Friday, October 31, 2014

Weird Planets

This is what sent me off  to slumberland last night:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ancient Egypt Documentary

Don't have anything to say. I've been watching this. It's pretty good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Total, Unrelenting Hypocrisy of stephen harper

In this post at "Democracy Under Fire," the blogger "rural" takes issue with stephen harper's statement:
"The objective of these attacks was to instil fear and panic in our country, as I said yesterday, Canadians will not be intimidated. Here we are, in our seats, in our chamber, in the very heart of our democracy.
 The House of Commons is not the heart of our democracy, "rural" says:
Parliament may be the symbolic home of our democracy but the true heart of democracy rests with the citizens across this vast country. It is entrusted in those individuals that we elect to protect and enhance it who meet in that place to hold the current government, no matter what particular flavor it currently enjoys, to account and to participate in the process of deciding upon the rules by which out society lives by. It is those citizens who make sure that they take the time to select those individuals who are placed before us as possible representatives every few years. It is within those that take notice of the debates and decisions emerging from 'that place' and make their views know as best they can to an ever less receptive group of politicians. The heart of a country’s democracy lays within its citizens, whether they look after it or not is another matter entirely.
And there is a lot of truth to that. But what struck me about the quote, was that even if you conceded harper his point, it only makes him look like an even bigger shit-head.

For the fact of the matter is that stephen harper is the only prime minister in the history of the Westminster system of Parliament to have ever been found in contempt of the legislature. And this was not some partisan verdict delivered by a "kangaroo court." Anyone who says that is an idiot. A "kangaroo court" is one that is illegitimate and/or unfair. The Speaker's decision and the parliamentary Commons Procedure and House Affairs Committee that decided the matter were both the legitimate means by which such matters are decided. So there's that. Second of all, the opposition parties that found him in contempt were behind the Conservatives in the polls when they came to their decision and when they put it into practical effect by voting no confidence in harper's government. Also, the Liberal Party of Canada had made enormous efforts to avoid toppling harper's government in the past, and so, to a lesser extent, did the NDP. But nonetheless, they felt they had to do so at that point.

They did so, as everyone well knows, because harper was refusing to provide Parliament with very basic information that, as everyone knows, was the experts' cost estimates for the government's policies. In harper's version of "democracy" the people's representatives shouldn't expect to know what the government's policies will cost before they approve of them.

Worse, in harper's democracy, the people's representatives should be happy with oral assurances that turn out to be complete lies.

When it comes to written evidence, it has to be remembered that, in the Bev Oda scandal, harper was fine with public documents being altered after the fact to say the opposite of their original intention. And, he would stand by a minister found to have lied repeatedly to Parliament about this.

None of this is new. And it remains to our great shame, our complete incapacity as a nation to have done anything substantial about it. What is new is harper having the unmitigated gall to speak of Parliament as "the heart of our democracy" after his serial abuses of it.

It got worse obviously. Ignatieff and Layton (and Duceppe) did what they had to do and voted down harper's government. In the subsequent election, as we all know, the Conservative Party of Canada's voter database was abused in a concerted, widespread campaign of election fraud, that might have made the difference between harper having received a minority or a majority government. harper appeared strangely unconcerned about the undisputed abuse of his party's resources for such sleazy behaviour, refusing to even meet with Elections Canada to discuss the matter.

And, as we all know, under the sniveling toad Pierre Poilievre, the Conservatives used their majority to ram through a bill that will make it easier for them to commit fraud in the future.

So, Parliament is "the heart of our democracy," but if you gain control of it through fraud, if you STEAL it, that's not a matter for concern.

What makes Parliament "the heart of our democracy" then? Well, yes, the government proposes laws, and then the people's representatives examine them closely and debate their merits. Part of this extended process is to allow the general public to know about, and sometimes, give their opinion about the proposed laws.

But let's cut to the chase here about stephen harper's version of democracy: Political parties should break every rule to get elected. They should break election finance laws (so that the rich and/or the corrupt can have an unfair advantage over everyone else) and they should just do whatever it takes to steal elections.

Then, having stolen a majority in the House of Commons, the government party packs its legislation into massive omnibus bills that defy informed discussion and debate, and rams them through the legislature so that even the insufficient amount of time available to provide oversight to the process becomes shortened. It doesn't matter anyway, because harper sees no need to provide accurate, or even truthful information about his proposed policies. he will lie in the House and he will lie on paper about his proposals.

