Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MY Faith in Humanity Restored

I've been thinking that the un-fixable stupidity of people like the Blogging Tories makes the idea that people can be reasoned with an utter falsehood. We're doomed by the electoral strength of this solid bloc of morons who can always be counted upon to vote against their own (and our) self-interest.

But then I thought, I've been impressed by US-Americans to know that they're not a stupid people even though the quality of their political debates would make one think that. It's the system, not the people, who make it so moronic.

Case-in-point: Albertans are fine, intelligent people. Gracious hosts, normal human beings. Yet they puke-up Stockwell Day and are the centre of strength for the imbecilic harpercons. What gives? Obviously, it's the political-economic creature of the oil industry.

Which means, that given different circumstances, political cultures can improve. Which restores my fuckin' FAITH in fuckin' HUMANITY man!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vatican Sex Scandals

There's a lot happening today. From the rise of Christian-fascism in the USA, to the Obama Administration's simultaneous condemnation of Canada at the Arctic Conference and its request for further Canadian blood to be spilled in Afghanistan. However, I'd like to post a little something regarding the explosion of sex scandals within the Catholic Church.

Some are saying that this pedophilia is a result of the Church's mandatory policy of priestly celibacy. Essentially, sexual desire is an unavoidable aspect of being human and when it is artificially stifled, it leaks out wherever there are opportunities. I heard from Bertrand Russell that the reason the Catholic Church imposed celibacy on its priests was to prevent powerful Bishops (in the feudal political-economy of the times) from having "legitimate" sons who they could then pass their bishoprics [don't laugh!] down to. This celibacy policy has stayed in place for centuries and the result of this enforced, unnatural abstinence is the terrible sexual abuse of children who fell into the hands of frustrated priests.

The thing is, years ago I read an article in Z Magazine by (I believe) a lesbian former nun, who disputed the claim that abusing children was an inevitable result of enforced celibacy. I don't have much luck with Z-Net's search engine, but I'll take a few minutes to try to find it ... Nope.

Here's how I remember it going. When a male liberal columnist said that this was the result of priests not being allowed to marry, the woman philosopher accused him of saying that priests should be allowed to get married so that they could rape their wives instead.

I recall being angered by what I saw as a distortion of his words. But when I read on, she seemed to have a point. The male liberal obviously didn't consciously mean to say that priests should have wives to rape. But he was treating as natural the idea that when adult men can't get sex through traditional channels (that is, open, adult relationships) that it's understandable that their urges will explode as rape. It was the notion that we can understand why these men were doing this that irked her. She pointed out that nuns (female members of the Catholic Church who are also committed to vows of celibacy) do not have anywhere near the same level of resorting to the rape of children as do male priests. This, she said, was not a product of men and women being wired differently, but was more due to the fact that men are encouraged to take what they desire. As a result of condoning or ecognizing the "right" of men to take what they want, male priests, institutionally prevented from adult sexual relationships resort to child rape. Female nuns, the writer said, have "passionate affairs" with each other, when they are unable to control their sexual urges. Men's inability to imagine equal sexual relationships makes covert homosexual relationships less attractive than raping powerless children.

That's how I remember it in a nutshell and I thought I'd toss that into the marketplace of ideas.

Monday, March 29, 2010

David Bercuson Again

I noticed a lot of people (Hey! For this fucking blog anyway!) liked my recent trashing of David Bercuson's stupid editorial. In the comments section, Alison at Creekside hepped us to the fact that Bercuson's Centre for Military and Strategic Studies is a recipient of almost $800,000 from the Department of National Defence:
to build and support a strong Canadian knowledge base in contemporary security and defence issues; foster informed public policy discussion and commentary through research, teaching, outreach and public education initiatives; and enhance communication and interaction between the Department of National Defence (DND), the Canadian Forces (CF) and the Canadian academic community.
She also informs us that Bercuson is also Director of the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute, a defence lobbying group funded by one of the world's biggest defence contractors.

Which makes everything that much more sleazy. First of all, this is like the scandal Glenn Greenwald writes about, where the Pentagon has retired generals with defence contractor ties toe the government line on foreign policy and feeds them inside information to help them do so, and the mainstream press allowed these generals to masquerade on their shows as objective commentators. When the Globe and Mail gives editorial page space to Bercuson, or Jack Granatstein to yammer about how we have to kill more people in whatever part of the world needs its people killed, it ought to inform its readers that these guys are being paid to write this drivel by institutions with a vested interest in their doing so.

And, further sleaziness: Bercuson isn't writing this appalling crap out of any sort of principled belief in Canada's "Mission" (tm.) in Afghanistan then. This is all just getting his bread buttered. And what is he being paid to write? Is he saying we should stay in Afghanistan to help the Afghans? No. Is he saying we should stay in Afghanistan so that we can continue to pretend that nobody has died in vain there? No. Here's his reason for saying we shouldn't pull-out after 2011:
A complete Canadian withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011 will be read in Washington as abandonment of the U.S. in the midst of a war and abandonment of NATO. If Canada pulls out of Afghanistan entirely next year, it won't matter how many Canadians have been killed there. In Washington, history is nothing more than a rationale to be used to make or break policy; history does not substitute for politics.

A Canadian government that leaves Afghanistan in the middle of a fight will find very few friends in the State Department, the Defence Department, the White House or on Capitol Hill.

In other words: Canadian soldiers should continue to die to keep the Americans happy. And why is it important to keep the Americans happy? Not because they'll respect us, or think they owe us anything. (After all, they're quite ready to forget all our sacrifices to date if we leave in 2011.) Presumably it's important to keep the Americans happy to keep current trade avenues open. Considering that the total bill for the Afghan "Mission" (tm.) will be over $20 billion, one wonders how much any trade losses with the Americans would be.

I've got an idea though. Instead of sending soldiers to kill and die propping up a corrupt narco-state in Afghanistan, let's do something else. We should have our soldiers stay in Canada, and instead of dying randomly, they draw lots. The losers get sent to some border crossing, and after having had a chance to make their last goodbyes to family and other loved-ones, they're ritually sacrificed in order to placate the US-American trade gods, and by their blood sacrifice, they make the Americans keep the trucks flowing back-and-forth across the border.

