Thursday, January 31, 2008

That's the Spirit!

A commentor on a "Crooks & Liars" thread about David Letterman mocking bush II's SOTU speech:

As a registered Democrat who registered as a Democrat only to support Denis Kucinich let me be perfectly blunt.

We are owned. We have nothing but our personal computers and our video games. We have bullshit up to our eyeballs. What we do not have, on either side of the fence, in either party, is a candidate.

Do i give a flying fuck if McCain wins or Obama wins?

Hell no!

Nothing changes.


I won’t settle. You can settle for who you think is the less destructive asshole up for office if you like. I won’t.

There is no process worth respecting here, i refuse to participate any further in “electoral” politics.

From now on i will do it my way through refusing to pretend the system includes me. It DOES NOT!

This country is FUCKED! It has ceased to have any meaning for me. I will fight for sanity on my own terms. I don’t give a shit who is in office because almost none of them give a damn about me or you and i will no longer give them my support by casting a vote.

Fuck ‘em all.

I am done with playing games and shadow boxing with bullshit.


You lost me.

That poster called his or herself "xoites defends Constitution." Now, if only another five million could think that way. You'd have a movement to be reckoned with.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Limits of the Conservative Party of Canada

It's been interesting watching the complete implosion of Stephen Harper's micro-managing of his government and the government's ham-handed power plays against the Canadian state, with the most glaring examples being Chalk River and Afghanistan.

There really never was much to the Conservative Party of Canada. A pack of religious weirdos, closet-cases, racists and shallow greed-heads, following a 10th-rate con-man with zero charisma and a huge ego.

This noteworthy failure is what inevitably happens when you mix brainlessness with corruption and bullying.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Holocaust Denial 101

First, just to bring people up to speed; the term "holocaust" refers to:

1.a great or complete devastation or destruction, esp. by fire.
2.a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; burnt offering.
3.(usually initial capital letter) the systematic mass slaughter of European Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II (usually prec. by the).
4.any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life.

So, for instance, right now as I type these words, perhaps one million people (perhaps more) have perished violently and tragically in the nightmare that George W. Bush has made of Iraq. To this number should be added the estimated one million deaths from US-UK enforced UN sanctions in Iraq of the George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair years. As well, we can add the numbers (no doubt also in the millions) of those permanently scarred or maimed by violence in Iraq, and those four million refugees, half internal , half external to Iraq, caused by this international crime.

Who is to blame for starting this latest part of this conflict? Was it the bush II, whose administration fabricated lurid stories about nuclear weapons programs, massive bio-chemical warfare factories, and all that other rot, and who demanded that Saddam Hussein reveal these imaginary WMDs or face invasion, and when Saddam did not, bush II (along with craven, nauseating, pompous hypocrite Tony Blair) invaded?

No. The US invasion of Iraq was the fault of Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein, for somehow not magically stripping his country naked so that anyone with a satellite could see that (just as he had been saying, and just as UN weapons inspectors were discovering before they were forced to flee bush II's bombardment) Iraq had dismantled all of its WMD programs in the early 1990s.

At least this is the story being told by the unelected undemocratic imbecile currently occupying the Whitehouse, as well as by the corporate propagandists in the US news media.

Prominent Washington journalists have even repeated Bush’s lie as their own. For instance, in a July 2004 interview, ABC’s veteran newsman Ted Koppel used it to explain why he - Koppel - thought the invasion of Iraq was justified.

“It did not make logical sense that Saddam Hussein, whose armies had been defeated once before by the United States and the Coalition, would be prepared to lose control over his country if all he had to do was say, ‘All right, U.N., come on in, check it out,” Koppel told Amy Goodman, host of “Democracy Now.”

Of course, Hussein did tell the U.N. to “come on in, check it out.” But he did so in the real history, not in the faux reality that now governs Washington and pervades America’s top news programs, including “60 Minutes.”

In Pelley’s historical formulation, the question is not why did Bush invade Iraq in violation of international law, causing the deaths of nearly 4,000 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, but rather “How could [Hussein] have wanted his country to be invaded?”

This strategy of repeating a “big lie” often enough to make it sound true was famously described in the writings of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels during World War II. However, given the relatively free U.S. press, many Americans feel they are protected from “big lie” techniques, counting on journalists to call lying politicians to account.

So responsibility for the holocaust in Iraq does not lie with the invaders. It does not lie with the people responsible for destroying the government in Iraq and setting sectarian and ethnic and clan rivals against each other, whilst perpetrating numerous atrocities and war-crimes itself. It lies with the dictator who they toppled. At least so far as the gutless pieces of shit in US political and "journalism" circles would see it.

