Friday, April 30, 2010

Murray Dobbin on the "National Security" Lie


almost no one has commented on the totally absurd nature of the Harper government's basis for stonewalling. Indeed everyone seems to casually accept the framing of the issue that the government has relied on for months.

That framing suggests that documents relating to the detaining of suspected insurgents and their transfer to the Afghan secret police are somehow critical to national security. If any of these redacted parts of the documents were revealed to the public we are asked to believe that Canadian soldiers' lives would suddenly be in greater danger than they already are in this outrageous war and occupation.


There is nothing in these documents that talks about military strategy and tactics or military intelligence gathering. There is nothing that could give the Taliban an advantage in killing Canadian soldiers. There is nothing that reveals our long term policy. These documents were assembled on the basis of their specific relevance to the issue of the torturing of Canada's Afghan prisoners.


If the opposition parties had in the first place refused to accept the opportunistic and phony framing of the documents issue they would not now be bending themselves out of shape trying to compromise on something that should not be compromised: total, unrestricted parliamentary access to the documents that will tell us once and for all the critical question at the core of this issue:

Are Canadian senior officials, up to and including ministers of the crown, guilty of war crimes?

(Emphasis added.)

Dobbin is exactly right. This screeching about "national security" and the safety of "the troops" is the most blatant form of bullshit. Scum-bags like Ezra Levant and stephen harper would sacrifice their precious "troops" in a second if it was necessary to save their own vast expanses of skin.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ezra levant wants to bring it!!!

Ha! The pudgy stool is losing it!

I don't have a legal opinion on Speaker Peter Milliken's ruling yesterday, over the question of whether the Conservative government has to disclose every single national security document, military document and diplomatic document to MPs who want to see them.

But I do have a political opinion on it: it should spark an election.


I think Canadians get it. I think if they had the question of Afghanistan and terrorism put to them in those terms -- who do you trust to handle the subject, Stephen Harper or Michael Ignatieff and his two NDP premiers, Bob Rae and Ujjal Dosanjh -- I'm pretty sure I know whose side they'd come down on.

The media and the opposition, along with the official legal establishment like the Canadian Bar Association, are in love with terrorist and terrorist supporters. Omar Khadr is the CBA's poster child, and the mainstream media thinks that the liar Maher Arar is some sort of folk hero.

So let's have it out. Let's call the question. And let's not let a single Speaker of the House -- however competent -- make the decision. Let's not even put it to the nine Supreme Court judges. Why should just one Canadian vote on it, or just nine? How about all of us?

Let's all vote on whether or not the likes of Ignatieff, Malhi and Wrzesnewskyj -- and, moments later, their friends at the Toronto Star and CBC -- should have access to the most sensitive security information.

Let's all take sides -- the Liberals and NDP can side with their friends Omar Khadr, Maher Arar, and the Taliban, and the Conservatives can side with our Canadian Forces.

Bwa-ha-ha! (I can't resist pointing out that in his desperate diatribe, he refers to Arar as a liar once again, and as evidence links to his own idiotic, incoherent babbling writings on the subject!)

Ah yes, and the "honour" of the Canadian Forces! Pardon me, but I'll choose Canada's democracy over the honour of the Canadian Forces any day. You know, Canadian democracy, which is what the Canadian Forces exists to defend? Does the irony of your fascism ever register with you Ezra? (I doubt it. Levant is the sort of imbecile who carried a multi-year, intense man-crush for Stockwell Day and he wants us to believe that he was captivated by Stockwell Day's mind and not about how Day looked in a wet-suit!) But getting back to Levant's chicken-hawk concern for the "honour" of the Canadian Forces, ... it's complete bullshit. If one genuinely cares about the honour of the Canadian Forces they don't have them fighting and killing poor farmers fighting back against a corrupt, women-raping, girl-raping, boy-raping, gang of thieves and drug lords. Anyone who cared about the honour of the Canadian Forces wouldn't put them in the impossible position of fighting insurgents and either letting go every single one that they capture, or hand them over to a government that uses torture as standard operating procedure, thus subjecting our troops to war crimes charges.

Fortunately for the troops, most people would acknowledge the impossible dilemma that war-mongers like Levant, harper, and Hillier put them in and they'd pass over prosecuting the front-line fighters and go after the leaders who made complicity in torture the policy of the government of Canada. About the only people who wouldn't do that would be people like harper and Hillier, and sleazy, rat-fucking hypocrites like Levant who will instantly start trying to point the fingers at their formerly sacred troops the instant that any sort of consequences appear likely to fall on themselves.

Of course, not all the troops are innocent patsies. There are also brazen, stupid, wannabe con-artists like Major Denis Gagnon, who is trying to have us believe that the Canadian Forces are so disorganized and careless that all of their records are lying in a heap in a shipping container somewhere and that it'll take years to sort through it and give the Military Police Complaints Commission what they want to see. Besides the fact that such slipshod paperwork would be inexcusable if it were real, it's also the case that the dunderhead forgot that the goddamned harper government and its detestable legal minions like Alain Prefontaine are saying that they ALREADY HAVE the documents and that there's nothing of interest in them. You stupid fuck.

I like how the squirmy Levant mentions how the Liberals Bob Rae and Ujjal Dosanjh are former NDP members, as if that puts them outside the realm of respectable political actors. It's a testimony to the low-level of political intelligence in this country that a guy associated with Stockwell Day and stephen harper thinks he can tarnish someone by mentioning that they were associated with the NDP. It's further testimony to our decaying political culture that this moron and his party are one of the two mainstream choices and that this gang of idiots is actually the fucking government! They've got a creationist Minister of Science ("How dare you ask me about gravity!!! My religious views are none of your business!") a coke-headed beauty queen as a former cabinet minister, the aforementioned complete idiot Stockwell Day as Minister of Lawlessness, and a shameless, hypocritical lying corporate shill as their leader.

