Monday, January 31, 2011
"Oh, it's not as simple as all that!" I'm sure they'd protest. Fuck off. You either support the fall of a three-decade old dictatorship of thieves and torturers according to the will of the people, or you don't. Hiding behind decades of lip-service bullshit to democracy doesn't cut any ice either.
We don't know what's going to happen with the Islamic Brotherhood. We don't know what's going to happen with Hamas, Hezbollah, Israel, Yemen, Iran, Syria, etc., etc.,. But we do know one thing: The people who have aided and abetted the dictators don't get to have their bleating about the uncertainties taken seriously. The people who want the people of Egypt to slink back to their homes and allow Mubarak to continue to abuse them, and to acquiesce to whatever younger thug Mubarak chooses to replace himself with, don't deserve a respectful hearing. Obama knows, the way every good public relations shill knows, that "hope" is powerful selling device. And destroying hope is likewise a powerful way to kill a people. To demean them. To condemn them.
America, you are reaping as you have sown. Deal with it.
While I'm on the subject of gutless hypocrites, I'd also like it if those people who think Abousfian Abdelrazik should just STFU and go die somewhere, could come out and self-identify as stalinists. I mean, where's the confusion? You believe in condemning people to torture and exile, denying them their rights as citizens, based upon secret evidence before secret committees, some of it (apparently) being based on the torture of other people. You're a stalinist. Face it. Own it. Admit it. It will make dealing with you in the future much, much, easier.
[Thanks again to Dr. Dawg for keeping us up to speed on Mr. Abdelrazik.]
Sunday, January 30, 2011
I’ve had a long time to think about it, and I realised that I don’t really care how panel discussions are classified by the courts. What I care about is that we are able to defend the spaces in which those free discussions take place and that we do not depend on the state to provide them for us. That defence happens every day, with our unity in the streets, and in those spaces themselves, not in a courtroom.Hundert is considered an honourable friend by several First Nations leaders. Indeed, his contempt for the "justice" as upheld by Dalton ("secret laws") McGuinty, Bill ("the liar") Blair, stephen ("torturing") harper, and Peter ("weepin" and "leakin") McKay, was no doubt forged in his struggling with those First Nations allies. It is against the First Nations that our elites really prefer to take off the gloves, throw truth and humanity into the toilet, and let their colonialist-imperialist evil come into its own.
And if we had won the trial it would merely have established that I had not breached my bail conditions on those particular days. It would not establish that the cops and the Crown would never be able to treat another campus-based discussion as a “public demonstration.” The fight is not whether a panel discussion is a public demonstration, the fight is over the existence of such a bail condition itself and it will hopefully be found “unconstitutional” as a result of a challenge that has been put forward by one of my coaccused. (emphasis mine)
So far (as per our legal traditions) Hundert is still innocent of anything until proven guilty of something. But what are we to imagine that a psychopath* like Bill Blair imagined that Hundert and his allies would do? Despite Hundert's and other organizers', arrest, the feared Black Bloc was still able to (OMFG!) smash some windows on Yonge Street. If Hundert had any connection to that (and there's nothing so far to say that he did) what would his freedom during the G20 weekend have changed? The Black Bloc successfully defeats the thousands of cops defending the MTCC and taking all the world's leaders hostage? What drivel. Let's face it; if Hundert had any connection to the rioters, the violence would still have been limited to vandalism along the parade route of the protesters. (What was "Super-Cop" Bill Blair's response to that? "They chose to commit their vandalism along the PARADE ROUTE! Sneaky devils! Who would have guessed!")
I can't help but point out that as of this writing, mainstream media reports that the Mubarak dictatorship has arrested around one-thousand demonstrators. That's the same number as the "forces of order" arrested at the G20. Of course, let's not forget that Mubarak has also reportedly killed around 100 protesters. But the demonstrators are (justifiably) trying to topple his dictatorship. What happened at the G20? Some windows got smashed the day before!
[H/T to Dr. Dawg for being the source of my info on Hundert's release.]
*What other reason could there have been for Blair's insistence on a secret law temporarily removing Canadians' Charter rights around the summit site, which he then deliberately distorted so that his forces believed they could violate the Charter anywhere in the City of Toronto? Blair evidently believes that human rights are as nothing compared to the trauma caused by smashed windows. Of course, if Blair was really so fired up about the danger to the social order caused by the breaking of windows, you'd think the moron would have cops in place to RESPOND when the windows started smashing. Only insanity can explain such inconsistency and incoherence.
"Human Rights enhancement" marches on in parallel. In Part I, I reviewed Clinton's steps to evade congressional efforts to impose human rights conditions on military aid and trade privileges for Indonesia and China, and the concept of "human rights" itself, crafted to evade atrocities that contribute to profit. In the weeks since, the China story took its predictable course. "President Clinton's decision to renew China's trade benefits was the culmination of a titanic clash between America's global economic interests and its self-image as the world's leading advocate of human rights," Thomas Friedman's lead article opened in the New York Times, reporting the surprising outcome. Clinton did not merely endorse the Bush Administration policies that he had caustically denounced during the presidential campaign, but went well beyond them, deciding "to delink human rights" completely from trade privileges.2Egypt is nowhere near the level of economic importance as China is. But it is a bulwark for the USA's maintenance of corruption and brutality in the region. If the people's uprising in Egypt is destroyed, expect the loathsome public relations creature Obama to mouth some stupid platitudes about the need to "engage" with the Egyptian dictatorship, to correct the abuses that produced the "chaos" and to maybe ensure that some bullshit "democratization" charade follows a "sensible," "reasonable" course. (Which is to say that nothing of substance will happen.)
Saturday, January 29, 2011
If it turns out that a genuinely independent movement, representing the general will takes over, the US-Americans will be horrified (as will the Israelis) and they'll waste no time in demonizing them. The US mainstream media will happily fall into line as well, presenting themselves "as sad as anyone else" that the revolution was betrayed.