But what of the extent of this holocaust? The medical journal The Lancet printed two studies estimating mortality figures due to bush II's illegal invasions. The first study, conducted by John Hopkins Bloomberg estimated that by 2004 perhaps 100,000 people had died and a second 2006 study estimates over 600,000 excess deaths. This death-toll is now perhaps at 1,000,000.

Think about that. The Republican Party of the United States of America blatantly steals an election in 2000, allowing its candidate, a vain, shallow, dunce of a man, to occupy the Whitehouse and then proceed to launch a war, illegal regardless of any evidence that the USA could have produced that wasn't fabricated, when it was all the crudest of lies and hoaxes, this slavering moron is then allowed to steal another election in 2004, tear-up the civil rights of every American citizen, continue his war, ... and this war has now killed one million people.

And "progressive" Americans, for the most part, focus their energies on trying to elect the party that has funded this atrocious crime for yet another year. They're going to try to let their system redeem itself when it has already lowered itself beyond redemption. It has already had all of its safeguards destroyed and there's the blood of at least one-million souls on their heads.

I'll leave out, for now, Canadians' own stupid self-deceptions about Afghanistan, if only to discuss the latest horrors of American delusions about Iraq.

On top of the falsification of history that the US political and media elites engage in to grant themselves absolution for their criminal invasion of Iraq, these pathetic cowards must also conceal from themselves the true exent of the carnage brought about by their actions. To that end, the Iraqi mortality figures in The Lancet must be discredited.

The usual source for disputing the numbers of civilian casualities is to idiotically refer to the numbers provided by Iraq Body Count, which counts the deaths by violence reported by a changing number of journalistic sources. This is akin to estimating US gun violence deaths by refering to the NY Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the LA Times.

By hook or by crook
, war apologists, cowards, liars, and academic hacks have sought to shroud the John Hopkins surveys in disrepute, to confuse the public about the true extent of the outrage that they have committed.

Here is a rebuttal to these loathsome attempts, one that I can say nothing more but to recommend it to your attention.

Monday, January 28, 2008

But Perhaps ...

Yesterday's post about the illusion that is Barack Obama was on my mind while I was firing up my computer this morning.

Aside from the possibility that Obama is a "liberal" Manchurian Candidate (making with the empty rhetoric and the cozying-up to Lieberman and etc. to lull the authorities into a false sense of security in order to win and then turn the tables on them [yeah, as if!]) his victory, or any other Democrat presidential victory might finally wean Americans off of their devotion to their empty political process.

A Democratic president would be just as effective at changing the course of neoliberal imperialism and domestic failure as the Democratic legislature has been at reversing 8 years of bush's neoliberal imperialism and domestic failure, which is to say, not at all.

To be fair to the American people, and to clarify yesterday's post: Half of them don't vote, which is probably due to apathy and a belief that voting is a waste of time there, which is correct because it certainly is. (But that doesn't mean that the political process won't still screw you over, ... it does. If apathetic resignation was a successful political strategy we'd all be living like kings today, ... it isn't.) And, also to their credit: as a voting people they rejected bush II twice, both in 2000 and 2004. To their discredit, they didn't rebel against the installation of this corrupt, murderous twit and his cabal of vermin.

But the US political system has run its present course. This is all that can be expected of capitalist politics folks. Wars based on greed and lies abroad. The wrecking and looting of the domestic economy by the plutocracy at home. And empty vessels like bush II to serve it all up to a bloated, idiotic ruling class that will be too stuffed and jaded to read the writing when it shows up on the wall.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Power of Habit

Or should I say: "The Audacity of [vague] Hope"?

So many Americans, who otherwise have their heads screwed-on properly, are getting really excited about the career trajectory of Barack Obama.

Who are we talking about again? A Democratic presidential candidate. You remember the Democrats don't you? Elected to end the war in Iraq and punish 8 years of Repug corruption and lawlessness, and who have instead voted funds to prolong the war, and aid and abet in bush II's corruption and lawlessness.

Barack Obama, whose "electrifying" speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention was actually a bunch of meaningless pap, and the guy who made Joe Lieberman his "mentor" in the Senate, is neck-and-neck with the epitome of what's wrong with the system, Hillary Clinton, ... and people are getting excited???

Stop wasting your time.