These shit-heads want to publicly scream strident warnings about how the opposition parties can't be trusted with "national security" (a bogus term for these documents in any case) when they've got a former cabinet minister who left classified documents at the apartment of a girlfriend with ties to organized crime? When they cynically leak these same documents to unstable media hacks?

Come on Ezra! Goad your fearless leader into calling an election on your government's torture polices! On a war that we've been losing since 2003! Please! Pretty please! Pretty please with sugar on top!

In all seriousness, even though it's beyond your capabilities right now Ezra, and it probably always will be, your democratic rights have been protected by Speaker Milliken, and you owe him a great vote of thanks.

Speaker Milliken pwns stephen harper's Ugly Ass!!

It's kinda one of the reasons that I'm celebrating about stuff 2nite. Maybe I'll sober-up tomorrow and write something more articulate (but hardly more suitable) but i gotta commemorate this historic event!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Right to Secrecy and Trust Has Expired

Via HarperBizarro, Don Martin on today's expected announcement about the rights of Parliament to see detainee documents from the Afghanistan conflict:

The problem with this government is how it's become secrecy personifi ed -- witness the backlog of information access requests, it's document-starvation of the Military Police Complaints Commission and new revelations over the PMO's intensified information control strategy. It has given every sign it values protecting its political butt over legitimate areas of national security.

Yet the government correctly argues it is the designated guardian of security information that's too sensitive to be distributed to mere MPs under a "confi-dential" stamp.

Um, sorry, no.

No. NO. A thousand times NO!!!

We went into Afghanistan in 2001. It is now 2010. NATO easily destroyed the Taliban government's hold on Afghanistan. It then installed a puppet-government under Hamid Karzai and various "Northern Alliance" warlords.

NATO and the Karzai government have had almost NINE YEARS to bring stability and reconstruction to Afghanistan. They have failed. The city of Kandahar, once a secure base from which NATO (with mostly Canadian troops) tried to secure the rest of the province. Today we read that the Taliban have infiltrated the entire city and it will be a struggle to keep it:

The rumours had been circulating for weeks: Taliban insurgents were planning to attack the sprawling United Nations compound in Shar-i-nau, a relatively quiet, relatively wealthy neighbourhood in Kandahar city.

On Sunday morning, residents awoke to discover their streets scattered with “night letters.” The warnings, written on plain white paper, urged local residents to take cover and foreigners to flee.

This is only partially the fault of the Taliban insurgency. Obviously, it is difficult to build roads, schools, irrigation networks, and a functioning economy, when there are armed men planting bombs, murdering teachers, shooting at foreign aid workers and the country's police. But here's the thing; I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I think that Afghanistan is a different society from Canada, the United States, or the other NATO countries, but having said that, I don't believe that the Taliban was all that popular among Afghans.* It should not have been all that difficult to isolate them and render them irrelevant. The problem though, is that NATO, in all it's stupidity, imposed a government on the Afghans comprised of the same brutal gangsters who internecine warfare (with all the attendant rape and pillage) had alienated the population and allowed the Taliban (fanatically devout and relatively incorruptible) to rise in the first place! Furthermore, instead of leaning on the gangsters we installed into power, NATO (comprised of the world's only super-power and several former great powers) allowed them to rule over their provinces like they were their own personal fiefdoms. And, in a country where ethnicity and tribal allegiances are supposedly incredibly important, NATO allowed the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar Province (primarily Pashtun) to be plundered and exploited by non-Pashtun warlords. It was inevitable that such a situation would produce an insurgency. And it is this insurgency, centered around the the detestable, misogynist Taliban, but given its continued strength from the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have been abused by Karzai and his warlords, as well as by cowardly NATO air-strikes, that Canadian soldiers are killing and dying for. These Afghan fighters, responding as any human being would to tyranny, brutality, dishonour and exploitation, are the so-called "moderate Taliban" that the USA is now supposedly reaching out to.

Canadian soldiers are fighting insurgents who may not even sympathize much with the Taliban, but who are motivated by their resistance to a corrupt, brutal, thieving, rapist warlord-gangster government, and they are capturing some of these rebels and turning them over to a government that practices torture as policy. More than this, paranoid about civilian allies who might be helping the insurgency, the Canadian Forces are arresting innocent farmers and turning them over to the rapists and torturers.

Now, it was the Liberals, cocooned in their ignorance and delusion about what really motivates themselves and the US government, that stupidly took us into Afghanistan. It was under the Liberals that prisoners were first transferred to the US military (which teaches torture to Latin American officers) and did so until scandals of torture and murder at US-run facilities like Abu Ghraib and Bagram compelled them to seek an alternative. Carelessly, in the midst of an election, the Liberals allowed the cowardly stoop, General Rick Hillier, to negotiate an imbecilic prisoner transfer with the torturing government of Afghanistan. The Liberals lost power soon after the agreement was signed, and it became the harpercon government's responsibility to ensure the humane treatment of our prisoners.

The harpercon government took pride in not giving a flying-fuck about the treatment of our prisoners and so finds itself today, cravenly hiding from Parliament, asking for the powers of a despotic government, in order to avoid going to prison for war crimes.