It'll be cheaper and there won't be any danger of inadvertent war crimes that have proven so distracting for fat stephen harper and his gang of thieves, closet-cases and mental degenerates.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Historians Behaving Badly

The latest is David Bercuson, who wrote a howler recently. About how stephen harper can get out of his own supposedly ill-advised promise to get Canada out of the Afghanistan nightmare by 2011. It's called "This U.S. plea is a [h]arper saver."

The United States, according to The Globe and Mail, is going to ask Canada to retain some 600 soldiers in Kabul to help train Afghan National Army troops after the Canadian mission in Kandahar ends next year. If this comes to pass, it will give Stephen Harper a way out of his rash promise – made during the 2008 election – to leave Afghanistan completely.

It also will force Parliament to have a very significant debate over Canada's role in Afghanistan. And it will force the Liberal Party – Canada's other national governing party – to choose between a foreign and defence policy made primarily by former NDP premiers and one that puts the Liberals back where they belong, in the political centre.

OMFG!! Foreign and defence policy made by former NDP premiers!!! EEK! As opposed to what? Some slimy born and bred Liberal continentalists? And what the fuck is the political centre when a majority of Canadians reject "the mission" (tm.)? I'd pay to watch the crazy movie in Bercuson's head that plays when he imagines the "significant" Parliamentary debate that will occur as we consider kissing the USA's ass for another 5-50 years in Afghanistan. (Although I suspect I'd want to try to drink it out of my memory afterwards.)

Bercuson continues to babble thusly:

The Prime Minister is now in a box of his own making because the Americans are not happy with Canada's intent. A complete Canadian withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011 will be read in Washington as abandonment of the U.S. in the midst of a war and abandonment of NATO. If Canada pulls out of Afghanistan entirely next year, it won't matter how many Canadians have been killed there. In Washington, history is nothing more than a rationale to be used to make or break policy; history does not substitute for politics.

A Canadian government that leaves Afghanistan in the middle of a fight will find very few friends in the State Department, the Defence Department, the White House or on Capitol Hill.

How about this David? We got sweet dick-all from the USians for having gone into Afghanistan (except for getting mocked on FAUX-News for having a wimpy military) and harper won't get anything from Obama because Obama hates harper for having leaked Obama's assurances to Canada that he was lying to those Pennsylvania workers about revisiting NAFTA.

And how about this David? We've bled billions of dollars in Afghanistan. We've lost over a one-hundred and forty Canadian soldiers. We've committed war-crimes. We've disgraced ourselves to curry favour with an imperialist super-power by helping prop-up a corrupt, narco-state of torturers, rapists and murderers. Does any of that resonate with you Davie-boy? (If not, then you're a useless fuck-up.)

And what's David scared of anyway? That the USians will stop buying our oil? That the USians will cut-off all trade with one of their biggest trading partners if we make a respectful exit after 10 years of slaughter? Well, fuck them if that's the case. And it won't be. Reality being what it is and all.

More bad craziness:

After all, few Canadians can have much of an argument about one last parliamentary debate on Afghanistan. In fact, many might believe it would be right and proper to have such a discussion before Canada quits the fifth most costly military mission in our history.

Maybe we should have had genuine debates before we got into this mess. This "fifth most costly military mission in our history." Maybe we should have them now, except shit-ass harper refuses to on grounds of "national security." But when I hear David talking like this, I'm thinking he imagines that there's something to be gained by him and his ilk trotting out all the stale, moronic rationalizations that have animated them for so long, as if that will somehow change the minds of the sane majority in this country who never bought into all the lies in the first place.

In any such debate, Michael Ignatieff can only lose. He has effectively allowed the Liberals' foreign and defence policy to be captured by Bob Rae and Ujjal Dosanjh. These two men – and the small but highly vocal left wing of the Liberal Party – simply don't see the world the way Liberal centrists such as Paul Martin, Bill Graham and John Manley do. Thus Mr. Ignatieff would have to cope with a nasty split in Liberal ranks.

Again with this "centre." David, David. Define what the "centre" is. 60% of the country hates "the mission." Where is the "centre" in this vague concept that's circling around inside your empty skull? Slavish devotion to the USians is the "centre" between an independent foreign policy and some form of Anschluss?

Washington may well have weighed the political importance of keeping Canada involved in Afghanistan against Mr. Ignatieff's neck and decided to sharpen the axe. But it will be up to Mr. Harper to swing it or not.

It's funny. When these right-wing historians turned political geniuses talk about Canada-USA relations, they switch back-and-forth between deriding our influence and importance to the USA and imagining all sorts of detailed strategic considerations on their part regarding us.

At the end of the day, the trucks will continue to go across the border, plane travel will continue to be stupid, and they'll add their dumb-ass security precautions no matter what we do. Sort of like how all the sacrifices we've made in Afghanistan have counted for nothing with the USians up to now. If we leave, they'll hardly notice really.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Maybe Not ...

A few days ago I typed that it was possible to defeat the harpercons in an election based on harper's blatant contempt for Canadian values and our system of government. But after the keystone kops impression the Liberals performed while trying to trash harper for his revolting exclusion of family planning from women's health spending in developing countries, I'm not so sure.

But have no fear! Apparently Ignatieff is embarking on a sweeping consultation process with the Liberal Party faithful. It'll take a while but I'm sure Ignatieff the academic will find the whole exchange of ideas engaging and exciting.

Then, after all the talking is finished, the grassroots consulted, the fine details worked out in the policy proposals, the Liberal Party, led by Ignatieff or someone else, can win an election with 'em and then promptly toss the whole thing into the garbage-bin a-la the Redbook.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Globe & Mail March 23rd

John Ibbitson: "If the U.S. can set its mind to curbing health-care costs and having a public system, why can't we?"

"Blah, blah, blah, ... Canada and the US both have problems. Blah, blah, ... health-care is eating up a bigger portion of provincial budgets ... I'm not mentioning that provinces have been slashing spending everywhere else ... blah, blah, ... a report from the Fraser Institute ..."

... And that's where I stopped reading that one.

Marcus Gee: ...

... Sorry Marcus!

Margaret Wente: "Rancorous realities of Obamacare"

... And what would YOU know about the subject? I'll pass, thanks.

Tom fuckin' Flanagan: "Going beyond the Indian Act."