Really, check out "The Obama Illusion" from Z Magazine, ... and then cough-up some dough to support Znet/

Never mind that Obama’s speech scaled new heights of cringing, pseudo-patriotic nausea-inducement by making disturbing “hope” parallels between: “the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs,” “the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta,” and the “hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him.” The lieutenant referred to in his speech was Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry whose government’s imperial right to “patrol” great rivers on the other side of the world during the 1960s Obama took as axiomatic. The “skinny kid” referred to a young Obama, grooming himself for a Harvard education while attending an elite private school and living with his white grandparents in sunny Hawaii. The connection with singing slaves? A shared belief in what Obama called “God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation—a belief that there are better days ahead.” Yes, the brutalized black slaves of racist antebellum America were looking forward to the glorious white-imperialist rape of Southeast Asia when their faith in “better days” would find glorious realization in the napalming of Vietnamese children, the images of which shocked Martin Luther King, Jr. into denouncing the Vietnam war in strident and forceful terms.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Belated Addition to the Blog-Roll

I added good ol' boy, Jim Bobby, from his blog "Jim Bobby Sez." He's been alright in my books for a looooong time.

Another Busy Day

bush II is back up to the 30% support range. No doubt partially due to his lying-low and bogus news stories that the failed "surge" is working. And much discredit for the Democrats' failure to shine the light of enquiry upon his thorough criminality, incompetence, and dictatorial behaviour.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Just Time for This ...

Bubbles gets too stoned and freaks out:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton was Sorta Right

To hear some people, Hillary Clinton is a nasty piece of work. Nothing is changed by the fact that she said something sorta right, albeit in an offensive, condescending way.

When she remarked that Martin Luther King and the whole Black Civil Rights movement needed LBJ to actually pass the legislation, there was a lot of practical truth to that. (Actually, it appears she said that LBJ was more important than MLK. That's pretty bad.)

It by no means justifies a vote for a principle-less warmonger* such as herself, but it remains true that protest and demands without power is useless.

We should engage with the political system with a clear view as to what it is. It is neither the answer to all of our prayers, nor is it a useless distraction and all-corrupting obscenity.

*(This quote always makes me feel warm and fuzzy for Hillary: "I want us here in New York to imagine, if extremist terrorists were launching rocket attacks across the Mexican or Canadian border, would we stand by or would we defend America against these attacks from extremists?")

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Powerlessness Fatigue" not "Compassion Fatigue"

I forget where I read this, but one writer said that what causes a lot of the apathy isn't "compassion fatigue," but the way that all of our work and attention and care simply doesn't impact the myriad problems that our country, and our world, are suffering from.

She said it was like seeing a horrific car accident from your kitchen window, day after day, for weeks or months on end. At first, you run out to see if you can help, but there's nothing you can do, the ambulances arrive and appear to do their thing. You wonder how it happened, and you find out that there's something that makes this place a dangerous corner for drivers or something. You say something should be done, but nothings done.

The second time, the very next day, there's another horrific accident, and you again rush out, trembling, angry, scared, nauseous. This time you resolve to tell the authorities that something has to be done. When you do this, they complacently tell you that they're working on it, that the problem isn't as grave as your subjective experience appears to believe, and etc.

That's all you hear the third, fourth, fifth, and etc. times that an accident occurs and you trek down to the powers-that-be to register your increased outrage. "The situation is well in hand." Some people on blogs (morons actually) start to call you a trouble-maker and an extremist, possibly an anti-automobile terrorist.

Eventually, you develop this resignation and begin a slow, quiet descent into madness and inertia, as the carnage goes on outside your window everyday. Perhaps close the window, turn on the air-conditioner, and crank the tunes?

That's where we're at right now. And one reason this stupidity and insanity persists is because the few of us who realize that writing eloquent complaints, or eloquent, detailed critiques, or mobilizing to electing another clueless political party or union leader, or getting a parade permit and walking with a few dozen other concerned citizens, isn't going to change anything, haven't yet done the serious work about communicating what needs to change, and HOW it can change.

But our lives will continue to be plagued by avoidable misery, and the lives of millions more, on the receiving end of the imperialism that supports our system, will be destroyed, and this will go on forever, unless and until we construct a rational, realistic plan for revolutionary change.

For the record, I have advanced ideas on this subject numerous times in the past. I'd hoped to have more positive reflections about the details of this plan (essentially the radical democratization of the entire economy) on this blog, but time constraints have kept me from writing anything detailed and original. As such, I've indulged in youtube links, isolated rants, and criticisms of the abominable stupidity of the Blogging Tories. Which has been fun, but ultimately unsatisfying.

