Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bail us out or there'll be trouble!

How come it works for the banksters? Supposedly if they fail it will be bad for the economy. (In reality, the financial sector has been based on the power of closing one's eyes and thinking happy thoughts for years and years and years. If those big banks failed, all that would be needed would be for everyone to keep their eyes closed, keep thinking the happy thoughts, and the state would be able to reconstruct the whole magic castle all over again.)

The fact that households are crippled with debt and suffering insecure employment and that this is slowing down consumption and GDP growth doesn't seem to resonate.

It's obvious that our leaders think that WE should bail out the nice corporate lobbyists who take the politicians out for lunch and dinner, but that WE nobodies should get any consideration is akin to throwing pearls before swine.

That's how the blogging tories see themselves. They love it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Capitalism's Crisis of Legitimacy

It's not easy being a devotee of capitalism these days. What with the tendency of capitalist elites to cry for public bail-outs for their self-inflicted wounds while at the same time they continue to fleece the very same individuals whose tax dollars are needed to bail them out. What capitalism needs is an intervention. But right now, instead of wanting to set capitalism down on a chair with some friends and getting it to deal seriously with its addictions and its moral failures, most of us are thinking something else entirely.

Right now, capitalism is like a junkie that has broken into our home and is waving a gun around, demanding our money and making all sorts of other offensive and ludicrous demands besides.

How does an ordinary middle-class devotee of Ayn Rand or Milton Friedman rationalize their delusions to their bewildered fellow citizens? For the most part they're reduced either to rote recantations of the past (dubious) successes of capitalism, or they're blathering the capitalist version of the "no true Scotsman" excuse that democratic socialists were accused of when they tried to argue that environmental regulations, public health care and a subsistence wage for the unemployed weren't a diluted form of Stalinism. (The difference of course, is that democratic socialists relied on something called "democracy" to prevent the same power of the state that allowed it enforce vehicle emissions to metastasize into the power to enslave people in concentration camps, whereas in a "free market" the vast wealth of the "winners" is invariably used to bribe both courts and legislatures to distort the market to accommodate their wishes and entrench an oligarchy.)

More and more, fans of "free market" capitalism tend to keep their embarrassing philosophical predilections to themselves. The same is true for their political choices. Who among us would now offer, without trepidation, that they voted for lying, blustering failures like Toronto's mayor Rob Ford? Who were the die-hards supporting the lying incompetent Tim Hudak? Who now proudly stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the torturing, pedophile-enabling, serial incompetent, anti-democratic stephen harper? Very few people. Only the worst of the bunch. The most incorrigible of shit-heads.

Yes indeed. These are tough times for the sad, deluded types who worship the money of other people, who hang on the words of lying propagandists while their own lives turn to shit because of the policies they embrace. 1991, the end of the Cold War, in which Soviet command economics collapsed of its own accord, was a long time ago. Capitalism was devolving itself at the time, in response to its own unworkability and failure. But the correlation of the death of a rival economic system gave the imaginations of these simpletons a new lease on life. Two decades of continued failure (more frequent and intense financial crises, increasing household debt, more pervasive poverty, less political legitimacy and an increasing resort to authoritarian measures to suppress dissent) are starting to penetrate all but the dullest of consciousnesses.

It's about bloody time. These fools have held us back for too long.

Monday, November 28, 2011

How do you stop them?

Break windows and get the cops to attack peaceful protesters in response? Hmm. Interesting idea. I can feel international capitalism buckling under the resulting strain just thinking about it.

Get a permit and have a rally and a march attended by hundreds or even thousands? And then go home? I bet the thought of it has the politicians and their puppet-masters quaking in their boots.

Vote for a candidate who is opposed to imperialist war and who is for social justice? This would be nice except that in some ridings, some form of mental deficiency makes the largest minority of voters pick the pro-war, anti-justice party. As well, sometimes there exists a party that LIES when it says it is anti-war and pro-justice. Finally, genuine pro-peace, pro-justice parties tend to cave at the slightest pressure from the real masters of our society (which includes the US government).

Occupy a park and cause traffic snarls with impromptu marches until the state tells you to leave? Who would have thought the state would resist an extended protest movement against it?