... Yeah right. As if I need to indulge a racist rant with my morning coffee.

So much wasted newsprint and ink.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Obama Care and Deficit Hysteria

Well, Obama passed his "health care reform." I've never been taken in by Obama's neoliberal bullshit and I think that this health care bill is a piece of shit. The most that I'll say it might be is a health care version of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Because of opposition and amendment of The Civil Rights Act of 1957, it was largely ineffective in its enforcement and its scope. By 1960, slightly fewer blacks were voting in the South than had been in 1956. It did however open the door to later legislation that was effective in securing voting rights as well as ending legal segregation and providing housing rights.
If Obama has EVER been serious about doing anything for the US-American people, it's through small, incremental steps. (It's possible he's just conning them ... and his cynical use of lies on the campaign trail make that the more likely prospect.) If he's serious, then what he thought was that this was the tiny wedge that breaks the log-jam. If he thought that he couldn't pass anything without appealing to "Blue Dog" Democrats and Republicans (by proposing something similar to Mitt Romney's health care ideas), making back-room deals with the hospitals and the health insurance companies, and steam-rolling progressives, to do so, then so be it. Just like the Civil Rights Act of 1957 wasn't worth the paper it was written on, but was the first Civil Rights legislation since Reconstruction and paved the way for more substantial legislation later, "Obamacare" might simply have been intended to break the belief that the oligopolist-capitalist, private-sector stranglehold on healthcare was untouchable. Now, more substantial progress is possible.

I'm not saying that I believe that. I'm saying it's a possibility.

Now to deficit hysteria.

One of the arguments against Obamacare is how it'll add to the US-American deficit. While I'll admit that the bush II regime wasted trillions and trillions on illegal, destructive wars, on a give-away to the pharmaceutical companies, and tax-cuts to the obscenely wealthiest. But in spite of all that, the USA debt-to-GDP ratio is a very manageable 60%.

The total amount of debt in the USA, such as its trade imbalance, it's overall current account deficit, and the extent of private household debt, PLUS the government's debt, are unsustainable. But household debt could be mitigated by getting super-profitable private sector interests to share some of that wealth and provide wage increases to the majority of US households. And the trade deficit could likewise be mitigated by forcing US corporations to stop off-shoring manufacturing and other jobs. The government's debt could be reduced by taxing the wealthiest again.

But even without these commonsense ideas, it's important to not get swept away by deficit hysteria. Look at the link about world government debt levels again. Japan's debt is at 170% of their annual GDP. If Japan hasn't imploded with debt levels more than 200% of US levels. How can the US (or us in Canada) be in some sort of danger of a debt overload at 60% but Japan, the world's third or fourth largest economy (after the European Union, USA, and maybe China) was somehow able to sneak up to debt levels more than double our own? If Japan isn't going to self-destruct (and it isn't) then it's even more obvious that the USA and Canada aren't going to self-destruct either. We're a LONG way away from being in any sort of danger.

There really is no genuine argument against this people. If Japan's government debt is manageable (and given how much people are shitting their pants about Greece, Iceland, and etc., you'd think we'd be hearing it right now if Japan's gigantic economy was in any real danger) at 170% of annual GDP, then the USA and Canada at 60% each aren't in any danger.

Yes, obviously, we can't go on adding debt forever. But we're not going to do that now are we? And one way to start adding to government revenues again is to start taxing the wealthy and the corporations again because they're not doing anything with the money besides investing it in subprime loans, dot-coms, and other garbage.

Here's some reading material.

The call to panic: Deficit hysteria

Don't succumb to deficit hysteria

Deficit hysteria no excuse to end economic stimulus

Revisiting deficit hysteria

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The harpercons CAN be defeated

Sentiments have been expressed numerous places that it would be unwise to force an election over the harpercons' complicity in torture and contempt for parliamentary democracy.

I disagree.

I believe that the Canadian electorate CAN be energized on these issues, if the opposition parties put them front-and-center in a campaign about the soul of Canadian democracy. I don't believe that the harpercons' rationalizations and lies can withstand lengthy scrutiny. Pretty much all their MPs are morons, as are their cabinet ministers. Contrary to the barking psychopaths of the "Blogging Tories," Canada is not a conservative country (at least according to their retrograde ideas about what "conservatism" means). Canadians are pretty centrist people, and things like torture and blatant contempt for democratic oversight wouldn't sit well with them were the opposition parties to hammer away on these issues consistently.

Some of the doubts among the Liberals (who constitute the bulk of the opposition strength against the harpercons outside of Quebec) about the defeat-ability of the harpercons stems from the disastrous results of Ignatieff's election threats in late-August 2009. But I can't emphasize enough that Ignatieff's gambit was the most ill-conceived, strategically-challenged political gamesmanship that we've seen in years. Ignatieff came completely out of nowhere with that election talk. Parliament had recessed at the beginning of the summer with no election threats from the Liberals. The farcical EI negotiations had sputtered to their unsatisfactory close with no outraged talk of forcing an election from the Liberals. A strategy session had ended with no enthusiasm for an election amongst the majority of the Liberals in attendance. And then Ignatieff emerged from some closed-door session telling harper and Canada that he was mad as hell and he wasn't going to take it anymore. Clearly, Ignatieff was going to defeat the government and force an election based on NOTHING. Even I didn't think an election called under such circumstances could be winnable.

But now we have an issue. The second self-interested abuse of the power of prorogation. Contempt of parliament. Covering-up complicity in torture. These are issues that could bury the harpercons. Even the Canadian media, from Andrew Coyne on the right to all parts leftward find the harpercons' behaviour distasteful.

What of the economy? What of it? harper can't claim personal responsibility for Canada's financial sector avoiding the worst of the international financial crisis, because evidence shows that he was just getting started repeating the same disastrous policies of deregulation that sank Wall Street and London and much of the rest of the world. He can't claim any great management of the economy given that his lacklustre stimulus package, when combined with his and Flaherty's moronic tax-cuts have combined to produce still-high unemployment and relatively large deficits. A sensible analysis shows that harper has nothing to crow about regarding his economic competence.

The Liberals and NDP don't have to come up with some formal coalition platform to defeat harper. All they'd have to do is agree not to run competitively against each other. They should apply "strategic voting" to their own national campaigns. Stay the fuck away from ridings where the other is the incumbent or a strong second to the harpercon yahoo, and focus their campaign attacks on the pro-torture, anti-birth control, pro-prisons, soft-on-crime, contemptuous of parliament harpercons.

