Monday, August 31, 2009

The Lion of the Senate

Leave it to CounterPunch to rain on everyone's parade. (Although when i heard the MSM try to list Ted Kennedy's helping pass bush II's "No Child Left Behind" law as a great achievement I was a little appalled.)

Basically, the article says that (besides helping pass bush II's gift to private education and testing corporations) Ted Kennedy helped deregulate the trucking and aviation industries, worked to get NAFTA passed, and (interestingly) helped kill Obama's healthplan back when Nixon tried to pass it in the 1970s:

After reelection, Nixon did promote a health plan in his 1974 State of the Union speech, with a call for universal access to health insurance. He followed up with his Comprehensive Health Insurance Act on February 6, 1974. Nixon said his plan would build on existing employer-sponsored insurance plans and would provide government subsidies to the self-employed and small businesses to ensure universal access to health insurance. Kennedy went through the motions of cooperation, but in the end the AFL-CIO, with a covert nudge from Kennedy, killed the bill because Nixon was vanishing under the Watergate scandal and the Democrats did not want to hand the President and the Republicans one of their signature issues. Now the Republicans scream “socialism” at exactly what Nixon proposed and Kennedy killed off 38 years ago, in 1971.

So, anyway, that's my post.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In Thunder Bay

That's where I is right now. Have to say "The Thunder Bay Restaurant" is a cute little diner. One funny woman is both waitress and cook, so there's sometimes a little bit of waiting and you have to refill your own coffee sometimes, but you don't really mind.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Double-dip Recession?

I've got nothing to say today. So I'll let Nouriel Roubini say it:

"For a start, there are risks associated with exit strategies from the massive monetary and fiscal easing: policymakers are damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they take large fiscal deficits seriously and raise taxes, cut spending and mop up excess liquidity soon, they would undermine recovery and tip the economy back into stag-deflation (recession and deflation).

"But if they maintain large budget deficits, bond market vigilantes will punish policymakers. Then, inflationary expectations will increase, long-term government bond yields would rise and borrowing rates will go up sharply, leading to stagflation."


Thursday, August 20, 2009

NAFTA, Haiti, Afghanistan, Saddam's WMDs, Wall Street Meltdown, and the Fake Recovery

Everything in the title of this entry before the "and" is an example of the delusion and failure of the right-wing. Will the left-wing cry about this being a fake recovery be the latest time that we're proven to have been on the money about the state of the world?

Here's some urls:

"Recession far from over"

"Concocting the appearance of recovery" (Paul Craig Roberts is no leftist but so far it seems it's mainly leftists listening to him.)

Aw shit. I gotta go. I'll find s'more links later. To make a repository of this stuff.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rat-Fucking the NDP

A few days ago, the estimable Dr. Dawg asked an honest question regarding the Suaad Hagi Mohamud in Kenya affair. "Where was the NDP?" One hyper-partisan NDP commentator angrily accused Dawg of seeking to "rat-fuck" the party at the start of its federal convention in Halifax, but I thought it was a worthwhile question to ask. Now, it's possible that the NDP only has so many relevant public figures (federal leader Jack Layton, human rights or foreign affairs critics Wayne Marston and Paul Dewar, for example) and that they might have all been busy with other portfolios. Or it's possible that they read the official DFAIT story (see the link at Dawg's site) and believed it and went on to other things. But on the outside chance that the NDP leadership is leery of being seen as going to bat for potentially disastrous political causes and therefore pointedly ignored the Mohamud case, I'm going to offer the following "rat-fucking" myself.

Attention NDP: Yes, there is a substantial minority of Canadian voters who go apeshit on the subject of Omar Khadr, who still believe that Maher Arar is probably a terrorist, who believe that Abousfian Abdelrazik should still be rotting in a Sudanese prison simply because he's Muslim and who believe that Abdullah Almalki went to Syria so that he could get tortured by the Syrian government and then turn around and sue the Canadian government. Yes, sadly, these "Canadians" exist. Go to the comments section of most mainstream news stories about Ms. Mohamud and you'll find similar garbage about her (she was engaged in a sophisticated smuggling operation that went wrong, she returns to her country of origin [wrong!] so that she can get arrested again and sue the Canadian government for millions, etc., etc.).

But here's the thing NDP: Those people are vermin. Let's forget for a minute that they constitute at most 20-25% of the electorate. Let's forget for a minute that stephen harper already has a lock on most of this scum's vote. Let's focus instead on the fact that these people are vermin. If you're trying to keep quiet so as to bring the screeching about the NDP being a party of terrorist-sympathizers, Islamo-fascist-enablers, useful-idiots for "Canadians of Convenience," ... you're pandering to vermin. And when you pander to vermin you allow them to infect the politcal culture more than they'd otherwise be able to.

The NDP ought to realize that the hegemonic neo-con, neo-liberal worldview is out-to-lunch on the facts. We on the left were spot-on about the dangers of free trade (or does the loss of Ontario's manufacturing base not matter?), we were spot-on about the follies of high-end tax cuts and slashing social spending. We've been proven right on the non-existence of Saddam's WMDs. We've been proven right about how the NATO occupation of Afghanistan would be a shameful clusterfuck. We're also right about respecting the citizenship rights of Muslim Canadians.

Latest important prediction: Left-wing sources are saying that this "economic rally" is bullshit. That the fundamentals of our economy remain an over-extended consumer base and continued layoffs and stagnation. The present economic growth is based on misplaced government stimulus (primarily to the financial sector).

Sure, if the NDP comes on loud and strong about the rights of people like Suaad Hagi Mohamud, there will be a predictable outcry in the media, in the comments sections of the media, on letters to the editors pages, etc. But this outcry only comes from a minority that's never going to vote for you and whose demonstrable ignorance and stupidity on all important issues is a part of the public record. We should do them what governments led by right-wingers have consistently done to us for time immemorial; they've ignored us [the people who have been correct all the time] and mocked us. And how have we been able to retaliate? Not at all. We've had to wait until the fruits of their own policies have discredited them. And even now they still manage to set most of the major terms of the debate.