And now, Don Martin presumes to lecture us that turning over information about PRISONER TRANSFERS from THREE YEARS AGO somehow will endanger Canadian troops today? Somehow, the movements of our troops one, two, or three years ago could be leaked by Parliamentarians and this would endanger national security?

No. Sorry, no. This is about Canada being a nation that tortures, or a nation that doesn't torture. This is about a government that routinely lies, obstructs, and cynically leaks documents supposedly vital to national security. In the first place, THERE IS NO VALID "NATIONAL SECURITY" ARGUMENT, and secondly, this government has lost the right to invoke "national security" and compel our trust that it is acting in our best interests and is defending our values in Afghanistan (or anywhere else for that matter).

*(Evidence that Afghanistan is a different country from Canada? There were Afghan women stoning other Afghan women, as both sides clashed over a law - signed by President Karzai - that said that Afghan Shiite wives were obliged to provide sexual favours for their husbands. Karzai had amended this bit of garbage by allowing wives the right to withhold these favours but giving husbands the right to withhold food. More evidence: The PBS documentary "The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan" details the practice of young boys - generally poor - being forced to dance for wealthy and powerful men and later rented out by them to other men for sex. The practice was banned by the peasant-based Taliban but is making a resurgence under the elitist, warlord-based Karzai government. These are the people we are allied with and these are the people we are fighting. This is the society our nitwit leaders willingly chose to invade and "reform." It's such a sick fucking travesty.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Random Crap

One would think that the dearth of terrorist outrages in Canada (before and after 9-11 in the UNITED STATES) would have calmed down all the precious darlings hiding under their beds sucking their thumbs. But, sadly no. According to Alison at Creekside, the harpercons are still shitting themselves in terror at the thought of Islamic Terrorism:
A redo of the panicky now defunct Anti-terrorism Act of 2001, the new Combating Terrorism Act includes preventive arrest and forcing people to testify at secret hearings about terrorist acts that might happen in the future, and if you don't like it you can go to jail for up to a year with a judge's option to extend.
There are more safeguards included this time round - you can have a lawyer! at any time! - which will only allow the Libs to go along with it so as not to be painted as soft on terrorism. Mark Holland, Liberal critic for Public Safety and National Security, already looking to cave.
The argument in favour of anti-terrorism legislation is that criminal law only deals with crimes already committed. What to do about people who feel that crimes perpetrated by the state against their people require a response like blowing things up?

Gee whiz! I didn't know that the police could only intervene after a crime has been committed. I guess it really isn't like TV or the movies where the police bust the bad guys right before they're about to launch their dastardly plans! In reality I suppose, the judge would look at the evidence of the planning for the crime, the possession of the explosives, and everything else and say, "It's too bad you didn't wait for them to actually blow-up that building, because now I'm forced to let them go."

Given the fact that the "mastermind" of the "Toronto-18" was no more of a threat than the "Brooklyn Bridge Blow-Torcher" or the idiots who thought that they'd conquer a US military-base by posing as pizza-delivery drivers, and that the fertilizer that would have provided the explosives was only made possible by the state informant (who didn't need any Anti-Terror legislation to help him do his job), you'd think that even the harpercons would have stopped shaking in their boots by this point. But n-o-o-o-o. A lil' terror goes a long way with these dip-shits, causing them to shred centuries' worth of hard-won democratic and civil rights to keep them from screaming.

Neil Reynolds (who is this person and why should we care what he thinks?) in the Globe and Mail laments the resilience of third parties in Canada saying it "threatens democracy." (Yes, you read that right. In the age of stephen harper, it's third parties and their preventing harper from getting a majority that threatens democracy!) Reynold's blows the dust off of some book from 1946 to make his case:
He was talking of minority parties that exploit ideological or political grievances, manage to survive for a longer period and then – “like all organizations” – perpetuate themselves simply for the sake of their own self-interest.Mr. Corry cited two examples. The first, he said, might be a splinter party dedicated to socialism. The second, he said, might be a splinter party based on French-language nationalism.

A yes! A splinter party dedicated to such fringe ideas such as public health care, the single-most popular government program in the country's history is a threat to democracy. It's not clear where Reynolds wants to go with this. Should voters toss away their petty grievances in order to joyously go through the motions of voting for Tweedle-Dum or Tweedle-Dee every four or five years? Regardless, Reynolds promises us bounty uncountable should his advice be followed: Canadians will enjoy the same sort of "democracy" as exists in the USA (where a majority opposed the bail-out, a majority opposed the Iraq War for years, a majority want more "socialist" health care, all to no effect):
This is the genius of the American system. J.A. Corry: “To win the presidency, it is necessary to win a clear majority of the votes of the Electoral College in favour of one candidate. This compels each party to aim at winning a majority of the popular vote. The result is that most presidents take office with either the explicit or implied consent of a majority of the people.”
In most instances, though, these presidents won solid majorities in the Electoral College, that eccentric but utilitarian institution that prevents two or three densely populated states from determining the presidency by sheer force of population

I believe that it was here that I gave up reading the print version in disgust. In preparing this post I've read the whole thing. Still fucking pointless.

Lastly, it struck me that proponents of "free trade" or neo-liberalism, used to argue that with their "free market" policies, beneficiaries are diffuse, while targeted groups (unions, protected industries, etc.,) are aware of their precarious status and the dangers to them of "free markets" and so they organize to maintain their protected status and benefits whereas the beneficiaries of "free markets" aren't anywhere near as galvanized and didn't exert enough pressure to force governments to push "free market" policies through.

