difficult for the reader to verify. I did have a rare opportunity to verify one of Deibert’s claims. I met Haitian activist Patrick Elie (who I found, from a brief interaction, to be a very courageous and brilliant individual) in Port au Prince in September 2005. When I saw him mentioned in Deibert’s book, I wrote to him (on January 2, 2006):

Hi Patrick.

I am going through Deibert's book the second time today and reached the part where he describes you. It's page 285. December 3, 2002, at the memorial of journalist Brignol Lindor, he describes "chimere" who showed up and chanted for Aristide under the direction of Hermione Leonard."I stood on the steps and watched as journalists who had been honoring Lindor began to come out and the chimere advanced to the cathedral steps, flinging Aristide pictures at them, shrieking 'git mama w, blan' and about how they worked for 'colon blan'. As Michele Montas descended the stairs, one stood screaming 'Aristide a vie' about five feet away from her... Patrick Elie, the head of the Eko Vwa Jean Dominique organization that had strung those damning banners around Port au Prince on the second anniversary of Dominique's death, shook his head and looked disgusted."


Patrick replied immediately:

Justin, I never attended any religious ceremony for Lindor and have not set foot in the cathedral since February 7, 1991, the day of Aristide's first inauguration, when I was in charge of his security. Deibert sure has a creative writing style, which is a nice way to say that he is a goddamn liar.


Such a definitive reply from a subject of one of Deibert’s eyewitness tells us something about the credibility of his reporting. Most of Deibert’s replies to me rely on his reporting and his supposed decade of experience in Haiti. Some of his principal sources, like Labanye and Billy, are now dead or missing, and so, unlike Elie, can’t say whether he’s misrepresented them. Deibert presents himself as the voice of Haiti’s poor. I suppose one way of putting it is that he’s a voice of the voiceless. Another way of putting it is that he speaks about those who can’t defend themselves.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Inflation & Economic Development

I was just reading at random from a book at home, Money and Banking in Canada from the Rowell-Sirois Report. The book mentions the economic crisis of 1837, which was caused by the US defaulting on British creditors. That reminded me of something that used to be quite the hobby-horse of mine; that a great deal of economic development did not come from stable prices and strong currencies, but from reckless spending, defaults, and inflation.

Frontier-style economic policies, war industrialization based on massive government debt, appear to have been responsible for a lot of economic development over the years. John Kenneth Galbraith's Money: Whence it Came, Where it Went was a big part of my economic education early on.

I used to think quite a bit about economics, and I'd determined that society's really weren't capable of self-financing. Eventually, a little bit of magic becomes necessary, devaluations, revaluations, credit created out of thin air. It's either that or plunder, which isn't always an option for weaker societies.

Jane Jacobs's The Nature of Economies points out that the first source of economic wealth comes from nature. And we cannot transcend nature.

Ah, I used to have the time to give this all much more thought.

Oh well.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

How a Mosquito Operates

Somebody uploaded it to YouTube and I'm posting it here ...

Friday, June 1, 2007


"Proud to be a cowardly, unCanadian Licker of fascist failure g.w.bush's ass-crack" Joel Johansenn ... (don't even think about leaving a comment, ... the stupid dipshit has disabled his site's 'comments' tool, probably because he was exhausted crying himself to sleep over insults about the garbage he types) ... doesn't have the minimal human decency to accept the conclusions of the Ipperwash Inquiry's Final Report, that the feds, Harris, and the OPP are to blame for the tragedy of Dudley George's murder and all the rest of the sufferings at Ipperwash.

No, "Joel - steal my home please - Johansenn" says that the First Nations activists who took back their land after FIVE DECADES of obstructionism and prevarication by the feds, are also to blame, but "liberal" judges are incapable of admitting this crucial truth.

Whatever. Joel's a racist moron, with zero staying-power. He shot his load of rancid semen onto his blog and moved on to befoul more bandwidth over some other topic.

I happened to pick up on Joel's idiocy on sda, run by KKKanada's KKKlanswoman, KKKate Mcmullen. I wanted to see how that nest of vermin responded to this slamming indictment of these incredibly insensitive and cruel governments, and moron Mike Harris's thuggish stupidity in particular.

I shouldn't have looked. And I'm not going to link to that hateful stew of puss. But I did remark as to how loathsome I found them all, and that produced another barrage of filth from the scum as they responded to my contempt with further evidence of their racism, their stupidity, their sheer hatefullness.

"Warwick" told me to play in traffic for about the tenth time in the short amount of interaction that I've had with the dunce.

Suffice to say, when they're not making asses of themselves discovering rusting cannisters of inert gasses in Iraq, cheering on cowardly warmongering politicians for leaving Canadian soldiers to die in Afghanistan and praying that they could also be sent to die in Iraq, calling for their own economic extermination, and etc., etc., ... these people are siding with the murderers of unarmed protestors and shrieking how much they'd love it if the government stole their land out from under them. They'd never do anything untoward to get it back, even after 50 years. Hey! Human rights are for wussies.

What contemptible filth. Thank whatever that their political moment has passed.