Thursday, March 28, 2013

Elections Canada: The Farce Continues

Shorter Elections Canada: "We're useless."

Read the comments at the link. Canadians are fed up. (Except for the pathetic harpercon hacks and trolls who vote down inarguable statements about the importance of electoral integrity and democracy.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Boris, Alison and Moi

 A little while ago, in the comments section of one of her posts, Alison at Creekside was asked why she isn't blogging so much anymore. She replied that there didn't seem to be much point to blogging in the face of official sanction for an illegitimate government.(I don't remember which post this conversation occurred in.)

Yesterday, Boris at the "Galloping Beaver" announced his own change of focus:
I've had much less energy for blogging over the past while, my posts have gotten shorter and from my view, aren't the same class as some of my earlier stuff. I've shifted quite a bit in my thinking over the years. I look around Canadian politics and society, and see the mainstream in a different light than maybe I did a back in 2006 or 2008. Then, I had some naive hope that our institutions and public were strong enough. But thrice times Harper, and well folks, the rot is set. Our political institutions are a gangrenous limb and won't recover even if we manage to send the current group of hagfish back to the depths from whence they came.
If you ask me, I'll say bluntly that on the whole we are a country that has grown too self-satisfied, too rich, and too idle. Too many generations of ease have passed, and the liberal and social ideals that drove the Grits and Dippers  have hollowed out into mere platitudes. All are caught up in that same mindless Ottawa Shore TV series, its own fantastical deviation from realities of the world we're in. I suppose I should stop being surprised at the complete lack of balls eminating from the elected government as well as the civil service. There's barely a peep despite the loss of the long form, muzzling of scientists, and other vandalisations. Docile and complacent, thinking it all end someday, few act - like when they're out of jobs. As I've said before on this blog, they way to beat the Harper crowd is come down hard and fast. They win because they play on our docility and our niceness. Hell, they even rigged the last election and didn't even need to use the army and secret policy to do it or repress the aftermath.
And, I said, a while ago that I was taking an indefinite break from online "activism." In that, my choice of words was poor. I didn't mean that I would stop blogging. I just meant that I wouldn't be typing lengthy screeds criticizing stephen harper and finishing with "THIS HAS TO CHANGE!" as if my blogging, or anybody's blogging, was going to accomplish that. If I ever do start doing that in a big way, I didn't want my readership to drop-off altogether, so I was going to post video links, random reflections and what-not.

I said elsewhere that it looks like blogging and discussion boards are fading into oblivion.Babble at Rabble.ca allegedly has not much going on. EnMasse is in the doldrums. Crust and Dandelions I don't even know about any more. And somebody posted about how the activity on the "Blogging Tories" was down as well, so it's a trend shared by both semi-normal people and right-wing shitheads.

But seriously people, ... if nobody in your neighbourhood is proposing a meat-space response to harper, ... look in the mirror. What are you waiting for? It's obvious that the Supreme Court is willing to compromise itself for our fuckhead self-called "prime minister." It's obvious that Elections Canada has no intention of doing its fucking job. The Council of Canadians is the only group of people actually challenging the results of the stolen election. And the wheels of justice grind slowly, and in the case of the Supreme Court, the wheels come loose and fly off.

Think people! What would bring accountability to Canada? If an afternoon rally or an online forum for bitching and complaining and petitioning isn't going to do what you want, ask yourselves "what will?"

If all of our political parties are debased and corrupted by the same insular, business-as-usual pissing contests, don't resign from real-world politics! This democracy, as frustrating as it is, is all we've got.

I agree with Boris in that as a group, Canadians are rich and complacent. Some of us in dire straits (LIKE MEEEEE!!!!) still have a heated home and access to diversions. Others of us though, are mired in the rat-race. Overworked and unable to think through our situations. Desperate to keep our heads down and keep working. And, finally, I've said this many, many times before: If the full-time political-junkies and protesting types haven't figured out a way to change things, why should we expect some regular, apolitical types to jump up and do something??

I've managed to speak about these things to a couple of groups. I'll be doing more here in Toronto and Hamilton. Look at yourselves. Think through how you might get something REAL going. And go out there and try.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Break

I'll resume my look at Scott Neigh's Talking Radical: Resisting the State tomorrow (maybe). For now, yeez kin watch a video. A terrible video I watched with my 5-year old last night. The guy who wrote that script probably got $150 (in today's money) for it. Threw it at his bosses and said "If you want quality, you have to pay for it." I can see it all now. Bet the guy looked a little like me!