My point (and I've been making it for a long time) is that we leftists spend hardly any time on developing realistic tactics and far, far too much time bitching and whining and living in fantasies.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Too Much

I've been meaning to post something along these lines for a while. In his Salon entry entitled "The Fruits of Liberation" Glenn Greenwald writes about the murder of seven Afghans, including six children, by a NATO airstrike in Southern Afghanistan and how he almost didn't mention it because the killing of Afghan civilians isn't anything new:

I read about the death of these children yesterday and had decided not to write about it because I don’t have anything particularly new to say about it, but then all day, that decision irritated me because it just seems wrong to allow this to go unobserved (and in Southern Afghanistan, “NATO” Linkin the vast majority of cases means: “American”). Whichever version is correct, the U.S. devastated these families forever and ended these children’s lives in a region where even U.S. officials say that there is a grand total of two Al Qaeda leaders and the group is “operationally ineffective.”

What’s particularly notable, I realized, is how we’re trained simply to accept these incidents as though they carry no meaning: we’re just supposed to chalk them up to regrettable accidents (oops), agree that they don’t compel a cessation to the war, and then get back to the glorious fighting. Every time that happens, this just becomes more normalized, less worthy of notice. It’s just like background noise: two families of children wiped out by an American missile (yawn: at least we don’t target them on purpose like those evil Terrorists: we just keep killing them year after year after year without meaning to). It’s acceptable to make arguments that American wars should end because they’re costing too much money or American lives or otherwise harming American strategic interests, but piles of corpses of innocent children are something only the shrill, shallow and unSerious — pacifists! — point to as though they have any meaning in terms of what should be done.

I've been meaning to put a post together about how we should be up in arms when our governments carelessly or deliberately kill or torture just one individual. But here we are blithely accepting that we kill or torture thousands of individuals and we allow it to continue.

I thought about telling a story about how a family member of mine was killed by a speeding transport truck but there was no justice because the truck driver said he was in a hurry to deliver a very important cargo, the trucking company was big and rich and hired a high-priced lawyer who swayed a judge who finally allowed himself to be bought-off, and that was that. In my story I would peacefully protest outside the courthouse or the trucking company's head-quarters and would be tolerated so long as I didn't put any names of the guilty on my signs, in which case the signs would be destroyed and I would be beaten with impunity. Occasionally people who knew my story would give me a sincere, but practically meaningless "thumbs up" and I would end the story by asking if we want a country where lives are so cheap and justice so clearly the preserve of the rich. I'd also point out that our personal tragedies are really quite inconsequential to most people and that after a while we'd realize that the world keeps turning for everybody regardless of our individual pain and suffering.

But I didn't have the time to blow that up into a genuine parable.

Then I thought of asking my readers to imagine a country somewhere, ... a small, not very rich or powerful country, but bigger and more powerful than its neighbouring country nonetheless. The thing was that this country would invade its neighbour every few years or so and enslave and kill people at random. But when they weren't doing that, they'd make commercials asking wealthy international tourists to come and enjoy their sandy beaches and their friendly hospitality. They'd also take great pains to inform the rest of the world of their rich and varied national culture.

I wonder if there was such a country how many people would overlook their occasional sadistic killing sprees and actually consider the country to be a possible vacation spot.

I suspect that most people would recoil at the idea of treating this country as a full member of the international community.

But here we go. The United States of America has invaded two countries and has probably caused the deaths of two-million Iraqis and Afghans, and the displacement of millions upon millions more. MILLIONS of people. MILLIONS of lives. MILLIONS.

And yes, a minority of about twenty-thirty percent of the population is so deluded, racist and fucked-up that they actively support these abominations, while a larger minority was actively opposed to them but having marched peacefully in the streets once in a while and having elected a Democratic president, to no effect, they're all out of ideas. But there's a big mass of US-Americans in the middle who have their own problems and they're barely even aware that their country has killed millions of people and ruined the lives of millions more. They were all lined up outside department stores a few days ago for the big "Black Friday" shopping extravaganza, occasionally pepper-spraying one another to get at the great deals. I get that some people were opposed to mass murder but couldn't stop it. But I can't allow myself to smile at revolting commercials encouraging people to turn into robotic consuming monsters. And I can't find anything other than disgust for the actual people pressing against the doors of their local Wal-Mart trying to get ahead of everyone else to save 40% on some useless piece of shit that they don't need. Killing millions of people should at least get you a "tsk-tsk" now and again, surely?

Here in Canada, we are acquiescing to a prime minister who did not respect the majority opinion of the last parliament but he expects us to respect the majority now that it favours him. We are acquiescing to a government that has caused the torture of dozens of innocent Afghan peasants. We are acquiescing to a government that is lying, bulling, stealing, and killing all the while treating Parliament itself as a bothersome fly.