But they've been able to do this because there's a perception that all their noise equals real political power. It doesn't. If we mock them. If we face them down, they'll be shown to be the empty buffoonish posturing that they are. Soon, however much noise they make, the idiot-fringe will be shown as the dangerous kooks that they are. But this depends on a strong, confident opposition, that's willing to call things as they are and put this reality clearly before the political culture's attention.

So, NDP, if you were being reticent about helping Suaad Hagi Mohamud out of fears of a possible backlash, please rethink that reticence. Because the backlash will come only from the idiots who would (in a sane world) be inconsequential.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Greetings US-Americans! From Darkest Canuckistan!!

I watched the exchange between Chris Matthews and William Kostric (the guy who showed up along the route to Obama's New Hampshire town hall meeting carrying a loaded a gun and a sign referring to how the "Tree of Liberty" needs to be "watered" either with the blood of patriots or a tyrant).

Matthews is, I believe, a complete air-head (he'll back somebody for president because he thinks they smell great and he mocks opponents of the invasion of Iraq while simultaneously condemning same invasion) but he did say something valid about Kostric's gun antics. Given the tragic history of presidential assasinations in the USA, what the hell did Kostric think he was doing showing up with a loaded gun?

Kostric was too gutless to admit that he was attempting some low-level political intimidation and pretty much weaselled-out of any explanation. On the other hand, Kostric did show evidence of political worldview that appears to be a lot more sophisticated and internally consistent than anything Matthews would be able to cook up.

He's a Ron Paul Republican, who believes in tiny government. He believes in the right to bear arms. He believes that the creation of the Federal Reserve was a power grab by the "money power" of Wall Street, and he no doubt opposes wars of imperialism and standing-armies in general. I'd be interested to know where he was during the bush II years!

Now here's the thing though. Ron Paul panders to racists and I wouldn't doubt if he saw eye-to-eye with them. More, Ron Paul and all those right-wing libertarians are just really, really wrong. The economy that they imagine works best is one that never really existed, except perhaps for a few decades in the early 19th-Century in parts of Britain and the United States. The radical free market of small producers with equal (non-existent) power to influence markets and with all having perfect information is just a masturbatory fantasy of Von Mises, Hayek and Milton Friedman. In its partial application it produced calamaties just as easily as it produced econcomic growth.

In the real world, leftists, liberals, conservatives, pretty much everyone else, has accepted the need for some regulation of the money supply, for the creation of permanent institutions to perform necessary tasks and, finally, of the need for a public sector to provide necessary services and to regulate private actors. To take on the opinions of right-wing libertarians in their totality would be extremely delusional.

And one of thier biggest delusions is the notion that pooling society's money collectively and providing healthcare for all is a dangerous and intolerable assault on individual freedom. According to these ideologues, Canadians, with our public healthcare system, are suffering under the cruel yoke of Stalinist oppression (and we're too brainwashed by our public education system to even realize it!!!). Supposedly you're only truly free when you pay for whatever medical care you can afford out of your own pocket. (Remember, these libertarians are opposed to big corporations so insurance companies would have to be much smaller -- dangerously small -- to be allowed into their pristine worldview.) According to thinkers like Milton Friedman, there should be no regulations on medicine at all. There should be no barriers to practising medicine for anyone. Let the market decide. Obviously in such a world, there would be good scientific care for the wealthy and [privately] educated and homemade nostrums and potions sold from travelling medicine shows for everyone else. Slightly better to people like Friedman, Kostric and Ron Paul, is the US-American healthcare system, wherein people's lives are valued according to the strength of their insurance policies and family wealth, and where profit-driven bureaucrats get to interfere with the level of care you receive. (In such a system, employer health plans are the barrier between you and medical bankruptcy which makes you ever so willing to assert your individualism in the workplace!) Canada's system, where you pay your taxes and then, if you get sick or injured, see a doctor and get looked after, is simply a nightmare of totalitarianism.

Last thing for today: Most studies show that the average Canadian enjoys the same level of disposable income as the average US-American. We pay a bit more in taxes than they do and they pay more out-of-pocket for health insurance, education and other services that Canadians pay for with their taxes. It's pretty much a wash. Except for the fact that there's much more inequality in the USA than is revealed by those averages. In the case of healthcare, 50 million USians have no health insurance while millions more have inadequate insurance.

ETA: In case anyone's interested, here's a very accessible telling of the debate over socialism versus the free market in the Saskatchewan medicare fight.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thoughts on the Disruption of Town Hall Meetings in the USA

I'd mentioned during the time of the proposed Dion-Layton coalition that it was one of those times when Canadian politics were as easy to write about as US-American politics. US-American politics are painted in such bold contrasts, with such obvious villains and not-quite-as-villainous-but-you know-not-batshit crazy-insane-types. (It just occurred to me that the Democrats aren't "heroes" by any stretch of the imagination, but their opponents are so demented that it's still a clear choice which team you'd choose if you were forced to.)

So here we have something that's easy to write about, coming from the stark contrasts of US-American politics, but which also involves issues that are universal in their application.
The questions under consideration are also so timeless that it doesn't matter that I'm posting this a little late in the day. Democratic President, Barack Obama (a loathsome public relations character in my estimation) is proposing some god-awful healthcare "reform" bill that just MIGHT be a start to build genuine reform but which is inarguably an example of government intrusion into the right of private insurance companies to mismanage US healthcare as profit-minded capitalists see fit. As any sort of regulation is anathema to them, these private insurers are determined to kill Obama's proposals however anemic they are.

A number of professional lobbyists and astro-turf organizers have tapped into the mentally-submerged 30 percent of the US-American population that supports the Repugnican Party to the bitter-end, building upon the ridiculous "Tea-Bagging" movement of anti-Democratic protest, calling upon this army of idiots to show up and shut-down "Town Hall" meetings held by Democratic Congresspersons to discuss Obama's healthcare package.

Now, first of all, the term "astro-turf" isn't exactly accurate with these mobs. "Astro-turf" (as opposed to genuine "grass-roots" organizations) exist on paper mainly. It's generally beyond the means of "astro-turf" groups to get hundreds of people out in force in several communities at once. What we have here is a genuine social movement. A movement of really stupid people being manipulated into action by a tiny group of elites who don't care about them. The FOX network has been the elites' voice, talking to these sub-cretins, getting them genuinely stirred up about, ... oh, nonsensical, insane things like Medicare being taken over by the government. [Note: Medicare is a government program.]

