Friday, October 30, 2009

The Faces - "I'm Losing You"

I first heard of Rod Stewart when he was the lecherous solo singer of "Tonight's the Night" fame. Then he went disco ("Do Yah Think I'm Sexy?') then soft-rock, now soft-soul, now a "crooner" of pop classics.

Some friends introduced me to his work with "The Faces." I'd read History of Rock n' Roll books and had become aware that Rod had started [okay, after a bit of time in the Jeff Beck Group] with this band, and that they were famous for being a bunch of "mates" who played together. Rod Stewart solo made the hits and "The Faces" did the tours. But I'd never heard them before YouTube. It was seeing this concert performance that has given me respect for that portion of his career. Rod's been a savvy entertainer. He's always been the guy who looks like the cat that caught the canary.


Oh yeah. And so this was what Ron Wood was doing before replacing Mick Taylor of "The Rolling Stones" and where Kenny Jones was before "The Who." I hope the bass player and the keyboardist continued to make money.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Wrongs of the Right"

Duncan Cameron has a good editorial, which, while I disagree with certain points (I think Obama is far more right-wing than anyCanadian government), effectively identifies the neo-liberal project for the failure that it is:

Today, 25 years after the election of Mulroney, corporate Canada celebrates 25 years of uninterrupted control of public affairs. As the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has shown conclusively in a series of studies, Canadians are worse off economically than they were before free trade in 1988.
The key right-wing idea about government spending is wrong. Program spending is not too big, it is too small. True enormous amounts are wasted on the military and corporate subsidies, but in the main government spending is far from generous, especially for those in need.

Much of what the right has championed has been good for the super wealthy, and corporations. But, rejecting government by discussion, aka democracy, and relying on fictional reason, only
works so long. What the right fears the most is open debate. Bring it on.

This is what the capitalist media can't bring itself to admit. That they've failed. That they'll continue to fail. This is what a culture in denial can't admit to itself and must therefore be forced to confront.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shorter Brian: It Takes a Battalion of Marines to Protect a Village

"Brian" from the Canada-Afghanistan blog points enthusiastically to a Washington Post story about the inspiring success of Obama's troop surge into Afghanistan. Before a battalion of marines entered entered Nawa, Afghanistan (population: 30,000):
Before a battalion of U.S. Marines swooped into this dusty farming community along the Helmand River in early July, almost every stall in the bazaar had been padlocked, as had the school and the health clinic. Thousands of residents had fled. Government officials and municipal services were nonexistent. Taliban fighters swaggered about with impunity, setting up checkpoints and seeding the roads with bombs.In the three months since the Marines arrived, the school has reopened, the district governor is on the job and the market is bustling. The insurgents have demonstrated far less resistance than U.S. commanders expected. Many of the residents who left are returning home, their possessions piled onto rickety trailers, and the Marines deem the central part of the town so secure that they routinely walk around without body armor and helmets.
You don't say. I'm no "war-buff" so I'll take wikipedia's word for it that a batallion consists of anywhere from 1,000-1,500 men. 30,000 divided by 1,000 is one soldier for every thirty civilians. This omits the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) who have returned with the USMC. Is Brian saying that all we need to do is keep the military/civilian ratio at 1/30 forever then? Because that would be silly!
Chandrasekeran provides a lot of detail, including many reasons to be skeptical about whether success can hold in Nawa

Oh, well then ... (sigh.) Brian continues:
But one thing is for sure: the people who write Afghanistan off as ungovernable or unredeemable don't know what they're talking about.
Brian then goes on to link to the fucking idiot Terry Glavin, but I couldn't be bothered to read anymore stupidity in one day. Let's go back to the Chandrasekeran WaPo article again:

In this district, the war is being waged in the manner sought by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan: The number of troops went from about 100 to 1,100, and they have been countering the insurgency by focusing on improving security for local people instead of hunting down the Taliban.

The result has been a profound transformation, suggesting that after eight years of war the United States still may be able to regain momentum in some areas that had long been written off to the Taliban.

Let's be clear here: After EIGHT YEARS OF FAILURE we're to believe that the United States and NATO have solved all the problems that have bedevilled them the entire time? A corrupt, brutal government? A corrupt, failed, half-assed reconstruction? McCrystal, who went from running a torture chamber in Iraq has said that the USA will switch from killing insurgents to winning "hearts and minds." (Note to shit-heads, "hearts and minds" is an INFAMOUS expression.) McCrystal was appointed in May. In the first six-months of 2009 civilian deaths in Afghanistan have increased, from the same period in 2008. (Searching for that link I saw another link to an older story about how 2008 was the worst year for civilian casualties yet in Afghanistan.)

Look. This isn't even funny anymore. It never was. Brian, Terry, ... you know, real in-the-flesh circle-jerks are more fulfilling, and even if they were public, they'd be less cringe-inducing than the self-righteous crapola you two engage in on a daily basis.