They'll do this the same way they demonized Chavez (who has never used death-squads the way US Latin American client-states did while receiving copious amounts of US military and financial aid). They'll do this the same way they've demonized Wikileaks for exposing their crimes, convincing the gullible and the ignorant that Wikileaks has "blood on its hands." The same way they portrayed deposed Honduran president Zelaya and deposed Haitian president Aristide as erratic authoritarians while elevating genuine murderers and thieves to replace them.
The same US government that turned a blind eye to Mubarak's dictatorship and oppression will pretend to be "concerned" with "excesses" of a genuinely democratic Egyptian or Tunisian government. And the gullible and the ignorant will buy it.
On a somewhat different note: One of the problems with revolutions like these is that in some respects, all bets are off. Nobody knows who is going to be in charge or how they're going to do it. In the cases of Tunisia and Egypt this was probably unavoidable. I would prefer a peaceful, democratic revolution here in Canada. I've explained how elsewhere and I unfortunately have no time to expand upon this tonight.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Bouazizi's death sparked the outpouring of rage that eventually toppled the dictatorship and successive governments. The fall of the Tunisian dictator has caused grumblings of concern in Libya and other Middle Eastern dictatorships. The revolutionary wave itself has spread to Egypt, where millions have taken to the streets against poverty, government corruption, government repression, and the overall hopelessness and futility of living in Mubarak's Egypt (which is an Egypt servicing US foreign policy and neoliberal economic diktat). After three days of demonstrations the Egyptian government has shut-down all internet, cellphone, texting capabilities, in an attempt to limit the organizational abilities of the protesters.
The US media's coverage of these events is said to be noticeably restrained. (I wouldn't know. I don't watch television news and I hardly read Canadian newspapers. I'm going on progressive commentators in the USA.) As well, the Obama administration has been definitely muted in its support for this democratic surge. The obvious explanation for this reticence is that the US government doesn't give a shit about democracy in the Middle East. It actively and enthusiastically supports a tiny claque of dictators who will keep the oil flowing to the US and its other allies in return for a cut of the swag, and to prevent the wealth from Arab oil being given to develop the Arab world itself. The Obama administration looks with trepidation at the teetering of the Mubarak dictatorship, given Mubarak's role as the prison guard of the western wing of the Gaza penal colony.
What could Obama have to say to the Arabs anyway? He has already given his public relations "address" to them, in Cairo itself, in 2009, when he said that Muslims and "America" must speak openly, honestly, and respectfully to one another, but that meanwhile, as his predecessors had, he would continue to wage war on the violent extremists who were apparently targeting the USA for no reason whatsoever, that he would do nothing for the Palestinians whose conditions were "intolerable" (as in: "Yeah. They're intolerable. Maybe they should move or something?") Obama is a public relations creature. He's a marketing creation. He's a suit and a face and a voice. He probably feels that his personal accomplishments are evidence of the rightness of his tactics, but all they've done is reveal the bankruptcy of the system he knows only well enough to have manipulated it when it simultaneously needed to manipulate him. Obama's p.r. campaign for the Middle East has failed under the weight of the reality behind the spin. He has nothing to say for the oppressed of the Middle East because he is one of their oppressors.
The "Palestine Papers" lays bare the callousness and cruelty of the US-Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority negotiators approached the Israelis with massive concessions asking for only the barest considerations in their desperate attempt to win something lasting for their people. What did Israel say? Israeli didn't say "Can you deliver on these promises?" It didn't say "If you can deliver on these promises, we will grant you x, y, and z." No. Israel looked at these gigantic concessions and said that they "do not meet our demands." These PA negotiators had been prepared to attack their fellow Palestinians in Hamas, so that they could bring Gaza into the concessions as well, although they failed at that. And their Israeli opposites were dismissing their sacrifices with a curt "Not enough."
There was poverty and acquiescence in the Middle East before. There have also been uprisings in the past and in the distant past. What's happening now though is an enormous human population has been sunk too long in poverty, oppression, and squalor. Vast sums of oil wealth have exploded inequalities. Ottoman imperialism was replaced by British and French imperialism, followed soon after by Israeli and US-American imperialism. Secular Arab nationalism rose up and failed in the face of these imperialists. It was replaced by religious fundamentalism (with the Iranian Revolution of 1979 just outside the Arab world). But, informed commentators say that the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt are not led by the fundamentalists. They are the result of ordinary peoples living too long without hope and without justice.
In that regard they are similar to uprisings everywhere. Central and South America's populations have rebelled against the barbarism of neoliberalism and US imperialism in Honduras, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador. Obama, Clinton, and their ilk have nothing to say to those people either. When you have no work, no safety, no justice, year after year after bloody, miserable year, sometimes something can make you snap. The economic disaster of 2008 is still playing itself out in massive austerity programs in Europe and the USA. International finance is creating another world food crisis. No developed country governments are promising anything to their peoples outside of counterproductive assaults on government "waste" and tax cuts (that don't benefit the majority anyway).
What is happening today in the "Arab Street" is happening all over the world and it is spreading because the incompetence and failure of our political-economic system has given humanity no other choice but to rebel.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
It's the same thing with the Toronto Star. The problem with the Star is their often mewling, scuzzy, laughable support for the Liberal Party and all the neoliberal imperialism and hypocrisy that requires.
The contrast between good stuff and bad stuff was on display in this last Sunday's Star. And, before going on, I want to establish that by "bad" I don't mean that I disagree with it. The "bad" on display is demonstrably caused by arrogance and ignorance.
In the article "Dredging up Haiti's past" writer Sarah Barmak discusses deposed Haitian president Aristide's statement (made in the wake of the return of former dictator Duvalier) that he would like to return to Haiti “Today, tomorrow, at any time.” This, Barmak pronounces, is a terrible idea:
It would have been hard for Aristide to get his timing worse. Haiti is in the throes of a democratic crisis, with a potentially divisive runoff vote to be held as soon as this week and the surprise return of former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier last week. Adding a former leader who still commands allegiance into the mix in the coming days could throw a wrench into Haiti's precarious political landscape.Who is Sarah Barmak? As recently as 2009 she appears to have been a U of T journalism student. Nothing wrong with that. I didn't think myself incapable of commenting on world affairs when I was in college. But she gives the whole game away in her conclusion:
With the country busy dredging up its past, its electoral future has been thrown further into doubt. And the longer it is leaderless, the longer international aid commitments will stay on hold, stalling Haiti's earthquake rebuilding effort.