So, that's my post for the day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Arctic Sovereignty

Here's a link to an article from Harper's Magazine: "Cold Rush:The coming fight for the melting north," ... about Canada's desperate attempts to maintain authority over the Arctic Sea as global warming makes it a more attractive shipping-lane and source of potential petroleum reserves.

It's pretty good.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Just For the Record ...

bush II's invasion of Iraq was supposed to smash terrorism, spread democracy across the Middle East, improve the rights of women, guarantee the US a secure source of petroleum, and it was all going to pay for itself.

That didn't happen.

Ha-ha! "Stupid Americans!" many Canadians might say. But hold on!

bush II's earlier invasion of Afghanistan, of which Canada is a participant, was supposed to capture Osama bin Laden, produce a stable government to reconstruct the country from decades of warfare, and bring an end to the Taliban.

That hasn't happened.

But yet, some smug Canadians remain encased in their cocoon of delusion and ignorance, convinced that their country is doing good overall, ... "We're Winning" is what our media -types and warmongers are saying. Just like in the US, we're the good guys, everything's going our way, and the only ones who can't see that are terrorists, traitors, and the French.

The quantifiable differences between the results of our political system are getting smaller.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Liberals and Health Care

From KnowledgeDrivenRevolution:

Headed by Liberal Senator Michael Kirby, Board member of American private nursing home giant Extendicare Inc., aided by Senator Wilbert Keon, a bigwig at Worldheart corp. and Senator Yves Morin in charge of facilitating the commercialization of health research in Canada, this Senate committee apparent re-scheduled the timing of the release of its reports conveniently preempting Romanow. In a report released more than a year ago, Kirby's committee sets out a list of ways to privatize the health care system; and calls for an end to the alleged "archaic public Medicare model"; and furthermore suggests tossing out the "public administration" principle of the Canada Health Act. Without bothering to provide any evidence or participatory democratic support, and in contradiction to the committee's previous papers, the Report suggests that the federal government consider "privatized service delivery", "user fees" and "medical savings accounts" in a bid to create an American-inspired "the 21st century health service industry"

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008


I'm working on an extended dissection of my experiences over at this site from (as you can see) a while back.

And I dropped a couple of H-bombs over here at Crooks and Liars.

But now, I got's to go ...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Yesterday's post about the Blogging Tories and conservative voters produced a veritable explosion of activity in my comments section. Three (quickly becoming four!) comments, one generally supportive, the other two chiding me for sloppy generalizations and partisan extremism.

I plead "guilty as charged." But I like to trash "conservatives" as a group, because, overall, their parties implement stupid, destructive policies based on a moronic ideology. As individuals, very few conservative voters exhibit the entire gamut of psychological problems and intellectual limitations that most of the Blogging Tories display. They can be reasoned with on many levels. But their political actions remain destructive and indicative either of shallowness and ignorance, or of general stupidity and cruelty.

I once got trashed for describing an Ontario PC voter thusly:

I don't know about you, but where I come from, voting for someone and saying: "Hey! Give me my tax cut so that I can renovate my Rosedale mansion and landscape my Muskoka cottage, and buy the new Cadillac to go with my Mercedes and my Jaguar, and if you have to make thousands of people homeless, and close some hospital beds, and defund public education, and make it harder for a few thousand single moms to be able to feed their kids, so be it."

When told that my depiction was a laughable caricature, I decided to spell it out:

If someone lives in Rosedale, they most likely live in a mansion. Sorry to have to break that to you. If they live in a mansion and they voted for Harris because they wanted a tax-cut, they obviously wanted to do something with the money they got back. Somebody making over $100,000 a year would have netted on average about $7,000 from one year out of the Harris tax cut. Somebody making well over $100,000 obviously made more than that. Such people do own Muskoka cottages (somebody has to you know). Some of these people do own fancy cars. I'm sorry if this is all shocking to you. When they get thousands of dollars back from tax-cuts, they tend to spend the money on something. Again, I'm sorry if this is hard for you to process.

If they voted for Harris (especially if they voted to re-elect that thug) then the spending cuts, the increased poverty, all of this real stuff, that the poorest in Ontario have to face each and every single day, is what they agreed to in return for those extra thousands of dollars.

The point is, many of us have blinders on about the extent of the madness around us. Those nice people in those upscale neighbourhoods with CPC or PC Ontario signs on their lawn at election time really are voting for increased homelessness, increased poverty, the cut-backs in needed services, all in return for a tax-cut. These nice people are making selfish choices based (at best) on an appalling level of ignorance about what they're really voting for. All those seemingly sane people in the USA, voting for the Republican Party in the United States really are voting for mass-murder, corruption, voter fraud, the ethnic cleansing of New Orleans, homophobia, racism, and many other sins.