The Protestors Showed More Maturity Than Elizabeth May

Here's what the Green Party's leader Elizabeth May said about the protesters in Parliament yesterday:
At a press conference, Green Party leader Elizabeth May said it was "heartbreaking" that MPs"laughed" as the young people were removed from the gallery.

She said "those were our children we threw out of the House of Commons today....the most responsible young adults in Canada."

May said they were protesting because a climate-change bill was delayed last week in Parliament. "The youth in the galleries showed more leadership than the MPs on the floor."

Really Elizabeth? All the MPs? Even the NDP and the BQ MPs who were trying to pass some important legislation? The ones the protesters where there to support?

May couldn't give credit where credit is due, because the NDP is her party's arch-rival. It was partisanship that prevented her from being honest and from acknowledging the importance of what the NDP was doing. By putting partisan concerns before acknowledging the good that some parliamentarians can do, she herself exhibited gross immaturity.

May seems like a nice person and, also, a person who is sincerely dedicated to her cause and her own moral principles. But as a politician she's given to glib, unfair pronouncements that she imagines will resonate well with her base and her voters. (I found her snarky "Jack Layton would rather negotiate with the Taliban than with me" in response to the NDP's refusal to allow her to run against Peter MacKay alone a particularly glaring example of this.) She doesn't represent a "new" kind of politics and it irritates me to read or hear it said that she does. I don't look forward to her eventual election to the House of Commons.

(h/t to stageleft for the link)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A hearty thanks to the eco-protestors in the House of Commons!

We need more of this:
A loud protest in the visitors gallery of the House of Commons resulted in several arrests and the brief shutdown of question period on Monday.
Around 200 young protesters chanted slogans to support Bill C-311, an NDP private member's bill on climate change. Six people were reported to have been detained

Seriously. I'm no expert. There's every possibility that the morons who bought the WMDs lies hook, line and sinker, and who swallow every other bit of neoliberal corporate bullshit, and whose neoconservative delusions always end up with them supporting self-hating closet-cases, are right to side with the scientists funded by the oil industry who deny anthropocentric global warming. Even a broken clock that was made fucked-up to begin with by a demented clock maker can by some weird fluke turn out to be right once in a while.

But if those complete morons are wrong AGAIN, then we're talking about a catastrophe that threatens the very lives of billions of people and will plunge all of humanity into crisis. To not even begin to take that seriously just because the oil industry will be inconvenienced and neoliberal snakeoil salesmen will have to step aside and let sane people direct the economy, is sheer insanity.

I'm sorry. I respect our democratic process, as compromised as it is. It is a fragile flower. But given the magnitude of the danger, not even the decorum of the House of Commons should be immune from the anger of the people on this issue.

For those who want to make shallow equivalencies, consider this: Two people smack two individuals in the jaw. One guy hits a powerful crime lord who abused children and intimidated a judge and jury to escape punishment. The second guy just breaks the jaw of an infant in a stroller. Both actions have some similarities but also enormous differences. Should some anti-gay marriage yahoos seek to disrupt parliament's proceedings I would have no patience for them. Because (and i think the court of public opinion and informed thinkers as well would agree with me) they're deluded imbeciles.

Our politicians, from stephen harper and his gang of idiots, to "The Other Guy In the Other Fluffy Sweater Party" have gotten away with too much for too long. Making those fuckers a little uncomfortable can only help convey the seriousness of the situation. Making those fuckers REALLY uncomfortable would probably have really good results.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Guaranteed Annual Income

Nobody should starve. Nobody should be homeless. Nobody should have to sell their soul for a buck. People shouldn't be forced to call other people at dinner time to sell them subscriptions to the "National Post."

People who make $45,000 a year really ought to shut-the-fuck up about "people who don't want to work" being able to obtain the basic necessities of life. If we lived in a world where everyone HAD to work so that society would survive, if we were in a world where the surplus harvest was so small as to require intensive effort from all, then they might have a point. But right now, we make more crap than we need. Indeed, we make more crap than most people can afford. And all of this junk doesn't make us happy and it's destroying the planet.

A Guaranteed Annual Income for everybody on the planet earth would go a long way to ending the population time-bomb in those countries where having five or six surviving adult children is their version of a national pension plan. A guaranteed annual income in Canada would bring a measure of social stability and give people the opportunity to plan and to contribute to the quality of life through better thought-out human services.

The system we live in now is based on the results of unjustifiable social inequality of previous feudal systems, combined with the perpetuation of this anti-human inequality and the expropriation of the minimum economic rights the majority (the poor) had under feudalism.