This speaks only to his opinions about Parliament as "the heart of our democracy." I'm not even going to talk about harper's contempt for our rights as citizens or even human beings.

But, again, we tolerate this monster. Nobody of any stature appears able to present this true picture of this stupid asshole and create a movement to destroy him. Fucking Mulcair and Trudeau hugged the creature after the schizophrenic with the rifle got into the Parliament building.

Last thing about words and stephen harper: "We will not be intimidated."

How the fuck does hiding in a broom closet not count as "intimidated"? Not to say that I would definitely have stood my ground.  Or that security details weren't being responsible in putting the (fraudulent) prime minister in a safe place. But, sorry, hiding in a broom closet is definitely being "intimidated." I mean, did the turd compose those words WHILE he was hiding in the broom closet?

And, anyway, I should hope a country of 35 million people aren't intimidated by lone individuals with hunting rifles or driving around in cars. At least not to the point of surrendering their rights to an anti-democratic, corrupt thuggish fraud.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

harper's cynical use of "terrorism"

First of all, if you haven't seen it already, I think Sabina Becker's take on the recent murders of Canadian soldiers by mentally disturbed individuals is bang-on:
Like this week. These past few days saw us “attacked” by two “terrorists” who, it turns out, were something else altogether. One was a paranoid schizophrenic; the other, a drug addict. But since both were Muslims, and chose to attack and kill soldiers of the Canadian army, with a confused mess of ISIL propaganda and madness roaring through their heads, they just automatically got labelled as terrorists. As if they had flown fully loaded passenger jets into the Peace Tower and the banking district of downtown Toronto on a suicide mission co-ordinated from a cave somewhere near the Pak-Afghan border.
The truth is stranger, and sadder, and nowhere near as dramatic as that.
In fact, the “terrorists” were not foreigners, as was initially reported/speculated. They were both native-born French-Canadians. And they both had mental problems that could easily have been treated. This tragedy was totally avoidable, and neither a war nor even changes to our nation’s security systems was necessary to avert it.
Indeed. I didn't comment about the attacks at the time because I was pretty sure we wouldn't really know much of anything until at least a day or so later.

Not meaning to be provocative here though. I thought at first that this was "blowback" for harper's gleeful participation in various US-imperialist attacks on Muslim countries. Now, I think (as Becker puts it) that these murders were the consequences of mental health problems that could have been treated.

But if a right-winger were to say that these deranged individuals were motivated ("radicalized") by the poisonous culture of "Islamicism," how much different is that from us saying that while Marc Lepine was not just a lone psychotic but someone who imbued the toxic misogyny of our culture?

Leaving that aside, ... isn't it really tragic that the truth Becker exposed, that these individuals would not have murdered those soldiers if they'd had access to treatment for their mental health problems, none of this would have happened? And our mental health services are in serious disarray. So stuff like this is going to happen again and again.

And I think that suits stephen harper just fine. Because, while harper might be too stupid to be conscious of the fact that the "War on Terror" is complete bullshit, he is very much aware of the uses of this war. Fracking, global warming, de-industrialization, mining disasters, rising inequality, banking crises and austerity, ... all of these things are going to cause social unrest. How convenient then, if there are untreated schizophrenics out there shooting cops and soldiers? The better to justify the surveillance/torture state.

Well, that's enough speculation for one night.

Friday, October 24, 2014

WTF?!? Hugging harper???!?!?!?!?!?!?

Da fuk???

THIS is why our political system is in a crisis. The inability to recognize stephen fucking harper as the menace to democracy that he is.

What the fuck is going through Mulcair's head when he does stupid shit like hugging a human-rights abusing criminal like stephen harper, or weeping for an anti-democratic, thuggish imbecile like Jim Flaherty???

I wouldn't have hugged harper. After he got out of that closet, I'd consider it back to business-as-usual.

I really don't know what else there is to say.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Okay; One More Time ...

One "anarchist" I know has the stupid notion that the way to victory begins with everybody deciding to stop voting. Then, there's apparently a black box wherein all sorts of wonderful, amazing things happen, and then, an indescribable utopia emerges at the end of this process.

It should go without saying that this "analysis" leaves me cold. Teeth-chatteringly cold.