And because of these shallow, selfish, stupid, ignorant fools, perhaps one-million people have perished violently in Iraq. Two million are homeless. Tens of thousands of Iraqi women have been forced into prostitution in order to survive. And I'm supposed to worry about generalizing about the nature of the people who gleefully continue to support these crimes. I think not.

Their choices are abominable. There is nothing further to say. It's not debatable.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Who are the Blogging Tories?

Red Tory discusses them on Scott's Dia Tribes and concludes that they're just a small, insignificant minority of blowhards and morons who aren't representative of the majority of Conservative Party of Canada supporters. Some more discussion is picked up here at Canadian Cynic.

While it's true that the BT's are a tiny cesspool of racism and filth, I don't think they are quite all that inconsequential. Most CPC voters are shallow, mindless idiots who think a tax-cut would be more important than forestalling Armageddon, and who don't pay a second thought to the anti-social, dangerous nature of their political choice. Many of the rest are people who vote CPC in the hopes that they'll bring on Armageddon (fanatical devotion to Israeli militancy and bush II's insanity and all that) and the tax-cuts are a nice side dish.

What the BT's do (beside reveal their stupidity on a day-to-day basis) is act as the bona-fide vanguard of this movement of enraged entitlement. They're like Dick Cheney's laughably phony "intelligence." The BT's say something, no matter how ridiculous, no matter how bad a job they do spreading the gospel of corruption and fraud according to Stephen Harper, ... and they get other people to think that there's a sentiment for this stupidity somewhere in the country and the CPC leadership and their corporate masters can point to this as justification for their actions.

Monday, January 14, 2008


I had no idea that Stephane Dion was going to visit Afghanistan and that CPC cabinet minister Helena Guergis was telling the Taliban where he was going to be visiting!

I had no idea that the NDP was having some sort of policy summit, and, so obviously, I don't really know what's in it.

I'm out-of-the-loop because the best sites that I've found for comprehensive analysis from a left perspective are generally US-based, (commondreams, counterpunch, znet, crooksandliars, etc.) with being the only place with a bit of a round-up of Canadian opinion. I suppose that I could hang-out at The Tyee more often as well. But I don't read Canadian newspapers all that much as so many of their editorial and opinion writers suck shit, and I'm certainly not going to get info from the right-wing airheads and goons on television or radio. Perhaps that "progressivebloggers" thing on my homepage could be my source for news on Canadian politics.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

If You Want to Watch Indian Movies

You can go to and download or run streaming videos. We also found "Arsenic and Old Lace" on youtube! (Oops. It ain't there no more.)

That is all.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Murray Dobbin on Harper's Hypocrisy

It's from The Tyee:

Oh, it's true that when it suits him Harper will dissemble in favour of human rights -- when he thinks he has to or when he has a particular constituency to please.


But when it comes to international human rights either enshrined in the UN Charter or the Geneva Convention, Harper has shown disdain. The Geneva Convention also states that it is illegal to target civilians in war. But this is precisely what Israel did in its catastrophic (for everyone) invasion of Lebanon. The rights of the Lebanese didn't count for anything as Harper stated that Israel's brutal assault on a defenceless Lebanese population was "a measured response." Measured by what standard? Certainly not by the standards set out by the Geneva Convention.

It sickens me that there are enough stupid assholes in this country who would vote to put a man like that, and a party full of drooling moron accomplices, into power.

Friday, January 11, 2008

One Million Deaths and an Absurdity

Installed [p]resident, bush II's post-September 11th, 2001 "war on terror" has, by some counts, produced over one million excess deaths. (The only sane criticism that I heard of the 500,000 deaths reported by the John Hopkins in The Lancet was that the "excess deaths" was based on calculating estimated deaths and comparing that with an earlier UN-source death rate that was too low. I've read replies to this critique and I believe that the John Hopkins-Lancet study remains credible. )

My point is that many opponents of the war (both Iraq and Afghanistan) including myself, believe in this one-million deaths number, as well as the four million refugees (two million have fled Iraq and two million are on the run within the country, unable to escape), and we haven't done anything serious about stopping it.

I've stood to be counted a few times at peace demonstrations, including the historic worldwide march to protest the coming of the war, but I've never believed that my actions were anything more than that; standing to be counted.

