Saturday, September 25, 2021

Heads They Win, Tails We Lose


So, sorta recently, the USA has been putting the screws to the country of Nicaragua after its people had the temerity to re-elect the Sandinista Party under the leadership of Daniel Ortega in November, 2006.

Okay. A brief background: Nicaragua had long been a feudal, agricultural society and for much of the 20th Century a colony of the United States of America. (Which included an actual occupation by US Marines from 1912 to 1933. An attempt was made to throw-off this feudal/colonial status under a peasant revolutionary, Augusto Sandino from 1927-33.  Sandino succeeded in expelling the Marines but was subsequently assasinated. It was ruled for decades by the super-corrupt Somoza family. (Anastasio Somoza Garcia had been the director the National Guard which has murdered Sandino.) In 1972 a major earthquake destroyed most of the capital city of Managua. President Anastasio Somoza, (son of the scumbag mentioned above) staying true to form, pilfered most of the international aid money sent to help rebuild, destroying his support base among Nicaraguan capitalists. Almost the whole country turned against him. A Marxist rebel movement; the "Sandinistas" (named after Sandino) rose up against him, and, aided by almost the entire country (including capitalists either having been fleeced by Somoza or unable to operate due to the continued chaos in the ruined capital) overthrew his regime. (Not before Somoza and his fascist "National Guard" set-up by the departing US Marines, inflicted a great deal of bloodshed in the regime's last days.)

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Perpetual Insanity That We Accept


So, after twenty years, the richest countries in the world (the USA and its NATO allies) were unable to construct a viable government that could meet the very modest expectations of the people of Afghanistan (one of the poorest countries in the world). Despite having spent literally TRILLIONS of dollars, the USA and its NATO allies were also unable to defeat a "Third World" insurgency, or to build an Afghan military force that could fight the insurgency autonomously. I don't know what sort of world you'd have to live in where you could constantly throw billions of dollars a month at a problem, and be genuinely indifferent and incurious about how nothing ever seems to improve. That's not my world. It's not the world of many leftists. Being critical thinkers, it is second-nature for us to acknowledge the realities that stare us straight in the face, look honestly for their causes, and think honestly about possible solutions. And if this self-praise sounds a little obnoxious, ... well, just consider how powerful people, being paid to think about and manage something like the Occupation of Afghanistan, showed themselves entirely incapable of doing the same thing that leftist critics of that occupation did for pretty much the entire twenty years of its existence. Which, in the end, produced articles like this:

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Liberal Shit-heads Continue to Masturbate


Liberal hacks will try to make you believe that there were "five months of inaction" before Justin Airhead True-dope called this totally unnecessary election. Supposedly the Liberals couldn't get anything through the toxic environment of a minority parliament wherein the dastardly opposition parties conspired to use bullshit procedural tricks to prevent the saintly Liberal Party of Canada from passing its angelic agenda.

The truth of the matter is that the Liberals used a couple of incidences of the Conservatives slowing things down, combined it with their own lack of interest in passing stuff, to paint a picture of a frustrated Trudeau being prevented from saving Canada and giving everybody a pony.

Trudeau wanted a majority because he (and most of his caucus) are arrogant, lazy, entitled, corrupt asswipes. A Liberal majority will make progressive legislation suffer the same fate as electoral reform.

None of the political parties inspire me. And it goes without saying that the Conservative Party of Canada (and its inbred half-brother the People's Party of Canada) are noxious and vile. But currently it's the deluded, self-righteous, self-pitying, dreck of Liberal bloggers that most sticks in my craw.

Oh yeah, ... and of course, a majority would allow Trudeau to continue to pursue "reconciliation" with the First Nations. If he can just resist his urges to send RCMP snipers onto their lands to point rifles at them when they protest Liberal policies.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Liberal Fuckwads Praying For a Majority (so Trudeau can implement climate change strategy he just pulled out of his ass)

 That's pretty much it.  Trudeau has been prime minister since 2015. In that time he and his party have provided lots of lip service towards fighting climate change combined with plenty of real-world support for the fossil fuels industry while going nowhere on reducing Canada's carbon emissions.