Other anarchists and radicals believe that there will be a revolution and that it will be in the streets. So cool! Organizing via surveilled social media sites, empowered youth will head out against the cops, who only have body armour, shields, weapons, training, and ruthless brutality on their side.

"They can't shoot all of us!"

No. They'll just shoot enough to serve as an example for others.

So much for the radicals.

The moderates, as I've said, imagine that business-as-usual voting (except MORE of it), combined with petitions and peaceful protests will do the trick.

Elect the Liberals and get "sensible" liberalism. (Like Chretien and Martin disemboweling the welfare state, extending tax-cuts to millionaires and corporations, and paying for the latter with stolen EI premiums.)

Elect the NDP and get "sensible" social democracy. (Like Thomas Mulcair refusing to consider tax increases on wealthy people with more money than they know what to do with. Or Bob Rae deciding that people on welfare really are responsible for Ontario's deficits. Or the Saskatchewan and British Columbia NDP who can't seem to motivate voers to turf-out right-wing extremist/incompetent governments.)

Elect the Greens and you'll get green policies and corporate Canada will acquiesce because "the people have spoken."

And, of course, it makes perfect sense to petition murderous psychopaths to be nicer, and to protest by taking an afternoon off to demonstrate your mass impotence.


We have to look at our political system and push it to its most radical-democratic potential. Which requires first, taking our democracy seriously and deciding to improve it. NOT accepting it as is, and NOT stupidly imagining that it can be torn down by a tiny band of radical nobodies.

We have to be MILITANT in the defense of our alleged rights within this system. ALL OF US. MILITANT against abuses of our democracy. And, by "militant" I mean, we should not be afraid of using violence if our elites and their thugs abuse us too brazenly.

To threaten violence in the DEFENSE of our system of government is not the same thing as threatening to violently tear-down our system of government. People who believe (even somewhat) in our democracy will cheer police assaults on the latter. They cannot be so inclined with abuses against those doing the former.

We need to change the culture; first among the Left, then across the population as a whole, so that this mindset has been internalized.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Canada, ISIS and Assad

For critics of harper's joining the attack on ISIS, who say that in so doing he has made us an ally of Assad, ... I'm sorry but that ship has sailed. We (and the USA) made Assad an ally when we outsourced the torture of Canadian citizens to him.

If it really was the case that we're "allying" with Assad, not in a formal way, but as being enemies of his enemies, I'd be fine with that. Because as monstrous as Assad and his regime are (and they are monstrous) Syria will be better off under Assad than ISIS. Just as Libya was better off under Qaddafi and Iraq was better off under Saddam Hussein.

But the fact of the matter is that we have not allied ourselves with Assad in any way, shape, or form. Barack Obama (who wanted to bomb Syria last summer) has taken advantage of the war on ISIS to bomb Syrian oil installations, granaries and other props of the Assad regime. Because that's what this is all about.

There is a level of confusion and ignorance on Obama's latest adventure in the Middle East that affects everyone. It goes from people who start from the ridiculous notion that George W. Bush sought to build a democratic Iraq, all the way down to people who recognize that this region's sufferings are caused by its enormous oil reserves and their importance to the capitalist world system.

Given that fact, I see no reason why I should not provide my analysis, regardless of whatever level of ignorance or confusion I have about the topic.

Some people try to present Barack Obama as having inherited a mess from Bush 43, and that he is a reluctant warrior (or even "Obambi" as one right-wing doofus referred to him here) trying not to do "stupid shit." This is wrong. To the extent that he has been able to, Obama is continuing the policies of Bush 43. Because these are the policies of the USA's political and economic elites. These are not the policies of one man, or one party.

The petroleum sector (and that includes all the industry that rely on it and have built themselves up around it) is an enormously important sector of the US economy. More important is the access to Middle-East petroleum for the USA's allies in Europe and Japan. That they continue to enjoy this access at the pleasure of the US and its oil-exporting allies in the region, is a major prop to the US-dominated world system. Depriving rivals such as Russia and China from allies in the region, and, for China, from secure access to petroleum, is yet another important element in the USA's control of the world. Finally, maintaining the US $ as the currency for pricing and the buying and selling of the world's oil is of enormous important to the all-important financial elite in the United States.