We in Canada have to fight against the mindless delusion that our war in Afghanistan is categories removed from what the Americans are doing there and in Iraq. Somehow, just because we're "Canadian" we're good-hearted and our work is more about reconstruction and defending women's rights, even though our politicians are assholes and even though these asshole politicians have reneged on promised reconstruction aid to Afghanistan. Even though our CF commander in Afghanistan, Rick Hillier, is a complete idiot who is (illegitimately) censoring all information about how the prisoners we're taking are treated (even though some of them have been tortured in the past) many of our fellow Canadians believe that, oh, I don't know, because we have a cute beaver as our national symbol or something, ... that everything in Afghanistan is on the up-and-up.

But in the United States of America, where the peace movement doesn't have to contend with this delusion, ... where the vast majority of them believed that this war is a Republican atrocity and who worked to elect a Democratic legislature that would end the war, ... the peace movement hasn't done very much either, ... even after the Democrats have betrayed them and allowed the war to drag on for yet another year. Another year of refugees, bloodshed, rape and death.

What's abusrd is our ability to countenance this appalling holocaust and to not feel any need to really meet it with counteraction of a suitable magnitude. We don't want to be "extremists," or "rebels," we'll put our faith in the political process, and when that fails, ... well, we'll stand on a street corner somewhere holding a sign. And we'll vow to keep coming back to that street corner until the psychopath authoritarian murderers cave-in to the pressure and meet our demands.

I suspect it's because we're actually all out of ideas. Once a compromised political process and ineffective protests are used up, we on the Left are all out of ideas. So what's the point of a little mindless violence that's not going to make anything better? And forget about trying to spend at least as much time on thinking about alternatives as we do grumbling about reality. It's hopeless. (At least that's what I think. Some people still genuinely believe in the Democratic Party or that standing on a street corner in fly-over country is going to make Dick Cheney break.)

[Edited to add: Alexander Cockbourn (who I don't always agree with) has a critique of an New England Journal of Medicine/Iraqi Interior Ministry survey that explicitly contends with the John Hopkins Study. For what it's worth.]

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Staying the Course in Afghanistan

My local rag, the Hamilton Spectator, ran an editorial by one Bob Bergen of the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute. Bergen’s essay supporting our policies in Afghanistan is typical of the frustratingly vague, over-generalized defences of this controversial mission. It’s also full of the distortions and innuendos that pro-war writers feel they need to use to make their case.

Bergen begins by saying that CF and others know that we’re winning in Afghanistan.

Are we winning the battle against the insurgents in Afghanistan?

Almost any Canadian soldier, diplomat or NATO official asked that question invariably answers: Yes, we are, but there is still a long way to go.

If we’re winning, then I’d hate to see what losing looks like. In all the years we’ve been fighting them, the Taliban have increased in numbers and have often increased the area of land under their control. If you hire an exterminator to get rid of mice in your home and five years later there are even more mice, you might question whether the exterminator is "winning" in his battle with the mice.

Bergen then follows up with an insult to critics of the war, describing us as ignorant dupes, ... the victims of simplistic “Canada-centric,” news sources, and unable to comprehend or care about the people of Afghanistan and their needs.

Well, no. I suppose that I'm as guilty as the next person of talking-past my ideological opponents on Afghanistan, but those times when I've actually bothered to read some pro-war writer or watch some patriotic propaganda masquerading as journalism, it's been shallow, vague stuff that constructs a crude strawman for the peace movement's positions. The reasons why ordinary Canadians don't support the mission in Afghanistan, and the reasons informing the active opponents of the war are simple and have been clearly stated for some time now:

  • The war is an imperialistic venture
  • The war was entered into as a means to support the United States
  • The reconstruction of the country has been a failure
  • The drug-eradication program has devastated the lives of Afghan farmers
  • The Karzai government is brutal and corrupt
  • The warlords in the Karzai government are monsters
  • Canadian soldiers are dying
  • Canadian soldiers are turning over prisoners (some of them teenagers) to torturers
  • The airwar has killed more Afghans than has the Taliban
  • The enemy is not always Taliban fundamentalist extremists but victims of the Karzai/Warlord government

To ordinary Canadians, this combination of problems meets up with feel-good stories about bags of candy, primary schools, women's rights, and assertions that we're "winning," produces an overall sense of confusion and a lack of enthusiasm for continued participation in the conflict.

And when defenders of Canada's participation come up with lacklustre, irrelevant arguments, it doesn't increase Canadians' confusion and disillusionment.