It's a sick system and we have to get to the root of the problem immediately.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Something to Think About

From Murray Dobbin at The Tyee (via The Gazetteer): "Why Canada's Housing Bubble Will Burst"

From reading it this morning (tis now 9:55 pm) I recall the gist of it as being that much of the action in Canada's current real-estate market is the result of a demand boom fuelled by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation lowering the standards for acquiring mortgage debt. Let's see if I'm right:
What do the mid-recession housing boom and the Harper Conservatives' rise in the polls have in common? Answer: the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's massive sub-prime mortgage scheme that is keeping up the appearance of an economic recovery. ... But what few Canadians realize is that the housing market has avoided collapse (prices are down 32 per cent in the U.S.) because the Harper Conservatives directed the CMHC to change the mortgage rules to effectively make the Canadian government the biggest sub-prime lender in the world. ... In an effort to prop up the real estate market in 2008 (when affordability nosedived), the Harper government directed the CMHC to approve as many high-risk borrowers as possible and to keep credit flowing. CMHC described these risky loans as "high ratio homeowner units approved to address less-served markets and/or to serve specific government priorities." The approval rate for these risky loans went from 33 per cent in 2007 to 42 per cent in 2008. By mid-2007, average equity as a share of home value was down to six per cent -- from 48 per cent in 2003. At the peak of the U.S. housing bubble, just before it burst, house prices were five times the average American income; in Canada today that ratio is 7.4:1 -- almost 50 per cent higher. ... The banks themselves have taken on virtually no new risk. According to CMHC numbers in the two years from the beginning of 2007 to January 2009, Canadian banks increased their total mortgage credit outstanding by only 0.01 per cent. Fully 90.5 per cent of all growth in total Canadian mortgage credit outstanding since 2007 has been accounted for by Mortgage Backed Securities. Of course, the banks have no interest in saying no if you have qualified for a securitized CMHC loan -- because they bear no risk if you default."

There's some genuine debate as to the soundness of Dobbins' claims in the comments section there. But it seems that the long and the short of it is that our housing market has been artificially inflated. And I don't see that the way to make housing affordable for people with insecure, stagnant or declining incomes is to have inflated housing prices paid for by easy credit from the government.

Sure, it's good to keep the economy humming along, but this seems to be a cure for a symptom, not for the disease, which is overextended,underpaid consumer/workers. As the layoffs pile-up and the unemployment insurance runs out, the CMHC will be on the hook for hundreds of billions and if real-estate prices evaporate there won't be any easy way to cover those mortgages except through printing money.

I'm not an economist, but this story seems to be that whereas the USA had a bankster-driven housing bubble, Canada has a government guaranteed housing bubble.

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper said nearly half of the projects are in opposition ridings"

That's stephen harper quoted in this CBC article about the partisan allocation of stimulus spending.

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper said nearly half of the projects are in opposition ridings."

Wow! Nearly half??? That's pretty generous. Except, waitaminnit! Doesn't harper have a minority government? So, the less than half of Canada's ridings are getting more than half of the money? And it just works out that it's harper's ridings that are getting more of the swag?

What a scum-bag.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Honest Racism

In the comments section for the last post, Sir Francis mentioned that arguing from ethics or legality with racists was a waste of time. They aren't going to see the injustice of their cases against Maher Arar or any of the other Muslim men being victimized by our "War on Terror" because they're really only interested in shaking a meat-martini at the idea of the torture of some ethnic or ideological "other."

Which got me wondering; is their racism, as dressed up in the CBC comments section as some sort of argument about these men's carelessness at getting tortured and their greed for their tax-dollars, so sickening because these stupid arguments are an pathetic attempt to hide the ugly racism that inspires it?

Would they be less revolting if they were only more honest about who they were?

Or would the sight of their naked racism be even more disgusting than the yammering stupidity they exhibit on the internet?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shorter Right-Wing Canadian Wingnuts ...

"First Nations peoples who live in conditions of extreme poverty and who suffer racist oppression and the theft of their land must NEVER protest their lot. Furthermore, Canadians who have been tortured or tortured and illegally exiled with the Canadian government's active complicity no doubt deserved every beating, every day of imprisonment and everyday stranded and unable to return to their loved ones. Furthermore, they should shut-the-fuck-up about what happened to them and any attempts at winning compensation for their torture can be chalked up to personal greed and nothing more. ... Now listen to me vent about my taxes."

Note: I can't stand these people.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hearsay and Anecdotes

That's all we've got really,* so far as these allegations of torture and child-rape in Afghanistan go. Of course, the gigantic pink elephant in the room is that the powers that could investigate these serious charges have refused to do so and are actively blocking anyone else from being able to do so.