Thank heaven for disinterested neo-liberal economists and propagandists! If not for them, bought-and-paid-for-politicians, and their corporate pay-masters, we wouldn't be where we are today. Which is a world with a shrinking middle class and a growing under class and a smaller, but far wealthier upper class. A world with rising levels of household indebtedness, which was necessary to sustain increasingly anaemic economic growth levels, and on-and-on.

But we started out bashing the poor, the unions, the public sector, and we find that we have no defences against either corporate predation or the increasingly unsteady economies that neo-liberal buffoons create. Seems that Pastor Niemoller could be re-worked yet again 'eh?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jeffrey Simpson Was Under the Weather Today

Or something else was responsible for today's lame-ass column: "Cracks in the bedrock of U.S. - Israel relations?" (Note: He recently wrote something with the title "When the penny drops, denial over health care stops" that must have also been written while he had the sniffles, it's such a brain-dead self-parody of his usual Chicken Little routine on public health care.)

Here's the thing about the U.S.-Israel column: Besides being weeks overdue commenting on some pretty clear signs of stresses between an increasingly belligerent and arrogant Israel and the United States which prompted General Petraeus to publicly state that Israel's behaviour was endangering the lives of US troops, Simpson's column manages to deal with the subject in a completely pointless way:

The United States carries the can, fairly or otherwise, for this stalemate in many corners of the Muslim world, because the United States is deemed to be a protector that could, if it so desired, push the Israelis toward a deal.

That the Israelis can’t be pushed is obvious to objective observers, but not to those who think grave injustices have systematically been done to Palestinians, including building settlements in the West Bank and expanding them in contested parts of Jerusalem.

Apparently, the Obama administration, exasperated by the lack of negotiations and angry at the obduracy of the Netanyahu government, is considered publishing its own blueprint for a peaceful settlement.

Good luck. Blueprints have come and gone many times before.

I mean, what is the point of a newspaper printing something like that? Does anyone able to read actually believe that the U.S. doesn't subsidize Israel to the tune of billions of dollars annually? Is there anyone really so clueless as to think that the U.S. is genuinely frustrated at the failure of one "peace plan" after another?

If Simpson genuinely believes this crapola, then he's a dimmer bulb than I thought. But if he doesn't believe this drivel, what practical use is it to write such a useless piece of sludge? I honestly think this was e-mailed as an attachment and the original e-mail said "Sorry for such a weak effort but I do need the money ... Yours, Jeffrey."

Non-Political Video Post

Sam and Dave: "Hold On, I'm Coming"

Saturday, April 17, 2010

General Natynczyk Clears His Organization

Please, please General Natynczyk! I already said not to bother investigating yourselves! (Sigh!)

Gen. Walter Natynczyk, the chief of defence staff, said Friday that the Canadian Forces have reviewed the interpreter's testimony to a parliamentary committee and are convinced that their soldiers acted appropriately at all times.

In a letter to the House of Commons special committee on the Afghan mission, a copy of which was obtained by the Globe and Mail newspaper, Natynczyk says the military "has every reason to believe" it has figured out what incident the interpreter was talking about.

During that incident, on the night of June 18, 2007, soldiers did indeed kill a man, Natynczyk writes — but he was an armed militant who posed a lethal threat to troops.

I was trying to be polite General, but I guess I'll have to be blunt about it: Nobody gives a shit about what you have to say anymore. This is the same General Natynczyk who swore up and down that none of our prisoners were beaten by Karzai government employees, even if it meant contradicting an official field report by CF personnel, only to reverse himself when the writers of the field report refused to allow their work to be trashed and dismissed.

Afghan-born, Canadian citizen Ahmadshah Malgarai testified that he heard from Afghan villagers that the CF shot an unarmed teenager and then, in a panic, arrested ten of the teenager's fellow villagers and shipped them off to the NDS to prevent the exposure of the incident. As well, another CF member described the shooting as an act of murder.

So, unsurprisingly, Natynczyk spends a couple of days rooting through the paperwork, and concludes that, once again, we're innocent, everything's fine, theres' nothing to worry about.

These guys are sick fucking jokes. End of story. As I said earlier, you listen to these deluded, bungling liars, and we're busy building a functioning democracy in Afghanistan, defending women's rights and saving the people from the detestable murderers and scum-bags of the Taliban.

But ten year's later, the Karzai government is a fraud, sustained in power through electoral fraud and dependent upon foreign troops for its survival. It is a corrupt, narco-state. Its prison system is run by the former torturing jailers of the Soviet era. It is a coalition of feudal drug-barons, many of whom are from non-Pashtun ethnic groups and have been installed as "governors" over ethnic-Pashtun provinces, where they lord it over their ethnic rivals and allow their police forces to rape and plunder.

And, as I said earlier (based on the sterling reporting and blogging of others obviously), every once in a while, some individual with first-hand experience, like Richard Colvin, Ahmadshah Malgarai, or Travis Schouten, relates about disturbing, possibly criminal behaviour on the part of the Canadian government or military, and we're supposed to believe idiots like Rick Hillier or Peter MacKay, that those first-hand accounts are untrustworthy. That despite the government's complete refusal to allow us to know what's going on in Afghanistan, that everything is fine, and that all the whistle-blowers are lying, or deluded, or wrong, or whatever incoherent nonsense the harpercons can make up.

Well, no. No, Natynczyk, we don't believe you. We can't take your word for anything. I read the Globe & Mail's version of the story too, and there was an extended quote of Natynczyk's account of the incident in question and I stopped reading it after the first paragraph, because as far as I'm concerned, it's just a detailed lie. Let Parliament see how this war is being conducted, stop with the goddamned total secrecy, and maybe we'll find out that you're not a liar. But until then, nobody has any reason to believe a single fucking thing you say. And if you want to cry about that, then go ahead and cry. From where I'm sitting, your just part of an extended destruction of everything this country supposedly stands for. The fact that you're too stupid and debased to understand that is your issue.