Bergen spends much of his article talking about the importance of building up the Afghan armed forces so that they'll be able to fight independently after we've left. We've obviously heard this before, in Vietnam, in Iraq, and now Afghanistan. Time and time again, we construct militaries to defend unpopular puppet governments against an organized, oftentimes popular, resistance, and we wonder why they fail to fight. They generally don't want to fight because they're in the army for a paycheque to support their families, and this entire plan hinges on their staying alive. They don't fight because they're corrupt, and they intend to use their weapons and power for extortion and self-aggrandizement. They don't fight because they don't like their own government or its foreign masters. They don't fight because they're actually with the resistance, and are using their presence to funnel arms and information to the resistance.

Ah, no matter, Bergen can tell us about Operation Tereh Toora:

About a week before Christmas, Canadian and British troops backed by NATO air power supported the Afghan army in Operation Tereh Toora against insurgent pockets in the Zhari District in southern Afghanistan. The importance of that mission, which killed 40 insurgents, was twofold, Laroche explained.

The first was that the NATO and Afghan troops have the initiative and decide where and when they want to go.

Uh-huh. So, great. The Afghan army is becoming an effective fighting force because they assisted in an operation with NATO. And they can decide where and when they want to attack, at least so long as they're with NATO forces and all their mobile resources, which means not a whole heck of a lot at the end of the day. Are they an effective defender of our man in Kabul or not? (And is that even a good thing?)

As well:

The second key point, Laroche said, was that: "We (NATO) are not here to fight the Taliban, the only ones who can defeat the Taliban are the Afghans."

Um, right. And this is relevant to your thesis that we're winning and we have to stay the course, how exactly? Aside from the fact that the Taliban are also Afghans, and aside from the fact that support for the Taliban has increased, not decreased, in the five years that we've been propping up an unpopular government and bombing villages to pieces, ... only the Afghans can fight other Afghans, if our plans to control the country are ever going to succeed. And we will succeed in creating this loyal and effective fighting force because, uh, ... because they've tagged along on missions with us and only they can really defeat their fellow countrymen.

Perhaps sensing that his article was on the short side, Bergen decided to close by quoting at length from one Dr. Mohammad Haider Rez, who oversees the removal of landmines in Afghanistan with the United Nations Mine Action Centre. Supposedly, unless we continue to bomb villages and destroy farmers' poppy crops with no compensation, this work will not be able to continue. Dr. M. Haider Rez is quoted, sometimes with good reason, but generally inexplicably:

As a surgeon, Reza survived the Russian occupation; the mujahedeen resistance; the Taliban and al-Qaeda; the devastating post-9/11 U.S. air strikes and invasion; and now the NATO mission.

"There were nights with my wife and six kids, I didn't know if we were going to wake up in one piece. It's true that we now have these pockets of resistance, but if we compare today with 10 years ago, I'm very positive for a brighter future," he said.

Well, that's something obviously. But speaking as one who didn't like the Taliban before 2001, I'm prepared to concede that life in Afghanistan is a little bit better for most since their downfall. But given that the US-financed wars in Afghanistan created the conditions for the Taliban's seizure of power, lets not pat ourselves on the back too strenuously. The article is about "staying the course," that is, continuing to focus on fighting the resistance, training a client army, and is this working to even the satisfaction of Western imperialists.

What else does Dr. M. Haider Rez have to say?

"Whether it is the British, the Dutch, the Canadians or the Americans, they are very helpful, but being the recipient of aid packages, there is no dignity and pride in that."

Maybe it's just me, but that doesn't sound like it has much to do with Bergen's argument.

"The idea that Afghanistan is the highest producer of opium; it is a sad problem our farmers are faced with. But, we have to take responsibility to get our people out of this crisis. We are ready to sacrifice ourselves. It is important that we do not disappoint you, the international community."

Yes! Obviously! Anyone can see that we're winning now! The Afghan military will soon be able to act independently, because, ... because, ... it's too bad that Afghanistan produces so much opium and because the people of Afghanistan have the responsibility to get themselves out of this crisis. Wha???

Bergen concludes:

Parliamentarians would do well to remember that when they debate whether or not Canada should remain in Afghanistan past February 2009.

To which I can only once again exclaim; Wha??????

Wednesday, January 9, 2008



Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Just Saying Thanks, ...

First, to "Mithry," (in actually, the pompously-named "Mithrandir") for playing the role that illustrated my blog entry: "Gary McHale gets bruised" in which I wrote:
Cue the closeted racists to appear and start denouncing First Nations violence, roused from their blissful sleep, where they were not dreaming about over one-hundred years of broken treaties and "two-tier justice" against the First Nations.
Mithry played that part excrutiatingly well. Hypocritical dipshit. We're in a war people, and while both sides have a vested interest in demanding that the other side plays nice, there's nothing to be gained by being a chump, acting like a saint in order to meet the demands of liars and thugs.