What I'd like to take issue with is the idea that their behaviour at these town-halls is bad, in and of itself. That shouting-down and harassing politicians who don't do what you like but who do things that you really, really DON'T like is bad. I actually think it's great. The fact that they've been given tips on how to shut a meeting down rather than to debate the issues is a drag, but that just makes it all the more justifiable for the other side to try to shut them down and then pummel them with the facts. To put it simply, if these citizens show themselves to be nothing more than ignorant, right-wing blowhards, get your own bully-boys to intimidate them, force them to try to explain themselves, and when they show themselves to be the dunces that they are, get it up on YouTube. It won't be "polite" exchange of ideas, but for fuck's sake, that sort of went out the window at the very beginning, didn't it. There's a lot of passion here and it can't be confined into some polite, technocratic discourse. Decent Democrats are passionate about STARTING to do something about the 50 million US-Americans with no access to healthcare, the bankruptcies caused by medical bills and shitty insurance policies from despicable healthcare insurers. And the yahoos, idiots, fools, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage fans and thugs and the confused, geriatric senile dimwits are passionate about how they think Obama is trying to ...
To abandon a market-oriented society and transfer it to a Soviet-style, government-centered, bureaucratic-run and mandated program, that is the thing that will put the stake in the heart of freedom in this country. [...] re-education camps for young people [...] an American KGB [...] They'll take away guns, they'll take way our sovereignty, they'll take away our currency, our money. They're already starting to put all the global framework in with this bullcrap called global warming. This is an effort to globalize, to tie together everybody on the planet! [...] bureaucrats are going to decide who lives and dies [...] 35 terrorist training camps spread across the U.S.A. [...] Take a look a the FEMA camps — there are concentration camps in the U.S. today! [...] There's a cemetery somewhere in Arizona where they just dug 30,000 fresh graves, which wait now for the revolution. [...] Baxter International — a major Obama contributor — developed a vaccine for bird flu that actually kills people. [...] Google Congressman Alcee Hastings and House Bill 684 and you'll see that they're planning at least six civilian labor camps. [...] Google an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about train cars with shackles.

Now, of course, I'd like for the right-wing media buffoons, cowards and morons at FOX News and other loathsome places, who are working themselves into a lather about how their stupid "tea-baggers" are being portrayed as "mobs," and who are screeching that the Democrats are trying to take away the right of citizens to protest, to either apologize for their vicious slanders against "CODE-PINK" and their bullying suggestions that they should be tazered or beaten to a pulp. If these moronic, imbecile "tea-baggers" are just citizens expressing their anger, then all the right-wing bullhorns who are defending their right to protest must first, get down on the sidewalk on all fours and grovel at the feet of a CODE-PINK activist, and live, on television, heartfully apologize for their past slanders and threats. Otherwise they're just engaging in the full-on hypocrisy that makes one's entire life a stupid, useless joke that would have been better lived by someone else.

[Scene: Dark hotel room in a tropical country. A pretty 14-year old native girl is pushing herself against the wall, quietly waiting for it all to end as Rush Limbaugh cries softly to himself, his last Viagra taken earlier in the afternoon, and his manhood now totally unable to rise to the occasion, past the barriers of his own self-loathing.]

There's probably a right-wing memo somewhere saying that the guy with the gun strapped to his leg and holding the poster which reads "It's time to water the tree of liberty" (a reference to Thomas Jefferson's "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure") was a Democratic plant put there to make the genuine protestors look bad, but you can see for yourself that nobody is telling that guy to fuck-off because he's just a trouble maker, the way the leftists did with the fake anarchists at Montebello.

Let's face it people, we're at war with the greedheads and the stupid people. I'll repeat that: We're at WAR with the GREEDHEADS and the STUPID PEOPLE, and in this war there can be no compromise. Because to a stupid-head, "compromise" means you only cut-off half of your opponent's body and to a greedhead, "compromise" means something nasty that you have to try to wriggle out of. We cannot continue to allow the greedheads and the stupid heads to set the agenda and control the debate. If they want to get physical to try to enforce their agenda, they should expect that others will get physical back.

Finally, I'll let David Lindorff say it a bit more eloquently than I have.

Never mind that you've got ignorant numbskulls demanding that Democrats in Congress "Keep your government hands off my Medicare!" or that you've got right-wing protesters in their 70's who are all on Medicare irrationally shouting "Keep government out of health care!" The point is that confused and ignorant or not, these people are willing to make the effort to travel fair distances to make their voices heard, and they're willing to stand up, shout, and even scuffle for the chance to make their point.
It's not as if Democrats haven't gone to great length to fill those same halls with earnest supporters.
The real question is why is the left in the US so goddamned polite and domesticated that these Right Wing cranks look positively rowdy.


Where is that passion today? For the most part, the left, in all its various guises--environmentalists, labor unions, civil rights advocates, health care reform advocates, anti-war activists--have become neutered office-chair potatoes, sending canned emails to their elected representatives or to the White House, occasionally marching politely inside of pre-approved, permitted and police-prescribed routes, and attending sponsored events like the current round of town meetings, perhaps to raise polite objections to aspects of a proposed piece of legislation.
The agenda of the left in today's America is being written not by uncompromising radicals in the street as in earlier decades of struggle, but by the bought-and-paid Democrats in Washington. The left, such as it is, has become simply a reactive force, trying to make discrete little improvements in the truly horrible legislation--health care "reform," cap-and-trade, the Employee Not-So-Free Choice Act, continued Iraq and Afghanistan War funding bills--that is being offered by a wholly corrupt Washington in thrall to corporate lobbyists.
We all need to take a lesson from the Right, and from those lusty, cantankerous folks who are raising hell at those pathetic "town meetings."

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Something to Fill the Empty Hours ...

Until I get around to posting that other thing i started a couple of days ago.

So over at Canadian Cynic there was a link to a post by Canadian Cincinnatus wherein Cincinnatus writes that while there are goons on the right-wing they're far outnumbered by the hordes of angry, slavering trools and psychopaths on the left.
The whole kafuffle between myself and Canadian Cynic over his fraudulent quotation of me has gotten me asking the following question: why is socialism such a nasty movement? Oh, I know, there are plenty of trolls and thugs in the right, but it seems that the number of goons per capita is much higher on the left side of the spectrum. And what’s more, those that are on the left tend to be respected their more moderate peers while right-wing goons are almost universally shunned by the mainstream right.