P.S. The five-year old thought it was stupid.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Resisting the State" ... More

So, yeah, more about Scott Neigh's Talking Radical: Resisting the State.

In Chapter 2, Neigh talks about the transplanted Trinidadian, Toronto lawyer Charles Roach.

Neigh begins with an in-depth explanation of how the cultures of other lands filter into a locale via the process of immigration and migration. He does this to show how Roach brought to Toronto a different understanding of the British Empire than that understood by Anglo-Canadians (and others of the white-ish persuasion).

Roach's first activism in Canada was in the anti-nuclear weapons movement that tried to support Prime Minister Diefenbaker's attempts to keep US nuclear warheads off of Canadian soil. He was arrested and charged with unlawful assembly at one protest but was thankfully aquitted. Roach kept his head down after that, since as an immigrant and not a citizen, his future in Canada was always tenuous.

Later, Roach would have to fight efforts to force lawyers to swear an oath of allegiance to the monarchy in order to practice law. He would never become a Canadian citizen, fighting up to his death last year at age 79, to have to swear allegiance to the crown to be a citizen.

The chapter involves a discussion of the role of the law in regulating lives and maintaining order, but also as a forum for struggle. The longest story involves Roach's legally unsuccessful efforts to help Jamaican domestic workers in Canada to keep their jobs and not be deported. In the 1960s, as the supply of domestic workers for middle-class and wealthier families began to dry-up, the federal government initiated a program whereby Jamaican women could come to Canada to work on a temporary basis. Their stays could last for years, but it was always understood that they could not stay in Canada permanently through this program. Only Jamaican women without children could apply for these jobs, to alleviate any government fears that they would somehow get in the country, exploit some as yet unnoticed loophole, become citizens and drag their whole black brood in behind them. In what might have been some fishing expedition to expose "cheaters" and thereby show the Jamaicans who was boss, but what was certainly a bit of bureaucratic sadism, officials approached these women and informed them of a program whereby they could gain landed status and sponsor their children to join them in Canada. Falling for the bait, a number of these women registered, only to be told that they had lied on their applications for the guest-worker program and would therefore be deported.

Charles Roach had started out with a well-paying job working for the Ontario government but had soon decided he wanted to do something more with his life than what he was doing. He'd reasoned that while the sort of advocacy for the oppressed wasn't a path to riches, he'd certainly be able to support himself doing it. The domestic workers' case was on of the sorts of things he took on. He argued repeatedly, and unsuccessfully in court on their behalf, but he also campaigned and built alliances outside of the court room. It was the combination of these two tactics that eventually forced the government to relent and let the women stay (in such a way as to absolve the feds of conceding anything to them).

It was many battles such as these that changed things a bit at a time, says Neigh.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Scott Neigh's "Talking Radical: Resisting the State"

So, my friend Scott Neigh has asked me to review his book Talking Radical: Resisting the State - Canadian History Through the Stories of Activists. So here's the review!!

First off, I finally think that I understand Scott's antipathy to working through official channels to achieve lasting gains. Many of the activists (either interviewed or described third-hand) who accepted government funding found their freedom of action constrained and their campaigns co-opted and neutered. Of course, I've always proposed going in with our eyes open to actually take-over and implement revolutionary change, and not to accept some pragmatic compromise that flushes the core of what you want to do down the toilet. Still, you can see from the stories inside "Resisting the State" where Scott's fears come from.

In "Resisting the State" Neigh speaks with ordinary Canadians from many different backgrounds who work on many different causes. His first story is about an elderly couple of peaceniks and about their experiences as war-resisters in World War II. Isabel and Frank Showler were inspired by the same Christian pacifism that informed J. S. Woodsworth of the CCF. Personally, while I understand that WWII was a tragedy caused by the fallout of the First World War, I still believe that it was necessary to have stopped Hitler. The Showlers still believe it was wrong for Britain and France and Canada to have gone to war in 1939 and they have respectable reasons for believing this. Where we agree is on the right of citizens to be free of the threat of conscription. If a democratic people do not feel strong enough about a cause to risk death and possibly kill their fellow human beings, they should not be compelled to do so.