The latest in this sickening display of cynicism is Peter MacKay whom "Impolitical" and others have referred to as "Sgt. Schultz" for his claiming not to have even noticed any of the SIXTEEN memos he received from Richard Colvin from Kabul. "Sgt. Schultz" was the character from the television show "Hogan's Heroes" who was supposed to represent all those Germans who remained willfully ignorant about what was going on in Germany in World War II. (Of course, many Germans had tried to fight against the Nazis before and after they came to power, and millions more would have found themselves arrested, tortured and perhaps executed if they'd spoken out against Hitler's crimes because Germany was a violent dictatorship during World War II. Canada is more of a democracy than was Hitler's Germany and the lack of outcry against our warcrimes is mainly due to apathy and lazy ignorance.) MacKay, harper, Stockwell Day, and others in that gang of scum have referred to all of the torture allegations as unsubstantiated and even "Taliban propaganda." It becomes clearer everyday that they've been engaged in a cynical cover-up.

Elsewhere on the intertubes, "Junker" refers to the stories of the raping of children by the Afghan security forces as:
Getting back to your post. The 2nd and third hand comments of a dead soldier, the awful story of a "15-year-old, named Sitara", and alleged rape of a young Afghani on CF property. All worth reporting. Certainly tragic. Somewhat anecdotal, and largely irrelevant to the larger debate.

"Anecdotal" 'eh? Even here, when it comes to the possibility that the people our tax-dollars are providing weapons and training for are raping children, these detestable scum-bags are deliberately averting their eyes.

To say that these are all unsubstantiated rumours and isolated anecdotes is akin to police hearing calls to check out serial-killer/cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer and refusing to even investigate. When they hear actual direct claims that someone was last seen with Dahmer, seemingly under the influence of some powerful sedative, and now their half-digested remains have been found in a dumpster outside Dahmer's building, the police (if they were acting like Canada's Shittiest Government) would again refuse to investigate and concluding that all of this is merely anecdotal.

The only thing missing is that this hypothetical police department isn't then wondering why the murder rate seems so inconveniently high the way the harpercons and the other morons and assholes supporting "The Mission" (tm.) wonder why the insurgency is growing even after 8 years of our work there.

(Actually, there's shitloads more than that, but for the sake of argument ...)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Clarifying Things (For Right-Wing Idjits)

When critics of "Canada's Worst Government" point to things like diplomat Richard Colvin's SIXTEEN memos from Kabul, outlining his concerns about the torture of our prisoners in the Afghan prison system, and demand AN INVESTIGATION into the government's complicity in WAR CRIMES, that's not the same thing as pronouncing guilt upon the government.

Do you understand? I might believe that the harpercon government knew all about the tortures, rapes, and all the other abominations of our "mission" (tm.) in Afghanistan, but I'm not calling for stephen harper or Peter MacKay to be summarily jailed. We critics of this government and this mission are calling for an INVESTIGATION to establish who is responsible for these war crimes.

Now then, for all the right-wing lemmings who have such an uncontrollable physical lust for the revolting stephen harper, and who are all so touchingly concerned that he and the rest of his gang of idiots and scum remain innocent until proven guilty, ... did you have the same concern for Canadian citizens who were labelled as "terrorists" by CSIS which then shared its witless accusations with other nations' "intelligence" agencies, including those that practised torture? Because those men suffered very real consequences due to these accusations.

How can you be so quick to give the benefit of the doubt to a foreign minister who claims not to have noticed SIXTEEN memos from an official in Kabul outlining concerns about war crimes while at the same time you remain unrepentant about the torture suffered by innocent fellow citizens? Even worse, you claim to still have "doubts" about the innocence of these fellow citizens, simply because they're Muslim men and some thick-necked, mouth-breathing goon said they were terrorist suspects?

Could it be because you're rank hypocrites and assholes? I think there's a very strong possibility that that's the case.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cell Doors Slamming Shut

For good ol' stephen harper. That's an idea that puts a spring in my step. Oh yeah. And for Paul Martin and Pierre Pettigrew. Stockwell Day. Gordon O'Connor. Lawrence Cannon. Peter MacKay. Rick Hillier. And any other doofus who got Canada into a dirty little war in Afghanistan. Forcing Canadian soldiers into the impossible situation of having to either let their prisoners go or to hand them over to a prison system stained with accusations of torture and rape.

These are war crimes and the so-called "leadership" of this country's two main parties are responsible. I want the NDP and the Bloc and any Liberal or Conservative MPs with a conscience and at least half a brain to vote to approve a full parliamentary inquiry into these atrocities and these lies.