I took issue with this and responded thusly:

Could you find me a left-wing discussion board or comments section like this one -

regarding allegations of Canadian soldiers beating prisoners in Afghanistan?

Some quotes:

"I honestly do not know what the problem is. Ok, a few prisoners are slapped around. If it is that much of a hassle, simply take no prisoners, shoot every SOB."

"I'm with GaryinWpg, just shoot them dead as you find them since the liberal MSM moonbats are too cowardly to embed themselves with the troops they can only speculate."

"Prof. Amir Attaran, I thinks 6 weeks basic at Petawawa and a trip to Afstan is in order, and not as a concientious objector. Maybe you will get more of an appreciation of things local, from a combat soldier's and the local Afghani's perspective when you are on the receiving end of all those poor "insurgents" that you weep for. "

"In the past, Amir Attaran would have been arrested as an enemy spy. His purpose is not so-called 'human rights abuses'. That is his clever cover. He is using our laws and values against us, in order to support the jihad."

"(The enemy infiltrator known as) Attaran's last effort was to have the Geneva enemy combatant rules applied to jihad prisoners. The problem is jihadi Islamofascists, especially the Taliban, are not recognized soldiers of any country's military. So, in its present form, the Geneva rules do not apply. But, obviously, he's still trying to cripple our military effort any way he can."

"What the MSM should be concentrating on is questioning the motives of the oppostion and this
professor in bringing this crap forward.

Additionally, this all happened under the LIBS did it not? Where were they. How does this reflect on the current government? "

Canadian Cincinnatus replied:

Dear Mr. Thwap:

Those first two comments you cite from small dead animals, are they real comments or have they been planted there by a left-wing activist?

Since I assume you are cool with Canadian Cynic's attribution policy, I gotta ask.

Whereupon I typed something that'll be my post for the day:

No it won't. Okay, yes it will!


"GaryinWnpg" appears to be a regular poster at SDA. If he's a leftist impersonating a rightist then it appears to be a full-time job.

"penny" is the real deal. She's a suburban mother from (I believe) Caledonia who I've debated with when I used to haunt SDA's comment section.

Here's the thing. You're wrong.
"Small Dead Animals" is one of Canada's most popular blogs. It's owner has called for the re-opening of the residential schools.
She's not a fringe-dweller so far as the Canadian political internet goes. was always compared to, equally angry, equally deranged. There's no comparison.

Michael Moore is referred to as the left's Ann Coulter. When did Michael Moore advocate killing SCOTUS Justices he didn't agree with. When did Michael Moore ever joke that he wished the terrorists took out Wall Street, or the WSJ? I defy you to find something Moore ever said that's the equivalent of the worst that Coulter said.

And, just recently, an anti-Obama protestor was seen with a gun strapped to his leg holding a sign alluding to watering the tree of liberty with the blood of a tyrant.

When did bush II or Cheney ever have to deal with something like that?

You're trying to create an equivalence that's not there.

Thanks for posting my comment.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Globe & Mail Trashes its Own Political-Economic Wisdom

The top editorial for today is "A Generation's Raw Deal" and in it, the G n' M appears to be trashing the political-economic policies its been advocating for decades:
Forget the dream of a better standard of living. Young Canadians just want not to fall behind, but even that more limited aspiration is now in jeopardy

Wow. Strong stuff. What's brought this on I wonder?
As a group, youth expect three things: that jobs will be available to them; that opportunities for further training and advancement are within reach; and that they will not be saddled with costs bequeathed by previous generations. In each regard, young Canadians are getting a raw deal.

Hear-hear! And this is absolutely intolerable!
The recent data on jobs are staggering. Employment for those from 15 to 24 years of age has fallen by 200,000 in the last year, or two-thirds of the total national decline. The summer unemployment rate for students is now at 20.9 per cent, the highest since at least 1977, when this data started to be collected.

Imagine that.
But the recession has hit seasonal tourism, labour and service jobs especially hard. Public employers have not stepped in to fill the temporary need. Private employers, in delaying hiring, are punting the responsibility for skills training to government-funded apprenticeships and government jobs programs themselves.

The federal and provincial governments have been schooled too well in the 19th-Century economic policies espoused by the Globe & Mail I'm afraid. Instead of ratcheting-up spending to combat the recession, they've been retrenching, stupidly imagining that our debt-to-GDP ratios are unsustainable and imagining that the sight of fiscal prudence in the public sector will magically compel the private sector to invest in the future. Meanwhile, private employers are simply doing what the Globe and Mail in ordinary times has always advocated: pursuing rational self-interest.
Compounding the situation for high school graduates is an increasingly burdened postsecondary system. Tuition increases for undergraduate education have averaged 4.4 per cent a year in the past decade, nearly twice the rate of inflation in the same period. Despite the financial deterrent, students are managing to enroll, but are finding larger classrooms; the increase in student numbers was three times the rate of increase in faculty hiring from 1995 to 2005.

Yes, well, hasn't this all been the point of public policy for years now? To rein in spending and make people more responsible for their individual lives? So what if it's meant larger class sizes, higher tuition levels and increased debtloads upon graduation into a shitty job market of insecure contract work mainly in the service sector.
And this generation of Canadian youth is facing new deficits more urgent than any other. The recession and the resulting stimulus spending will increase the federal debt by $85-billion over five years. Demographic trends will divert more health-care spending toward the aged. As for future environmental deficits, these are difficult to quantify now, but the cost of reining them in will grow with each year of comparative inaction.

Well, which is it? The government should hire more people to lower unemployment but shouldn't increase the size of its deficit? What?
Youth, especially those outside school, have not traditionally been a strong lobbying force in national politics. The raw numbers, and their increasingly shared experiences of hardship, should make them take notice and make them demand more of their leaders, both public and private.

