Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bizzzzy, bizzeeee, bizzi

I'm too busy. Here's a couple of videos other people put on YouTube.

"On It" by Mindless Self-Indulgence

and Cat Power's cover of "Don't Explain"

... which, in the posting of this I discover was a Billie Holiday tune

Monday, March 30, 2009

They Really Are Frighteningly Deluded

There's nothing to be hoped for from the capitalist politicians, some of whom will descend upon the G-20 conference.

They all genuinely believe that making the bulk of the population work for the lowest wages is the key to national prosperity. They believe that allowing the financial sector to grow like a parasite on the real economy is the key to economic nirvana. They all believe that the earth's resources are infinite, able to sustain all the mass consumerism that the people of the world can be forced to drown in debt for.

They believe this is all "sustainable" and wise.

It's all a pile of crap.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why We Mock Them, part six-zillion

Yesterday I posted that I thought the harpocon party of Canada was composed of vermin. This was due to my reading about their sick cat-and-mouse game that they're playing with Abousfian Abdelrazik.

Commentator "L" replied:

You left out the part about:

1)CSIS has accused him of being a member of a Montreal cell that supported Ahmed Ressam;
2) The US State Department has said that Abdelrazik is a personal acquaintance of Osama bin Laden, closely tied to Abu Zubaydah and attended an Afghan training camp in 1996.

Maybe, he should stay overseas.

And I thought I'd take the opportunity to respond with a blog-post about why these people are so dangerously stupid.

1)CSIS has accused him of being a member of a Montreal cell that supported Ahmed Ressam;

Yes. CSIS and the RCMP also accused Maher Arar of being a high-level Al Qaeda terrorist. We know how well that turned out.

2) The US State Department has said that Abdelrazik is a personal acquaintance of Osama bin Laden, closely tied to Abu Zubaydah and attended an Afghan training camp in 1996.

Yes. The US government also said that Iraq had WMDs. That Omar Khader had seen Maher Arar in Afghanistan (at a period when Arar was under surveillance in Canada).

Maybe, he should stay overseas.

Do the words "due process," "legal rights," "citizenship," "innocent until proven guilty," "human rights" mean anything to you?

You have officially gone on record here for denying the legal rights of a Canadian citizen, based on the accusations of several heavily compromised government bureaucracies. Yet it's people like you who will rant and rave about our values and our way of life. You'd be much more comfortable under a government like Syria's or Egypt's. Their official attitude towards their citizens is similar to your views on the rights that Canadians should expect.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tories are Vermin

That was apparently a famous quote from the Welsh left-wing Labour MP Nye Bevan about the British Conservative Party of the 1920s-1940s.

It applies particularly well to this revolting crew of sadists, morons and con-artists that calls itself the Conservative Party of Canada today. Bevan was talking about the British Conservatives' consistent refusal to pay decent social benefits or to provide equal access to healthcare and other public goods.

Our Conservative Party of Canada is all that, but it's also a revoltingly cruel, racist, craven, criminal bunch. Alison and Dr Dawg both tell us that latest sufferings of our fellow citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik in the Sudan.

  • Canada has Abdelrazik detained - and tortured, he says - in Sudan in 2003.
  • Sudan releases him but not before his passport expires and his name is added to the UN Security Council's list of terrorist suspects.
  • Destitute, he moves into the weight room of the Canadian embassy in Sudan.
  • His family in Montreal send money for a ticket but Canada refuses to issue a temporary passport.
  • In December 2008 Ottawa says he could be given a temporary passport - after he books a flight home.
  • He books one; they withdraw the offer.
  • Ottawa then says he must first have a fully paid ticket but in February his lawyer says anyone contributing to it can be charged with aiding a possible terrorist.
  • Nonetheless in March 170 Canadians including Stephen Lewis and a former solicitor general of Ontario buy him a ticket home.
  • [And now he must get himself off that UN no-fly list before the departure date!!]

Dr Dawg says (and I agree with him) that he does not like metaphysical categories such as "good" and "evil." Vermin is a better description for Stephen Harper and his crew and their supporters.

1. noxious, objectionable, or disgusting animals collectively, esp. those of small size that appear commonly and are difficult to control, as flies, lice, bedbugs, cockroaches, mice, and rats.
2. an objectionable or obnoxious person, or such persons collectively.

Indeed. I'll also add to the first definition the fact that vermin tend to have unpleasant effects on their surroundings, often making places unfit for human habitation. Modern "conservatism" has that effect on societies. Bone-stupid, laughable closet-cases and sadists. Thieves and thugs. Incompetent, insecure, destructive scum.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ignoring Reality: The Liberal Party of Canada

After decades of neoliberal cant which has stripped wealth from the majority of the population, we are faced with what many mainstream economists feel might be the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. We are certainly still at risk of a system-throttling financial crisis, brought about by extreme deregulation of an already over-inflated financial sector.