If our national legislature is incapable of doing this then we, the citizens of this country must turn to the International Criminal Court, and haul Martin, harper and all the rest up on war crimes charges. It's painfully obvious that no other body will be able to launch an unobstructed inquiry into these crimes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Obama's Bankruptcy

From an excellent article by Alan Nasser: "Dubious Economics: Obama's Recovery Plan and the Median Wage Earner" --

It's an excellent article and I just want to point out a couple of things. First, Obama justifying US taxpayers bailing out the banks while taxpayers themselves are being put through the wringer:
"And although there are a lot of Americans who understandably think that government money would be better spent going directly to families and businesses instead of banks- ‘Where's our bailout?,' they ask -the truth is that a dollar of capital in a bank can actually result in eight or ten dollars of loans to famiies and businesses, a multiplier effect that can ultimately lead to a faster pace of economic growth." (The New York Times, April 14, 2009 "Obama Stands Firm on a Sweeping Agenda", by Peter Baker)

That's right. The banks will take that money and loan it out, creating a multiplier effect. Except that the banks aren't loaning it out. Because US households are drowning in debt. Didn't think that one through, did you Obama? And, are we to believe that a dollar going to a US household wouldn't get recycled through the economy having a multiplier effect? Why did it have to get filtered through a bank which would attach the drag of an interest charge on the actual use of the money?

Secondly, his neoliberal plans for a US-American economic revival:

In the Georgetown speech Obama alerts us that "We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity, where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad." Obama has repeatedly underscored that the main propellants of "new normal" growth will be investment and exports, attended by reduced consumption -necessitated by wage reduction- at home. He is in tune with the neoliberal Economist magazine, which, in expanding on the notion that consumption will play a much diminished role in future US growth, writes "Something else will have to grow more quickly. Ideally that would be exports and investment." (May 6, 2009)
The picture is clear: wage reduction is a strategic imperative if the US is to regain the competitive edge it enjoyed in the boom years 1949-1973. Policymakers are convinced that manufacturing activity is gradually shifting from the US, Europe and Japan to China, India, Brazil and other low-wage countries, so that US companies will be increasingly in competition with firms located in predominantly low-wage countries. US workers will have to make the necessary "adjustments." Obama was quite explicit in an interview on September 18 with the editors of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (September 18, 2009).
"Pittsburgh is now having to pay attention to what happens in Beijing and Bangladore and Eastern Europe in ways that in the past it didn't have to pay attention to... The manufacturing base that employed so many people, the decline in that sector of the economy took decades. It didn't start last year, it's been going on for two decades. And reversing that and rebuilding it is going to take two decades as well."
It doesn't get any clearer than that. Remaking American industry in the image of the restructured General Motors and Chrysler will take decades, after which a leaner, meaner America employing workers making poor-country wages will rise from the ashes to regain its status as a great power whose economic prowess will once again match its military predominance.

Even when the intellectual bankruptcy of their ideas have caused literal bankrupticies on a globabl scale they just can't shake their adherence to their dogmas. In the face of a consumption crisis brought about by three decades of neoliberal decimation of working class living standards and wages, Obama and the Democrats believe that further wage restraint is the answer.

They're not even beginning to address the roots of the economic crisis. You just know they're incapable of even thinking about the ecological crisis.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where Was I?

Busy. I'm gonna watch this soon though:

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Culture With No Memory

Is that who we are? No memory and very little brains? It appears that the harpercons have increased their popularity in the polls. (Note to Ignatieff and dead-ender Liberals: If you're going to decide to come out fighting after years of capitulation, it might be a good idea to have a set of policies to present to the people you're trying to get onside. It's the height of arrogance to imagine that voters will flock to you just because you're the Liberal Party of Canada and you're tired of being pushed around.) Is there any greater indication of the shallow, forever-in-the-present mindset of Canadian political culture than that?

Of course, it's not just Canada. It's human civilization anywhere I guess. No matter how many death-squads the USA organized in Vietnam, Central America, or Iraq, it was never allowed to interfere with their reputation as the champion of human rights and democracy. Regardless of the lies about the Gulf of Tonkin or Saddam Hussein's WMDs, here we are with our news media regurgitating new nonsensical deceptions about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

What is it about us humans that as a group, and in our own little groups, we remain impervious to some of the most basic elements of mature, critical thinking? For example (and getting back to Canada), during the Mike Harris reign of error in Ontario, people died in ambulances trying to find emergency rooms that weren't full to capacity. People in Walkerton died from drinking tap water. That hadn't happened before (at least in living memory or since modern standards were established many decades earlier) and, more importantly, it hasn't happened since. On top of all his other failures, Harris and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario were responsible for those deaths. But here we have the Ontario PCs remaining in second place in Ontario politics.

Which brings us to the rising popularity of the stephen harpercon party of Canada. Why are they at 40% in the polls rather than say 4%? Okay, that would be a bit of stretch. Given the apparent distribution of stupidity across any given human collective over a certain size, the harpercons vote should sanely begin to taper-off after 20%. stephen harper himself should be treated as a serial liar who loathes his own country's political traditions (calling a parliamentary coalition a "coup" is nothing less than spitting upon the way Canadians govern themselves). He ought to be treated like poison.