The confusion that bedevils everyone (including those supposedly in the drivers' seats) about the "ISIS-CRISIS" arises from the fact that the Obama administration is trying to do a multitude of evil, fucked-up things at once. And it is trying to do much of this by using allies who have their own evil and fucked-up agendas.

Who here thinks that Israel and Israelis like Hamas? Who thinks that Hamas are Israeli puppets? Nobody? Who knows that Israeli agents helped Hamas grow as a way to weaken and embarrass the PLO? Who can see that cynical policies pursued for one specific purpose can take on a life of their own in the case of Israel and Hamas?

It is my belief that corrupt, decadent, Sunni Arab princelings, export their angry young men to fight secular or Shiite regimes, out of genuine sectarian madness and as a way to get these young men out of their own countries where some of them might have turned their anger against them. I think they honestly believe that they can prevail against the secularists and the Shia, but that they will never turn their guns on their former paymasters. Because the next logical step for a Sunni fundamentalist fighter who has exterminated the secularists in Lebanon and Syria, and the Kurds and the Shia, would not be fellow Sunni states (however corrupt) but Jewish Israel. And then, they would all be killed. And there's no way that they could attack Israel (or Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE) without the United States stepping in.

It is my belief that the leaders of the ISIS movement have some understanding of this. But they might believe that if they last long enough, and gain access to enough oil and enough of the markets for that oil, that they can build a society in line with their blinkered religious delusions, and thereby build up their strength so that it will be impossible for the US to dislodge them, and, perhaps they will be able to attack Israel, or, surprise their corrupt former paymasters and conquer at least some of them.

Presiding over all of this is the United States corrupt ruling elites. Syria is one of the last bastions of semi-independence in that part of the world. An actual ally of Russia (which has a naval base there). But it is not a major oil-exporter. It can go to hell for a while, and collapse in complete bloody anarchy, so long as Assad is gone. Libya was much more important as a source of oil and while the chaos there might be worse than the US might have wanted or anticipated, the loss of its oil on world markets hasn't been too terrible to bear. (The sufferings of the Libyan people, as their country's infrastructure falls to pieces, and they become the subjects of deranged, warring fundamentalist, sectarian fanatics, is of entirely no consequence to Washington's policy makers.)

Iraq's Shia-dominated Maliki government had ruled by violence. He tortured and murdered. That wasn't much of a problem for Washington. What was a problem was Maliki's closeness to Shia-ruled Iran. Iran is a problem because it rebelled against the USA in 1979 and demands to act as an independent regional power. Did Bush 43 seek to provide Iran with an ally in Iraq? No. He wanted to eliminate the semi-independent Saddam Hussein. Which was part of a long process beginning with his father, Bush 41 and then Clinton, the president between them. Continuity. So, Bush 43 got rid of Saddam and wound up with Maliki. How convenient then, that ISIS was allowed to mass its forces on the Iraqi border and then plunge-in (with the assistance of disaffected Iraqi Sunni leaders many of who had been military leaders under the Sunni-dominated regime of Saddam Hussein) and conquer the western portions of Iraq, leading to the destabilization and eventual fall of the uncomfortably independent Maliki.

ISIS is, for all intents and purposes, a tool of US foreign policy. In the same way that Hamas was a tool of Israel's policies. And in the same way, ISIS is no more a puppet, or an invention of the USA.

So, why is harper signing-up for this? Well, for starters, sucking up to the USA is a huge issue for our military, political and economic elites. So there's that. Also, harper knows that wars create opportunities for mindless patriotism and boosts in domestic support levels. harper is a shameless militarist anyway, and the many conflicts we have been engaged in have been good for Canada's military-industrial complex. That's about it. harper knows that Canadian support for further military quagmires is razor-thin though, so he's only committing to safe, non-committal things like air-strikes against ISIS in Iraq. Things could spin out of control though. Especially if Washington sees the need to make demands of Canada (which they probably won't).

But our participation in this debacle only implicates us in all of the scuzziness described above. That is why our default response to calls for Canadian participation in crises overseas should be, must be, rejection of those pleas, until such a time as Canada has a genuinely democratic government. Which will be a long, long time from now.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

More on harper and his Brain Farts

Yesterday, I talked about harper as a narcissist, a sociopath and a profoundly superficial thinker. I think the roots of harper's censoring of science; hiding from the press, addiction to propaganda and lies, hatred of democracy, are in his dim understanding that he's a deluded half-wit, and his fear of the unknown that would result if his intellectual house-of-cards were to collapse under the pressure of contrary viewpoints.