In this context, the Liberal Party of Canada is having a hard time finding its footing. Since the 1940s the Liberal Party of Canada has been able to portray itself as a steady hand on the tiller. It managed to appear more progressive than its Conservative (or "Progressive Conservative") rival while comforting both the powerful and the timid or complacent amongst the populace that there would be no disturbing of the equilibrium of Canada's traditional political-economy. With the Liberal Party of Canada it was possible to have one's cake (social programs) and eat it too (no wrenching transformations of the power structure or our economic direction).

That illusion worked until the 1970s, the decade when the contradictions of Keynesian capitalism started to become impossible to reconcile and paper over. The bloom was definitely falling off the rose in the brutal last years of the Trudeau government. Fortunately for the Liberals' mythology, the rightward tilt of the Trudeau Liberals was forgotten after two lengthy majority governments for the Progressive Conservatives under Brian Mulroney. Between 1984 & 1993, neoliberal free trade deals, tax-cut policies, anti-union policies and slashes to social programs started to make their impact felt on the well-being of the majority of Canadians, but it was the Progressive Conservatives who would be blamed. Jean Chretien's announcement upon his election in 1993 that the good times were back was greeted with much enthusiasm by the party faithful and many centrist Canadians.

Betrayals of Liberal promises on the GST and NAFTA quickly soured this love affair, as did finance minister Paul Martin's destruction of practically every major promise in their "Red Book" of election promises. Chretien and Martin orchestrated deficit hysteria in order to justify their slashing and burning of valuable public programs and to convince Canadians that they were only trying to clean up after Brian Mulroney.

The fact of the matter is that Mulroney's Central Banker (John Crow) was just pursuing a slightly more fanatical monetarist insanity as Trudeau's CB chief Gerald Bouey, who was himself following Paul Volcker and Milton Friedman in the United States. The fact of the matter is that Chretien and Martin would have been pleased to pile on just as much debt as Mulroney did in order to fight inflation by "break[ing] workers."

The Liberals managed to convince a lot of Canadians that once we returned to surpluses there would be a restoration of the public housing, healthcare, education and other social spending that the big, bad deficit had made unaffordable. (They also benefitted from the fact that clueless right-wing voters were forced to split their vote between the remnants of the Progressive Conservative Party and various incarnations of the Reform Party. And by the fact that the left-wing vote had decided either that vote-splitting had brought us Mulroney and the FTA and that only the Liberals were a bulwark against the Conservatives, or that social democrats had thrown in the towel and gone over to "Third Way" Blairite nonsense making voting a waste of time. Chretien's three straight majorities had more to do with the disarray of his opponents and the clumsiness of our electoral system than with massive popularity of his neoliberal agenda.)

By the time Paul "Mr. Dithers" Martin inherited the Liberal leadership the lingering image of a party of compassion and democracy had all but disappeared. As well, Martin demonstrated perfectly the vacuous nature of Canadian liberalism at the end of the 20th century. Martin was regularly derided for his inanely soaring rhetoric and its contrast with his directionless, empty governing style. Having achieved the neoliberal nirvana of balanced budgets and a business class with no social obligations, Martin was at a loss to imagine anything else a government could do (at least domestically; being a Liberal, Martin genuinely believes that US foreign policy is at least benign and currying favour with them is in Canada's best interests).

It was only the spur of being in a minority government (as a result of the absorbtion of the PC's into Stephen Harper's Conservative Party of Canada and widespread disgust with Liberal corruption and austerity) that Martin discovered more uses for public revenues than debt repayment and tax cuts for the wealthy. (The benefits of minority governments would be lost forever if the drooling nitwits who believed Stephen Harper's shrieking about parliamentary "coups" actually had their way!) Martin began to give away in a wholly unsystematic fashion a fraction of the money he'd taken away to pay debts and slash taxes.

It was too late however and he lost power to the Harper Conservatives. But Harper's far-right agenda did not sit well with thinking Canadians. The lunatic fringe that comprises the majority of his colleagues was deeply frightening to the Canadian political culture. For this reason, Harper was only able to construct a minority government. To lull Canadians into a false sense of security Harper ruthlessly suppressed the social conservatives within his party and served up a relatively restrained version of the neoliberalism and authoritarianism that he was harbouring.

Thus began the long twilight of the Liberal Party of Canada. After his defeat, Paul Martin resigned as leader of the Liberal Party to be replaced by what termed out to be the caretaker leadership of failed Environment Minister Stephane Dion. Dion portrayed himself as an environmentalist politician when his signal achievement was the consistent failure of Canada to meet its Kyoto Accord obligations to lower carbon emissions and help reduce global warming. Dion's failure came out of the Alberta Tar-Sands Project which the Albertan provincial government was pursuing full-steam ahead despite it being the single-biggest carbon polluting project in the entire world. A federal environment minister's failure to consider a provincial government's ability to make a hash out of a national commitment to an international treaty is akin to signing over the deed to a house that you do not own. Anyway, Dion's leadership was only meant to preserve the Liberal tradition of rotating English-French leadership and to allow Michael Ignatieff and his shadowy supporters to disabuse NDP-defector Bob Rae's aspirations for the leader's role.