Here's three examples from Alison at Creekside's "101 Reasons to Have an Election."

dirty tricks manual:

Banned, shit-head commentor "Wayne" responded to this travesty by lamely insisting that every political party has worked to fuck-up the work of the legislature. Even more stupidly, he insisted on this assertion because his local harpercon MP told him this was so. Bullshit. No other party has ever been found to have a 200-some page guidebook on how the chairs of parliamentary committees can obstruct proceedings, manipulate witnesses and essentially destroy one of the most important aspects of a democracy; legislative oversight.

As an example of how this worked out in practice, Alison points to the resignation of environment committe chair Bob Mills when it turned out that a witness previously believed to be friendly to the government's lies and delusions on the environment was unreliable. Mills tried to change the order that the witnesses would appear and when overruled by the rest of the committee, resigned. When no other harpercon would replace him as the majority chair, the committee was effectively stymied.

Even more nauseating, harpercon parliamentary whip Jay Hill is supposedly responsible for brow-beating any harpercon MPs who don't happily play along with sabotaging democracy.

Accountability Act

As a result of the Liberal's AdScam atrocity, and the harpercons' loud and proud railing against corruption and lobbyists, it was inescapable that they'd have to produce some actual genuine legislation on the subject. They did. A less than useless propaganda exercise that simultaneously makes low-level bureaucrats worried about breaking the law while allowing the harpercons to appoint as many cronies to high-level positions and award as many public contracts to loyal financial backers as they please. Regarding low-level bureaucrats:

The rules-laden Federal Accountability Act is backfiring and creating a bureaucracy of risk-averse "Dilberts" who keep their heads down, don't trust anyone and put process ahead of getting things done, warns a report by Ottawa think-tank Public Policy Forum.

Regarding appointments and lobbyists:

When the federal government was patting itself on the back last month on the anniversary of the passage of the Federal Accountability Act, it failed to mention that two key components – the appointments commission and the lobbying provisions – have not been implemented...The Accountability act, drafted by the Tories in response to the Liberal sponsorship scandal, passed the Commons and Senate and received royal assent in December 2006, but a separate cabinet order is required for many provisions to come into force. There is nothing forcing cabinet to establish the appointments commission.

How else to interpret this but as cynical contempt for the electorate?


As with drinking tap water, Canadians take it for granted that biting into a deli-sandwich isn't going to kill them. As with drinking tap water, Canadians had best think twice when carrying out normally everyday activities under a "conservative" government. Blinded by dogma (and hopes for showers of money from corporate special interests) "conservatives" like the harpercons stupidly insist that it is better to have profit-driven corporations inspect themselves and pull any potentially dangerous products off the market, rather than have government inspectors with a vested interest in protecting the public do so.

To the surprise of nobody with half a brain or a modicum of honesty, meat processing gian "Maple Leaf" failed to adequately clean their equipment, failed to note potential contamination and failed to prevent this contaminated meat from entering the market. People began to die in June and the problem was only traced to the source in August, whereupon the harpercons sat for THREE DAYS wondering how to spin things in order to make it look like it was anyone else's fault but their own.

When they did grudgingly own up to any responsibilty, harpercon agricultural minister Gerry Ritz showed all the qualities of a cockroach, joking about the deaths and hoping some of them might be from among his political enemies. Shockingly, but in retrospect not surprisingly, Ritz wasn't the only one who saw fit to make light of people dying due to harpercon delusions and incompetence. Health minister Tony ("two-tier") Clement made a tongue-in-cheek endorsement of the safety of the food being served at a function at the Canadian consulate in Denver. Ha-ha.

Ah! But did not the harpercons have the integrity to appoint an inquiry into the tragedy? Yes, they did. It took a while. Like over four months to appoint someone to head the inquiry. But then they got down to business, right? Wrong. The harper's Privy Council Office tried to withold documents recording their non-response to the crisis by insisting that they were hand-written notes and therefore not "transcripts" which MUST be released under the Access to Information Act.

The Privy Council Office (PCO) has refused to release handwritten notes on key government conference calls held in August and September.

The Canadian Press requested all transcripts and minutes of calls held to deal with the listeriosis outbreak linked to the deaths of 20 Canadians – but the government says those handwritten notes don't qualify as a transcript.

It took four months for Privy Council officials to reach that conclusion.

This, despite the fact that the word transcribe is in part defined in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary as "make a copy of, esp. in writing . . . write out (shorthand, notes, etc.) . . . ."

A report was eventually issued over a year after people started dying and harper had survived his failed attempt for a majority government before the great recession hit. It basically said that maybe the idiotic self-regulation policies of the harpercons had something to do with it after all.

There is no other way for a sane person to respond to these and other abominations but to heartily reject, now and forever, continuing to take these gangs of liars, thieves and killers as genuine proponents of anything remotely related to democracy.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

End the Culture of Impunity!

RCMP officers agree to Taser (tm.) a distraught man even before arriving on the scene, throw him into cardiac arrest, refuse to help the medical responders, allow him to die, lie in their reports and lie (blatantly and stupidly) before a public inquiry prompted by the outrage created by a citizen's video-taping of the crime.