Let's rebuild what this country is supposed to be and it has to start by excluding utter numb-skulls like Martin, Pettigrew, harper, MacKay, Hillier, Natynczyk, from influencing policy. Let's reduce the influence of the "Blogging Tories" to that of the shit-head cheering section of a permanently unelectable bloc of frustrated failures, rather than the shit-head cheerleaders of the Canadian government.

Friday, April 16, 2010

With Apologies To Any CF Friends Of Mine ...

And I've got a few friends and acquaintances. But this Afghanistan nightmare is evidence that the Canadian military is one bent institution.

I guess the real story here is that scum rises. That explains the rise and rise of complete imbeciles like Rick Hillier. A childish, stupid man, who believes in the image of the US military that he sees in John Wayne movies, and who applies this asinine, simplistic model to geo-politics as a whole with tragic results.

This explains all the assholes who think it's a good idea to kill and die to prop-up a narco-puppet state that robs its own people and rapes their children. That explains away all the murder and torture with the supposedly earth-shattering admission that that sort of thing happens in war-time, while failing to grasp that if stuff like that is inevitable in war time, that's the whole fucking reason that sane and intelligent people want to avoid war.

I hope this debacle results in the taming (for at least a while) of the disturbing trend of shit-head militarism that's been washing over this country for the past ten years.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Canadian Forces Says They'll Investigate Allegations of Canadian Forces' War Crimes

Um, that's okay boys. We'll take it from here.
A parliamentary committee has heard stunning allegations from a former translator who claims the Canadian military tried to cover up the fatal shooting of an Afghan man in October 2007.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Margaret Wente replies to "The Lomborg Deception"

When hell freezes over. The imbecile refers to Lomborg the fraud as an "iconoclast." She (like other stupid people) jumped to conclusions about those CRU e-mails. How has she dealt with the fact that someone went through every single footnote in Lomborg's book Cool It and found out that they either have nothing to do with what he's talking about, or actually refute it?

Who cares? The only valid question about Margaret Wente is when are they going to fire her?

[Answer: Never. She's a useful hack for a corrupted institution.]

But when Friel began checking Lomborg's sources, "I found problems," he says. "As an experiment, I looked up one of his footnotes, found that it didn't support what he said, and then did another, and kept going, finding the same pattern." He therefore took on the Augean stables undertaking of checking every one of the hundreds of citations in Cool It. Friel's conclusion, as per his book's title, is that Lomborg is "a performance artist disguised as an academic."

FWIW: I tried a google search to see if Wente tried to respond to Friel's book. I didn't find anything except for an irrelevant "pajamas media" blog-post by somebody referring to the Sharon Begley review linked to above. The response of the "conservatives" at the site? Sharon Begley is unattractive and she fucks her husband with a strap-on and Bjorn Lomborg is kinda good-looking.


Will no one rid us of these braind-dead fucks??? How long must we endure their revolting delusions about the wars they start, the economies they destroy, the planets they poison?

Monday, April 12, 2010

John Ibbitson's Fucked-Up Priorities

John Ibbitson is valuable for one thing. His columns help to illustrate the nuances of our debased political culture. In this post I speculated that Ibbitson was a craven stooge for the harpercon party of Canada. I critiqued a column where he tried to snidely dismiss the scandal over Canada's complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees. After reading his offerings on the significance of the Guergis-Jaffer affair, I think it's safe to say that Ibbitson puts more importance into serving the folks who are themselves served by stephen harper and his gang of idiots. You see, the Afghan detainee scandal has to do with war crimes. With the arrest, torture, and possibly, death of innocent people, all to (ostensibly) prop-up some criminal narco-warlord state constructed to further US imperialist ambitions. Guergis and Jaffer might possibly have engaged in influence-peddling and Guergis is evidently guilty of the misuse of public resources in letting her husband use her Blackberry. One scandal has to do with our character as a fair-minded, compassionate, peace-loving people (which character is sad becoming only a distant memory) while Guergis-Jaffer is about making things problematic for rich people.

Observe how bent out of shape Ibbitson gets on how the Guergis-Jaffer scandal is going to impact the political climate:
But his [harper's] obsessive refusal ever to say more than he absolutely must left unanswered the only question on anyone's mind: What allegations? Until there is an answer, the capital is paralyzed.
Obviously, the government must be circumspect when dealing with a possible criminal investigation. But in an open democracy, citizens have the right and the need to know what is happening within the government. They deserve greater candour from the Prime Minister.
Contrast that sterling demand for "open democracy" on an issue of influence peddling with Ibbitson's glib depiction of the Special Committee on Canada's Mission in Afghanistan being unable to get information on what our government and military officials were doing in a war zone:
The detainees issue is dead in the water.

The Parliamentary committee examining the treatment of Afghan prisoners resumed hearings Wednesday, with nothing on offer but rhetoric.

Starved of new information, and stymied by a Conservative government that has relentlessly delayed releases, suppressed information or discredited witnesses – as the occasion warranted – government and opposition members were reduced to chasing their own rhetorical tail.