Dion's leadership suffered from the embarrassment of having to oppose Harper's neoliberal, authoritarian policies with the double-whammy of sharing many of the same policy beliefs and of being afraid to bring down the government and face the electorate. Dion and the federal Liberals were reduced to hiding from confidence votes in the House of Commons and enduring the mockery of the Conservatives for their gutlessness. When Harper overplayed his hand following his cynical Fall 2008 election call and tried to force the opposition parties to vote for their own suicide thereby bringing on the threat of a coalition government the Liberal power-brokers moved swiftly to remove Dion from power and replace him with Ignatieff. It just wouldn't do to have a spot-holder actually become Prime Minister through a twist of fate while their golden boy steamed impotently in frustration.

But now, Ignatieff finds himself in the same boat Dion did, despite having the backing of the Liberals' corporate and political masters and having eliminated the threat of a rivalry with Bob Rae, he remains unable to offer genuine resistance to the Harper agenda. Not because the Harper agenda is popular among Canadians. Not because Harper himself is popular among Canadians. No, Ignatieff's problem is that the Liberal Party of Canada embraces the same neoliberal snakeoil as the Conservative Party of Canada but cannot capture Harper's firm grip on the rabid, drooling morons who foolishly vote for that agenda. Ignatieff's Liberals offer nothing to middle-of-the-road Canadians or anyone else. They've lost Quebec as a dependable stronghold and they can't promise anything to most Ontarians besides more of the same deindustrialization and destruction of the welfare state. Years of empty rhetoric have caused Liberal Party of Canada support to wither away to dangerously small proportions and they can't be guaranteed of an election win unless and until the Harper government does something particularly revolting or gets saddled with governing the country during a major recession for which they can (fairly or unfairly) be blamed.

None of this has really registered on a conscious level yet because self-delusion is essential to be a Liberal in Canada today. Ignatieff can talk about values and compassion and Liberal principles tirelessly while pursuing practical policies at variance with them. He can talk tough about holding the Conservatives accountable -- or else, when he has no intention or capability of doing so and it isn't until reality slaps him in the face that he (temporarily) realizes his empty posturing has made him look like a fool.

But more than the Liberal Party has to wake up. The Canadian electorate has to realize that the game they've been playing is rigged against them. They have to realize that the "centre" of a political spectrum in a system created by authoritarian corporate greed-heads and absolute morons isn't any place that sane, self-interested people would want to be. They have to realize that the system needs to be confronted and overturned and that comfortable comprise is not an option.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Conviction of Toronto Terrorist Upheld

From the CBC. This is an incredibly murky affair. The whole thing sounds so contrived: "Behead the PM" indeed.

I recall Alison at Creekside's description of it and I worry about civil liberties in this country.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monty Robinson's Testimony

In response to the Government of Canada's lawyer, Robinson says he didn't have time to establish if Dziekanski was being compliant or not-compliant.

He later recovers and says Dziekanski appeared to be compliant when he moved towards his luggage, but when told to put his hands on the counter and he didn't, then it was hard to establish his level of compliance.

And then, apparently, Dziekanski brandished the deadly stapler and all hell broke loose.

Blogging Tory Coverage of the Braidwood Inquiry

I'm just wondering.

I don't see anything.

What about Werner Patels? He who initially condoned the murder? I can't find a "search" function.

What about Patrick Ross, who saw fit to team up with Patels to slag Canadian Cynic for his insensitivity to a grieving mother, despite Patels's revolting behaviour?


Oh well. I was just wondering.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Time Running Out For Obama

I want this president to succeed. I want this symbol of US social and racial progress to go down as a success.

But he's not going to do it if he keeps trying to do favours for Wall Street. Barack Obama learned how to play the game. He's ridden the shoulders of the giants of the Civil Rights Movement to the highest office in the land but he could not have done that if he hadn't been so expert about playing the US capitalist-political game as well as he did. But the game has changed. The old rules have failed.

He has done nothing during this financial crisis but water-down necessary public policies to win the acclaimations of revolting morons and talk bullshit about bank bailouts. He risks the USian and the world's economy and he risks becoming a symbol of the enemy in the minds of the people who would be his greatest allies.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thoughts on George Galloway Being Barred From Canada

First of all, I actually bought the Saturday Globe & Mail yesterday. The page opposite the letters and Globe editorials was a triple-threat of Jeffrey Simpson, Rex Murphy and Margaret Wente. Three writers all either too boring, factually challenged and/or stupid to bother reading. I did read their official position on British "Respect" MP George Galloway's being barred from Canada from our current loathsome n' laughable "government." The gyst of the Globe editorial was that this was a needless, heavy-handed action that only gives more importance to Galloway than his "odious" views deserve.