Really? What should they ask for Globe & Mail? Should they ask governments to enact more legislation compelling labour "flexibility"? ["We DEMAND that you make it easier to fire us!"] Should they ask governments to sign more corporate-friendly "free trade" deals that allow manufacturing jobs to fly overseas? Should they ask for weaker unions? Less restrictions onf capital flight? More foreign ownership? Less funding for education and deregulation of tuitions? What exactly? And how, pray tell, should young citizens make these demands? Let's forget for a minute the utter insanity within the mindset of the Globe & Mail's editorial board, that imagines that the policies that have CAUSED this problem are what's needed to fix the problem. Let's forget that what these boneheads are asking for are the same policies that neoliberal politicians happily implement daily, and just reflect on the hilarity of how they think politics works.

Supposedly Canada is a democracy, and if, say, young people are tired of getting dicked around all they have to do is rise up and demand action from the country's public and private leaders. Yet this same editorial board has nodded approvingly every time politicians IGNORED the will of the majority. The Globe and Mail has advocated for the 1989 Free Trade Agreement, the 1994 NAFTA Agreement, the invasion of Afghanistan, the Security and Prosperity Partnership, the anti-inflation policies of the Bank of Canada, the creeping privatization of healthcare. All of this was opposed by the majority of voters at the time. (Over a decade of propaganda and disinformation and lowered expectations have made a majority of Canadians approve of "free trade" but successful delusion or a con-job isn't genuine consent.)

In all these things, neoliberal politicians have been celebrated for pointedly ignoring the supposedly immature and ignorant majority, and for displaying the "courage" to lead the public rather than listen to it. They do what they want and we can all go to hell. If, upon occasion, some people, tired of politicians shitting on democracy with impunity, really do "rise up" they are to be quickly smashed back down again. And once again, the Globe & Mail approves.
And leaders in the private sector? Just what are unemployed young people supposed to do? Stand on the road outside the factory demanding jobs? You know what would happen if they tried that. The second they set foot on private property they'd be arrested for tresspassing. They'd have to remain on the road until the police broke up their rally for not having a proper permit.

Obviously this editorial is the result of panic and confusion. How else to explain the way it demands that employers should ignore what the Globe & Mail would otherwise identify as "economic reality" and hire more young people. If the government tried to force employers to hire more young people, train them, and make them productive, the Globe & Mail would be shrieking about intolerable invasions of the private marketplace and reality-defying "make-work" schemes. But this is a major recession and the poor saps are simply at a loss for how to respond.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

another post for yet another day ...

Well, I'm working on something about the mobs shutting-down the town-halls, but it ain't gonna git fineeshed tonite, ... so, ... here's something else:

Miguel Tinker Salas - "The Right-Wing Counter-Attack in Latin-America"
I would submit that events in Honduras are not isolated, but rather part of a conservative counterattack taking shape in Latin America. For some time, the right has been rebuilding in Latin America; hosting conferences, sharing experiences, refining their message, working with the media, and building ties with allies in the United States. This is not the lunatic right fringe, but rather the mainstream right with powerful allies in the middle class that used to consider themselves center, but have been frightened by recent left electoral victories and the rise of social movements.

What's up with all that crazee hyphenatin' 'eh?

So, basically, while the bulk of the people (I'd say 70-80 percent) of the populations of those countries have been exploiting the weaknesses of an over-stretched, crisis-ridden USA, to put into action 50 years of mobilization and class consciousness in what seems like an inexorable wave of sanity against failure, the failed forces of economic and military power have been taking advantage of their advantage in resources and have been plotting their own schemes (imagine a diseased bird distressingly pooping out some unforeseen discharge) to stem and/or turn the tide.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Preliminary Report on Allegations of Child-Rape

Alison at Creekside has a post about how low the imbeciles are prepared to go in their insane war on terrorism: "Ass-raping for freedom"

I'm just calling attention to that and posting this for my own records, because it also has a link to Montreal Simon's blog-post: "Canada and the Raped Boys of Afghanistan" which features a CanWest report about the Canadian Military "washing its hands" of any responsibility for these atrocities:

The military also struck a board of inquiry to examine the matter, which has held hearings behind closed doors.

"The investigation was thorough; we interviewed all persons of interest, completely reviewed the Security and Military Police Information System and investigated whether any criminal or service offences were committed by CF members. The investigation concluded that no service or criminal offences were committed by CF members," Lt.-Col. Gilles Sansterre, the head of the NIS, said in a statement.

The allegations surfaced last summer and related to incidents in late 2006 or early 2007.

Wow. It was "thorough." I'm happy to hear that. They "interviewed all persons of interest." Who decided who exactly was a "person of interest"? The "completely reviewed the Security and Military Police Information System" did they? What's that and how relevant is reviewing that system in this investigation? Regardless, they decided that no CF members committed any crimes. Wow again. Because the question wasn't "Did CF members commit crimes?" The question was "Were Afghan military and government-employed translators raping children?" Big difference there wouldn't you say?

Again, this all reflects on that piece of garbage, stephen harper. CF members are requiring post-traumatic stress counselling for witnessing this evil and harper wants to pretend that nothing happened. These soldiers apparently need counselling to deal with trauma inflicted by their imaginations.

A normal human being would move heaven and earth if it was possible that the "mission" we're sacrificing blood and treasure for was being compromised by a child-raping government. But stephen harper isn't a normal human being. He's a complete scum-bag who cares about nothing but his own self-interest.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Remember "Jobless Recoveries"?

Remember how, in the 1980s and 1990s, we used to laugh ruefully at the nonsensical notion of a "jobless recovery"? Good times. Now that the general public's standards have been lowered by thirty-years of failed neoliberal dogma, they think we're ready for the "increasing unemployment recovery."

As Mike Whitney mentioned, this so-called "recovery" is based on a US stock-market rally that's fueled by loose money from the US Federal Reserve. Unemployment continues to rise in the United States, household wealth continues to fall with falling real-estate values, which means that household debt there will be a growing burden. Given that consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the USA's GDP, and given that much consumer spending there was based on increasing levels of debt, this "recovery" in the USA seems unsustainable, to say the least.

As for Canada's "increasing unemployment recovery," it actually appears that we might just be getting started on our recession, as the effects of the plummeting US economy start to impact our export industries. It looks like the Bank of Canada (which appeared to have been caught off-balance by the enormity of this recession)'s prediction of a slow recovery is going to have to revised.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Economic Bullshit and Blackwater as "Murder Inc."