Today I'll continue going through the harper quote that I started dissecting. There we discovered that harper opposes "socialist morality," which is to say, attacking social inequality and replacing it with social equality, so that everyone has food, shelter, dignity and worth. Next he accused the left of "moral relativism" ignoring the fact that he practices it on a daily basis. Then he demonstrated that he didn't know what the word "nihilism" means, by equating it with rejection of hoary traditions and uninvestigated conventions. He threw in the term "Post-Marxism" as a meaningless non sequitur. Next, Mr. Contempt of Parliament told us that this caricature of socialist morality leads to a hatred of western democracy. Think of that.

It's not as if young stephen harper from 2003 did not know about the monster he would become after 2006. No. The 2003 stephen harper barely understood what he was saying at the time, hardly believed what he did understand, and easily abandoned any pretense of believing in his platitudes once he seized power.

Make no mistake about it. Stupid people can be dangerous. You wouldn't trust major surgery to a drooling imbecile. In the same way, stupid stephen harper has been an utter catastrophe to the uncertain political project that is Canada. For more evidence of his incapacity, I present paragraph two in his ramblings on socialist morality. Here it is:
This descent into nihilism should not be surprising because moral relativism simply cannot be sustained as a guiding philosophy. It leads to silliness such as moral neutrality on the use of marijuana or harder drugs mixed with its random moral crusades on tobacco. It explains the lack of moral censure on personal foibles of all kinds, extenuating even criminal behaviour with moral outrage at bourgeois society, which is then tangentially blamed for deviant behaviour. On the moral standing of the person, it leads to views ranging from radical responsibility-free individualism, to tribalism in the form of group rights.
Now, it's already been established that the premise the first sentence rests on brazen hypocrisy. It is "conservatives" who cheered on the death-squads policies in Central America throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It was "conservatives" who provided cover for Saddam Hussein throughout the 1980s. It is the "conservatives" in Canada who tried to rationalize Canada's sickening descent into the immoral practice of torture. On and on it goes with them.

harper is right about one thing though. his own moral emptiness is not a sustained, guiding philosophy. We can see this by observing his lurching from one foul act of corruption to the next. We can see it in his cowardly refusal to face-up to and defend his craven service to corporate greed-heads and US and Israeli imperialists.

"It leads to silliness such as moral neutrality on the use of marijuana or harder drugs mixed with its random moral crusades on tobacco."

Here harper is really pulling out all the stops! Marijuana has proven itself to be 7,000X safer than harper's own drug of choice, alcohol.It would be the height of silliness to continue to waste billions of dollars suppressing a drug enjoyed by the majority of the population, diverting policing resources from more necessary tasks and ruining thousands of lives every year. As far as harder, dangerous drugs go, ... I think one would be hard-pressed to find many socialist moral relativists who are "neutral" about these issues. You'll find leftists calling for treating addiction as a disease, not a crime. You might find leftists calling for the decriminalization of drugs, and their subsequent regulation by the government, to take the industry out of the hands of criminals. harper, and his moronic supporters, appear to prefer keeping the drug-trade in hands of gangsters, and maintaining the system of misery and deaths by overdose and police corruption and brutal (and expensive) prison system, over the "moral neutrality" of the left.

And then there's the reality that most of these "tough-on-crime" "zero tolerance for drugs" right-wingers, from Rush Limbaugh to Rob Ford, all turn out to be the most pathetic, total hypocrites. Then there are former Conservative MPs like Rahim Jaffer, whose charges for cocaine possession were dropped as part of a very lenient plea-bargain.  Jaffer and his "busty hookers," along with complete scum-bags like Bruce Carson and Paul Calandra. (I don't know if either of those two have used hard drugs. They just came to mind as examples of immoral sleaze while I was building my list of drug-using hypocrites.)

"... mixed with its random moral crusades against tobacco."

Priceless. Presumably drugs are bad because they destroy lives. But the enormous human suffering caused by the tobacco industry (documented as increasing the addictive nature of their product) is fine with this simpleton because, "Duh! They're legal!" and because "Freedom!" or some other equally vacuous "argument."