Hunh. As you can see, the editorial is still online. I'll grab a sample snippet:
Had Mr. Galloway been permitted to proceed with planned appearances in Canada, including one in Toronto early next week, he would have received limited notice. A few members of the hard left would have applauded him, groups such as the Canadian Jewish Congress would have rightly highlighted the odiousness of his views, and most Canadians would either have ignored him or correctly identified him as a person on the fringes. Such is the wonder of free speech; it creates a marketplace of ideas in which offensive or nonsensical ones find little currency.

Strong stuff 'eh?

First of all, my views on George Galloway: I believe that he did gush over Saddam Hussein. That he did say he was with him "to Jerusalem" which I find very disturbing. At the same time I think there's a lot to be said for his sympathetic support of the Arab people and his criticism of US, Israeli and British imperialism. Whatever it's sources, his blistering demolition of the stupidity of the USA's Iraq policies in his Senate appearance was exhilirating.
"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to Al Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11, 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end but merely the end of the beginning. "Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong, and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies. "

At a time when fresh evidence of US barbarism was appearing daily, and all of it the result of acquiescence to the most blatant, stupid lies, Galloway's testimony was an incredibly welcome antidote.

But I have to admit getting a real kick out of the Globe & Mail commenting on the "odiousness" of Galloway's views. As if Israel's recent (hell, current) behaviour in Gaza wasn't "odious." As if sending billions of dollars and mountains of weapons to subsidize these monsters isn't "odious."

All that goes way over the heads of johnny-come-lately opponents of anti-Semitism. These right-wing scum who have only discovered their love for the Jewish people after Israel became a murderous, imperialist state (funny that one 'eh?).

What we're seeing is the last gasps of a revolting political arrangement. Stephen Harper (henceforth "the creep") and Jason Kenney and all their ilk are taking part in an endgame, stirring up the Christian totally-insane wing and the neocon oil imperialists with their increasingly hysterical and intellectually bankrupt defences of Israeli barbarism.

To all those "progressives" who become offended by criticsim of Israel's assaults on Gaza and Lebanon: It was your choice to equate Israel with the most loathsomely barbaric of its actions, not ours.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Morning and All Day Embedded YouTube Video

It's 3 am. Can't sleep. But can't think either. This'll be my only chance to blog today though. So why not put up a video?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We Did Everything They Asked ...

Remember that people. And grasp the significance of it. They created gigantic debts and caused enormous suffering with their monetarist, anti-inflation recessions. And inflation was under control (on their terms). We signed free trade deal after free trade deal, making it easier for manufacturing to relocate to where labour was cheaper (due to democracy being necessarily weaker), regulations were lighter, taxes were lower. The labour movement (both in Canada and the USA) is a tamed beast. We've surrendered job security, pay increases, all to be more efficient and competitive and flexible. The wealthy, the "wealth creators" according to the fiction, and the corporations (other sources of dynamic job creation) have received enormous tax-cuts over the years. We've privatized many public services, reduced many others, and social programs have been re-tooled to encourage scrambling after any shitty job that comes along.

Look, we did all these things and we were promised economic prosperity. These promises were later downgraded to "relative economic stability."

And what did we get? Come on, really, what did we get? We find ourself in the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s. Not "NOT relative economic stability." Not a bump in the road. But total massive failure.

This is the inevitable result of all those policies that forced the bulk of the population to make sacrifices to deluded greedheads.

These current troubles are the result of economic policies that don't see human beings as important. That see humanity as an "expense" in the production process rather than the whole point of the production process.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An $18 Billion Deficit for Ontario?

So what? It's a recession McGuinty, deal with it. If you want to reduce your deficit without slashing healthcare or education, may I suggest reversing the idiotic Harris era tax-cuts to the wealthiest? Those tax-cuts really only let the rich do some luxury spending and "invest" in the snakeoil products created by the financial industry. Reversing those tax-cuts won't hurt the real economy because they never contributed to the real economy. In fact, they harmed it.

We've been following uniformly backasswards economic policies for decades now and this mire of stupidity and recession is the DIRECT RESULT of it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Horror of War

Just in case we forget:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Harper Should be Buried ...

Under the mountain of his own malodorous lies. To their credit, quite a few mainstream media commentators have adequately exposed his lies during the coalition episode and in his recent outbursts about the opposition's "obstructionism." But the combined weight of harpo's bull-shit should be assembled in one place and dumped on him. He lied about the economic crisis. He lied about Parliament being dysfunctional. He lied in his economic statement. He lied about the parliamentary process. He lied about his own proposed coalition. He's lying now about how he wants to deal with the economic crisis. He's using the economic crisis to push his own empty partisan agenda, ... an agenda which promises us more of the same.

harpo is an idiot and he hasn't learned a fucking thing from this crisis. He's part of the problem. But his endless stream of lies should be held up to him. He should be accountable for them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Use the Crisis

We have to use this crisis of neoliberalism to push for sweeping transformations. We should kick the system when it's down in the minds of many. We should get in front of the discussion and argue fearlessly for our causes.