We are far too comfortable about the blood that is being spilled by weapons and policies paid for with our tax dollars. We are becoming too nonchalant about the torture and other war crimes being done in our names. We are too blase about the lives being ruined by Canadian governments.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Do Really Bad Newspaper Columnists Have Awesome Oral Sex Skills?

How do these incoherent babbling lunatics, serial plagiarists and constantly wrong fuck-ups continue to find work?

Surely there are higher-quality apologists and rationalizers for the system lining-up to provide the same sort of bullshit at a far more reasonable rate?

Perhaps we must just imagine that our most hated writers have massive saliva-producing tongues that can raise even the whitest-haired editors and publishers members and bring them to shuddering, almost cardiac-arrest producing orgasms.

Day-after-day.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Civilization is a Powder-Keg

Super busy. Didn't have a clue what to write. Went and looked at unpublished drafts of entries and decided to put this out, ... whatever it is.

The world isn't flat. It's round. But for tens of thousands of years, humanity, if we thought of it at all, believed that the world was flat, because we are so insignificant, and the world is so vast, that we simply couldn't perceive things accurately (or simply in their entirety). [Evidently, the Ancient Greeks, noticing how islands rose up from out of the horizon on the Mediterranean, decided that the world was round and they calculated the size of the planet by measuring the curve as determined by the height of a mountain and the distance between when it first appeared over the horizon and when it came fully into view.]

Through ice-ages, and periodic warmings, and across vast migrations, humanity has adapted and survived. And, I should add, individuals often didn't grasp that they were adapting to changing conditions, but thought they were conforming to the way things always were.

With the rise of civilizations, great masses of human beings came to be subjected to changing conditions created by their fellow man. People became enslaved. People were made exiles. Religions were created and imposed and stamped-out. Livelihoods became upended. As humanity increased in numbers and our technology became more sophisticated, these convulsions became greater and greater, affecting more an more people with increased intensity.

Something enormous is happening today. For over a thousand years, some kind of formal democracy was developed in the Mediterranean, and then spreading out and shifting its centre into North-west Europe. This "democracy" has achieved great things, and, without being too Eurocentric, aspects of it have held out an appeal to people in other societies as well. [I really don't want to glorify European civilization and disparage other civilizations. The First Nations in North America had their own version of self-government which included many democratic practices. Agricultural villages everywhere had and continue to have their traditions of decision-making which put our present elite-controlled, centralized systems of domination to shame. But I do think that the enshrining of rights and equalities into legal codes is unique to Europe and is seen as attractive by hundreds of millions of non-European peoples.]

Some would argue that the democracy of Western Europe and North America was made possible by the economic wealth (created by capitalism, and nothing else 'natch!) that made it affordable. I have long argued that it was more likely that democracy created the relatively greater equality of wealth, which created a more robust economy which made capitalism possible. I believe that even after giving technology, plundering the rest of humanity, and capitalist economics all their due, that it was the rise of democracy that made the West rich. Lo and behold! The height of democracy in the West came out of the crises of the Great Depression and the Second World War, and its flowering between 1945 and 1973 produced the capitalist postwar "golden age." The right-wing counterattack since 1980 has targeted democratic strongholds and institutions, producing more poverty and inequality than ever before. The elites are attacking democracy, they are winning, and we are becoming poorer.

About that "plundering the rest of humanity": I'm referring of course, to European imperialism. Whatever the limitations of the social-economic orders in other parts of the world, and whatever long-term benefits other parts of the world obtained from contact with the Europeans, it cannot be argued that European imperialism constituted a net loss for the rest of the world. Tens of millions died as a result of British callousness and expropriation in India. Tens of millions of Chinese peasants died of starvation as the Europeans squeezed their civilization for everything they could. Millions upon millions of Africans were sold into slavery, or reduced to absolute penury as the Europeans laid claim to their lands. Millions of Native Americans, North and South, died of diseases and as a result of cruelty and deliberate slaughter. Whatever the benefits of a railroad running through (white-owned) plantation country down to an ocean port where European freighters waited to take their produce to Europe, Africans, and others, lost more than they gained from contact with the white man.

Here's a bunch of links that were supposedly important to me while I was writing the above ...

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/03-6

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/03-1

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/02-2

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/09-0

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nobody Home ...