I suppose there are NDP bloggers embarrassing themselves online about their party's record as well. But they're not writing delusional shit about how if the NDP is given a majority government it will totally start doing all the stuff it hasn't bothered to do for five fucking years.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The NDP Did NOT Sabotage Electoral Reform


Glenn Head is the Cartoonist

Some of the panic noticeable from Liberal partisans is dissippating what with the fall-out from Erin O'Toole and Jason Kenney's insane pact to implement COVID restrictions according to a political timetable. There's less shrieking and caterwauling about NDP voters "splitting the progressive vote."

But when they were crying about vote-splitting, these Liberal hacks were claiming that it was the NDP which scuppered electoral reform by joining up with the Conservatives on the Special Committee on Electoral Reform to demand a referendum on the topic. (The NDP also favoured proportional representation over Trudeau's preferred, Liberal-friendly, "ranked ballot" scheme.)

Trudeau then used the asshat excuse that the country was too divided on this topic for him to impose changes with a good conscience. (As if popular opinion is the only thing that ever guides Liberal policies! It is to laugh!)

The fact of the matter is that Justin Trudeau's Liberal had a massive majority. The fact that the Special Committee didn't reflect this majority is our first clue that Trudeau and his handlers were looking for excuses to not implement electoral reform. Because the massive majority they then possessed reminded them why they like our shitty "First-Past-the-Post" (FPTP) voting system.

But the Special Committee's desires were, in reality, entirely irrelevant to what could have happened. The Special Committee was only meant to study and debate the idea of electoral reform and to propose a way forward. Trudeau could have disregarded it entirely and proposed legislation for whatever version of voting he wanted, sent it to a different committee dominated by a Liberal majority, and had it passed. 

For Liberal partisans to continue to spew this drivel about how the NDP's asking for a referendum somehow tied Justin Trudeau's hands is the height of either delusion or cynicism or ignorance. And, more sickening, is for Liberal hacks to support Trudeau's betrayal on electoral reform while simultaneously wailing about the dangers of vote splitting, which only remains a danger because of our continued subservience to FPTP.

One could argue that FPTP provides stability, or that people voting under proportional representation regimes aren't always happy and better served, but for me the strike against FPTP is the way it disenfranchises people unhappy with the two major parties. Study the nightmarish reality of the USA's two-party/FPTP system to see just how anti-democratic this voting system can get. But the reality is bad enough here in Canada. Under FPTP, the votes, aspirations, values of a socialist in Canada are almost effectively zero. In many ridings they are, in reality, zero. Any electoral system that denies representation to significant members of the political community is, by definition, anti-democratic. It shouldn't be tolerated to exclude specific demographics (by race or gender or income level or whatever) and it shouldn't be tolerated when socialist votes or environmentalists' votes are denied representation either. 

Personally, I would not hold a referendum on electoral reform. Support for either the Liberals and the Conservatives often reaches about 30% of the electorate. In times of deep unpopularity, support for either of these parties will fall to around 20%. This means that any referendum on electoral reform will have to contend with anything like 40-60% of the voters being automatically opposed to change based on partisan self-interest and the anti-democratic desire to continue to deny representation to other viewpoints. On top of that barrier there are the ignorant people who have no ideas and therefore no opinions on the issues being debated and who probably vote to keep things the way they are not out of any considered reflection but from laziness and indifference. Implementing a new form of voting won't take away any of these people's rights. It WOULD improve the situation for supporters of ideas outside of the narrow, capitalist-dominated parties of corruption and imperialism.

If Liberal hacks are going to make excuses for Justin Trudeau's betrayal of electoral reform they cannot simultaneously shriek about "vote-splitting." But being goddamned hypocrites, they will. But un-fuck 'em when they do that.