They (the powers that be) have been so wrong, so many times, about everything, that we should no longer worry about accomodating the delusions of those who've bought into the dominant agenda.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In Defence of Ayn Rand

Via Vanity Press, Johann Hari writes a decent critique of Ayn Rand's philosophy. But there's one part where I think Hari is unfair to Rand:
Like most of the American right, she has no conception of positive liberty. When asked how free a man in Harlem with no healthcare insurance and a kid with cancer is, she has no answer. She cannot see when hands have been kept too far off.

I actually think Rand's "Objectivism" does have an answer for such a person: "Your child's cancer is your child's affair. You owe it to yourself not to be weighed down by lesser beings. And if you, yourself can't win the financial means to save your child (assuming your child's life is of some personal value to you) then don't expect the government to force others to pay for your child's treatments. Furthermore, if you can't win the means to even lift yourself out of poverty, then you deserve to stay there and rot. The superior people, the producers might need you for their own purposes and give you a job, but don't count on it. You could respond to your situation with revolutionary anger, but according to "Objectivism" that would be self-defeating as your sort of inferior specimens can only make a hash of things anyway."

Obviously, people can choose to reject the premises of such a philosophy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Saw (Harvey) "Milk" Last Night

Most of it anyway. (Taking 20-month olds to the theatre turns out not to be a good idea.) I thought about how far society has come, but really how small the distance has been, and how we seem to be going backwards sometimes. Sean Penn was grand.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yesterday's Reading

I hate to be cruel, but nice guy Brian who supports Canada's participation in Afghanistan (for all the right reasons) has been grasping at some pretty thin straws in order to keep his fantasies alive. First there is an article from the neo-con magazine Commentary by Max Boot and then he cited the Toronto Star's one woman freak-show Rosie DiManno.

Rosie DiManno is a complete idiot and I'm not even going to read her drivel let alone critique it. I don't know who Max Boot is, but Commentary has been advocating USA-Israeli imperialism in the Middle East since the 1970s, so it's pretty telling when a "progressive" has to turn to it to justify "the mission" (tm). Still, Boot hasn't proven himself to be beneath my consideration so I'll give it a look-see.

The article is entitled "Afghanistan is better than you think" and is based on the premise that all the bad news from Afghanistan is just like all the bad news from Iraq. In fact, Boot takes the fact that the one story he uses as an example was filed from Paris to insinuate that all the negative reporting must be coming from naysayers who won't bother to actually visit the country. We can dismiss that nonsense with some in-country examples, here, here, and here.

We heard the same things about the reporting from Iraq for years and years and years. Except for the brain-dead imbeciles on the right-wing of the internet and the odd hack, most mainstream and alternative press outlets reported an unmitigated stream of bad news because the news was bad. But what does Boot have to say is the real situation in Afghanistan?
I have just returned from Afghanistan shocked by the depth of the disconnect between reality and reporting.
The coalition officers that I spoke with expressed confidence that with the U.S. reinforcements now flowing into the country, they will be able to score victories against insurgents who have been given free reign in some areas because of a paucity of NATO resources. But even before the 17,000 additional U.S. troops arrive, the situation is hardly critical. Kabul and the other major cities are safe, and even large swathes of the countryside are hardly infested by insurgents.

Wow. Except for the odd suicide bombing the major cities are safe and there are "large swathes" (an imprecise expression to say the least) of the countryside that are "hardly infested" with armed rebel gunmen. Please Mr. Boot, define "large." Define "swathes." Define "hardly." Remind me never to let Max Boot to try to sell me a vacuum cleaner okay? "See how well it works sir? There are significant areas of your carpet that hardly have any dirt at all now!"

Boot tries to argue that Obama's proposed surge of 17,000 troops is going to significantly improve the situation in Afghanistan because it helps to bring the troops-to-population ratio up to where it should be to guarantee an effective counterinsurgency campaign. Boot then tries (condescendingly) to explain that this reasoning (advocated by himself and other prescient thinkers) had brought about the success of bush II's surge in Iraq. But bush II's surge of 30,000 troops only brought trooplevels up to the levels they'd been at at the beginning of the conflict (170,000 to 190,000). If those early levels weren't enough to contain the violence how can one say that they provided a sufficient ratio to contain it later? Furthermore, that surge peaked at 170,000 troops and it's been around 140-150,000 troops since then. Roughly the average number for most of the conflict. Boot babbles witlessly about the "Anbar Awakening" and sundry issues but the saner sources I read argue that the intense levels of violence in Baghdad have lowered because the "ethnic cleansing" between Sunnis and Shiites has declined in the face of the reality that there's hardly anyone left to kill. Two million of those potential targets have fled the country. And the "Anbar Awakening" was really just the US government convincing (with bribes) Sunni leaders (sick of Al Qaeda and exhausted from the struggle) to stop fighting them.