Isabel was a 19-year old Occupational Therapist who did not want to sign an oath of allegiance to defend the Queen if it meant bearing arms and vocal about not wanting to register people for war work. In the end, she was allowed to sign an oath with specific caveats and allowed to opt-out of war administration. Her account makes clear though that this stand took some courage. Her parents had made many sacrifices for her education and if she had been fired and given a black mark on her record it would have destroyed her career and her parents' sacrifices for her would have been in vain.

Frank was conscripted in 1944 and for refusing to serve in the military he was relegated to working in labour camps under military-style discipline. He stayed at that until the government realized that there were more productive uses for all those men trashing around in the woods. He was allowed to return to Toronto as a hospital worker (where he took the opportunity to organize his fellow workers into a union).

It's a nice little opening chapter. I've spent more time than I wanted to on this. So I'll talk about another chapter next time.

Invasion of Iraq - 10th Anniversary Reflections

What do I take away from this abomination? The reaffirmation that our opponents are dangerous. They are cretinous, deluded, hypocritical, murderous, greedy, cowardly vermin. Everyone who was sold on the unelected bush II's case for the war was an ignoramus or a complete idiot. Every media outlet that fails to condemn bush II and his administration as war criminals has failed utterly in its responsibilities. We won't agree to disagree on this. We are right and they are wrong. We were and remain right about Iraq. We are right about global warming. We are right about austerity. We are right about the environment. We are right about Syria. We are right about Afghanistan. We are right and they are wrong.

When you let these shit-heads do what they want to do, colossal tragedies like the invasion of Iraq are the result.

Further "The US Invasion of Iraq Was a Crime and its Perpetrators are Murderers."
If President Bush knew he had no constitutional authority to go to war, then he knowingly broke the law and a properly instructed jury would have little difficulty in finding him guilty of murder. Even if he was not conscious of any wrongdoing, which seems more likely, a jury would still be warranted in finding him guilty, at the very least, of criminally negligent homicide if it found that his ignorance constituted a failure to perform the duties of his office with due diligence.
The mother whose dead body was found in the bombed ruins of Baghdad, holding her baby so tight they could not be pried apart and had to be buried together, can no longer be dismissed as "collateral damage." That mother and child, and the more than 3,000 Iraqi civilians killed directly by U.S. bombs and artillery fire in the first month alone, as well as the Iraqi troops killed while defending their country against an arguably unlawful and unreasonable attack, may have been victims of criminal homicide.

And further ...

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 15th Reading n' Shit

So, today I'm reading a book recommended by a friend. (He's fucking weird in that he's able to go buy these awesome second-hand books and then, when he's done reading them, gets rid of them when there's no more room on his shelf for new ones.)

Anyhow, it's by Alex Butterworth and it's called The World That Never Was: the true story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists & Secret Police. This nitwit reviewer at the Guardian seems to think it's a scathing condemnation of the anarchist dreamers, but most of the reviewers at the amazon.com link say it's more a condemnation of the hypocrisy and immorality of the official guardians of order, which is certainly how the pages from 1-21 have made me feel. (One good reason to call that reviewer a nitwit is his sniggering at the science-fantasy visions of the 19th Century radical Louise Michel. Yes, certainly, a courageous fighter for workers' rights and radical democracy, who was exiled to a South Pacific Island where she would later side with the indigenous inhabitants against the grasping French colonizers, is an obvious loon for thinking that maybe one day there would be colonies under the sea. Her principles, the justice of her cause, her heroism, her belief in the rights of all people, ... all of it to be denigrated because some of her hopes for the future resembled a Jules Verne story.)

Butterworth begins by saying that the police campaign against anarchism is similar to the campaigns in today's "war on terror." Perhaps he's too subtle for some, but it seems he's not entirely a devotee to the capitalist-imperialist hypocrisies so obvious in that struggle. I've only just started it and I'm sure I'll become infuriated.

Watched "Casino" by Martin Scorsese again last night. Films like "Goodfellas" and "Casino" are (as you probably already know) morality plays about man-children and about US capitalism. Scorsese's hoods at first seem to be on top of the world. Nobody fucks with them and they get whatever they want. But, eventually, their egos, selfishness and greed, bring them down.

But check out this scene:


Could you picture mobsters in any other country besides the USA being able to do this shit and steal so much? Think of all those informants Pesci's character has helping him; all for a cut. Just think about the amount of wealth that's necessary before an operation like this can be worth the while for these criminal parasites.