Defeat them as soon as possible and let's get this nightmare over with.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Today I am Sick ...

And I was going to hang out with the young kids tonight. Oh well ...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

John Ibbitson's Amoral Analysis

Who thinks John Ibbitson really is an amoral freak and that's why he gravitates towards supporting the harpercon party of Canada, and who thinks that Ibbitson is just a pathetic suck-up and displays of sickening amorality are what he imagines is the price of admission to their smelly ranks?

In his column "All quiet on the Afghan-detainee front"Ibbitson attempts to affect the tone of the world-weary, jaded political columnist, all in some sort of sad attempt to help the revolting stephen harper conservatives weather the storm created by their blatantly illegal, immoral, inhuman behaviour. In this attempt, Ibbitson has lost sight of the fact that being "jaded" is supposed to be a bad thing. Certainly, in an insane world, with no obvious moral foundations, it's understood that intelligent people can become jaded and cynical, to a degree. This is especially true if one observes politicians for an extended period of time. Politicians are forever trying to appear far more selfless and noble than they really are, and they're ALSO trying to appeal to an electorate that is often maddeningly unaware of its own hypocrisy and stupidity.But there comes a time when cynicism descends into callousness. When "jaded" no longer means being inherently suspicious and dispirited but instead becomes a barrier to any sort of acceptable moral behaviour at all. For example: A cop who sees someone who was abused by a drug-addicted parent turning out to be a drug-addicted parent themselves who prostitutes their own children to feed their habit would be understandably jaded about humanity, but if they retained the ability to do their job and to try to help the people they encounter, we would not consider them to have left morality behind, however much we think they doubt its reality. We would not say the same thing about the formerly abused individual who now prostitutes their own children to pay for their drugs. That person is damaged. That person is sick. That person has crossed a boundary somewhere.

It's the same with Ibbitson. Some reporters are inherently suspicous of politicians and the public. They have a hard time taking all the high-flown rhetoric of both sides seriously, but they maintain their interest in their work (of exposing government chicanery, conveying important disputes among the parties, informing and educating the public) in order to make a positive contribution to this imperfect political entity called "Canada." Canada and Canadian politics might make them pull their hair out in frustration at times, but they still recognize that there's something behind all the talk about rights and values and freedoms and that it's worth protecting. Ibbitson however, either believes or wants us to believe, that Canada stands for nothing. That human rights don't really mean shit to Canada and Canadians. That everything is all a sick, sad game and that it's "hooray for he who wins, for I am on his side!" Ibbitson wants us to believe that none of the opposition politicians struggling to get information on whether Canada willingly handed people over to be tortured actually cares about this issue. It's all just political gamesmanship. He (for reasons known only to himself) supports the harpercons, so he wants to portray the opposition as cynical, hypocritical opportunists.

Of course, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that this whole political crisis is a display of hypocrisy. I don't think that it is, but I can't really prove that. The thing is though, that if it is hypocrisy, then decent people should either support the side that is (hypocritically or not) trying to expose the government's crimes, or they should be outraged that Canadian values can be so contemptuously spat upon. Ibbitson doesn't appear to care because he's not outraged the hypocrisy on display so we're to assume that torture is just another day at the office for him. Who cares if Canada tortured people? Who cares if Canada signs treaties about human rights without any intention of honouring them? Who cares if the "mission" of creating a free, democratic Afghanistan was really just a load of hooey constructed to win favour with voters who don't really give a shit about these things anyway? Who cares if we end up sending 200 young Canadians to their deaths for this exercise in cynicism and imperialism? Who cares if we wasted ten, twenty, thirty billion dollars to prop-up a corrupt, torturing narco-state, all so that we could placate the United States of America and keep the trains and trucks going back and forth on our border with them?

Well, I do, for one. And there are lots of dedicated, decent, sane individuals in this country who do. We're people who respect what other dedicated, decent, sane individuals were able to accomplish in this country and we want to do more. But sadly, it's an uphill struggle when our leading national newspaper has national political columnists who have lost any moral sense and who think that all our so-called "Canadian values" are a joke.

As a public service, I shall here dissect Ibbitson's column in order to identify those elements in it that are they symptoms of his malaise:

The detainees issue is dead in the water.

The Parliamentary committee examining the treatment of Afghan prisoners resumed hearings Wednesday, with nothing on offer but rhetoric.

Starved of new information, and stymied by a Conservative government that has relentlessly delayed releases, suppressed information or discredited witnesses – as the occasion warranted – government and opposition members were reduced to chasing their own rhetorical tail.


That's all it is for Ibbitson then. Rhetoric. Canada's international obligations. Canada's international obligations to human rights. Rhetoric. Parliamentary supremacy? Rhetoric. The "mission" in Afghanistan? Rhetoric. The possibility that we committed war crimes? Rhetoric. None of these politicians genuinely cares about these ideas and neither does Ibbitson. The politicians are just spewing rhetoric. None of our parties genuinely cares whether or not Canadian soldiers turned over prisoners to be tortured. For that matter (following Ibbitson's logic) it's possible that none of our politicians, our representatives, would care if our own soldiers were doing the torturing. If human rights doesn't mean anything, then they don't mean anything, right? If nobody really fucking cares that we handed over some poor sap to be beaten, frozen and electrocuted, why should we care whether we had somebody else do the torturing or we did it ourselves? It's abundantly clear that Ibbitson wouldn't, because instead of condemning the emptiness of this show and saying we should take this serious issue seriously, he's trying to present it as basically a non-issue that is being dissipated by the wily procedural moves of stephen harper.

I'll point something out - Ibbitson states that the harpercon government "relentlessly delayed releases, suppressed information or discredited witnesses – as the occasion warranted." That's not entirely correct. The harpercons tried to discredit Richard Colvin but they only ended up discrediting themselves.

Ibbitson then describes testimony before the Afghanistan Committee saying that harper's Iacobucci is going to take a long time and it's not going to produce anything of importance. He then says how even the media has been unable to find new information that will "reawaken public outrage."