Aristide may believe he can help his troubled country if he returns. But according to U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley the reappearance of former leaders is “last thing that Haiti needs.”Nothing reveals Barmak's ignorance on the subject of Haiti than her deferral to some U.S. State Department asshole about what is in Haiti's best interests. The USA has long supported murderous dictators and has twice destroyed Haitian democracy (in the two overthrows of Aristide) the second one with the assistance of Canada and France. Under the tender benevolence of the "responsibility to protect" of these nations and MINUSTAH the people of Haiti had been reduced to eating dirt (and that was in the "good" years before the earthquake hit). After the earthquake, Haitians have continued to suffer under the fraud, mismanagement, incompetence, and cruelty of the international community.
Unless Barmak's useless editorial was meant as continued (deceitful) support for the Liberals' role in overthrowing Aristide, I'd say it's more the case that Barmak is just completely ignorant and too arrogant to restrain herself from writing such garbage. Like other journalists who manage to get paid for writing such drivel.
Then, the Star goes on (on the very next page!) to provide evidence that it can be a good newspaper. The people's rebellion in Tunisia is a very important story. It's the story of people pushed to the wall by the dictatorship and corruption of President Ben Ali and a series of "pro-market" governments serving the goals of the IMF and international capitalism. The people of Tunisia have spat in the faces of both the homegrown authoritarian thugs that Western racists say is the natural form of government for the Middle East and the international technocratic monsters who allow these thugs to persist and allow them to skim-off the proceeds of their desperately proceeds in return.
Obviously, both of these corrupt, callous groups have responded to this rebellion with disdain. But it was with great pleasure that I read Mona Eltahawy's retort to them. In "Raining on the Tunisian revolution" she gives a powerful defence of the people's actions and a severe criticism of the naysayers:
On one side was the expected group: a host of Arab dictators. From kings and emirs whose monarchies ensured continuity to longtime dictators of republics on the verge of becoming dynasties, as sons inherit countries from fathers with the ease of a family estate changing hands, the men who rule the Arab world watched in horror as one of their own was kicked out of a country he robbed blind with one hand and suffocated into submission with the other.Make no mistake about it. The Tunisian Revolution is but one facet of the Third World War. It's part of the larger world battle being fought now in Greece, in Ireland, in Honduras, in Venezuela, and elsewhere, including cyberspace thanks to Wikileaks. Our side just won (for how long, it's hard to say) in Tunisia. Whether it endures depends upon whether enough of us learn from voices like Eltahawy's, or whether we listen to ignorant, arrogant voices like Barmak, who try to convince us that deposed democrats must not be allowed to return, that protesting neoliberal tyranny is bad, that exposing government crimes can only be the act of an egotistical maniac.
But let me tell you what really distresses me off: a host of Western “analysts” and “experts” determined to outdo our despots in coming up with reasons why the Tunisian revolution will fail and why it's impossible to replicate.
What's most appalling is the sense that they're suggesting the Tunisian revolution is economically bad for our region. Some economists dealt with it as an unwelcome nuisance, almost saying ‘How dare they revolt and challenge or disturb our political-risk calculation?' ” Allam said. “Many ignore the fact that economic growth did not trickle down to most Tunisians and that it was anger with corruption more than anything that fuelled the uprising.”
"fergusrush" is either the worst sort of liar, the kind that affects wounded self-pity when called on his lies, or, his thought processes are so terribly convoluted that only he can pretend to understand what he's saying at any given moment.
The denouement of our battle in that thread comes from "fergusrush" being exposed for failing to understand the meaning of the word "brandish." Exposed, "fergusrush" like the lying sleaze-bag that he is, waits a couple of days after his last witless entry to mewl and cry that up is down, black is white, and he hasn't been utterly humiliated.
What is this you're asking, gentle readers? Just two losers arguing on the internet. Nothing to see here. I'm just glad I have a blog where I don't have to allow some lying fuckwad to have the last word.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
An aside from within an earlier post.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Just be patient as you work two part-time jobs and go deeper in debt to just stand still.
Afghanistan? Ten years isn't long enough. Be patient. It's going to take a lot of hard work.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I'm sure that deluded right-wingers will take issue with this, but the reason why David Neiwert is able to find so many documented instances of far-right violent whack-jobs and why there have been so few documented left-wing, murderously violent whack-jobs, has to do with differences in political philosophies.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
On the heels of multiple warnings from the Bank of Canada that Canadians have taken on too much household debt for comfort (we hold the dubious distinction of having the worst consumer debt to financial assets ratio among 20 OECD nations), the federal government announced three moves. It will reduce the maximum insurable amortization period from 35 years to 30 years as it scales back both home equity loans and the amount homeowners can refinance. With these changes, we are about half way back to where the CMHC lending standards stood in 2006 when the Harper government significantly loosened them.I recommend reading the whole thing. Canada's continued housing boomlet is one of the main reasons why we didn't have the brutal plummeting of the economy that the USA suffered from. It isn't the only reason, but it's a big one.
What I'd like to contribute is how all of this reveals the sheer, utter failure of neoliberal economics. Canadian households are indebted ("the worst consumer debt to financial assets ration among the 20 OECD nations"), our provinces are in debt, our federal government debt is worse than the USA's (which is not to say that the USA's federal government debt, or Canada's federal government debt is catastrophic). Yes, yes. Debt, debt. Bad, bad,bad. Shame, shame, shame.