Then, at the end, as DeNiro's character laments the passing of his version of Las Vegas, reflect upon how this mob-created empire of glittery misery, and fostered by official hypocrisy, was swept away by an even bigger, gaudier corporate version beginning in the late-1980s. It's still separating people from their money, sometimes with tragic consequences, but the corporations got the money to do it as a result of the "pro-business" policies of the "Reagan Revolution." What I'm saying is to think about the political-economic changes just hinted at in that last part of the movie.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

As Good a Survey of Iraq's Historical Sufferings as You're Going to Get

"Unmitigated Disaster" by Sami Ramadani.

You know, years ago on this blog, I wrote an observation about Mark Steyn's book I forget the stupid title. I hadn't read the book then and I never will. Because Steyn is a cretin. But a really smart "conservative" (or "right-winger" or whatever) took me to task for my supposedly weak understanding of fascism and for my not having read the book I was condemning.

This guy was smarter than me. W-a-a-a-ay smarter. But at one point he blurted out how he would like to see genuine democracy flourish in Iraq and be an example for all those other retrograde Arab nations.(And that this hope was initiated by bush II's courageous invasion of that country.)  I immediately replied: "There it is." and went on to explain how what he said was the kernel of insane gibberish that lies at the heart of any "conservative" worldview.

I'm in no way, shape, or form, the smartest person I know. I also know for a FACT that a lot of those people in the labour movement, environmental movement, NGO's and all sorts of other left-wing oppositional groups are tons smarter than I am. That being the case, I simply can't figure out why they can't rouse themselves to an opposition to stephen harper that hasn't amounted to desultorily masturbating themselves in between their bursts of useless afternoon or one-day rallies.

You know, it's quite possible that there are Canadians who also have an in-depth strategy to defeat the harpercons and save Canadian democracy only they can't get a forum for their views. Who can't even get email replies to requests for a hearing. Even with references to establish one's bona fides. But even if that's the case, why don't the left-wing leaders who have a megaphone have anything more than the usual exposes of mainstream political-economy's abominations, reports on heroic actions on scales so small as to be practically irrelevant and rhetorical calls for "resistance"?

What is "resistance" to these people? Some 20-something protester with a cracked skull getting a cavity-search from some fascist cops? Some lefty with a paid position in an organization that doesn't allow genuine political criticism of the system because that would endanger their funding?

Peaceful dissidents didn't stop Hitler. His fellow imperialists in the UK, USA and the USSR did.

Peaceful dissidents didn't bring down the USSR. Their economy ground to a halt under the weight of its own contradictions and its elites opted for a "Revolution from Above."

China is imitating the USA which is imitating China to produce a self-destructive system of super-corrupt authoritarian capitalism on a global scale. And harper has been doing his own bit to decimate our democratic and legal safeguards here in Canada and the left has proposed ABSOLUTELY NOTHING substantial to do anything about it in the over half-decade of his being in power.

NOTHING.

NOTHING.

How can we be so weak, confused and useless?

ADDED FOR FUCK'S SAKE

I just read Dr. Dawg's excellent criticisms of the new pope. Only five comments so I read them. K-Z, immediately upon hearing that the then Cardinal of Argentina covered-up crimes against humanity committed by the Argentinian dictatorship, quips how Dawg would have supported giving the Falkland Islands back to that dictatorship. And the shit-for-brains Peter 1 says that Dawg wouldn't have been happy with any of the papal candidates. I also know that Marky-Mark was recently engaged in yet another typing contest to try to defend Israeli atrocities by insisting that Israel is the ever-threatened innocent.  Why does he tolerate this vermin??? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

For Real?

 I scrolled past this story at Crooks and Liars the first time. I glanced at it a little longer going past it today. I'd thought that the image in the video still was some sort of joke on bush II. I thought they were making fun of him.

That really is the mass-murdering war criminal bush II, standing proudly beside some kitschy painting he did of a toy dog. The nutbar fundamentalist hypocrite, torturer, thief, election-stealer. And those FOX News hosts are really serious in their gushing praise in their transparent attempt to rehabilitate the unelected simpleton's work.

Here's a great Glenn Greenwald editorial that criticize the nauseating gushing of Crooks and Liars for the war criminal Obama.

It's insane and we're fucked.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dark Legacy: Systemic Discrimination Against Canada's First Peoples

It's a new book I'm reading. Got it from the Parliament branch of the Toronto Public Library.

Dark Legacy: Systemic Discrimination Against Canada's First Peoples by L.J. O'Connor and Morgan O'Neal, with Lloyd Dolha and Jim Ada.