Earth to harper! Anti-smoking movements aren't necessarily Post-Marxist moral relativists. And they don't want to throw thousands of people in prison. They want to prevent people from starting a deadly habit. Help people break the habit. And reduce innocent people's exposure to having to inhale health-injuring second-hand smoke.

"It explains the lack of moral censure on personal foibles of all kinds, extenuating even criminal behaviour with moral outrage at bourgeois society, which is then tangentially blamed for deviant behaviour."

I think the dimwit meant "moral backbone" or something. Otherwise he's saying that it's individual failings that produce a lack of condemnation of drug-use and addiction. Which is completely bizarre. I think he meant to say that the absence of a moral compass allows drug-users to explain away their miserable moral failures as the result of a rough childhood, or a propensity to addiction, or some other set of circumstances, and he extends this to the Post-Marxists who also make up any excuse for addicts besides moral failure. The Post-Marxists are so stupid as to blame bourgeois society for the addicts' personal failure. This, harper finds ridiculous. Why should a society that uses people as expendable resources in the service of personal greed drive people to use drugs? Why should a bourgeois politician like stephen harper be blamed for drug-overdoses just because he would rather see people locked-up as criminals if they go for help, and he'd like to shut-down the award-winning InSite clinic, that lets addicts use their drugs in a setting where they're encouraged to get help and there is medical assistance in case they overdose? Why should bourgeois society be blamed for the drug industry, just because its governments have aided and abetted drug-dealing gangsters decade-after-decade?

By  the way; where was the "moral censure" for Rob Ford's gross display of hypocrisy, in consorting with gangsters, smoking crack cocaine, and making a public spectacle of his intoxicated self? Did harper, or Jim Flaherty come out swinging against his disgraceful moral failure? No. As usual, these moral titans did the exact opposite of what they want for everyone else. Flaherty tearfully hoped that Ford would get help. And the cowardly harper simply went without commenting on the horrible example of the politician he once saw as a member of a triumvirate that included himself, and Tim Hudak.

stevie-boy! How are young people supposed to learn to stay off drugs when their drug-abusing mayor is so coddled by the politicians and the courts????

"On the moral standing of the person, it leads to views ranging from radical responsibility-free individualism, to tribalism in the form of group rights."

I think it's already been well established here that harper cares not a whit for personal responsibility when it comes to his friends and allies. And when one thinks of all the cover-ups and blatant refusals to accept consequences for bad decisions of this government, harper's 2003 words start to become nausea-inducing.

One more example: How did harper respond to Peter Penashue being forced to resign for his complete and total disregard of our election finance laws? Simple! harper allowed him to run again as the harpercon candidate for that riding. (And accept Penashue's idiotic claim that his "inexperienced" campaign manager only made honest mistakes when filing his accounts.)

harper leaping from how moral relativism encourages individual moral failure to the seemingly unconnected swipe against "tribalism" and "group rights" is just a final example of the superficiality of his thinking. Like most "conservatives" harper has a laundry-list of grievances and bogey-men, that are all imagined to be connected in an incoherent sort of way.

I made these two posts because I was genuinely surprised to have read harper stepping out from behind his fortress of platitudes and outright lies, and actually trying to connect his thoughts long enough to make a coherent statement about what he really believes. And, not surprisingly, harper doesn't believe in anything in any genuine or rational way.

It's a testimony to our failure as a democratic people that this idiot has imposed himself upon us for so long.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

stephen harper Surprises Me

I've long held that stephen harper is a psychopath. The only thing he really cares about is himself. (he doesn't know why.) I also happen to think he's a very shallow and superficial man. As a young man in Ontario, he was a Liberal. The callow youth then heads off to Calgary to study economics, and (wonder of wonders!) becomes a right-wing extremist.

It's no doubt that harper's mind has calcified and is therefore not going to be as easily molded as it was when he was a youngster. Were he to be immersed in the culture of some British Columbia hippy commune, he would become, first, a cranky contrarian, and then a sullen misanthrope. But harper, not being a profound thinker at all, is obviously insecure about his belief system. This explains his intense aversion to facts and alternative ideologies. he's dimly aware that the crusty shell of his brain offers only weak protection to the airy mists of half-formed, half-understood, half-baked theories that sail lightly about within the relative expanses there.

harper senses, in ways that animals sense, that something is wrong. Prolonged exposure to alternative views would eventually bring about a painful, disorienting mental crisis, as his defences cracked and his pitiful world view escaped and dissipated in the wind. Whatever he would become following this is unknown and therefore terrifying.