Except for the obvious: Without this increased debt there would have been little or no economic growth over the past decade or so. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Nothing. While Paul ("screw the 'Red Book'") Martin was imposing austerity and cutting taxes for the wealthy, the economy continued to grow because ordinary income earning households took on debt. While stephen ("screw democracy") harper doubled-down on that crapola (along with mike harris, dalton mcguinty, and all the other neoliberal premiers), the economy continued to lurch forward because Canadian households took on debt.
While corporations took advantage of the neoliberal policies of "free trade" and globalization, and shipped jobs overseas, the economy continued to stumble along because we took on debt.
While business down-sized and automated and shed workers, the economy chugged along because we took on debt. We took on debt as households and as taxpayers. The wealthy and the corporations now pay far less than in the 1960s (when the Carter Commission discovered how unequal the Canadian tax system was), and even the 1980s. Working Canadians paid into an Employment Insurance program that Paul (SCREW THE RED BOOK) Martin ...
[You know, I've really got to say something to you "progressive" Liberal supporters. We might be sliding into an election and you people, even after the pathetic failure of Obama (which is really not a failure but a successful con-job) and the plundering neoliberalism and the hugely hypocritical rhetoric of Chretien and Martin and Manley, you people still get all fired up about your stupid, contemptible party. The NDP would likely sell Canadians out too, but they start from a farther left position, which means that when they sell-out, it will end up selling out ordinary Canadian households LESS than what the neoliberal Liberals will. How can you continue to delude yourselves that voting in an anti-union, pro-war, pro-imperialist whose economic views are probably to the right of Barack Obama's to lead Canada's government will not produce a "betrayal" of everything you say you believe in?]
... used to subsidize his tax-cuts to the wealthiest. We pay more user fees. We pay higher tuitions. We get less government services. We pay and pay and pay, and we pay for it with debt. Shit. We even get fleeced by our publicly regulated financial and telecommunications industries. We get fleeced by our oil companies. And we pay for these excess charges with debt.
And it's running out neoliberal fuck-faces. You can't get blood from a stone. They're finding that out in the USA. Obama and the Federal Reserve keep shovelling money to Wall Street and they continue to let homeowners get repossessed and states to slash services and business to down-size. Obama (like all the other neoliberal scum-bags down there) believes that ordinary US-Americans will pay for it by losing Social Security, so, like, whatever. But all of this just contributes to the whole suicidal dynamic.
Let's ask ourselves, while the federal harpercons and the Ontario Liberals propose even further tax-cuts to corporations, ... why do it? What do WE get? WE are the people who buy the goods and services that produce these corporate profits. It's OUR MONEY the same way that government tax revenues are OUR MONEY. When Canadians pay excessive fees on their RRSPs and their cell-phones and their internet service and their credit cards and their bank accounts and at the gas-pump, this all becomes corporate profits. And why should we let our governments let them keep it? What is the rationale for that? So that they'll "create jobs"? Tell me another one! So that they'll "invest in the economy"? Please! Stop it! You're killing me!
What they'll do is "invest" their excessive profits in the whole Bay Street, Wall Street, City of London Casino of Corruption again!
Here's an idea. KEEP that revenue. And raise taxes and get MORE of it. And give it BACK to the over-burdened Canadian households who have been treated like a milch cow by yourselves and your puppet-masters. And do it for your own survival, as well as ours!
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
On the demand side, the culprits are population growth, rising affluence, and the use of grain to fuel cars. On the supply side: soil erosion, aquifer depletion, the loss of cropland to nonfarm uses, the diversion of irrigation water to cities, the plateauing of crop yields in agriculturally advanced countries, and -- due to climate change -- crop-withering heat waves and melting mountain glaciers and ice sheets. These climate-related trends seem destined to take a far greater toll in the future.North Americans should only eat meat once a week. And instead of using grain to fuel cars, they should drive less. And I need to go on a diet.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
I wish that I'd left that stupid comment up because even though he's banned, and because I thought it a useless offering in any case, it occurred to me that his attempt to school me on leftist perfidy is actually evidence of how debased a political culture we inhabit.
Hitler was a totalitarian dictator consumed with anti-Semitism and a murderous eugenics delusion. Stalin was a totalitarian dictator with a paranoid conspiracy obsession. Mao was a totalitarian dictator in a country full to bursting with starving people who had fought a brutal war against a genocidal enemy and he was consumed with his own megalomaniacal delusions.
George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush supposedly governed over a democracy with a free media, human rights, and the rule of law. We are supposedly free people with the power to hold our leaders to account and we can read expozays about our leaders if we're motivated to do so.
But within this supposedly democratic and free environment, these three monsters have contributed to the deaths of over two million people (in just one example of their monstrosity, when they have the entire world to cavort around in!) and not only has there been no accountability for their crimes, it's also the case that when some shit-heads are presented with a statement of their crimes, they will ignore it and instead try to make some stupid, obvious point that left-wingers have been guilty of crimes against humanity in the past.
Yes, yes. Stalin and Mao killed lots of people. And they're dead. And in the case of Stalin, his regime, like Hitler's, is also dead and gone. But the system that produced the Bush's and Clinton is still with us and it's still killing people and it's the system that we (through our lap-dog Canadian federal politicians) are participating in and sometimes actually cheering on to new depths of depravity. Try to process how deluded, stupid, debased, and useless you have to be to not grasp the significance of this even after it's been shoved right before your eyes.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
We are in the last throes of an interesting discussion as to whether the USA's foreign policy with regards to the Middle East is primarily motivated by oil or not. I'm finding it interesting only because Mark refuses to side with klee-shayed left-wing non-US Americans such as myself, Naomi Klein, Linda McQuaig, and Alan Greenspan, who say that the US is in Iraq (for instance) because of its oil. I'm also finding it interesting because while Mark is a thoughtful, articulate person, he has made absolutely no attempt to respond to my request for an alternative explanation for the US invasion of Iraq, sabre-rattling against Iran, multi-billion dollar subsidizing of Israel and Egypt, and counter-productive (for the USA's own self-interest) enabling of Israel's offences against the Palestinian Arabs.