It certainly won't be the jaded, "don't-give-a-shit-about-human-rights" John Ibbitson who will "reawaken public outrage." He doesn't seem to care about the subject at all. Ibbitson goes on about numerous other obstacles to our ability to find out if we broke international human rights laws. He dryly states that the "Military Police Complaints Commission, which is also examining the issue, may overcome legal challenges and its own inertia and actually investigate something."

You see, that's an interesting way of putting it. "Legal challenges"? That's Ibbitson's way of saying "harper's legal challenges." "Its own inertia"? That's Ibbitson's way of saying that harper removed Peter Tinsley, the head of the MPCC who actually tried to do his job, and replaced him with someone who has yet to display the same sort of diligence on this vital issue. (Sorry Mister Ibbitson, but some of us do think that Canada's being an accessory to torture is actually, a very serious thing.) The way Ibbitson writes on this subject, you'd think he was trying to make his readers fall asleep, or throw up their hands in impotence at the bureaucratic morass, and thereby take some of the pressure off of his detestable, scum-bag hero, stephen harper. It seems Ibbitson wants to help stephen harper get away with war crimes!

Ibbitson then goes on to try to dull things down even more:

But barring the unknown and unexpected, we may have as much by way of answers as we ever will to the only two questions that matter:

Question: Did Canadian Forces soldiers hand Afghan detainees over to local authorities in 2006 and later even though they knew or should have known those prisoners would be tortured? Answer: Probably, though things got better as time went along.

Question: How do you know things got better when the government doesn't provide any informaton?

Answer: I don't. I'm just a stupid hack.

Question: Did the Conservative government abuse the justification of national security to suppress politically embarrassing information on the matter? Answer: We may never know.

Question: By "politically embarrassing," don't you mean "legally incriminating," as in 'the harpercons are trying to get away with war crimes?'

Answer: No comment.

Question: By saying "we may never know," are you hoping that we never know, because you seem pretty fucking blase about the entire subject?

Answer: Pretty much.

Ibbitson then reiterates all the stalling, delaying tactics that the harpercons have been using to try to delay and dissipate our democracy's attempts to expose the harpercons criminal disregard for human rights (including an after-the-fact resort to a more active voice to describe harper's frustrating the MPCC - "and the government has been throwing one legal roadblock after another to limit its mandate" but the damage has already been done) finishing with the following constitutionally-challenged assertion:

The opposition parties could still ask Speaker Peter Milliken to order the government to turn over all documents related to detainees, as Parliament decreed in December.

But the government would resist such an order all the way to the Supreme Court, and there is no settled law on the powers of Parliament versus the rights of a government when questions of national security are at stake.

Actually, you dunder-headed fool, this issue has already been decided. Long ago. Unless you believe that Canadian governments have carte blanche to do anything they want in a time of war, regardless of Canadian or international law! If you don't believe that stephen harper can have an Afghan village massacred so that he can feast on the corpses of the dead, then you must concede that our governments cannot hide behind "national security" to get out of handing over the most basic of information about our conduct in wartime. Parliament is supreme. Parliament is us. Parliament has the right to hold the government accountable.

Mr. Ibbitson, if you don't understand how our system of government works, or if you don't care how that our governments are committing war crimes in our name, if you don't believe in anything described as "Canadian values," then why the hell do you think you're fit to be a columnist on national affairs???

Ibbitson probably sensed (vaguely) that he's pushing the envelope on amoral scuzziness, so he attempts to come back to the moral mainstream towards his conclusion:

Should the Conservatives congratulate themselves on their skillful suppression of a potentially damaging scandal? Not at all.

People who haven't followed this complex issue, and who don't care much about the fate of Taliban fighters or sympathizers in any case, still frowned at the Harper government's hardball tactics. The Tories are tied with the Liberals in the polls. That's part of the reason why. And something may yet turn up to revive the controversy.

But in Question Period Wednesday, there was little mention of detainees. The opposition parties, too, may sense it's time to move on.

The detainees issue will not go away. But it's not going anywhere, either, and it's taking its own sweet time getting there.

1. It's not a "complex issue." It's about covering-up war crimes. It's as black-and-white as you could possibly have it. You moron.

2. People "don't care much about ... Taliban fighters or their sympathizers"????

  • The insurgency isn't even all the evil, misogynist "Taliban" and furthermore, war crimes are war crimes. Torturing people who haven't taken up arms but who only "sympathize" with the insurgency is supposed to be all right with the "Tim Horton's Crowd" and that's what we're supposed to base our commitment to human rights on? You fucking maniac.
  • Richard Colvin and many, many, others have credibly said that we've arrested and turned over COMPLETELY INNOCENT PEOPLE!! If assholes like John Ibbitson could mention that once in a while, maybe even their imagined "Tim Horton's Crowd" could be stirred-up to give a shit. (In so doing, this supposed "Tim Horton's Crowd" would join the MAJORITY of Canadians.)

3. "The opposition parties, too, may sense it's time to move on"? That's what you and your revolting hero would like, isn't it? Fuck you.

4. "It's taking its own sweet time getting there." That's your way of saying that harper has used every trick in the book to cover-up his war crimes, right?

There you have it folks. Ibbitson is a disgrace.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This Might Be My Post For the Day

It's not a bad use of a few minutes. Check out the bopping audience! (Although today they'd probably all be ignoring him or shouting over him, not even bothering to applaud at the end of each song.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

In Denial

A lot to do today. But to post for today I direct you to this post from Canadian Cynic. He's pointing out the level of stupidity regarding right-wingers' responses to the Edmonton white-supremacist who shot-up the car dealership. You can read it it all for yourselves (whoever you might be), but I have to comment about the screen-shot CC took from the white-supremacist ("White Pride - World Wide") discussion board "Stormfront."

It seems that "Stormfront" discussion board member "AngryGoy," like many right-wingers, takes issue with the term "racist." The shooter, 55-year-old David Burns, was described by co-workers as a white supremacist. (He did sport a swastika tattoo!) "AngryGoy" responds to the affair thusly:

"Alleged 'racist' goes on shooting rampage at Edmonton cardealership."

It boggles the mind doesn't it? A white supremacist hesitant to wear the "racist" label! Buddy, you're a racist. "Race" is important to you. You think your "race" is supreme --- hence the name "white supremacist." Own it you gutless, insanely stupid fuck-head!!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Canadian Values

Commenting on a post at "Far and Wide" about the Iacobucci diversion, I asked about the moral significance of all of this for Canada.