We shone a special camera at Ezra Levant's stupid head. Turns out the fucker doesn't have a brain.

Big surprise.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Problems with the world ...

Here are two videos that I just stumbled upon during the last few days. The first one is a Bill Maher, "New Rules" segment from early in Obama's term, during the health care bill "debate."



I don't find anything objectionable with it really. Nothing major anyway. I just think that it's wrong that people applaud his truth-telling but very few of us can articulate a way out of the mess. I'd like to hear someone attempt to defend a system that allows Halliburton to cut corners for profit even it means that "the troops" get electrocuted in the shower.

We know our society is an abomination, but we either do little or nothing about it, or we actively support it.

Here's the second video:



I listened to the guy for about two minutes and then I had to stop. Here's the thing: Even if he ends up making a lot of sense, do you know what I think?

This is a middle-aged white guy okay? And, speaking as a middle-aged white guy, I don't think we should stifle ourselves entirely just because a lot of other white guys have forced themselves upon millions of other people. But at the same time, I realize at this stage in my life, that us white guys have said quite a lot, and if we're going to MAKE people listen to us, we should have something to say.

For me, that guy represents a lot of what's wrong with the Canadian left today. He looks to me like a guy who isn't used to being listened to and so he wants to make the best of it. So he's going to talk goddammit. And that's a problem with us. We want to talk. We want to be listened to. If we were empty air-heads, we would simply lie cheat and steal to get to a place where people would listen to us and all we would have to say would be stupid banalities anyway. But, a lot of us choose not to play the game and as a result we get punished and that opens us up for all the abuses that poverty has to offer. So we're going to force each other to LISTEN while we talk goddammit!!!

As well, the guy is taking a long time to say how shitty the system is. But a long time complaint about the left that I've had is that we're great at identifying problems. What's needed now though are alternatives and some kind of blueprint for getting there.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What Now For Humanity?

They wanted to stay in their camps because they camps were exciting places to be.

But they mainly wanted to stay in their camps because the corrupt, lawless states wanted them to leave their camps.

But the camps are coming down in a flurry of needless state violence.

And you can bet your bottom dollar that the clueless shit-heads who rule us are breathing a collective sigh of relief. (From Barack Obama on down to Ezra Levant.)

But here's the thing clueless shit-heads: The reason we call you clueless shit-heads is because you don't have a clue inside your shit-for-brains.

The political-economic system that you serve has failed, is failing, will fail.

And do you know how badly it will fail?

It will fail so bad that if Rush Limbaugh doesn't invest in enough security, his own "ditto-heads" will pull him from his car and rend him to pieces with their bare hands.

A new world needs to be created. And this world must be one that values human life for its own sake and doesn't seek to make humans conform to some arbitrary profit value system.

And that world will come. Despite the death-spasms of capitalism.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shocking Video of Tea-Party Rally Tear-Gassed, Pepper-Sprayed, Assaulted: POLICE BRUTALITY!!!!

If anyone has any videos of the Tea-Baggers having one of their rallies broken up, please let me know.

Or is it the case that those know-nothing hypocrites, with their Obama's birth certificate is fake, Obama's stimulus spending is bad, private health insurance profits forever, etc., etc., etc., ... Koch brothers/FOX News funded and promoted shtick means that they're just a bunch of stupid chumps whose delusions help reinforce the power of the elites?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Leave Occupy ALOOOOOONE!!!!


Seriously. Let them do their thing. They aren't hurting anyone. Some people who were already having problems in their lives (including addictions, mental health issues and homelessness) have moved from one street or park to the Occupy camps and have brought their issues with them, but the elite concern for them is transparently hypocritical bullshit.

The idea that they're dirty and dangerous is bullshit.

The idea that others can't use their parks or camp-sites is bullshit.

The idea that they're just squatters with no purpose is bullshit.

Drooling morons like Terry Glavin have taken time off from brown-nosing imperialist torturers like General Stanley McCrystal to yammer stupidly about how the camps are a waste of time.

I'm skeptical of the Occupy Movement. But I support it and that means I support their right to a permanent occupation of St. James Park.

I'm skeptical of all their hopes and dreams but I'm on their side.

What is a movement that is trying to resist corporate control of the state supposed to do when the state arbitrarily decides to remove them? Meekly acquiesce? Yes, it's about more than the camps. I think the Occupiers know that too. They're just resisting for the sake of resisting perhaps. And I'm okay with that because resistance is the whole point.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Dawg Said ...