Iraq remains a hell-hole of violence and a stunning disaster of US foreign policy. Boot's ability to present this nightmare as evidence of his foreign policy wisdom is revealing. That others will point to his blinkered analysis to justify further violence in Afghanistan is really sad.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Obama's Stimulus Concerns and the rest of the crisis

Paul Krugman says it's not enough.
Employment has already fallen more in this recession than in the 1981-82 slump, considered the worst since the Great Depression. As a result, Mr. Obama's promise that his plan will create or save 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010 looks underwhelming, to say the least. It's a credible promise - his economists used solidly mainstream estimates of the impacts of tax and spending policies. But 3.5 million jobs almost two years from now isn't enough in the face of an economy that has already lost 4.4 million jobs, and is losing 600,000 more each month.

Andrew Leonard muses on the role of Tim Geitner on the creation of the financial crisis in general:

What Keating means is that Geithner prescribed the classic, IMF medicine for ailing developing nations: In return for an IMF bailout loan, you must cut your government spending. But in Keating's view, it was the wrong medicine for Indonesia, and the fallout had long lasting consequences.

The tough conditions imposed by the IMF on many Asian nations encouraged them to make every effort to avoid needing to ask for such help ever again. So they began building up huge stores of foreign reserves.

Next he looks at John McCain Richard Shelby pulling ideas out of their asses and revealing the emptiness of their party and (inadvertently) the enormity of the crisis.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

BC and First Nations

"Granny" from Caledonia has an interesting post. The BC Government has supposedly produced a new process for recognizing and enforcing First Nations' rights. On the one hand, this sounds good. On the other hand, this is that detestable Liberal government we're talking about.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Canadian Apartheid Week

"Israeli Apartheid Week" is drawing to a close. It's a controversial event. Defenders of Israel's policies towards the Palestinians would say that if you can't detect the nuances between Israel's treatment of the Palestinians (theft of land, imprisoning them in barren prisons, etc.) and South African Apartheid (theft of land, relocating the native majority to barren "homelands," pass-laws, etc.), well you're half-an-inch away from wanting to strip Jewish children naked, gassing them to death and making soap and lampshades out of them.

[Which, by the way, is why less and less people take these racist apologists for imperialism seriously anymore.]

Canadian activists have created this week to call attention to the abominable practices of our ally, our free trade partner, the recipient of billions of dollars of U.S. aid annually, this representative of Western democratic values in a strategic part of the world. At the same time, we don't appear to have a "Canadian Apartheid Week." After all, we've locked the native population up on uneconomic reserves and starved them for resources and ignore their land-claims and resource rights in an effort to force them to surrender their separate status and all their claims to any of the wealth in these lands in the same way that the Israelis are trying to compel the Palestinians to give up on their homeland and give up on the Occupied Territories and wander off to Jordan, Egypt or anywhere else.

I'm not really faulting Canadian progressives here. A lot of them do focus on our abuse of the First Nations. What I was musing on this morning was the attitudes towards the First Nations on the part of the Canadian population in general and how that compares to Israeli attitudes towards the Palestinians.

Depressingly, a significant minority of Canadians are so racist and insecure about First Nations that they're willing to endorse murderous policies towards them whenever there's an incident of First Nations activism. In Caledonia, on the second day of a land-occupation by Six Nations activists, racist Ontarians were calling for the police or the military to forcibly remove the "Indians" from the site, this in spite of the fact that there was an ongoing public inquiry into the murder of Dudley George who was trying to get back his people's land FIFTY YEARS after it was stolen and after as many years of peaceful petitioning, prompting the premier to scream "Get the fucking Indians out of the park!" If First Nations were lobbing rockets at Canadians or setting off bombs, I don't think it's out of the question that there would be the same murderous racism in Canada that befouls the Israeli body-politic to the point of the bulk of the population cheers on the massive aerial bombardment of civilian slums.

The Israelis abuse the Palestinians on a daily basis and (in a tit-for-tat process that's been ongoing since the Zionist movement first started claiming the land in the 1920's) attack and kill them from time to time and then bemoan the Palestinians' "anti-Israel" attitude and their "culture of hate." Canadians abandon the First Nations on remote, underserviced reserves, split up families, sexually abused them, broke treaties, starved them, destroyed their culture, divided and conquered their political leadership, and now we call them dirty, drunk, lazy and bemoan their failure to surrender all elements of themselves as a people and embrace us (though we'd rather not have to touch them, or hire them, or you know, anything like that) and when they occasionally rise-up and peacefully protest, we shriek in rage.