So I read two remarkable things last night. And then I read something else remarkable this morning.

David Lindorff at CounterPunch writes: "The Recession Isn't Over, By a Long Shot." I have to say that his analysis makes a lot more sense than the "happy talk" from the Obama administration and the MSM:

Where is the consumer spending supposed to come from that used to represent a whopping 70% of economic activity in a United States that long ago stopped making things? The answer is: nowhere. The amount of lost wealth makes a joke of the celebrated Obama stimulus plan, which was less than $1 trillion, and which is spread out over two years.

There is simply no money to rekindle the orgy of consumer spending that kept the US economy afloat for so long.

Certainly, "happy talk" might get an economy going by boosting public confidence, but like Lindorff, I feel that consumers are just too over-extended and vulnerable to return to their previous role.

The MSM has been chirping about a rally in the stock markets again. For a long time I've found this to be absolutely inane. Stocks were trading at completely bogus price-earnings ratios for over a decade, it was obvious that any rationalism attached to the stock markets was long-divorced from anything to do with the real economy and more related to some gambler's mentality. Still, given today's circumstances, I've been wondering what could possibly be behind this rally in the financial markets. Apparently it's the Obama administration! In another CounterPunch article, Mike Whitney's "Bernanke's Shell Game" describes how the Federal Reserve is creating money to help boost the stock markets:
It means the revered professor Bernanke figured out a way to circumvent Congress and dump more than a trillion dollars into the stock market by laundering the money through the big banks and other failing financial institutions. As Kessler suggests, Bernanke knew the liquidity would pop up in the equities market, thus, building the equity position of the banks so they wouldn't have to grovel to Congress for another TARP-like bailout. Bernanke's actions demonstrate his contempt for the democratic process. The Fed sees itself as a government-unto-itself.
So, the magical "Green Shoots" stock market rally was fueled by a mere $400 billion from the money markets. The rest ($2.3 trillion) was main-lined into the market via Bernanke's quantitative easing (QE) program, of which Krugman and others speak so highly.

Meanwhile, of course, the real economy on which all of this is nominally based goes begging. There's a thin strand of thread anchoring this gigantic balloon to the earth. The danger, as Whitney and others point out, is that this is unsustainable. This "rally" depends upon continued monetary growth, supplied by the Fed, and as the Whitney's article points out, that's going to give foreign buyers of $US-denominated government savings bonds leery of the worth of those assets.

Finally, via "Crooks and Liars" there's this article from Jeffrey Scahill in The Nation, "Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder."

I've always found Eric Prince to be one of the more revolting and frightening products of the USA's degenerate political culture. A child of privilege who is also an elite killing machine and a fanatical Christian, founds a company of mercenaries and builds the world's largest private army. I'm getting inspired to create a leftist "James Bond" kind of agent to try to save the world from this sort of insanity.

What are the allegations? Prince's large-scale operation of smuggling illegal weapons into Iraq:
Among the additional allegations made by Doe #1 is that "Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq." He states that he personally witnessed weapons being "pulled out" from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that "Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince's private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines," adding that Prince "generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade."

Employing violent racist sociopaths and steroid abusers knowingly:
Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, "were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department." Doe #2 adds that "Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis." Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy "unfit men" and sent them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were "the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to 'kill ragheads' or achieve 'kills' or 'body counts,'" as well as "excessive drinking" and "steroid use." However, when the men returned to the US, according to Doe #2, "Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to 'stop costing the company money.'"

And murdering others who tried to alert federal authorities about these crimes:
Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, "it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct." John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he "fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration." He also alleges, "On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince's employ, Mr. Prince's management has personally threatened me with death and violence."

The allegations against Prince are from two former Blackwater employees' sworn affadavits as part of a legal suit against Prince and his company for the murder of innocent Iraqis by the Iraqi families of those victims. I hope that somehow, someway, this will take this psychopathic Prince down permanently. Even in Obama's "forget the past, think about continuing these crimes in the future" administration.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Make of it what you will ...

I posted a link to the story of the child-raping Afghan National Police to Terry Glavin's blog five times. He's deleted every one. Here's my letter to him (also deleted):

Still no response to the stories of child-raping Afghan National Police Terry?
What's wrong with your blog, deleting inconvenient things like that?
I understand you went to Afghanistan. I wonder, if you'd seen any Karzai officials raping children, did you simply look the other way?
(And then write some pompous drivel about how critics of "the mission" are betraying the people of Afghanistan?)
You could argue the story is false. You could argue some lame nonsense about how raping children arises out of poor training. Or, you could incorporate this harsh reality into your blinkered view of the world and perhaps come out sadder and wiser.
Instead, you choose to gutlessly delete these references.

I guess the reason that I'm so incensed by this gutlessness is that, ... oh for god's sake, ... isn't being opposed to the rape of children some sort of litmus test for something?

But yet, Glavin will slither away from discussing this assault on his delusions but then type crap like this:
During the Israel-Hezbollah war last summer, this column examined Canada's so-called antiwar movement, and concluded that its conduct was squalid, and its "peace" was really about opposing Israel.
I expressed support for the struggles of the Palestinian people, but I pointed out that there's another, much larger, war going on. It's a war against modernity, against the emancipation of women, against the Jews, and against everything any self-respecting liberal or socialist or democrat has ever stood for.
This time, I'm here to say Canada's main "antiwar" groups have finally, fully, and openly exposed themselves to be active participants in that war. And they're on the side of the enemy.
For those of my readers who will continue to insist after reading this that that they are "shocked" and "appalled" that I write disparagingly about the key leadership of this country's "anti-war" movement, I'm afraid we no longer have anything to discuss.
For the last time, I am not "smearing the anti-war movement." The anti-war movement has disgraced itself.