Of course, whatever Guergis and Jaffer may have been up to can't compare to Canada's slow descent into becoming a country that can no longer brag about its human rights record. But there's more to it than just financial sleaze:
This affair will derail all other agendas.
Um, 'scuse me John. Remember harper's recent prorogation of Parliament? (It was in all the papers.) Don't you think the governing of this country was "derailed" by that? Don't you think the constitutional crisis created by the government's contempt of Parliament is a serious thing?
That doesn't matter. In politics, scandal trumps policy, every time. We have a scandal. The noise of it will drown out everything else.
Oh, I don't know about that John. I've got a great idea! Why doesn't harper just refuse to cooperate with the police on this? Withhold evidence? Tell Parliament to piss up a rope? If it works for turning over Afghans to torturers, it'll work for some petty bullshit like this. Who cares if it's illegal? harper's not going to jail for covering-up torture (torture's illegal, remember?) he certainly won't go to jail for obstructing this investigation.

Now, for the record, I don't really think that the possible influence-peddling of Guergis and Jaffer isn't serious. Corruption infects and it spreads. And the more that Ottawa is governed by a "pay-to-play" mentality, the more ordinary Canadians are going to be excluded from their own political process. What I'm doing here is contrasting Ibbitson's seriousness on Guergis-Jaffer with his nonchalance about Canadian complicity in torture. For me, Canada's reputation as a human rights respecter is far, far more important than whether there's some money greasing access to government contracts. For the most part, the sort of people who are willing to pay for political access already have money. And the sort of people who would need to get the same kind of access and don't want to pay also have money. Whether ordinary Canadians take it on the chin because the government objectively implements the stupid policies of the C.D. Howe Institute as the most palatable policies, or whether they award contracts to the guy who lets harper use his Muskoka cottage for consideration, isn't all that important. And, actually, in case you haven't noticed, Canada's ruling class is already pretty corrupt. Brian Mulroney was allowed to "forget" to report $300,000 in cash payments from Karlheinz Schreiber without being punished. And a lot of people noted how it was US-American officials who finally lowered the boom on corporate criminals like Conrad Black and Alan Eagleson, who were able to operate with relative impunity in Canada. (If I didn't know better, I'd swear that maybe Guergis and Jaffer are in trouble because Jaffer and Jaffer's pushy, crass, grasping friend, Nazim Gillani, are brown-skinned "players" possibly ripping off wealthy white guys.)

"We can't have that!" they bluster at the country-club. "Let's get that 'Ibbitson' fellow to write something about this! Tell Harper to get serious about it!"

Blogging Tory Response to Guergis-Jaffer

So, when one of their government's cabinet ministers makes a mockery of Canada's anti-terrorism precautions at an airport, and demands special treatment because she's so important, and it turns out that she and her husband, ex-MP of the Party of Decent, Law-Abiding, Taxed-to-Death Little People, appear to have been living the high-life, perhaps influence-peddling with crooked businessmen, partying with booze, cocaine and hookers, ... how did the "Blogging Tories" react?

With silence?

With sullen resentment at criticisms from partisans of other stripes?

With cries of outrage against this betrayal of all their supposed values?

Obviously, they can and should say "innocent until proven guilty" but that's only with regards to the actual influence-peddling. At this point, Guergis's disgraceful behaviour at the Charlottetown airport is an admitted fact, as is Jaffer's drunk-driving and cocaine possession. It's also pretty clear that Jaffer did attend a swanky evening on the town in the presence of a guy who is claiming special access to government funding and who also hires escorts.

If these "Blogging Tory" types, who believe that progressives are all effete, degenerate, high-living, arrogant urban sophisticates, whereas they are the moral bedrock of our nation, are responding to this affair with anything other than howls of outrage, then they're obviously the same revolting, stupid hypocrites that Canadian Cynic has long exposed them to be.

[Edited to fix speling mistkaes.]

Friday, April 9, 2010

How Stupid Is Barack Obama?

Seriously. The man is proving the uselessness of the US-American electoral process with everyday of his presidency.

He has fucked-up healthcare. He said that building a "single-payer" public healthcare system would require "starting from scratch" when it would only have meant expanding medicare, medicaid, and veterans' healthccare. He said that it would violate the USA's "free-market" culture, and then he goes on to sign a bill that FORCES people to buy something regardless of whether they want to or not.

Here's the thing about mandatory car insurance: If you don't want to be forced to buy it, don't get a car or a license. Home insurance? If you don't want to buy it, but it's mandatory, then don't get a house.

But Obama's mandatory health insurance is imposed upon everyone, no exceptions. How is that consistent with US "free-market" values? Given the level of animosity towards even decent healthcare reform, hell, given the animosity to decency and justice in general in the USA, it's only a matter of time before somebody challenges this in court and it gets ruled unconstitutional and the whole titanic effort to pass healthcare reform (and all the selling-out by "pragmatic" progressives) will have been in vain.

And now, the revolting "war on terror." In response to a threat that, if you're a really, really, REALLY criminally incompetent government, might kill 3,500 US-Americans every thirty years or so, President Obama has arrogated for his office the right to pronounce any US-American citizen a "terrorist threat" and order them murdered. No questions asked, no oversight.

There is no hope for the Democratic Party people. There's no point in electoral participation. Not even to mitigate the cruelty of the system. It was Clinton who signed "welfare reform" and "three strikes and you're out." It's gonna be Obama who will destroy social security in the USA, because bush II was untrustworthy from the get-go. When Obama starts to say social security is in crisis, millions of "progressives" will trust him and let him get away with it.

If anyone thinks that any of this constitutes "smarts" on Obama's part, think again. The reason all of these psychopathic politicians submit to the brutalities of running for high office is because they want to have a legacy. They want to be remembered as Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Winston Churchill. Today, they stupidly imagine that they can wring the last pennies from the pockets of the working class, hollow-out the industrial base, lay more and more debt upon the general population, and still have a viable economy for the financial sector to feed off of.