"Canada Apartheid Week" wouldn't be very popular in this racist country. That's why it's necessary.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What a Fucking Disaster ...

.... 'eh?

What a disaster these clowns and nitwits have made of the world. Yesterday's quarterly report on rising violence in Afghanistan. The economy collapsing under an avalance of debt. The environment buckling under our mindless consumerism and greed.

True, "the left" (in quotations in order to cast as wide a net as possible ... [hey, it makes sense to me!] ... ) has sometimes been on the wrong side of things, a-la Stalinism, imperialism, industrialism, etc, but since the 1960s (at the latest) it's been left-libertarian ideas that have produced feminism, anti-racism, anti-imperialism, environmentalism, all forms of anti-authoritarianism.

And I mention that because we've really got to get our message out there. Humanity might not survive. (Which isn't a big deal to the universe, not even the galaxy, but it means something to us as members of a species.)

To be blunt; the knuckle-dragging stupidity of Stephen Harper's worldview just isn't up to the job of steering humanity into the future. It's obscene, it's ludicrous to imagine that this stunted vision of pathetic greed, superstition and hatred can serve any useful purpose.

I've got to get back to work. That's my post for the day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sources of Economic Strength

Canada is one of the "developed" countries. With one of the highest standards of living in the world. It got that way through a combination of democratic struggle, being on the winning side of world imperialism and through smart investment both public and private.

Now we find ourselves on the cusp of what might be a major world depression and Canada's level of economic prosperity seems at risk. Environmental collapse needs to be factored into the balance. The perils of global warming, the depletion of the oceans fish, oil shortages, all must be added to the list of dangers.

All operations are being suspended at Hamilton's U.S. Steel works (formerly STELCO or Steel Company of Canada) with 1,500 well-paying jobs being put on indefinite layoff. The steel sector is failing because the auto sector is failing. Foreign competition is part of this, especially in steel. But North America's auto sector is on the verge of collapse as a result of worldwide competition and given world over-capacity in auto production there's not much that we can expect from this area.

Canada's financial sector has been a source of nominal economic growth but it really seems to provide nothing but examples of monetary masturbation. As well, financialization has tended to produce a neglect of the real economy in preference for this insular narcissism. Finally, the world financial system as a whole seems poised on meltdown.

Construction and retail were all based on unsustainable growth in household debt levels.

What might be some sources of strength for Canada's economy? Healthcare.

Guess what? I really wanted to say something here but I'm too busy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Who Will Buy the Bonds?

I used to read a lot more economics and political-economy. Hell, I used to read a lot more about everything. Now, ... well, here's hoping that my new prescription for "Zoloft" will improve my motivation.

Anyhow, I used to read more about economics and back in the day I wouldn't have been so forehead-slappingly dense as I was before reading "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative"'s post "Who Will Buy the Bonds?". Because back then I would have remembered the argument that selling government bonds takes money out of the economy. Indeed, selling bonds was a way to fight inflation. Actually, I'm so fucking clueless I don't remember if that last sentence is true or not.

Anyway, here's my take on it: During a downturn, the wealthier sort (the ones who have the money to buy bonds in significant amounts) don't have any outlets for their money in the real economy, so interest-paying government savings bonds are a nice safe place to stash their cash. Meanwhile, the government gets to spend the cash received in the real economy. As well, in our current situation, the wealthiest have been receiving the lion's share of the economic growth for the past few years and they haven't really been doing anything productive with it. Mainly it's gone to some conspicuous consumption (which doesn't employ a whole helluvalotta of other Canadians) or its gone to financial speculation. So taking their money and spending it down among us plebs will positively impact domestic demand.

There's an interesting contribution by an unreconstructed Austrian School of Economics devotee commenting somewhere on that blog. Ah, here it is. ("pointbite") He says we've gone soft and we should just have our recession for a few years. Government demand management will be useless because most of our manufacturing is done in China. Our problem here has been excess demand and dissaving.

My take on that is that the last two big recessions (1980-83 & 1989-92) were much the consequences of deliberately engineered monetarist recessions. The 1990's was generally a period of anemic growth followed by a brief recession due to the implosion of the dot-com bubble. This recession is something else altogether. It's the consequence of decades of neo-liberal desperation. Driving down domestic incomes and replacing the with debt-fueled consumption. In other words, this isn't a planned recession and it isn't a brief dip in the road. A lot of mainstream sources are saying this might be the big one.