In the comments thread of one of his own blog entries:
At least the media seem to some extent to have exhumed the lede they buried. The net result has been to draw people's attention to the one-party state that presently prevails in Canada between elections. The potential for majority governments to behave this way has always been there, but Harper has exploited every opportunity to establish his de facto dictatorship, Who knows? We might get serious electoral reform out of this.
Dawg said two important things there. The first is that there has always been the possibility of a government abusing the latent power that a majority gives. harper, the anti-democratic thug, is the first prime minister to actually do so. Secondly, with the combination of the wholesale failure of the neo-liberal economic model and the naked brutality of "conservatism," there just might be a reckoning for these assholes. I hope to whatever that this is the darkness before the dawn. (But I've been there before.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Non-Violence

We have to change the cultural delusions about protester violence.

We need to have a mature discussion about this.

Yes: Employing violence against fellow human beings is inherently dehumanizing.

Yes: Peaceful processes have more legitimacy than violent ones.

Yes: Black Bloc window smashing seems formulaic and pointless.

Yes: Violence can spin out of control.

Yes: The police and the other servants of the state are more powerful than we are.

Yes: Employing violence will alienate non-activist citizens and be used to de-legitimize the protest movement.

But that last thing is something that needs to be addressed. There is a reflexive response to violence AT protests, even when it is all employed by the state to crush dissent, that somehow the violence is a product of the protests themselves. Furthermore, the general public is far more tolerant of state violence (unprovoked, excessive, and illegal) than of even justifiable physical resistance on the part of protesters.

Without having to argue for violent anarchy in the streets, we should at least internalize that fighting back isn't always the end of civilization and the precursor to the blood-soaked doom of our species, and then we should try to inculcate in the minds of others the idea that violence has to be put into context. Sometimes people resisting being wrongfully arrested, resisting being carted off to being tortured and humiliated, resisting being truncheoned or pepper-sprayed, resisting being rendered voiceless with their right to peacefully protest being lawlessly crushed, are justified. Sometimes anger against massive injustice and massive crimes is justified.

I am not, at the present time, saying that the people in the Occupy camps that are being razed in the USA should have fought back. It's just that when I hear and read calls from people sympathetic or supportive of the movement saying that violence must NEVER ever be employed, and that one can ONLY win through non-violence, I disagree.

In the first place, non-violent protest has utterly failed to even slow-down the abominations that are the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Saying things like "You might lose if you employ non-violence but you will definitely lose if you employ violence" is just making an assertion. Second of all, we are protesting against massively selfish psychotic murderers. True, they have a powerful state apparatus that can obliterate most opposition. Therefore, violence applied against them is suicidal. On the other hand, if these psychotic, murderous greed-heads know that no matter what they do, the people will be as meek as lambs, then what threat are any of our legal, peaceful protests?

It could just as well be asserted: "If you use violence, you might lose, but if you always practice non-violence you will definitely lose."

Yes, it would be unfortunate if things became violent. Yes, it would most likely be crushed. But could we please abandon the notion that it would be inherently wrong and should always and everywhere be condemned? Could we dispense with the dangerous delusion that physically resisting the injustice and oppression of the state is immoral and shameful?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Robert Fleming Gourlay

His bust is at St. James Park in Toronto, where the Occupy Toronto camp is. How fitting. He was a Quixotic figure, but (as I said at Montreal Simon's place) I truly believe that its the slightly "off" obsessed types who are needed to change things.

Here's the entry for him at the valuable Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Michelangelo as a Draughtsman

I've always been very impressed by the power of his sketches. In their own way, they're just as impressive as his sculptures and his paintings.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Where Did the Left Go?

Good article about our political confusion in the face of capitalism's failures.
Elsewhere, and not only in the US, political leaders long considered as models by the moderate left also face angry crowds. In Greece, the president of the Socialist International, George Papandreou, is pursuing a policy of extreme austerity: privatizations, cuts in the civil service, and delivering economic and social sovereignty to a ultra-neoliberal “troika.” The conduct of the Spanish, Portuguese and Slovenian governments reminds us that the term “left” is now so debased that it is no longer associated with any specific political content.
Read the whole thing by Serge Halimi.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remembering Remembrance Day

There's no doubt that Canadians of a militaristic bent like Remembrance Day. Along with most of us, there's a heartfelt appreciation for the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers down through the years.