This artist is Kim Deitch

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Thwap's 2021 Federal Election Post


Blogging and politics are wastes of time. So I don't attend to either as much as I used to. I need to vent my feelings about subjects and just yesterday I added two more books to the last post about "latest reads." I don't plan on voting myself. After Jerkwad True Dope's little stunt/massive betrayal on electoral reform I don't plan on ever voting for a Liberal again. And, without proportional representation, or even a monetary vote subsidy (you know, where the political party you voted for gets public money for it, thereby reducing the need to fund-raise) I see no reason to vote NDP or Green or Communist to "make a statement."

What a country we live in! Remember how stephen harper shat upon the very fundamentals of our parliamentary pseudo-democracy and almost all of our mainstream media outlets continued to support him? They, being cretins, probably were genuinely unaware of how that endorsement of harper completely invalidated any of their claims to be democrats devoted to the rule of law. I'm not sure that they would have cared if they were made aware of the depths of their corruption and authoritarianism because they're full-time asshole people.

This goes for all the dunces and shit-stains and ignoramuses who are currently thinking of voting Conservative today. These are people who are so fucking crazy and so fucking stupid that they have convinced themselves that there's no pandemic and that we're just seeing the seasonal flu being advertised as a killer virus to help China take over the world. Thanks to our corporate media (and their own inherent lack of interest in the subject) they have no memory of their party's serial assaults on the integrity of parliamentary democracy.  

I think the main policy of stephen harper through all his years in power was making Canada an "energy super-power" by exploiting the Tar Sands. And we all know how that turned out. We all saw the policy implode with the price of oil. And Erin O'Toole's version of the Conservative Party of Canada will be no better. O'Toole is, himself, an idiot. He lies about as intelligently as harper did, which is to say badly and bald-facedly. I don't know how anyone of normal intelligence could be so debased as to want to vote for them. 

Sickeningly, this is the country we live in. According to the opinion polls the Conservatives are neck-and-neck with the Liberals. Partisan Liberals (like Montreal Shithead) have been downplaying these polls as being either inaccurate or corrupt. Which is hilarious because all summer Montreal Shithead had been crowing about how high the Liberals were polling and how the Conservatives and their NDP allies were terrified of an election. Now he and other partisan hacks are shrieking about how it is incumbent upon NDP or Green supporters to vote Liberal to prevent a Conservative government. (Which, thanks to Trudeau's betrayal of electoral reform could turn out to be a goddamned majority.)

I'm no fan of the Liberals. Not being as repulsive as the Conservatives isn't enough for me. They're an imperialist party willingly torturing the peoples of Honduras and Venezuela (to name just two examples); they continue to fight their legal obligation to compensate Aboriginal communities for underfunding services for children's services. And, it was Trudeau's Liberals who voted at the WTO on the side of greedy pharmaceutical companies to place patent profits over fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the NDP's popular call for a wealth tax, Trudeau is mewling about people wanting to punish the rich. The fact that the wealthiest have seen their fortunes literally soar during this pandemic, when almost everyone else has taken a hit doesn't seem to be a factor in that fucking stupid airhead's thinking.

Trudeau says that he called this election because parliament had become dysfunctional. They hadn't been able to pass any legislation in five months. Here's my (admittedly not very informed) take on that: In the case of their bill protecting gay kids, they appeared not to have tried as hard as they could have. As far as anything else goes, t'would appear that the Conservatives have adopted the Mitch McConnell strategy of permanent obstruction of everything. But unlike the US Senate, the Trudeau Liberals in the House of Commons have had the NDP (and sometimes even the Bloc) to nullify Conservative obstructionism.

The simple fact of the matter is that the arrogant Liberals wanted a majority and they convinced themselves of their awesomeness and purity and loveliness that they projected those sentiments on the electorate. But Canadians always hate voting. They hate elections. And holding an election before the pandemic is behind us was a dick move. And now we find ourselves here, today, with even a possible Conservative majority.  I have no idea what's going to happen.