If that's the case, then the smart thing to do is to prop-up domestic demand and simultaneously do the work to wean "us" off this regime of exploited foreign labour and deepening domestic indebtedness. Prop-up the retail sector. Build some affordable housing. Encourage scientific spending. Prop-up our other service sectors. Build green alternatives. It'll take a lot of money but the alternative is, many would say, the Second Great Depression.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gutless Glavin: The Conclusion

For a few days I thought about posting something about why I expended so much energy on the war-monger, Terry Glavin. It's true that I found his incoherent, cowardly, insulting "debating" style infuriating. It's true that I think he's totally wrong on an important subject (with the side he supports having deadly consequences for those unlucky to be on the receiving end of what he imagines are "humanitarian impulses"). But I also found the drooling nitwit at "Halls of Macadamia" to be infuriating, but I never expended any mental energy worrying about it. Probably because the guy at HoM is just a drooling nitwit. Glavin, on the other hand, shows evidence of having a brain. And, for better or worse (and it's worse) Glavin's support for "the mission" in Afghanistan is based on noble sentiments. But his position is indefensible, his bullying, insulting style of defending his delusions and his cowardly habit of deleting posts that challenge him makes him an unprofitable source of opposing opinions. And after today's post I'm pretty sure that I shan't be bothered with him for even a millisecond.

It doesn't totally surprise me that I'm not the only one to have encountered Gutless Glavin, but I was a little surprised to read beluga2 in the comments section at Dr. Dawg's blog stating that (s)he had suffered the same treatment at Glavin's hands and that even the respectable Dr. Dawg himself was similarly mistreated:
Probably a good thing you're not going, Dawg. If Glavin treats his fellow passengers the same way he treats commenters on his blog, you'd probably find yourself being hurled bodily off the bus the first time you opened your mouth. ...beluga2

Indeed I was banned by Glavin after a couple of posts--which he erased--but he permitted sundry yahoos to insult me afterward. He doesn't like opposition. A bit of a fraud and a coward, our Terry. ...Dr. Dawg
I think my favourite example of Glavin's thuggish "debating" tactics was when he went over to someone else's blog and proceeded to bully and insult the commenters there: http://billtieleman.blogspot.com...-shows- why.htmlI especially liked the part where he threatened to instantly delete anyone who followed him back to his own blog. That was awesome. ...beluga2

I followed the link provided and found an extended rant from Glavin, including the following example of unwarranted arrogance and undeserved contempt for his intellectual betters that he's so infamous for:

Any anonymous wankers and trolls from who follow you over from here will be deleted.

I should like to address a couple of his points and then (to your undoubted joy dear reader) close the book on this blog's concerns for the gibbering nonsense of Terry Glavin.

First of all, there's his idiotic assumption that because he has the "courage" to put his own name beside his stupidity it somehow gives it more weight. It doesn't. Furthermore, if someone adopts a persona online, it doesn't make their arguments less valid. Deal with the facts and the analysis Terry. It's not that difficult a concept.

Secondly, Glavin spends an inordinate amount of time on that thread differentiating between "combat" deaths and other deaths suffered by the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. As if it matters whether you were shot in a firefight or blown up by an IED on the way home. You're still dead. And you died fighting for a murky cause.

Third, of that cause, Glavin had this to say:

And there's nothing in your column, not even some statement uttered by Joya in the heat of one of her fine rhetorical moments, that comes even close to showing why "working with the current Afghani [sic] government dooms our mission." We don't get to pick the Afghan government we work with. The Afghan people do, and we're stuck with Karzai and the rest for at least another year.

Which is, if you examine it for a second, completely wrong and completely insane. To begin, the USA did pick Karzai. End of story. (They later ran him in a public-relations exercise election against a detestable warlord and he won that one.) Furthermore, who the hell is the USA that it can't enforce something on a government entirely beholden to it for its existence? Used to be that the IMF could write a country's economic policies for it, even if those policies meant plummeting living standards for the so-called "citizens" of those so-called "sovereign" states. Karzai has been forced to rely on ISAF troops for his own protection rather than the mercenaries of the warlords he's otherwise reliant upon. And if Karzai is so independent and free of Western influence, then why haven't his repeated calls for an end to the cowardly policy of indiscriminate airstrikes on Afghan villages been heeded? The fact of the matter is that the NATO countries could make damned sure that Karzai runs his country properly and they could provide him with the funds to do so if they actually gave a damn about the country.

But the core of this issue is that the NATO countries don't care about Afghanistan. For the USA it's a base for launching possible airstrikes upon Iran and to project power outwards in Central Asia, where Russia and China are also competing for regional influence. For Canada, being in Afghanistan is a craven attempt to curry favour with deluded U.S. administrations, full stop.

That's why, for eight years now, the government of Afghanistan has been a disaster. Karzai cannot control the situation and he doesn't have the money or the power to guarantee compliance with professional, just, and democratic policies. And you simply cannot rationally believe that you can defeat an insurgency and make a people believe in their government while simultaneously ignoring the fact that the government that the people don't believe in and which some of the people have taken up arms against it, is brutal and corrupt. That's akin to desultorily furnishing somebody's bedroom in a burning building and hoping that they'll start to feel at home there. It's insane.

Ah, I've discussed all of this before. Glavin is a cowardly, deluded dolt. End of discussion.