And it seems to me that if your country kills TWO MILLION PEOPLE (UN estimates of the preventable deaths which resulted from USA-UK-enforced UN sanctions against Saddam Hussein's government and the one-million excess deaths estimate from the credible John Hopkins study in The Lancet a few years back) that that is significant and bears looking into. Even in this day and age, killing TWO MILLION people is approaching Hitlerian (or Stalin and Mao) levels of mass murder. It doesn't "just happen" and if it does, that would mean that your country has been in the hands of a series of psychopaths from Bush Sr., to Clinton, to bush II.
In this post, Mark responded with a challenge as to why the USA did not seem to bother as much with slapping around non-Middle Eastern oil producers (including Russia and Canada) which I partially answered. Mark said that I didn't answer the more important second-half of his question:
If it's cheaper to smack around third world countries on the taxpayers dime, and then let the oil companies move in, why aren't more countries like Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Turkmenistan, and Gabon at the top of the list?So, in the hopes that Mark will either be convinced that maybe, just maybe, the USA is motivated by oil politics in the Middle East, or that at least he'll provide me with some non-laughable alternative explanation, I shall attempt to provide an answer to the USA's fixation on the Middle East and its oil.
Again, if "big oil" was all about the $$$, why not abandon the US entirely (it's #3 on the list of oil producers) and invest all it's money in Mexico, where presumably, labor costs are cheaper, but the costs of transporting extraction equipment etc is presumably cheaper than transporting it half way across the world to a Middle Eastern nation, with the added bonus of not having to worry about Mexico suddenly nationalizing ones assets in a hissy fit?
Why aren't there more third world hell-holes that can be easily pushed around in the top five? The top ten? The top fifteen? I'm sure with a combination of the right equipment and bribes some of these basket cases that produce 200,000 barrels a day could be ramp up production to 1-2 million barrels a day. There wouldn't even be the need to send in the USMC. Panama and Grenada are both nowhere near the top twenty by the way, so I think we can safely rule out oil as the reason for their invasion.
For that matter, about a third of US daily consumption can be met by domestic consumption, and between Canada and Mexico, most of US demand could be met solely through the NAFTA trading bloc.
The USA's involvement in the Middle East began to get big following World War II in the early days of the Cold War. The USA produced most of its own oil and got very little of the rest from the Middle East. It was Western Europe and Japan that got most of their oil from the Middle East. These two regions were the crucial US allies in sustaining the international capitalist system against the threat of Soviet communism and both of these regions were too weak to prevent the expansion of Soviet influence in the region. The British had been the ones who had previously dominated the oil-rich Gulf states and it was with them that the USA began to expand its involvement, in Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, especially. The future "Trilateral" partners of Western Europe and Japan were and are very vulnerable to supply disruptions and the USA did not want them subjected to extortion either from the Soviets or from domestic nationalists.
The thing about the Middle East's oil is that it's the cleanest, and easiest to access of all the huge deposits in all the world. The OPEC countries have not seriously industrialized and therefore don't use much of their fuel domestically. They set the price for the whole world oil industry. They have expensive infrastructure built up by decades of US and European investment. Have a look at the words of the USA's own Cold War planners had to say about the region's importance for them.
Why not Mexico or Nigeria? I don't know off-hand. Mexico nationalized its oil in the 1930s and was boycotted for two years until World War II forced the USA, Britain, and France to end the embargo. After the nationalist Cardenas presidency, Mexico and PeMex became regular, dependable suppliers to the USA under more traditionally pro-capitalist administrations. Nigeria? Why doesn't the USA slap Nigeria around and ignore the Middle East? Who is to say that Nigeria hasn't gotten as much investment from the West (including the USA) as it possibly could have? And when has Nigeria given the West any real trouble? And IF the USA were to build-up rivals to the Middle East they still couldn't ignore that area because somebody else would move in on that prize.
An excerpt from that Nigeria link might answer your question about why the US still gets oil from the relatively high labour costs US oil fields:
The importance of Nigerian oil to the world economy cannot be doubted. Indeed, Khan sees two main factors which contributed to Nigeria's early success as an oil-producing nation. "High production growth and profitability during the 1960s and 1970s were the result of two main factors: the high quality of Nigerian crudes, making them popular with Western European and North American refiners, as well as the proximity advantage that they had to these markets relative to Middle Eastern oil."Evidently there are big advantages of proximity to markets, skilled workers, technology, that can't be overcome simply by exploiting poor countries' oil. Anyway, for whatever reason, the USA now gets 17 percent of its oil from the Middle East, which is nothing to sneeze at.
But that comparative advantage declined in the face of new competition from Europe itself. "The 1980s saw the emergence and growth of North Sea crudes of similar high quality, and thanks to technological advances and investments, increasingly sophisticated refining in the West. The latter made sulphur-heavy crudes more competitive than hitherto with Nigerian sweet and light crudes." In a word, the proximity of North Sea oil was greater than Nigerian oil and technological advances wiped out the qualitative differences in the two crudes. Khan is quite clear in tracing the exact effect of the emergence of North Sea oil on Nigeria's production. "A comparison of the Nigerian production decline in the years 1980-83 and the production increase in the North Sea is striking. Nigerian production fell by about 830,000 b/d, while North Sea production rose by about 840,000
This Foreign Policy article asks some of the questions you're asking Mark. Questions which I've already tried to answer. Discounting for a minute that your political elites ARE insane, the fact remains that while the costs of policing the Middle East for Western interests are born mainly by US taxpayers, the profits (to US oil companies and US military contractors) are enjoyed by the private sector. Let me repeat that: The US taxpayer pays for the costs of US government meddling in the Middle East, and this is done, as all things in the USA (from Wall Street bail-outs to individual mandates for over-priced health insurance) are done for, ... to benefit a tiny elite of wealthy oligarchic capitalists.