And a belated thanks to trog69, for thinking that I'm the bee's knees. ;)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Link to "Thought Interrupted"

A good piece about the practical benefits of protesting.

I thrive on politics and I’m very dedicated to challenging established discourses. But I find protests to be a lot of work, for very little result, and, if I’m choosing between spending 2 hours marching in the cold and a 2 hours writing a letter to elected officials or a letter to editor or, hell, a blog entry, I’ll choose the latter form of action any time. If I’m further choosing between writing something and working towards someone good elected, again, I consider the latter to be the best use of my time.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


It's kinda early, and I was doing a lot of travelling and stuff so I'm a little tired. But my post for the day is to simply mention that politicians and other elites make these inexplicably fucked-up decisions often because of their proximity to the core of a system that is based on inhuman values. Obviously there is a selection process to see that (for instance) only vapid airheads like Chris Matthews get to become media elites, ... or that corporate shills like Stephen Harper or Paul Martin II become politicians, ... but even decent people, once they get into that vortex, become desensitized to how bizarre everything looks to outsiders.

They all start to talk to each other, read only their bogus reports and think-tank gurgles, attend nice dinner parties where everyone is working and everyone seems to have influence. They become brainwashed by the demands of their own bureaucracies. They don't see or hear much about their own failures, and when they do, a quick bit of bullshit rationalizations and a turn of the head and it's problem solved.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Is it Wrong for Me to Like These Bands?

First band: Mindless Self-Indulgence

"Panty Shot" -- They're older than I thought and they might be EMO, but I like their songs.

Second band: System of a Down

"Tentative" -- I'm travelling and the computer is slow, haven't seen the video. Love this song.

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Post For A Busy Day

I'm thinking of adding USian, Jonathan Schwarz to my blogroll. Because he's right down there in the belly of the beast and he's still immune to the nonsensical notion that efforts to elect Democrats are somehow meaningful.

I would rather see a decent candidate than a bad candidate prevail in the upcoming presidential elections, but I don' t care all that much. The system detroys people. It's not just bad individuals.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Obstruction of 9-11 Commission

Greenwald: (and i bet a quarter that nothing will come of this!)

David Swanson: Futile elections

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Gary McHale's Legacy

I was talking with a Toronto acquaintance of mine about the stand-off in Caledonia and he offered me a perspective on Gary McHale that I hadn't really considered before. He said that McHale is a publicity hound above all else. I've always thought that McHale was first and foremost a racist moron, .... though I was prepared to concede that he might actually be a complete, total, empty-headed moron, who is genuinely incensed with the fact that the First Nations in Caledonia aren't currently receiving the full brunt of the law, while remaining totally ignorant of the fact that the First Nations in Canada tend to receive excessive, systemically harsher treatment from the law on an everyday basis. (This latter portrait; that of an empty-headed ignoramous, is one offered by a recent defender of his.) But I'd never really considered that McHale was concerned about fame. It makes sense though. McHale was, what before? An uncharismatic Christian preacher with a failing accounting or publishing business? Now he's famous across the province and across the country, ... a hero to white supremacists and other assorted assholes everywhere. In the future, Canadian school children might read about him the way they read about Bull Connor or the Klansmen who murdered Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in the USA.

Another aspect of McHale's racist movement: By harassing and insulting Fantino and the OPP, he might go a long way to improve relations and understanding between the OPP and First Nations in Ontario. Sharing an enemy always creates connections between people. So congrats on that level, McHale, ... you contemptible buffoon!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

No New Year's Resolutions!

They're futile.

But a thought occurred to me this morning; That the high levels of stupidity exhibited by today's "conservative" movement is indicative of their overall intellectual bankruptcy in the face of now 21st-century realities. In centuries and decades past, as Western Civilization grew into democratic, advanced societies, conservatives could reasonably paint a picture of the world that made sense as so many of their traditions hadn't been repudiated and so many new ideas hadn't been tested.

But by 1980, these old ideas had mostly all been forced to reform themselves or die of obsolescence. Only the money and power of those elements with a vested interest in the perpetuation of these traditions gives them any place in the present day. This money and power is considerable of course. I fear the trauma of the future as both we, the sane, and they, the stupid bigoted blockheads, become frustrated with the continued failures of these idiotic delusions.