I thought about putting quotation marks around the word "sacrifices" because it seems to me that most of these militarists use the word robotically with no real understanding of what the word means. But I decided to write it straight because soldiers have sacrificed. They have suffered and they have died. They have been traumatized, maimed, disfigured and abused.

I hesitate to say that they've died for our freedoms. World War I wasn't about a German attempt to take over the world. World War II was obviously more necessary for Canada to have been involved with but it was fought to contain Germany and that would have been the case had Germany been a liberal democracy or the genocidal racist monstrosity that Hitler had transformed it into. All the rest of it, including the peace-keeping, while it might have been worthwhile in some degree, I can't think of any time that our freedoms were threatened to any great degree.

And that includes our occupation of Afghanistan. We did not go into Afghanistan because our freedoms were threatened by Al Qaeda and the Taliban. We did not go into Afghanistan because we cared about the sufferings of people living under the Taliban. We went in because the USA's government wanted to lash-out militarily to take vengeance against the people purportedly behind the 9-11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and they were saying that other nations had to be with them or they would be counted as against them.

We have stayed in Afghanistan for over ten long years and in that time we, as Canadians and as members of NATO have been indifferent to the fact that the government we imposed upon them (and which sustained its hold on power through electoral fraud) is brutal and corrupt and creates its own insurgency. (Deluded morons such as Terry Glavin imagine that the NATO powers have "overlooked" the corruption and brutality of the Karzai regime but this is nonsense. We provide them with the bulk of their government revenues and their military protection. If we truly cared about the sufferings of the people of Afghanistan we could haul-up Karzai and his warlord governors and tell them in no uncertain terms that they must put the money we are giving them where it has been assigned to go or we leave them to their fate and find other Afghan leaders to support.) We Canadians have been indifferent to the fact that in some years NATO airstrikes have claimed more lives than have Taliban bombs. We Canadians have been indifferent to the fact that innocent Afghan peasants who we have turned over to the Karzai regime have been tortured. We are indifferent to our own complicity in creating the anger that has caused the insurgency to continue to grow throughout our soldiers' role in the occupation.

But yet, once again, on Remembrance Day, along with the veterans and the civilians who are good of heart, the militarists also stand silently at attention looking sombre.

The militarists vow never to forget, but they never knew anything in the first place. They hear the sound "sacrifice" in their brains and it means nothing but a young man lying in dignified repose beneath a waving Canadian flag. They mouth banalities about how war is horrible but they actually revel in it. They talk about freedom while seeking to remove them from anyone who would dare question the causes for which we ask our soldiers to fight, kill and die. They talk about democracy and human rights but cheer when stephen harper shuts down democracy to cover his complicity in war crimes. They avoid totally the fact that THEY are creating the insurgency which kills and maims and traumatizes Canadian soldiers. They do this by rabidly defending a mission to prop-up a government of thieving, torturing pedophiles. They do this by cheering on the NATO airstrikes that decimate entire villages. They do this by turning their eyes away from the "hunter-killer" squads that roam the Afghan countryside murdering people who they have heard are somehow connected to the insurgency. These death-squads kill innocent people and carve their bodies up for trophies.

The create the rage that leads Afghan peasants to join or support the insurgency and it is this insurgency that is killing and maiming Canadian soldiers.

These militarist fools have learned nothing and are incapable of learning anything. But they stand there year after year, looking like the fools they are, and sadly, as a society we take them seriously. But for me personally, it's a revolting spectacle.

ETA: [Similar sentiments here.]

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Matt Taibbi Re-evaluates OWS

In Rolling Stone, via CommonDreams.org:
The right-wing media wasted no time in cannon-blasting the movement with its usual idiotic clich├ęs, casting Occupy Wall Street as a bunch of dirty hippies who should get a job and stop chewing up Mike Bloomberg's police overtime budget with their urban sleepovers. Just like they did a half-century ago, when the debate over the Vietnam War somehow stopped being about why we were brutally murdering millions of innocent Indochinese civilians and instead became a referendum on bralessness and long hair and flower-child rhetoric, the depraved flacks of the right-wing media have breezily blown off a generation of fraud and corruption and market-perverting bailouts, making the whole debate about the protesters themselves – their hygiene, their "envy" of the rich, their "hypocrisy."
The protesters, chirped Supreme Reichskank Ann Coulter, needed three things: "showers, jobs and a point." Her colleague Charles Krauthammer went so far as to label the protesters hypocrites for having iPhones. OWS, he said, is "Starbucks-sipping, Levi's-clad, iPhone-clutching protesters [denouncing] corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over." Apparently, because Goldman and Citibank are corporations, no protester can ever consume a corporate product – not jeans, not cellphones and definitely not coffee – if he also wants to complain about tax money going to pay off some billionaire banker's bets against his own crappy mortgages.
That's not even the meaty part. It just sounds familiar. Like the stupid drivel I get for not laughing along with torture-enthusiasts.