I'm about half-way through it. So far it's talked about the betrayal of treaty promises that led to the cooping-up of First Nations on isolated reserves that were mismanaged and pilfered by white Indian Agents. It quickly moved to the development of the idea of residential schools and their horrible social impact on numerous First Nations families and communities. It ties the impact of the residential schools on the social problems on reserves and in urban centers that were used to justify the "Sixties Scoop," where tens of thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their families by social workers (well intentioned or not) and sent to live with non-aboriginal families, some of them outside provincial and even national borders. Many suffered a profound sense of alienation. Some were mistreated, including with sexual abuse. Meanwhile, the parents who lost their childhood to the residential schools and who had now lost their children to social welfare agencies could only persist in quiet despair.

All of this suffering produced disproportionate levels of suicides, alcoholism, physical abuse and other problems. Remember that on top of this there exists the prejudice against First Nations peoples in the labour market, theft of resources and mismanagement of reserves all overseen by the various Indian Affairs ministries across successive changes of government at the federal level.

It is in this context that racism First Nations peoples, and sexism against First Nations women, develops. First we dragged them down to poverty and demoralization. Then we blamed them for their state. Then we justified it to ourselves. Then, along with the prevalent misogyny in society, we made First Nations women the target for abuse and brutality.

The book details the horrific rape and murder of Rose Roper in 1967 by three white men. Roper was portrayed as a prostitute in the media (although she wasn't and it would have been irrelevant if she had been) and how two of her killers walked free while the third had to pay a $200 fine. Then there is the infamous case of the raping and killing of Helen Betty Osborne by a quartet of white young men in 1971 and the subsequent cover-up of this by the town of La Pas, Manitoba, which persisted until 1987. In Saskatchewan, in 2001, three young white males admitted to statutory rape of a 12-year old First Nations girl (they thought she was 14) but their sentences were reduced as the judge decided that the girl bore some of the responsibility for having willingly gotten into their truck and drinking beer with them and found two of the men not guilty and sentenced the third to two years of house arrest and community service.

I'm now at the sections where white male serial killers of First Nations women are allowed to kill and kill again by a racist policing and judicial system that sees the lives of First Nations women as unimportant. These victims of generations of government abuse, systemic discrimination and poverty, are unemployed, drug-addicted prostitutes, so, therefore, they're responsible for their own problems and their miserable lives are valueless. Gilbert Paul Jordan, John Martin Crawford and Robert "Willie" Pickton, were all miserable losers who breathed in the racist contempt for the First Nations and sexist contempt for women, that permeates Canadian society. They were all multiple murderers who were often arrested for assault or rape, and who were suspected of murder, but who were all ignored or given light prison sentences that had them back on the street to kill again.

Anyway, that's what I'm reading and thought it was an important enough book to share. I couldn't find any sort of worthwhile link for it.

I'm also reading a book that's apparently highly recommended by Glen Beck: Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II  by Arthur Herman. The explosion of output and, subsequently, wealth, that resulted from military spending in World War II (following a decade of economic stagnation in the 1930s) produced a military and economic super-power. It's an important story and a general survey of the subject such as this one is useful. It's childishly pro-business and anti-union, anti-Democratic Party. Herman presents the capitalists as unvarnished heroes who produced victory despite being beset on all sides by what Ayn Rand would call "the moochers." According to reviewers on Amazon.com, the book is littered with small errors, if it gets the big parts basically right. I'm finding his childishness a hard slog at time. I actually don't doubt the talent, ingenuity, hard work or even the occasional patriotism of this class of people. I don't even doubt the sincerity of their viewpoint. It just betrays history to imagine that giving the business class all that it wants is the key to social, economic or political prosperity.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bye Jymn

My blog-roll link: "Let Freedom Rain" no longer works. Jymn has retired from blogging. Jymn was getting depressed about the failure of the enemies of the harpercons to present a united front against them. Then he had a flame-out over the workplace bullying at the hands of female bosses that he unfortunately attributed to feminism.

But I liked Jymn because he could be funny. And he could be funny and dead accurate in his outrage. Sometimes, when a particular political shit-storm was raging, "Let Freedom Rain" had the most pithy of observations of anyone that I read. And his outrage was generally warranted.

Jymn, if you're reading this, take care of yourself.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bombing War

This looks like it'll be fairly objective. (Only just started it.)