Really Terry? So, where does child-rape fit in with "modernity, ... the emancipation of women, ... and ... everything any self-respecting liberal or socialist or democrat has ever stood for"? What version of the Whig Interpretation of History has child-rape as one of the stages on the path to liberal democracy.
And now, check out the vermin inhabiting Glavin's comments section:

Blazing Cat Fur said...
Terry your work is necessary and valued. I respect your decision to regain your life, just keep blogging. Sorry for gettin all maudlin here, but yours is a voice of reason and intelligence that needs to be heard. Keep blogging at the least!
6:24 AM W.L. Mackenzie Redux said...
Great investigative blogging!The results and links your investigation has turned up are indeed shocking but not unexpected.The common thread between fanatical Islam and radical dogmatic communism is a shared mythology which holds "Zionists" (roughly translated this means the Jewish mercantile class of the world) responsible for all the failings of utopian idealists to produce the social utopia promised by the dogma to their constituents.As Islamists and paleo-communists wallow deeper in the obvious failings and human misery of outdated/errant social theory, they become more adamant to scapegoat someone/something for their falling short of with all intellectually degenerate ideologies they trot out a scapegoat…the oldest one being the mythology of the vast conspiracy of the Joooooos. They seed it into the culture of their constituency as a placebo for dystopian mysery and a diversionary focal point for their follower's anger."Oh so you have no running water in your village comrade Alli?...this is because the globalist imperialism of Zionist Jewry does not want you to have it...the sons of Monkeys keep those
of the true faith in bondage to their international capitalist tyranny...they are the great Satan’s financiers...Islam can only be free when the Zionist pigs are driven from our lands (the genocide of Israel) and the Zionist imperialists taste the wrath of Mohamed's sword( global Jihad)"The “Borat” skit where he sings a Kazakistni folk song about “throwing the jews down the well so my country can bee free” is a satirical take on the backwards anti Zionist culture in the former soviet Balkan states.Can't you just hear the paleo-commies cheering on the similar anti Zionist Islamic dogmatic perversity? could have been said in a Moscow rally by Stalinists during the great social purges of the absolutist soviet ascension.Anti zionism/antisemitism and autocratic control over public morality is a tenet of Stalinist communism and Islamic extremism which is a natural ideological fit...we saw it in the Baathists and in the Syrian and Iranian regimes. Anti zionist/antisemetic culture still thrives in
most of the former soviet block….it is a deeply entrenched cultural remnant of radical communist dogmatics.So for me there is no surpise paleo-communists have found common ground with radical Islmists...what does surprise me is the size of this 5th columnist Marxist-Trotskyite-anti-semitic cabal in Canada…truly Orwellian they hide under “peace protester” banners....some one has to keep an eye on them and expose the treasonous alliances they form.Perhaps the next alternative media investigative front is exposing the link between fist nations extremists and the domestic 5th column left -Islamic fanatic bund...we routinely see both international worker's party and Hezbolla flags at native blockades and pro native land claim protest-marches.... strange bed fellows?...things that make you go hmmmm.

Keep up the great work Terry there is a lot of unseemly garbage that lies just beneath the white blanket of snow that is Canada's Christmas card picture image. Exposure is the first step to removing the garbage. It is the job of the alternate media to melt the snow so we see the dog-do on the lawn.
9:06 AM

Shona Holmes

Shona Holmes is the John McCain fan (read: "Idiot") who has decided to make herself the poster-girl for the "STOP healthcare for the poor" movement in the United States of America.

While Ms. Holmes's deadly, cancerous brain tumour has since been fact-checked down to a cyst, there's also the fact that the cyst was causing temporary blindness, which must have been traumatic. Also, there's been over a decade of growing waiting-lists caused by deliberate under-funding of healthcare by scumbag neoliberal politicians who couldn't have done a better job of discrediting our public healthcare system if they were in the employ of private health insurance companies.

But waiting-lists or not, Ms. Holmes's cyst was a "pre-existing condition" that a private insurer would have used to disqualify her for care, so she obviously has her head up her ass if she thinks she wouldn't have had to take out a second mortgage on her house and etc., if she'd lived in the USA with their for-profit system. And what her story has to do with those USians who can't afford healthcare at all is unclear. "I had to wait months for treatment. Don't push for a system that would at least pay for you to get diagnosed, because you might have to wait a few months for the care you're going to get. You're better off having nothing at all."

"A Creative Revolution" has a link that debunks the stories of hordes of us Canucks rushing over the border to get that healthcare we can't get at home.

Monday, August 3, 2009

CF Personnel Who Don't Support "The Mission" (tm.)?

Every time my local rag, "The Hamilton Spectator" prints a story about a local soldier serving in Afghanistan they seem to always ask if they support "the mission" over there, and invariably, the soldiers say that yes indeed they do.

My response to that is that I'm not going to change my mind about Canada in Afghanistan just because some interviewed soldier says that they are in complete accord with what we're doing there. Especially if they don't explain why they support it AT ALL. Sometimes they'll add some little touch about building schools, sending girls to school, and etc., but that's not enough for me either.

You could look into the eyes of a hundred children going to school and think "it's worth it." You could then look into the eyes of a hundred children, some dead, others wounded, others shattered by the deaths of their loved ones in a NATO air-strike and think "it's not worth it."

But I wonder whether an CF personnel feel obliged to say they support the mission when they talk to the media, because to criticize it would lead to trouble? Then, these meaningless assertions of agreement get to become fodder for the propaganda wars back home.

Obviously, there are also soldiers who are going to want to "see the job done" because their comrades died in the effort. But that's no reason for other people to vote for us staying.

I suppose, finally, that I could go to some pro-war military blogs and get some greater detailed accounts of their support for the mission, but in all honesty, I hate pro-war blogs, and I'm pretty sure it's all a fucking waste of time. If the pro-war mainstream media can't find someone to say something coherently and concisely after eight years of trying (and I've done some looking) then why should I descend into one of those internet snake-pits to read tiresome dirges about the global-Islamo-fascist conspiracy?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wanted: A Better Grade of Troll

Recently, the schoolyard's been infected with a relatively large influx of internet trolls. (Either that, or it's just one obsessively deranged individual with a bunch of sock-puppets, a possibility too terrifying to really entertain.) The real problem is that it's the same old thing. Vague generalizations about how stupid I am, and/or stated concerns about my precarious mental health. Sometimes I'm in the mood to play with these trolls, to either back them into a corner to get them to actually attempt to prove that I'm as contemptibly stupid as they say, or to establish that they really have no ability to genuinely critique me and they're forced by necessity to resort to meaningless assertions.