Friday, November 11, 2011

There's Gold In Them Thar Hills!

The notion that the super-rich don't have enough money to tax in order rectify our current imbalances is repeated with tiresome frequency. But few people are saying that taxing the super-rich will eliminate all our problems in an instant. What most advocates for fair taxation are saying is that increasing taxation on the wealthy will begin to change things for the better.

Redistribution of income has been taking place since 1980, when the top 1% already had a large piece of the pie (7%).

Then they took a second piece (7% more).

Then they took a third piece (7% more).

That's over a trillion dollars a year of after-tax income that would be going to the other 99% if it weren't for 30 years of tax cuts and deregulation.

If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.

Besides which, remember that the end result of all this tax-cutting and other sorts of pandering to the wealthy has been the economic disaster we have now.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What To Do?

I suppose that I could wax indignantly and at length about Dalton McGuinty's jaw-dropping hypocrisy when talking about whether the Occupy Toronto camp should obey Mayor Stupid's request to dismantle itself:
McGuinty said he would leave the matter in Ford’s hands, but asked protesters to exercise their rights “in a way that is respectful of the rights of others and respectful of the law.”
This from the premier who secretly gave lying thug Police Chief Bill Blair the Charter-shredding powers under the Public Works Protection Act at the G20 conference in Toronto.

Instead though, I'd like to address some tactics. Millions upon millions of Canadians are vaguely sympathetic to the Occupy protesters. A smaller number of millions are unaware of their existence. And a middling number of millions are opposed to them for some reason or other. But I'd like to ask how many millions of Canadians think a bunch of peaceful protester camps are going to alter Canada's current political-economic power structure one iota.

I'd say 99.9% would say that they won't achieve anything significant.

The Left has to get serious about how things actually work. Politics as usual doesn't work. Social movements as usual don't work. Social movements and full-time politicians have to work together at all levels of government to understand the power dynamics of capitalism's political, economic and media strengths and to figure out how to circumvent them.

Real change is only going to come through political-legal avenues. Real change has almost never happened as the result of an afternoon's protest, peaceful or otherwise. Standing around for an hour or two speechifying doesn't put any "pressure" on elected officials in thrall to the rich.

I have said it before and I'll say it again; we have nominal political democracy. It is the undemocratic nature of our economy that renders it only nominal. In the absence of a violent revolution to seize control of our economy from its present owners (which would be messy and unpredictable in any case) we should entrench the human rights of workers within their workplaces. This will simplify the problems of governments to a great degree as the independent generators of wealth will look after their own to a greater degree than at present, while their majority voters will vote to pay taxes to the state to obtain their collective goods (libraries, health care, education, roads, public transit, etc., ) that are important to them, but which wealthy elites do not care about.

It is better to work seriously with the system we have rather than engaging in useless "belling the cat" exercises.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Couldn't Agree More

The right to be angry ...

Out of this crouching and unseemly cowardice, a new liberal esthetic was born. To be taken seriously, one must be, above all, polite and upbeat.

Someone takes your job and puts your pension into their pocket, be polite and upbeat. Someone marches you into murderous and wasteful wars on the basis of lies, be polite and upbeat. The government suspends most of the Bill of Rights, be polite and upbeat. In short, if you ever really want to “get anything done”, you must, before all else, be polite and upbeat.

If you don’t believe me when I talk about the degree to which the so-called left has internalized the message that being unflinchingly critical is tantamount to being pathologically angry, try the following sometime.

Walk into a room of middle-of-the-road Democratic voters and point out what is undeniably true: that the US is, to paraphrase King, far and away the biggest purveyor of death, destruction and terror in the world. Even if you do so in the most affable and breezy of tones, I guarantee that within a few minutes at least one, and probably several, of the people hearing your exposition will assail you with charges about your being pathologically “negative” or “angry”.