Are we really so morally and democratically bankrupt that our government believes there's political capital to be had in demonstrating contempt for Parliament's demand for documentation relating to the torture of our prisoners in Afghanistan, and the opposition parties don't think the Canadian electorate cares enough to force an election on the issue?

Are we really that debased?

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Flash!!! Torture and Corruption Rampant in Afghanistan!!!!!

I really don't know what else to say beyond what I've already said before:

"Is it time to give up on Hamid Karzai?"

Afghanistan is now the second most corrupt nation on earth, just after Somalia, according to Transparency International, a Berlin-based advocacy group.

...

"This is not a government in the conventional sense, this is simply a collection of fiefdoms," notes David Kilcullen, the Australian advisor to the Pentagon and an influential guru of modern U.S. counter-insurgency warfare.

And the problem with that becomes clear when you consider that the main hope of the NATO offensives underway in the South is to first clear the areas of the Taliban and then to immediately bring in the working institutions of the state — police, judiciary, civil service — a strategy known as "government in a box."

It sounds promising. But, as Kilcullen points out, the problem is that these institutions barely exist while those that do, such as the police, are notoriously corrupt.

So attempts to extend the reach of the mistrusted Karzai government to the provinces may backfire. As few trust it, few want it around.

Followed by:

"U.S. report offers damning picture of human rights abuses in Afghanistan"

Afghan prison conditions are horrific, torture is common and police frequently rape female detainees, the U.S. State Department finds in its annual survey of human rights.

The damning report paints a grim picture of scant respect for human rights by the embattled regime headed by President Hamid Karzai. While Taliban treatment of civilians is even worse, the report's assessment of vile prison conditions and routine abuse and torture by Afghan police and security raises new questions about whether Canada and other nations are still transferring prisoners to known torturers. Doing so is a war crime under international law.

None of this will stop the idiots and human filth that cheered this debacle from the beginning from continuing to argue that they were right decades from now. They're unreachable. If I were ever in a position to shape policy in this country a big part of my strategy would be shutting these fools out of the discussion entirely.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Canada & Torture & Law & Democracy: Where Do We Stand?

How depressing. The sub-title of this post started out as "Where We Stand," but seeing the long-term apathy (at best) about our present government regarding the possibility of complicity in the torture of innocent people, reading the detailed expressions of sympathy from conservative trolls on the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament Facebook group, and observing the dithering of our parliamentary representatives in the face of harper's contempt for their call for the unredacted torture documents, I felt obliged to change it to actually questioning where Canada stands.

When I was a teenager it was my understanding that the Nazis tortured people. Stalinists tortured people. Latin American fascist regimes tortured people. As I got older it appeared that the Reagan administration trained torturers in Latin America. But Canada didn't torture people.

As I got older and saw neoliberal politicians happily killing their fellow citizens by de-funding healthcare, housing and other forms of social assistance, as I grew to understand the extent of our savagery towards the First Nations, I still believed that we, as a people, would not go so far as to torture.

When Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin sent Canadian troops to help topple the democratically-elected President Aristide of Haiti, I believed that this was a crime of historical proportions, I still believed that Canada wouldn't tie people to chairs and beat them or waterboard them, or electrocute them.

But when Canada went into Afghanistan and started taking prisoners, I started to doubt. When the imbecilic (and possibly snivelling coward) Rick Hillier began ranting about the Canadian Forces' job being to kill people, I began to fear. And when the harpercons started responding to questions about us torturing people with the same scoundrel manner of the torturing bush II regime in the USA, I knew that Canada was sinking into the abyss.

But then I believed that ordinary Canadians, not tainted with moronic neo-con delusions, would stand-up as one (well 70% of us anyway) and call for our government to return to civilization and sanity. When Richard Colvin testified and the opposition parties began to call for unredacted documents, I started to regain some faith in my country's political system.

But the lacklustre response to the prorogation crisis (shutting-down parliament to cover-up torture for goodness' sake!!!) and the lack of outrage about harper's Iacobucci diversion, and the number of online monsters willing to defend this piece-of-filth government, I'm starting to think that we're all quite content to simply toss Canada's supposed principles, our willingness to hold our politicians' accountable, and our democratic powers, into the garbage can. And I believe that we're willing to do this for no good reason other than ignorance and laziness.

ETA: Now go read "Boris" at the "Galloping Beaver."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why Did Rahim Jaffer Cross the Road?

Because when he smashed his car into a telephone pole, his bag of cocaine flew out the driver-side window and landed on the other side.

Why did Jim Flaherty spend $9,000 of our money to take a private plane to preach austerity at a Tim Horton's in London?

Because he didn't want to risk having a public temper tantrum over having to show up more than 15 minutes before take-off and having to go through security.

Why did he yammer that he was taking a public flight home to save money, sending the jet to make the $9,000 trip back empty?

Because he's a fucking moron.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Whole Stupid Little "Dosting" Thing

Maybe harper was trying to pretend he was sensitive to women's rights.

And/But/Or

Maybe harper was trying to pretend that he was responsive to public opinion.

And/But/Or

Maybe harper now gets to say that Canadians don't go in for "political correctness."

And/But/Or

harper didn't tell his cabinet about his plan until a couple of hours before the Throne Speech.

And/But/Or

If this whole thing really was a genuine attempt to pretend to be a sensitive guy (as opposed to a cynical diversion or a calculated attempt to demonstrate Canadians' love for "tradition") that instead blew-up in harper's face ... his cabinet must be thinking: "My god, but he's an idiot. I'd work to get rid of him but I'm even more stupid than he is!"

Friday, March 5, 2010

Defeat Them and Get It Over With

So, during his holiday, stephen harper thought up the brilliant idea to turn the issue of the Afghan detainee documents over to retired judge Frank Iacobucci? What drivel! Do we have responsible government or not? Is this a democracy or isn't it? Do we believe that there should be oversight in how our governments conduct their wars or do we believe that our executive branch has a carte blanche to do whatever it pleases in a war zone?

stephen harper, baby, ... turn over the fucking documents and cut the crap with the "national security" bullshit! If it means that you end up going to prison, along with Rick "shit-head" Hillier and Peter "fuck-face" MacKay, so be it. You're a useless excuse of a prime minister anyway.