Even when it all blows-up in their faces, as it did in 2008, they think that all they have to do is force the taxpayers to absorb it all, force workers to pay for it through unemployment and lower wages, and keep on doing the same things they've been doing.

Right-wingers are crowing that Obama will be a one-term president. They could very well be right, but it won't be because their own completely brain-dead politicians and policies have been vindicated. It will be because a sizeable portion of the people who voted for Obama will stay home in disgust and despair, and the minority of people who support the Repugs will out-vote the minority of people who support the Democrats. The people who don't vote will resign themselves to whatever abuses the victor chooses to submit them to.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I don't have time to write anything today!!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The "WikiLeaks" Video and "Jarhead"

A couple of days ago I posted a youtube link to Bobby McFerrin's song "Don't Worry, Be Happy" because it's been stuck in my head (for a week now!) after hearing it over and over as my partner watched the movie "Jarhead" over and over to critique the film for an English class.

Well, last night I saw the infamous "WikiLeaks" video of the cowardly murder of Iraqi civilians by some US-American morons in an "Apache Helicopter" which provided me with a vindication of the theme of "Jarhead."

A lot of people took "Jarhead" the wrong way. They got the impression that the movie is asking us to feel sorry for US-American soldiers who don't get to kill anybody. That wasn't the point of the film. The point of the film was that the US military (the Marines in the case of "Jarhead") trains young men (and now women!) to become killers. It teaches them to dehumanize their enemies and it pumps them up to want to kill them. The main character becomes obsessed with the desire to see "the pink mist" a pseudo-erotic description of the explosion of somebody's head when a sniper's bullet blasts their skull apart.

What I got from the film was that the political-economic system that produces these murderers and wannabe murderers is an elite-controlled, vapid, childish one. An enormously powerful one though, but vapid just the same. And the young people who are destroyed so that they can be turned into killers believe in an incoherent mish-mash of equally childish values and morals that really doesn't help them after they've been released back on the streets having either murdered in war or just been conditioned to want to kill people.

Well, recently, we all got to see the real deal, thanks to the group WikiLeaks, there's video from 2007 from a U.S. Apache helicopter showing them attacking a group of Iraqi men (some armed) that ended up killing two Reuters photojournalists. In the video, after blasting the group of men (all in civilian clothes) they then shoot again at the wounded, trying to crawl away. Then, when only one wounded man is still alive, a van shows up and the men inside, seeing a human being bleeding to death in the gutter, attempt to put him in the van obviously hoping to take him to a hospital. This action inspires the US-American shitheads to open fire on the van, killing the good samaritan, who turned out to have two of his children in the van. They were wounded. For reasons known only to that person's own withered soul, a base-commander tells the soldiers that the children cannot be taken to a US military hospital, but are to be handed over to the Iraqi police to take to an Iraqi hospital.

You can hear in the soundtrack of the video the comments of the US-Americans raining death from the sky, making moronic comments, similar to the drivel uttered by the characters in "Jarhead." The soldiers, who had been laughing and gloating during the slaughter become somewhat reticent upon seeing the wounded children, but then, like the moronic pieces-of-shit they are, babble: "That's what you get for bringing your kids to a battle."

A "battle"? The van showed up five minutes after the 20 seconds of sporadic 30 mm fire from the helicopter. It was probably blocks away when the "battle" occurred.

Glenn Greenwald and John Caruso both do a great job of explaining why this stuff isn't an "aberration" (as cowardly, hypocritical idiots always try to do) but quite common and an inevitable outcome of war. Which is just what "Jarhead" says.

I can't stress enough that you should read both the Greenwald and the Caruso links.

By the way, if I'm saying that the actions of those US-American soldiers was the inevitable byproduct of their conditioning, then why am I simultaneously trashing them as "morons," "cowards," "shit-heads" and etc.? Because that's what they are.

And I'd be more than prepared to tell them that to their faces. So long as I can have a crew of Iraqis, trained to fly and fire from Apache helicopters, a fully-armed and fuelled Apache helicopter, and full immunity for whatever happens. I'll speak to them through loudspeakers and they can shout their responses through a bull-horn, and maybe take pictures of the helicopter with the cameras that sort of look like weapons.

If that's "cowardly" of me, ... well, I already said that it was.

Edited to add: Some idiots are blithering that because some of those Iraqi men were armed, they were obviously terrorists who deserved to die. Let's remember, the bush II regime invaded Iraq on lies about weapons of mass destruction, while a lot of US-Americans are deluded into thinking that Iraq was behind 9-11. A part of the invasion has included the US-American Christian-fascist-racist "Blackwater" mercenaries who are alleged (and their actions seem to corroborate this) to be driven by a desire to kill as many Muslims as they possibly can. If anybody has a right to be walking around with weapons in Iraq, it's Iraqis. Aside from that though, maybe they were Al Qaeda. Maybe they were Sunni insurgents. Or maybe they were Shiite militias (the ones who were helping the US-American invaders fight the insurgency). Or maybe they were private bodyguards in that violent society. Who knows?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chumps and Change

In his essay "Is America Yearning For Fascism" Chris Hedges says that as long as "leftists" or "progressives" in the USA continue to cling stupidly to the Democratic Party, so long will the left be irrelevant to the genuine anger against what corporate neo-liberalism has created. Even worse, Hedges says that the subsequent rise of fascism will be the fault of US progressives due to their failure to seriously address the problems of the majority:
The impoverishment of a working class and the snuffing out of hope and opportunity always produce angry mobs ready to kill and be killed. A bankrupt, liberal elite, which proves ineffectual against the rich and the criminal, always gets swept aside, in times of economic collapse, before thugs and demagogues emerge to play to the passions of the crowd. I have seen this drama. I know each act. I know how it ends. I have heard it in other tongues in other lands. I recognize the same stock characters, the buffoons, charlatans and fools, the same confused crowds and the same impotent and despised liberal class that deserves the hatred it engenders.
The longer we appeal to the Democrats, who are servants of corporate interests, the more stupid and ineffectual we become. Sixty-one percent of Americans believe the country is in decline, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and they are right. Only 25 percent of those polled said the government can be trusted to protect the interests of the American people. If we do not embrace this outrage and distrust as our own it will be expressed through a terrifying right-wing backlash.