There was a telling exchange at Dawg's blog recently. Dawg provided yet another list of harper's destructive attacks on Canadian democracy and the confused psychopaths managed to make the whole conversation about how unpleasant I was in the comments section. You'd think they had missplaced priorities until you realized that they hated democracy and cheered harper's assaults on it.

Fuck 'em.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Random Saturday Morning Thoughs

First: Are the restrictions on the policy options of the European Central Bank deliberately designed to prevent it from being able to print money and therefore devalue (however slightly) the financial wealth of Europe's elites? Or is there some threat from the US-Americans and their embattled economy, that Europe is not allowed to devalue the Euro and gain whatever advantages would accrue from a cheaper currency?

I have no idea.

Second: Congratulations the people at Occupy Oakland for their successful and inspiring general strike!

Observation: While I didn't go into conniptions about it (as representing the downfall of Western Civilization), I said at the time that the Black Bloc window-smashing at the Toronto G-20 seemed ritualistic, pointless, and counter-productive. If they weren't provocateurs at the Oakland march smashing windows, I'd still say their actions were stupid. Not necessary. Turns the public against you and for no reason. Shutting down the city was a far more powerful statement than smashing a few windows.

Friday, November 4, 2011

An Interesting Interview

I've got my thoughts about this ...



The Longines watch company interviewed every presidential candidate except the winner!

Tactical Genius: (The Science of Revolution)

Protest Rally + ???? = Totally Peaceful Revolutionary Outcome!!!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Giorgio Mammoliti and Paul Watson

Just a moment's reflection. The incompetent, blubbering coward Mayor Rob Ford has a right-hand man; the arrogant, hypocritical homophobe Giorgio Mammoliti. (Oh yeah, the cry-baby, ignorant, incompetent, lying sack-of-shit Rob Ford is a homophobe too.) Mammoliti is an enthusiastic advocate of the mayor's cut-cut-cut, anti-union agenda. But Mammoliti was once a union member himself, with CUPE, and he was very protective of his perks then. What's changed? Simple. Mammoliti has a new job and during the course of this new career, power shifted to a simpleton right-wing buffoon and his allies. Mammoliti's self-interest (which made him an active union member as a worker) has now compelled him to become a right-wing, anti-union, anti-public services shill.

Sometimes, self-interested, arrogant pricks can help a good movement if there's something in it for them. In this case they are doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

Some people might say that Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd is doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. I'm not sure I include myself in that group. Driving whales and other forms of ocean life into extinction might be worse than putting some ships out of action. Anyway, I'm bringing up Paul Watson in this post along with Mammoliti because he's another example of how leaders aren't always pleasant human beings. A documentary came out about Watson last summer and I remember the reviews saying that it shows a man with a simplistic, black-and-white view of the world, and himself, and that he disregards people close to him (including his own children) for his causes. Sort of like a man-child in some respects.

And I thought; well of course. Causes aren't sustained by part-time activists like me, trying to sustain work, family, and some degree of balance, in our lives. They're sustained by people fixated on an idea and often oblivious to everything else.

Just some reflections as I'm too busy for sustained blogging.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Crazy Proposals

I'm sure these ideas wouldn't pass muster with the "Saddam Hussein's WMDs are going to kill us all!!!" crowd. (Or the "The Muslims are sneakily going to impose Sharia law on all of us and left-wing multiculturalism is stopping us from fighting back!!!" or the "Global warming isn't happening but if it is it's the sun's fault and I know this because I read scientists and pundits who are paid by the oil industry and not the climate scientists who have been corrupted by the nefarious academic grants complex and who have resisted the tawdry offerings of the oil industry to debunk the whole global warming scam" or the "the amount of loans given to poor African-Americans by banks strong-armed by a series of Democratic federal governments and that couldn't be paid back is what almost sank Wall Street and caused the international financial crisis" crowds for that matter!)

But here they are:

The default setting for thinking about other human beings is to wish them well and try to ensure that they don't starve to death, get poisoned, be enslaved or get murdered.

That being the case, the wealth of the world should be redistributed enough to ensure that everyone gets a subsistence income to allow them confidence in the necessities of life. (Which would go a long way to reducing the "children as a retirement fund" behaviour that people in desperately poor societies are forced to engage in.)

Set about designing an international economy that is based on the continued provision of the necessities of life for everyone, rather than the "build a lot of environmentally destructive junk and sell it to those people fortunate enough to be able to afford it so as to justify your continued existence" system that is leading the human race to its destruction.

That's all.