So there you have it Mark. You're free to mindlessly dismiss it. But for god's sake man! I've answered your question to the best of my ability. Now why has your government killed two million Iraqis and brought suffering and ruin to millions more? You're absolutely right, in practical terms, as a US citizen, your opinion counts more than mine with the US government. So tell us what your opinion is? WHY did your country kill two-million people with your's (and other citizens') tax dollars?
If it wasn't oil, then what was it? Are you going to say it was to fight terror or spread democracy (and therefore leave me open to make fun of YOU)? Or are you going to say that maybe your government is completely insane? Or is there some other rational explanation besides the lies of bush II and the oil thesis?
By the way Mark; if you haven't bought into the laughable excuses that bush II farted out and have a critical analysis, I'd keep quiet about it vis-a-vis your government actually, because they don't take kindly to criticism to tell you the truth. They're actually an elitist cabal of inhuman, undemocratic, oligarchic-capitalist scum.
But right here, right now, tell me why your government has killed TWO MILLION PEOPLE.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
kev advanced the notion that the government crackdown on dissent, such as we saw at the Toronto G20, is evidence of the neoliberal elites getting closer to their inhuman paradise on earth, and, since this elite's "nirvana" is inhuman, other humans are going to resist, hence the blatant trampling of human rights. kev said we're at a moment similar to 1919 when public frustration with the dismal economy, inflation, and the abuse of worker's rights produced the Winnipeg General Strike (and a wave of sympathy strikes across the nation). The Canadian political and business class responded hysterically and violently, crushing the strike and the Canadian labour movement for another two-and-a-half decades (and probably helping to bring on the Great Depression). The economic catastrophe produced by three decades of neoliberal, right-wing bullshit is producing a similar outpouring of frustration and a similarly hysterical crackdown.
I think we're arriving at a time that's just as important as 1919.
The differences are that there is a larger pool of people with a stronger systemic anti-capitalist analysis, but there's also a far broader swath of people who are duped or ignorant by the culmination of decades of public relations and marketing tricks (two industries which hardly existed in 1919 - gov't "propaganda" being a relatively new industry recently taken to new heights by the British in WW I).
As well, the forces of the state have far more coercive power at their disposal. But there's also a much stronger legal foundation for human rights.
That this legal edifice was so blatantly shredded at the G20 is a cause for serious concern. Without that legal bulwark, we're helpless against the powers of the state.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Actually, he wasn't just full of shit. He was a disaster for ordinary Canadians. He's also guilty of the crime of aiding and abetting the overthrow of a democratically-elected government in Haiti (and in helping replace it with something far, far, worse).
Listen Liberal bloggers. I think most of you are fine people. But I feel compelled to say again that you have to face facts. Actually, I think that there are two groups of you. There are the "business" Liberals who actually believe in the legacy of Paul Martin, and there are the "social" Liberals who are often disappointed with the Liberal leadership when they're in power (or, lately, grovelling in opposition to the harpercons) but for whom "politics is the art of the possible" and blah, blah, blah.
1. If you think that Paul Martin's policies of austerity, his destruction of fiscal federalism, his contribution to the financialization of the economy, the rising inequality, the greater job insecurity, the invasion of Afghanistan (and Martin, lacking Chretien's street-smarts, had thought that invading Iraq would have been a good idea!), were good for Canada, then you really need to learn some humility and start to question that neo-liberal dogma that you lapped-up.
2. If you think that the Liberals want to do good, but that there are limits to what they can do, and there are unfortunate economic realities that stand in your way (Hello Bob Rae!) then you have to ask yourself why Liberals like Paul Martin not only presided over increased poverty and job insecurity, but also over tax-cuts for the rich, deregulation of corporations, and all sorts of other benefits to the wealthy and the powerful. What I mean is, if it's really the case that they're trying to help the middle-class and the poor but fail to do so, whereas the wealthy make out like bandits, then maybe the Liberals CAN do things but they seem to focus their energies somewhere other than where you'd like them to. And they do this for systemic reasons.
Look for example at John Manley. He left politics to become the president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. In case you don't know, that's the reincarnation of the Business Council on National Issues, who under Tom D'Aquino, had their dirty hands all over the slurry of failed economic and social policies for over two decades. The BCNI became so ubiquitous that it changed its name to the CCCE to try to hide their tracks. What's a former Liberal (who supposedly want all Canadians to succeed, despite what their slashing education, health care, and income support programs might make you think) doing taking over as the head of this group of neo-liberal elitists? Well, Liberal political leaders ARE neo-liberal elitists. Take a look at the "business" Liberal wing and give your heads a shake.
Neo-liberalism means increasing inequality and the removal of any social responsibility from the wealthiest. Check. And global neo-liberalism requires imperialism. Have a look at the invasion of Afghanistan. At Martin, Manley, Ignatieff's enthusiasm for the invasion of Iraq. At Scott Brison's warm-heart for death-squad brutality in Colombia or the bulk of the Liberal leadership's lack of enthusiasm for their own Liberal colleague's efforts to restrain Canada's predatory mining industry.
Now, this post has taken me twenty minutes longer than I'd planned so I'm going to hurry up. I recognize that the NDP are often petty, laughable, hypocritical, and they're just as prone to betraying their supposed values as the Liberals (Hello Bob Rae!). But for you "social" Liberals, I say this: Without the NDP, you would be reduced to the same blasted "progressivism" as progressive Democrats in the USA, where a "public option" for a failed, corrupt, private health care system, is portrayed as a harbinger of Stalinism and is therefore dropped as a policy proposal. (By the way, you smug, deluded "business" Liberals might want to look at the disastrous state of the US economy and maybe rethink your stupid belief that allowing the employer class to drive down the social economy to the lowest standards possible while the government removes all the economic tools that the employee class has to resist!)