There's a lot to what he says. And, FWIW, I stopped believing that anything substantial could be gained from the Democrats since the days of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. But on the other hand (and as part of my internal battle between hope and despair) I wonder just how effective the left could be appealing to the lunk-heads listening to Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. I'm coming up on ten years or so of internet discussions, where I've been given more opportunities to confront, or engage with right-wing views, and sadly I've seen enough inability to process facts, enough stubborn, stupid racism, enough confused, elaborate fantasies, spewing from right-wingers, that I fear they're immune to our appeals.

Some days it seems that there's nothing to be done if an unemployed moron (please note: that's a moron who is unemployed, NOT an accusation that anyone unemployed is probably a moron. I'll soon be unemployed myself and t'would be a grim irony were anyone to accuse me of elitism on such a topic!) thinks that the solution to their problems is attacking the unions and social-justice groups that could protect them from neo-liberalism. The fact that these people who attack the idea of public healthcare (not just Obama's mewling gift to the health insurance industry), who attack the idea of anti-racism, who believe that reigning in the power of corporations equals an attack on a sacred free-market (even though no such free-market actually exists), get most of their marching orders from cynical millionaires like Sean Hannity and Glen Beck, or grasping, selfish airheads like Sarah Palin, only makes them more contemptible.

These people don't speak the same language as us. They speak gibberish. By the time you get them to admit that since BOTH parties supported the Wall Street bail-outs, that they're being played by both teams, you've already wasted enormous amounts of mental energy and you just don't have the resources to then deal with their anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about international bankers and the UN.

Case in point: I've been wanting to deal with the foreign policy delusions of occasonal Schoolyard commentator "Wakefield Tolbert." Alas, current events and everyday life conspire to prevent that. But I've gotta say something about his sign-off in the comments section at this post:
Tomorrow is back to work, fun time is over, and it's back to being a milk-cow for Obama to squeeze on behalf of ACORN pests, politicians, and various unions and glop, not to mention handouts to illegals' ER visits after the nightly knifefights and drinking bouts in the inner cities of America.

That's the role of small business in the US these days: High tech slavery. No bailouts for those who actually have to work, brother.

Amazing ain't it? ACORN? How much money has ACORN ever received from the US federal government? Apparently $53 million over 15 years, for $3.5 million a year. Unions? Even small business owners ought to be aware that a healthy economy requires decent, stable incomes for the majority of the population. How else can people buy cars, houses, pay rent, buy clothes, patronize restaurants, and all the other stuff the capitalists say is essential for our society's economic health. More was wasted by both parties on Wall Street, stupid wars wherein corrupt, hyper-profitable mercenaries and defence contractors made out like bandits, tax-cuts to billionaires to encourage them to make and buy and sell "Mortgage-backed Securities" and "Credit Default Swaps" ... actually, I'll let Glenn Greenwald say it for me ...

So with this massive pillaging of America's economic security and the control of American government by its richest and most powerful factions growing by the day, to whom is America's intense economic anxiety being directed? To a non-profit group that devotes itself to providing minute benefits to people who live under America's poverty line, and which is so powerless in Washington that virtually the entire U.S. Senate just voted to cut off its funding at the first sign of real controversy -- could anyone imagine that happening to a key player in the banking or defense industry?

Apparently, the problem for middle-class and lower-middle-class Americans is not that their taxpayer dollars are going to prop up billionaires, oligarchs and their corrupt industries. It's that America's impoverished -- a group that is growing rapidly -- is getting too much, has too much power and too little accountability.

Read his whole post. My point is that, given such SELF-EVIDENT STUPIDITY, can we really hope to prevail upon these people were we, the non-Liberal Party, the non-Democratic Party, the barely, if even-NDP Party left-wing to actually try to reason with them?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Song Stuck In My Head

My partner had to critique the movie "Jarhead" for an English class, and as a result of hearing it over and over, I've got this song stuck in my head, so I'll share it with you ...

... and what the hell, why not ...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

MY Faith in Humanity Restored

I've been thinking that the un-fixable stupidity of people like the Blogging Tories makes the idea that people can be reasoned with an utter falsehood. We're doomed by the electoral strength of this solid bloc of morons who can always be counted upon to vote against their own (and our) self-interest.

But then I thought, I've been impressed by US-Americans to know that they're not a stupid people even though the quality of their political debates would make one think that. It's the system, not the people, who make it so moronic.

Case-in-point: Albertans are fine, intelligent people. Gracious hosts, normal human beings. Yet they puke-up Stockwell Day and are the centre of strength for the imbecilic harpercons. What gives? Obviously, it's the political-economic creature of the oil industry.

Which means, that given different circumstances, political cultures can improve. Which restores my fuckin' FAITH in fuckin' HUMANITY man!!!