I was genuinely surprised to see this image in my search. I had this comic as a lad: "The Dingbats of Danger Street."

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Latest Reads


"Nobody reads his blog anymore." Truer words were never spoken. Anyhow, here's the latest books that I've been reading:

First off, I read a couple of books about "Exoplanets." These are planets outside of our solar system. The first one was by Ray Jayawardhana called Strange New Worlds. I had an edition from 2013 (or 2015) and a lot has happened since then. Jayawardhana does a good job of explaining the theories and the methods whereby astronomers somehow fucking observe the patterns of light from tiny planets a gajillion kilometres (or lots of light-years) away as they pass in front of, or around, or somewhere in the vicinity of stars 50, 100, 200 or more times their size. Sadly, for a lazy moron such as myself, there wasn't much in the way of science-fantasy descriptions of the weird and wonderful worlds found at the time of his writing. Probably because that would be speculation.  Then I read Exoplanets: Diamond Worlds, Super Earths, Pulsar Planets, and the New Search for Life Beyond Our Solar System by Michael Summers and James S. Trefil. This book is from 2017 which meant it was written after more telescopes and satellites had come on line and even more exoplanets had been discovered. My take away from reading both of these books is that it's more likely than ever that we're alone in the galaxy. Both books talk a great deal about how we'd be able to find methane or oxygen from the light shifts emanating from exoplanets, signifying water or even life (as I dimly remember, both of those elements dissipate quickly and need to be replenished by things like plants or other lifeforms to be able to register in a planet's atmosphere) and so far they haven't found squat.  It was kinda wild to read about rogue planets. These would be planets ejected from the solar systems where they were forming and which now float in the starless darkness of the endless void. At one point, one of the books mention how heat from radioactive elements in the planets or from tidal heating inside a moon circulating a rogue planet could theoretically provide the elements necessary for life even on these godforsaken places. I don't remember how they claim they know this, but both books state that there are way more rogue planets drifting about the Milky Way than there are planets orbiting stars. Finally, about orbiting stars: Earth is way out in the suburbs of the galaxy, halfway down one of the spiral arms. Closer in to the galactic centre wouldn't be a good place for life because the greater likelihood of cataclysms caused by nearby exploding stars.

On a different note, I recently finished Seven Days in Hell: Canada's Battle for Normandy and the Rise of the Black Watch Snipers by David O'Keefe. Not counting the massacre of the Newfoundland Regiment on the first day of the Battle of the Somme (when Newfoundland wasn't yet a part of Canada) and the debacle at Dieppe, the losses of Montreal's Black Watch Regiment during Operation Spring in 1944 were the highest suffered by any Canadian regiment. O'Keefe does a good job of describing the history of the regiment and the social caste of its leadership. (Local regiments were once a big part of the social life of the Anglo-Canadian leadership class.) For my part, I'm not a details person and the series of mini-bios of various members of the regiment were received by my eyes, made nary an imprint on my brain and dissipated into the ether soon afterwards. Sadly, this series of names belong mostly to men whose only part in the subsequent drama is to take a bullet (or some other piece of metal) at some point and die. Because that's the slaughter-house of war. The story itself is depressing. As part of an elaborate plan designed by Canadian Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds, most of the Black Watch regiment ends up trapped on a hill called Verrières Ridge for two entire days while the rest of the regiment and other Canadian units struggle to maintain control of two villages immediately behind them. O'Keefe tells the story well enough and clearly enough. His commentary at the end of the excuses of the military leadership, especially the refusal of Simonds to accept the blame that was clearly his is done well. He also makes it clear during the events of the battle how Simonds' immediate subordinates felt compelled to mindlessly demand adherence to his orders even when it was clear that the conditions on the ground had changed and made them meaningless.