The fact of the matter is that the Liberal Party is a lie, and a stupid one at that. Conventional economic wisdom is generally a pile of crap. Conventional wisdom about social programs, unions, free trade, etc., etc., are all generally nonsense. If the Liberals and the NDP are splitting the centre-left vote, then you have to ask yourselves: If these two parties are strong rivals to each other in your neck of the woods, then ditch your "pragmatism" your "art of the possible" delusions and support the candidate who is farther left. Because it is the right-wing, including the "business" Liberals, who have brought us to this sorry state, and it is a left-wing that will promise and deliver on programs that materially benefits the majority that will save our economy, our society, and (if there's still time) our global environment.
Again, Liberal bloggers - my impression is that you're fine, honest people. And intelligent. The delusions about the Liberal Party are perpetuated by vast swaths of academia and media, both sincere and self-interested. It's a swamp and I don't credit my deliverance from it on my brain power but on a number of circumstances. Yes, the NDP is often a joke. But the central point is that they represent a farther left (and therefore, more sane) political stance than does the Liberal Party. At the very least, Liberal bloggers, stop investing time and energy advocating for the disastrous party of your dreams.
You know, the Liberal Party is advancing some EI fund for Canadians to take time off work to care for sick family members. Maybe it's a band-aid for the Liberals' under-funding of public health care or maybe it's genuinely a noble idea. But whenever the Ignatieff Liberals trot something like this out, all I can think of is Paul Martin saying "Screw the 'Red Book'!"
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Friday, January 7, 2011
Anyway, apparently the idiot has produced a new book. In her own words, it's not about the merits of the Six Nations' activists case about whether lands have been stolen from them or not. It's apparently something akin to "I don't want to know about ANY of the details of the Israeili-Palestinian conflict. I just want to write about how bad Palestinian terrorism is."
Do not look here for a balanced view of the conflict. Blatchford, nobody’s fool, proclaims at the outset that her book will not examine the validity of the native land claim, nor trace the sorry history of Canada’s relations with its First Nations.That and apparently she'll regurgitate any allegation against the Six Nations made by any self-interested party.
I don't plan on reading her. I don't have to. What some people have to realize is that after years and years and years of being wrong, they don't get the benefit of the doubt anymore. I mean, do you have to read all the Scientology nonsense or the Book of Mormon before you can dismiss that garbage? Belchforth is a cop-worshipping, war-mongering, bigot. I'm not interested in engaging with her except to insult her and then dismiss her.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
But I've been doing some research on Ipperwash and Caledonia and I very much like the site:
Solidarity with Six Nations.
Check 'em out!
Let's see. I've been itching to take these monsters down for years.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Undercover Detective Anderson Moran approached Mr. Dorismond as part of a "buy and bust" marijuana operation, part of NYC's "Operation Condor." While eyewitness accounts of the incident are differing and incomplete, what is known is that Detective Moran asked Dorismond, who had just emerged from a bar with a friend, if he would sell him some marijuana.
Dorismond had no marijuana; nor is there any evidence he was selling or had ever sold marijuana. Dorismond apparently took exception to Moran's insistence, and a scuffle ensued. At this time two back-up plain-clothes officers approached. There was gunfire.
I'll admit that this morning I couldn't remember Dorismond's name. I just recalled the story from Z Magazine years ago and it struck me how tragic and pointless it must have been to feel yourself dying as the result of systemic racism.
That led me to think about systemic stupidity. Dorismond was a victim of official racist stupidity. Robert Dziekanski was a victim of the laziness, stupidity, callousness and cowardice of four dumb-ass RCMP officers and their tasers and their murderous indifference to his well-being (when they refused the first-responders' requests to remove his handcuffs among other things that might have still saved his life from their brutality).
It occurred to me that I tend to think that deaths like that are a needless tragedy. And that the involvement of the forces of the state makes this worse. Well, not so much that it's someone in the employ of the state, but that these state actors tend to act in concert with official or unofficial policies (such as racism) and due to the fact that they often get to kill with impunity. The policies and the impunity are things that you would expect could be controlled in a free and democratic society. The fact that they were not and will not be in the near future (witness the complete lack of penalties for those RCMP goons for killing Dziekanski and then blatantly lying about it in their reports and subsequent testimony).
But do you remember what the response of the "libertarian" champions of the individual of the Canadian right-wing was? Hey. It was just one guy! Get a grip! He deserved it! Besides, people die all the time from other causes.
It's astonishing. They're civil libertarians when they don't want to pay for other people's health care or when they want to insult Muslims. But when it comes to symbols of authority smashing people's heads in or tasering people, ... they get a vicarious thrill out of it. That is, until any of those raging state-paid goons randomly choose to swing their batons at them.
This isn't timely or anything, but sometimes one has to share.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
I think [a permanent US military presence] would be enormously beneficial to the region, as well as Afghanistan. We've had air bases all over the world. A couple of air bases in Afghanistan would allow the Afghan security forces an edge against the Taliban in perpetuity. ... But I hope they will seek a relationship with the United States of where we can have an enduring relationship, economic and militarily and politically. And a couple of air bases in Afghanistan will give us an edge militarily, give the Afghan security forces an edge militarily, to ensure that country never goes back into the hands of the Taliban, which would be a stabilizing event throughout the whole region.By the by: One of the goals of an imperial system is to keep raw materials and labour costs cheap. Arguing that it doesn't make sense on a cost-benefit analysis basis to invade a country because its resources are so cheap misses this point. Any country that tries to organize against the imperialist system has to be smashed to keep all the other countries' resources cheap and available. Combine this with a military-industrial complex that has a vested interest in justifying its existence by inventing foreign threats and US invasions become all the more explicable.
In case you're particularly obtuse I'll add the explanation that these military adventures are publicly subsidized whereas the oil, minerals, cash crops, sweat-shop labour, corrupt governments who provide open-ended contracts and freedom from legal liability, will all benefit private capitalists. The same thing goes for the war-profiteers. The war is being paid for by tax dollars but private weapons manufacturers (and now mercenaries) are benefiting.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
One of Hitler's claims to fame is that he killed SIX MILLION Jews. (That's like, ... if you were to walk up and down the streets of Toronto and shake hands with everybody you met, ... TWICE that amount of human beings. Toddlers with their whole lives ahead of them .... "NOT!" Grandparents ready to enjoy their golden years, ... young men and women on the make ... middle-aged Jews trying to make sense of it all. All of them snapped up and destroyed by a dog's breakfast of delusions and half-truths and sexual insecurities called "Nazism."