Liberal Prime Minsiter Jean Chretien pulls the plug on the Somalia Inquiry into CF personnel torturing a Somali teenager to death and then posing with his corpse.

Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin sucks up to his US-American masters by getting the CF to play a supporting role in destroying democracy in Haiti.

Liberal and Conservative politicians sign-on for the invasion of Afghanistan and as a result of that shithead move, put CF personnel into the impossible position of taking prisoners with no one to turn them over to except for the brutal torture regime of Afghanistan's prison system. This forces the CF to have to requisition new boots as the "blood and fecal matter" they have to wade through when they visit had a habit of getting tracked around their own headquarters later. As well, lots of so-called "progressives" (who hate the people of Afghanistan)* can't stop harping about the allegations from some CF personnel that members of the Afghan army and police and Afghan interpreters working with the CF have been raping children. harper has done everything that he can to sweep that under the rug.

The point is that there are obvious war criminals governing us. There are international outlaws governing us. We have policing institutions that believe they can get away with murder. There is a culture of impunity here that's AT LEAST as serious as those E-Health "consultants" who bill $2700 a day and who still try to expense $1.65 for a coffee. Something has to change this mindset. And that is to change the system that allows this impunity to persist. The only thing left to ponder is how to effectively carry out citizens' arrests.

*At least this is how Terry Glavin describes us.

P.S. The dumbest fucking guy on the planet (no, not this guy) thinks he's hot-shit. He'll never be hot-shit.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Consuming Kids and Neo-liberalism's Failure

We watched the video about marketing towards children, "Consuming Kids" the other night and it was pretty grim stuff. There were some creepy moments when marketers opened up about how they wanted to achieve their domination of children's minds early on and keep them as loyal brand consumers from cradle to grave.

There was one moment though that got me thinking about all sorts of wider issues. Evidently (according the film-makers) there was an attempt in the USA in the mid-1970s by some concerned children's activists to increase the regulation of advertising directed towards children. The progress got hijacked by the corporations, advertisers and marketers however and the end result under Republican airhead president Ronald Reagan was the almost total deregulation of children's advertising.

The film then presents a chart which graphed the very gradual increase in consumer spending on children's toys, clothes and etc., during the 20th-Century. After Reagan's deregulation the graph depicts this spending rocketing upward at a much faster rate of growth. Now, this being a blog and not an academic journal, I'm going to write as if I'm 100% certain that I can trust the numbers behind that graph. (There's reason to do so after all.)

First of all, there's the conclusion that advertising and marketing work. We like to think that we're intellectual "free agents" who decide things on their merits. But when there's a multi-billion dollar industry that spends all day trying to apply the latest in psychological manipulation to try to extract the maximum of dollars out of us, and you see the increased spending on marketing and advertising and the correlation of increased consumer spending, you have to wonder how free we really are.

Secondly, I looked at the explosion of spending on children's products and I thought about stagnant wages and increased household debt.

Thirdly, I thought about the garbage being foisted on children, sedentary video watching and game playing, and the resultant increase in problems like childhood obesity and diabetes, and I wondered what a sick system this was.

And then I thought about how, even after they've been given everything they want, unhindered propaganda, increased consumer spending, fat, sick, stressed-out children, the masters of reality can't even provide the incomes, the jobs and wages necessary to allow us to pump our kids full of their garbage.

The system fails even according to its own standards. They want to destroy youth, they want children to make themselves sick by consuming their products, but they can't even give the kids or their parents the means to do so. So households borrowed. The banks loaned. And then the banks got even more greedy, their bubble burst, and the overburdened, debt-driven households were forced to bail them out.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Humanizing" the Sub-Human stephen harper

Oh, Canadians are all talking about prime minister stephen harper's BOFFO performance at one of his wife's events at the National Arts Centre a few nights ago. (I'm talking about it, but I can't evaluate harper's performance because I'm totally uninterested in watching it.) WOW! herper likes The Beatles! He has a pleasant voice! He can actually play a musical instrument! This is the MORE HUMAN side of a guy everybody thought was a soulless, bloodless, amoral, socially-inept asshole! He should do this sort of thing more often!

Reality-check people: A bit of artistic talent doesn't detract in the slightest from one's overall disgustingness. A lot of great artists can be absolute monsters. And there have been other examples of vile politicians resorting to a musical number as part of their attempt to endear themselves to the public. (I remember the moronic and scuzzy Condoleeza Rice banging a few notes on a piano between green-lighting some Israeli atrocities against Lebanon of the Occupied Territories.)