What sort of government is this? Homophobe (or pathetic closet-case, take your pick) Jason Kenney as immigration minister expunged references to homosexual rights in the latest citizenship guide. What's next pud? Eliminate references to women winning the right to vote? Deleting any mention of the existence of the First Nations? Face it putz, there was a struggle for human rights and the good side won, okay? These human beings have rights, they've recently been won, and it's an important part of who we are as a country. The fact that you're (for reasons we can only speculate about) all twisted up in knots about this shows that you haven't yet brought yourself into the 20th Century (let alone the 21st!).

And Jim Flaherty! And his stupid budget! There was a picture in yesterday's Globe & Mail of Flaherty and Harper grinning and giving the thumbs up on their way into the Commons Chamber before he presented his budget. Harper looked like the cynical psychopathic monster that he is, while Flaherty was grinning like the simple-minded idiot that he is. If Flaherty was a leftist, he'd be the guy spouting incoherent snippets of Marxist jargon, doing the leg-work for his local party leadership, handing out pamphlets he can barely read to striking workers who can't understand what he's saying. Luckily for Flaherty, he's absorbed the cliches and delusions of the status-quo, to such an extent that his right-wing dogmas serve established power and the dunce has managed to rise to the level of finance minister. As such, he's a very dangerous man, because his 19th-Century ideas about investment and the role of government simply have nothing to do with economic reality. He's out of his depth. Under his reign of error in Ontario, living standards for the majority plummeted, public services deteriorated, and economic activity and investment shrank to the extent that the province was well on its way to join the ranks of the "have-nots" requiring equalization payments for the first time in its history.

That's called failure. And it's the best that a deluded knuckle-head like Flaherty is capable of.

The problem with all of this is that the opposition can't get its act together. Since Michael Ignatieff pulled the plug on the coalition, we've all just been spinning around playing games. The NDP was content to vote against the harpercons when it didn't matter. Then, when Ignatieff came out of nowhere last August, petulantly huffing that he wasn't going to take being pushed-around anymore, it seems that the NDP has been more concerned with thwarting the Liberals than with dealing with the political crisis. BOTH parties have to work together to convince the people of Canada that it is, and has always been, harper's fault that parliament isn't working. It's been harper's brinkmanship that has poisoned the atmosphere. And now, it is harper's blatant contempt for democracy that HAS produced a constitutional crisis.

Don't talk about how this budget is shit and harper is pissing all over democracy but "Canadians don't want an election." How difficult is it to comprehend? If harper is making it impossible to work with him, then you can't work with him! If it doesn't look like the electorate trusts any party with a majority, then come to an arrangement with each other to take power away from the psychopath's hands.

If the opposition consents to allowing harper to circumvent parliamentary supremacy by waiting on retired justice Iacobucci's word, then we've fully entered US-American political garbage land. Next we'll allow the harpercons to blatantly steal elections and invade other countries on obvious lies. And Canadian "progressives" will impotently wring their hands waiting for the opposition to grow a spine.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The monster Goes Back to Work

So, let's see now, he's demonstrated cynical contempt for his own system of government, OUR system of government (by calling the proposed Liberal-NDP coalition a "coup"). He's demonstrated inarguable hypocrisy because he had intimated forming a coalition/coup himself when he was Leader of the Opposition. No "statesman," harper fomented regional animosity to save his own puffy skin during the Coalition Crisis. Then, when Michael Ignatieff stupidly and petulantly threatened the harpercon government last August, harper relied upon the dreaded "socialists and separatists" to prop-up his revolting government.

Then, in case people aren't really paying attention, in the face of Parliamentary Committee testimony that he deliberately turned a blind eye to torture (a WAR CRIME) harper prorogued Parliament for the second time after just slightly over a year.

But now, let's pretend that this un-Canadian piece-o-shit's "budget" is something we're supposed to reflect seriously on. Let's consider debating and negotiating and compromising with this monstrosity.

In part of his cowardly avoidance of responsibility for his possible war crimes, harper continues to defy Parliament's demands for information on Afghan prisoner policies and responses. This is contempt. And Michael Ignatieff bleats out that he doesn't want harper's contempt of Parliament to escalate into a constitutional crisis! It already is you dumb-fuck!!!

All of the MPs that decide to go along with this travesty, this abomination, they really should think about what they're doing.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oh Those Fucking Liberals!!

This isn't a very topical issue. It's just that a Liberal blogger who I've only recently encountered and had high hopes for appears to have gone completely off the rails. Eugene Forsey: Liberal has been babbling away lately about "TOTs" ... by which he appears to mean NDP "zombies" ... and how we've been destroying Canada's political scene, ruining all the great, fantastic, super, awesome, rocking work that the Liberals are trying to accomplish. (Somewhere in his ravings I'm sure that Forsey has explained what a "TOT" is, but I don't really feel like taking the time to sort through the whole stream of rubbish and find out where he's coming from.)

The post that did it for me was the second "TOT" installment, cheerily entitled "Totters Kill Canadian Troops"* wherein he lamely accuses the NDP of having Canadian soldiers' blood on its hands. Why? Well, remember when the Liberal Party of Afghanistan thought it would be smart to join the USA in invading Afghanistan, rather than just stay quiet and let the USA and other NATO allies slaughter and starve a sovereign nation, only to impose a brutal, corrupt, puppet-government upon them? To his credit, Forsey remembers this, and slams the Liberal Party for its stupidity (which he opposed at the time).

To his great discredit, Forsey begins to yammer that when the NDP voted in 2007 against a Liberal motion to make 2009 the firm pull-out date from Afghanistan, and stuck to its principled position of an immediate withdrawal, voting with the harpercons to defeat this non-binding motion, that it is now the NDP that has the blood of all the soldiers killed or wounded since 2009, on its hands.

"Yes, I got us into this mess, but unless you agree to go along with it for two more years, you're responsible for everything that happens after that!"

My, my! What an incoherent sentence! What an incoherent argument.

That was the post that made me actually want to respond to the Forsey's whole "Totter" nonsense. But it's because it was piled on top of this post: "The NDP is Dead! Long Live the Greens!" which is a stew of insanity, Liberal arrogance and delusion of epic proportions.