Let's forget for a second about all the Poles and Gypsies and mental patients that Hitler killed (heck, everybody else has) and look at that six million number that makes him so bad.
Because the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, enforced the "United Nations" sanctions against Iraq (together with his "poodle" Tony Blair) that killed ONE MILLION IRAQIS with half or that ONE MILLION (FIVE-HUNDRED THOUSAND) being children under six. What does that mean? Imagine that every person in Hamilton, Ontario was a cute little grade-1 or younger and that you walked up to each and every household and smiled at all of them. Now imagine that all of them, plus 250,000 more, died from starvation or disease.
There's Bill Clinton for you.
And the reason that Paul Martin, Jean Chretien, and stephen harper and other assorted scum don't appear in this little post is because they're bit-players in the horror that is the capitalist world system.
But think about how we've normalized monstrosity so that a decent, intelligent guy like Al Franken will sing the praises of a monster like Clinton and work so that maybe one day he could make the "tough decisions" that kills another 100,000 kids somewhere.
And what kind of system is it that Clinton did what he did? Don't get me wrong. Hitler was a sexually insecure nutcase. Clinton isn't Hitler. He hardly even knew he was killing those one-million Iraqis. Then again, they haven't found Hitler's fingerprints on the "final solution" either. He was pretty busy. Just like Churchill was fighting World War II. How could Churchill have been expected to notice one-million Indians dying of starvation in the middle of a war?
I don't know. Call me crazy. But I'm one of those people who thinks that a million lives snuffed out MEANS SOMETHING, whether they be Jews, or Indians, or Iraqis, or what have you.
But our culture normalizes Clinton so that even "pwogwessives" think he's okay. There are plenty of arguments that it wasn't really his fault that the stuff needed to combat easily-treatable diseases or to make sure that drinking water was safe (which he prevented from entering Iraq and the denial of which forced UN chiefs to resign in protest) caused those deaths.
Of course, if you're so inclined, you can dredge up human scum who will tell you that Hitler's Holocaust against the Jews never happened either.
That is, if you're so inclined ....
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Seriously? You believe that "No blood for oil" line? If it was about oil, that's one lousy ROI. Tanks, bullets, and jets ain't cheap. If they wanted the oil that badly working with the regime, like the Europeans would have been a lot cheaper.But remember who we're talking about: The bush II regime. Dick ("asbestos lawsuits") Cheney. Donald Rumsfeld (who thought the Soviets had a MASSIVE military superiority to the USA in 1980), and of course, dubya himself. These aren't rocket-scientists we're talking about here.
Let's focus on Dick Cheney for a second. A thuggish, corrupt, oil and energy executive. An incompetent who bullies and steals and frauds his way through life. What did he propose for Iraq's oil? Remember the Iraqi Oil Bill? The piece of legislation that was supposed to blast OPEC nationalism out of Iraq and turn the whole shebang over to US oil companies? You can't exactly get that from a government that existed before you got there.
What's the point of having these weapons if you can't use 'em anyway? And remember this; the money spent on those weapons (and the blood of the soldiers that gets spilled) isn't Cheney's or Rumsfeld's. The money belongs to US tax-paying chumps, as does the blood. But the oil company profits, ... well you can ask Cheney and Condoleeza Rice who enjoys those.
Furthermore, as I explained to Mark earlier, the US political elites are so insane that they believe their own lies. They painted Saddam as an aggressor built on world domination when the act of aggression that did him in (the invasion of Kuwait) was done in the belief that the US-Americans had relayed their indifference to it.
Sometimes, when you want to understand what motivates a sick, twisted, inhuman culture, you refer to the sick, twisted, inhuman nature of that culture.
Which brings me to ask Mark once again, what was the justification for the invasion of Iraq?
Was it the WMDs? No. Everyone knows that was bullshit. (Except maybe David Kay and bush II himself.)
Saddam's ties to Al Qaeda? No. They had to admit that they didn't exist.
Saddam's role in 9-11, 2001? No. They had to admit that he had no involvement.
To spread democracy in Iraq? Well, now it's a Shiite-dominated torture state as opposed to a Baathist torture state. Furthermore, if invading Iraq for it's oil seems like a shitty return on investment compared to signing oil agreements with Saddam like the Russians and French were doing, how much more of a bad ROI is it to invade a country and reduce it to chaos to try to build a democracy? Wouldn't it make more sense for the USA to prod Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Jordan to initiate democratic reforms that to have reduced Iraq to civil war?
But to even ponder whether the USA was promoting democracy anywhere in the world is to have fallen prey to delusion. US-American elites are all servants of capitalism and capitalism is the abusive boyfriend of democracy, not her champion.
So tell us Mark? Why did the USA invade Iraq? Why are there over a million innocent deaths? Why are there tens of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of US-Americans missing limbs? Why are there thousands of families dealing with horrendous birth defects? Why are there tens of thousands of new torture victims? Why are there hundreds of Iraqi mothers, sisters, daughters, forced into prostitution as husbandless, fatherless refugees in Syria?
There is one more factor: Geo-politics. The insane goal of US elites for "full-spectrum dominance" over everyone else. The desire to surround Iran (another mad delusion of US elites) from all sides. The desire to exclude France and Russia from Iraq. The desire to assert post-Cold War political-military strength.
Of course, global strategy is NOT what the bush II regime told US citizens and citizen-soldiers they were going into Iraq for. So, again, now that the holiday feast has been stored as delicious leftovers, and the kids are playing with their new toys, and you've gotten together with family and/or friends to share a drink and shoot-the-shit, ... tell us the rational, sensible reason why the not-insane, not-evil US system of government did this:
I'm waiting with baited breath.