Case-in-point: harper's revolting treatment of the Military Police Complaints Commission and it's Chairman Peter Tinsley. One of the things Tinsley is trying to discover is how much was known about the probable torture practices of the Afghan security forces and the prison system to which Canadian Forces personnel were handing over their prisoners. You see, some of these prisoners aren't the evil Taliban.* They're simple farmers who many journalists have reported are defending themselves against the thieving, rapist police forces employed by their druglord Northern Alliance governors. In the worst-case scenario, CF personnel capture a 16-year old teenager who took up arms against the government that kidnapped his father and assaulted his sister. Not having a prison system of their own, the CF hands the boy over to the local prison authorities where the wardens are accused of being rapists. Just your tax dollars at work.

So, harper is trying to stymie any investigation into these and numerous other atrocities, on top of his ongoing efforts to destroy our access to healthcare and safe food. As a result, people start to think he's a walking garbage pile. Posing with kittens didn't work. Maybe plinking out a few notes of a 40-year old song will do the trick! Hey! It worked!

We're smarter than this people. Dump the Motherfucker Already.

*And even if they ARE evil, evil Taliban, torture is a crime against humanity.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Help Me Out Here People ...

Help me figure this out. In this post I observed (among other things) that some people who take offence at the suggestion that "America had it coming" when it came to the 9-11 attacks, don't have any problem whatsoever with the idea that "Afghanistan had it coming" when it comes to explaining the US invasion following 9-11.

For some reason or other, commenter "fergusrush" (who I don't have a lot of respect for) says that it appears that I have a double standard when it comes to the USA's actions in the world and those of other actors in the world.

I don't see it. I don't see where he got that at all. Now either I'm missing something, or "fergusrush" is as crazy as I've accused him of being. If any of my readers (I honestly estimate I have around FIVE a day) could please check out that post and help me figure out if I've genuinely missed something, I'd appreciate it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

One Difference Between Tea-Baggers & Sane People

There are many among the tea-baggers who decry the massive tax-payer funded bailouts to Wall Street and who call for a populist revolt against this domination of the political system by financial elites. The problem is that a large number of them wilfully pretend that the problem started with Obama and the Democrats, forgetting that the Democrats are merely continuing the policies of bush II. Others among them believe that any regulation of the money supply must be the work of evil space-lizards, an international Jewish conspiracy or "socialists."

Sane people, on the other hand, do not believe in mystical societies with totally free markets and completely deregulated banking. As well, they understand that both major US-American political parties and most other mainstream parties elsewhere (such as the Liberals and the harpercons) are entirely dominated by business interests, concerns and values. Furthermore, it is the leading sectors of the economy that get to dominate this capitalist political system, witness the different treatment received by the auto-industry as opposed to the financial sector in the USA.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Excellent Murray Dobbin Editorial

I'm linking to this editorial at "The Tyee" so that I can find it more easily when I want to:
"Canada Must Forge Its Own Economic Fate"

I don't agree with everything in it, particularly some of his pessimism about the US economy, but the overall idea, .... that our geniuses in politics and business have demonstrably weakened our country's economy, that they are responsible for the declining living standards and economic security of the majority through their fool-headed policies, ... is spot on.

Keeping Abreast of the Economy

I've blogged before about how tenuous this "economic recovery" appears to be to critical commentators. Here are two more sources that question the happy talk coming from the mainstream press and our compromised politicians:

From the Progressive Economists Forum: "Weaker Than You Think"

The headlines trumpeted no growth in real GDP. In fact it was a slight month-to-month decline (of over $400 million in chained $2002 — not enough to amount to a tenth of a percentage point in

StatsCan’s one-decimal-point approach to economic growth). Take away the $2 billion boost in auto assembly, parts, and other direct inputs that resulted from the re-start of the Chrysler plants, and national GDP would have declined by over 0.2 percent

And, the US economy does not appear to be firing on all cylinders either. (D'you think those leftish and lefty critics who said that Obama's stimulus package was insufficient might finally get some credit now? Pish and tosh!)
Companies in the United States are shedding more jobs, pushing the country's unemployment rate to a 26-year high of 9.8 percent.The U.S. Labor Department said Friday that employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, with companies in the service industries (including banks, restaurants and retailers) hit especially hard.The United States has now lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. The new data is sparking fears that unemployment could threaten an economic recovery.

So, there you have it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The harpercons are worse than the Liberals and MUCH WORSE than a NDP-Liberal Coalition

There. I said it.

If politics is "the art of the possible," then we're going to have to accept that Canadian voters are not yet informed enough to see that both the Liberals and the harpercons are useless, and we're going to have to play the hand that's been dealt to us.

ETA: I added this in the comments section:

I can't stand the Liberal Party but it isn't going to go anywhere and many of its supporters (especially the bloggers i read) are decent people. By all means, if we have to get rid of Iggy to do this, maybe they could find another Stephane Dion, we should do this. As intolerable as the empty-rhetoric Liberalism of Paul Martin was, it is even more intolerable that we live in a country where stephen harper is within sight of a majority government.