I'm getting bored with this though. So my thinking here is to type this once-and-for-all entry that I can re-post anytime these individuals (or this one, pathetic individual) shows up with the usual garbage.

Here's the thing trolls: I don't know who you are. Your opinions about me are therefore unimportant to me. When you go to the trouble of typing out that you have a low opinion of me it has absolutely no impact. It has less than zero impact actually, because it's my belief that most of the people typing these stupid things do so because they're stupid people who believed in Saddam Hussein's WMDs, in bush II's policies and in stephen harper's brilliance. The empty insults from such people are like a validation of my blog.

If you REALLY want to make me feel bad, show me that I'm stupid. Show me that I fucked up. Show me that I don't know what I'm talking about. I'll feel embarrassed, maybe even humiliated. But you know what else? In the end, the world will be a better place because you'll have taught me something, and you'll always have that over me.

If, however, you respond with words to the effect of "Why should I bother debating with an insane man/moron/leftist moonbat/stupid canuck/etc., etc., ad nauseum" then I'll only assume (rightly, obviously!) that you're actually incapable of destroying my views and defending your own.

Here's one of the latest examples of this meaningless criticism, provided by the dull-witted "vin":
Nice try twack,but the only embarassment here is your blog.It's quite rare to see this amount of bullshite all in one place.Yet here your blog sits like a steaming pile.How is that you can be so completly wrong in nearly everyway possible.That's quite an accomplishment.One would think that by blind,stupid,dumb luck you'd be right about something/anything at least once in awhile but no, you don't even have that going your way.Just another pompous pud looking for something to say.The fact that you take yourself so seriously is the real kicker .It's fantastic to see someone so absolutely sure of their own correctness in spite of everyday reason and common sense. battle.It wouldn't be so bad but your drivel is so stale.Can't you at least update it?
Notice that there's nothing in there specifically pertaining to anything I've actually said or done. It's just a string of insulting words that could be applied to anyone. Why should I care about this paragraph of insults? How could I feel embarrassed about how my writing inspires such bile when there's absolutely nothing in there to tie to my writing? Why should I feel sad or angry that somebody with the pseudonym "vin" or someone anonymous wrote this string of meaningless words? Why should I even care?

It says that I'm "completly wrong in nearly everyway possible" but it doesn't say how. It's even the case apparently that I haven't ever been right "by blind,stupid,dumb luck," but there's no evidence for this assertion.

I mean, really, what the fuck am I supposed to do with this drivel? Why would anyone even bother to go through the exertions of typing it? You could go to a conference on world experts on rocket-science and shout that same string of words at the world's foremost scientists and it would be just as meaningless, just as inapplicable. One would have to be an absolute idiot to imagine that I, or anyone else, would be at all affected by those words. And that's what causes me to think that my trolls are genuine right-wing opponents of my ideas. Because most right-wing beliefs are stupid and most right-wingers are mostly stupid. And it's because of that stupidity that they go to all the effort of typing these stupid jibes and insults. Because they stupidly imagine that I'll care and because they're too stupid to type anything else.

So, trolls, if you find yourself reading this, it's sorta my offer to invite you to actually try to prove that I'm wrong and you're right. Try to make this pompous, stupid, unoriginal leftist feel the pain of having to admit to a scornful right-wing commentor that by jimbo, you the scornful commentator are right and that I'd best heat-up that big helping of crow.

But this offer is only for a limited time. If you continue with the useless assertions, I'll simply delete them.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Governments that Rape Children

More about yesterday's post about accusations from Afghans in Helmand Province that the Afghan National Police rape their children: For me, support for a government is going to be inversely-related to how much its agents tend to rape children. This seems to me to be a no-brainer.

If we've been in Afghanistan for 8 years and we haven't gotten around to solving the problem that its police force rapes children, then maybe supporters of that "mission" should give their heads a shake.

"Brian" at the Canada-Afghanistan blog says that lack of training, old uniforms and equipment and the absence of a computerized payroll system will solve the problem of corrupt, brutal "police" from the private armies of gangster warlords robbing farmers and raping their children to death. I believe the cluelessness of that response is self-evident. More coherently, Brian argued that Helmand Province has, up to this date, been relatively free of any NATO presence, and that now that Obama has made the province the centre of his expanded war, all sorts of good things are going to result.

This ignores the fact that the police are the thugs of the gangster warlord governor, one of the several warlords upon whom Karzai's government depends for its very survival. Also, the responses of the British and US-American officials to this problem don't appear to be particularly gripped by the enormity of the problem of people joining the insurgency to fight back against the child-raping police who are to return in the footsteps of the NATO forces once the Taliban has been cleared out:

The British and U.S. forces in Helmand province appear to be unprepared to deal with the popular anger over police abuses. The spokesman for the U.S. 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Captain William Pelletier, told IPS in e-mail that he had "no information about the allegations of misconduct" by police reported to British officers, despite the fact that the Marine brigade's headquarters in Helmand are right next to those of the British Task Force Helmand.

Pelletier had not responded as of Wednesday to an IPS query about popular allegations to U.S. officers of police abuses in the U.S. area of responsibility in Helmand.

The spokesman for the British Task Force Helmand, Lt. Col. Nick Richardson, asked in an interview with IPS about the grievances voiced by village elders to British officers, said, "We are aware of those."

He refused to specify what grievances against the police had been aired to the British, but said, "If there is any allegation, it will be dealt with by the appropriate authorities."

That meant the "the chain of command of the Afghan national police", Richardson explained.

This also ignores the fact that Canadian Forces personnel in Kandahar Province were complaining about the exact same thing and they were told to shut-up about it. Obviously, seeing children lying raped and murdered by the employees of the government you're killing and dying to protect is hard to keep quiet about and under pressure, stephen harper consented to a bullshit two-year long "investigation" to sweep the matter under the rug.

In other words, NATO will be as diligent at putting and end to this nastiness in Helmand as it has been in Kandahar, which is to say, not at all. Because, amazing as it might sound, stephen harper, John Manley, Paul Martin, Jean Chretien, bush II, all of them, Obama included, don't really give a shit about the people of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is to provide airbases from which the USA can project power in Central Asia. Full stop. Canada is there to suck up to the USA. Full stop.