First of all, to deal with the title of the post, Forsey is asserting that rather than serve as vehicles through which people with genuine alternative political philosophies try to get elected and apply their policies, the NDP, the Greens, and any other party (besides the Bloc) are really supposed to be little help-mates for the big Liberal Party of Canada. (Supposedly the NDP used to help the Liberals by splitting the centre-left vote and foiling their chances for majority governments in the past, but now it's the Greens turn to "help" by doing that. ... WHAT?!?)
So it is that I do not mourn the departed, that is simply inexorable nature. I rejoice in the vitality of the Greens, and the helpful, healthy contributions they have to make to Canadian politics. This Liberal is happy to welcome you, and encourages you to play your role with all the vim and conviction that you are already known for. RIP, NDP. Allelujah, Greens.

Anyway, within the bowels of that post, Forsey steps in at least two pieces of his own shit.

First of all, he derides the NDP for the absence of "big ideas" in its campaigns. The NDP is really just a political "zombie" shuffling around aimlessly after the lights went out upstairs.

Um, ... excuse me?? This from a champion of the Liberal Party of Canada? The party of Paul Martin, who aside from helping destroy democracy in Haiti, slash Canada's welfare state while giving away the farm in corporate tax-cuts, was widely mocked as "Mr. Dithers" for not having a fucking clue about what he wanted to do as prime minister? That Liberal Party? The Liberal Party that made Stephane Dion their leader? Dion who used his hard-won credibility as the environment minister who allowed Canada to violate its Kyoto Accord commitments, by having our carbon emissions INCREASE rather than DECREASE as they were supposed to do, to campaign as an environmentalist? And by "campaign as an environmentalist" I mean to propose a carbon tax and then drop the subject after stephen harper makes it difficult to sell, ... that Liberal Party?

Then, Forsey actually goes back to Layton pulling the plug on the Paul "Dithers" Martin government:
OK, so name me the urgent reason that prompted Layton to kill off Martin Govt?

Here, let me help you with that Eugene:

Layton chose the creeping privatization of Medicare as his principal ‘deal breaker’ issue. He chose smartly. Martin cannot come out against privatization because he is clearly committed to it and has almost certainly made back-room promises to allow it to happen.

After the meeting martin said virtually nothing - only that it was a “good meeting.” Not a word on the substantive issue. Layton blasted Martin for failing even to admit that privatization was a problem or that it was even happening.


He continues with a summarization of Liberal activism that is a actually an indictment:
No-one ever gets it. Yet for all the criticism, the Martin Liberals had big ideas, national child care,

NDP called for it too.
aboriginal welfare (Kelowna)

You're kidding, right? After decade-after-decade of malign neglect, there's a shocking incident of mass-poisoning on a First Nations reserve and Martin gathers up all his compradors and decides to dip into his mega-surpluses (obtained by slashing public services and looting EI premiums) to bribe his way out of the scandal, and that's "aboriginal welfare"? It was long overdue, but it was also a day late and a dollar short. It was a drop in the bucket of what was necessary and should not be used to praise Martin.
first half-decent environmental plan (only half-decent, nothing more, but better than before or since).

Sorry Eugene, but the contest for best environmental plan was between the NDP and the Greens.

End of Part One.

* D'yah suppose the lunatic has a post anywhere entitled "Liberals Kill Canadian troops"?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Quick Thoughts on George Monbiot's "Heat"

"Heat: How to keep the planet from burning"

I'm 3/5ths of the way through Monbiot's book and it's been well worth the effort. I don't think that civilization is going to respond in time. We're going to wait until the crisis is upon us, the tipping point has been reached, and the gases are being released from the permafrost and the ice-free Arctic Ocean is absorbing the sun's light, not reflecting it back.

Then, all of us Canadians laughing about our lovely warm winters of late will clue into the fact that the bulk of our food comes from somewhere else. And that somewhere else will be baking in the sun, unable to grow any crops.

Still, Monbiot is to be credited for providing a blue-print that won't save civilization, but it will save the species.

On an optimistic note, I'd just like to say that the bulk of Monbiot's book contains practical suggestions for dealing realistically with global warming. And economically speaking I'm very optimistic. It's going to be a war against the realities of our need for energy and saving the planet. It's going to be huge. And like most huge, total wars, it's going to be great for the economy. And unlike a war between people, this war will be trying to save lives. The massive investments he talks about will mean hundreds of thousands of jobs. The way to pay for it is through war financing. And major taxation on those wealthiest Canadians who have gotten a free ride for too long.

As opposed to Monbiot's worries about the costs of these proposals, I think they'll be great. It's a far better economic model than our current brain-dead one of giving the wealthiest and the corporations all those tax-cuts so that they can invest their [our] money in derivatives and other such crap.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Olympic Hockey Gold ... and I couldn't care less

So Canada's Olympic hockey team won the gold medal last night. I'm not sure why this is supposed to be meaningful to a sane person. If being Canadian stirs any sort of pride in me, it's for any of the good things that Canadians have done and not for a random series of victories attributed to strangers who were born within the same political boundaries as me, or who came to this part of the world and obtained Canadian citizenship.

If Canada were truly a beacon of democracy and hope, an example of many cultures living together in peace and harmony, a focus for good in the world (banning landmines, keeping the peace, generously sharing its wealth) then I'd be prepared to get swept-up in the tribalism of watching young Canadian men and women winning athletic competitions. (To an extent, anyway.)

But if Canada has become a place where we shrug our shoulders as the oil industry controls the prime minister to deny global warming and contribute to starvation, despair and death for billions, if Canada has become a place where the monkey-brained portion of the electorate cheers on the rape of Haiti and Afghanistan, and the torture of Muslim fellow citizens, then you'll excuse me if I fail to rouse myself. If too many Canadians are still complacent, selfish, self-deluded airheads, filling their oversized homes with consumerist junk and voting for whatever harpercon or Liberal status-quo liar promises them the biggest tax cut, and griping about the cash settlements to torture victims, then I honestly don't care about our athletic victories.

I'm not above waving a silly flag and feeling a tiny bit patriotic, if our country keeps on the slow, grudging path to decency and sanity. For the past few years we've been on a reverse trajectory though and my enthusiasm for the very idea of Canada has diminished.