Here we have one of the primary reasons for harper's contempt for Parliament. It's fear. harper prefers to hide from parliamentary debate, blatantly lie when forced to say something, and hide behind empty platitudes and character assassination of his opponents in lieu of argument. Luckily for him, such mental
 vacuity is more than enough for his cretinous voting base.

I used to see harper speaking with signs around him saying how Canada had to be "strong" in the world. "Strong in our values, strong in this, strong in that." Meaningless twaddle. That's why I was genuinely surprised when reading this post at Montreal Simon's, to come across harper speaking about a subject with a degree of specificity that almost approached having genuine thoughts on the matter:
"This descent into nihilism... leads to silliness such as moral neutrality on the use of marijuana or harder drugs mixed with its random moral crusades on tobacco. It explains the lack of moral censure on personal foibles of all kinds, extenuating even criminal behaviour with moral outrage at bourgeois society, which is then tangentially blamed for deviant behaviour."
Stephen Harper  Report Magazine 2003
This is no doubt (as some commentators mention) a symptom of harper's deranged (if lightly held) fundamentalist beliefs. Having drunk the kool-aid at the University of Calgary's economics department, harper obviously wandered into a fundamentalist church at some point, and, being an impressionable lad with no original thoughts of his own, came to absorb a hazy interpretation of their deluded beliefs into his shallow person. As with all things, harper sort of believes this drivel, with all the intensity that a superficial narcissist is capable of believing in anything.

Aw hell! Just for shits n' giggles, let's dissect the entire quote from this mental and moral half-wit!
Conservatives need to reassess our understanding of the modern Left. It has moved beyond old socialistic morality or even moral relativism to something much darker. It has become a moral nihilism - the rejection of any tradition or convention of morality, a post-Marxism with deep resentments, even hatreds of the norms of free and democratic western civilization.

This descent into nihilism should not be surprising because moral relativism simply cannot be sustained as a guiding philosophy. It leads to silliness such as moral neutrality on the use of marijuana or harder drugs mixed with its random moral crusades on tobacco. It explains the lack of moral censure on personal foibles of all kinds, extenuating even criminal behaviour with moral outrage at bourgeois society, which is then tangentially blamed for deviant behaviour. On the moral standing of the person, it leads to views ranging from radical responsibility-free individualism, to tribalism in the form of group rights.
"The old socialistic morality ..."

What could Herr Harper have meant by that?

Presumably, the fool is trying to talk about the SOCIALIST morality of society providing everyone with food, shelter, an education, and dignity. Being an idiot, harper has embraced the idea that respecting the humanity of all humans is contemptible and doesn't require elaboration to be despised. Also, being an idiot, harper probably thinks that the right-wing meme that socialists were just jealous of the 19th Century rich for living lives of privilege and leisure, is true, while the fact that they gamboled while people starved to death within walking distance of them, as the self-deluded, self-satisfied, self-righteous, hypocrites that they were, entirely eludes him.

Do you see how much shit harper pours upon himself with only the first phrase in his stammering idiocy?

"or even moral relativism"

This is where a lot of right-wing simpletons attempt to cudgel "the left" and fail utterly. Whereas people on the left try to say that an entire people should not be dehumanized because of some objectionable beliefs, or, when a left-wing revolution is brought about by violence, right-wingers like harper masturbate themselves in their moral clarity. This moral clarity instantly dissolves when they are asked to condemn the torture and murder of (today at least) Arabs by Washington or Ottawa. Tell them that Sir John A. Macdonald was a drunken, murderous racist who starved hundreds, if not thousands of the First Nations to death, and they'll come up with excuses, especially that he was a product of his times. harper and his ilk are walking, talking parodies of moral relativism without even knowing it.

"It has become a moral nihilism - the rejection of any tradition or convention of morality, a post-Marxism with deep resentments, even hatreds of the norms of free and democratic western civilization."  

Being a plodding dullard, harper has (not surprisingly) gotten ahead of himself here. "Nihilism" means the rejection of any and all human morality as meaningless. It does NOT mean any philosophy that condemns any "tradition" that respects the right of wealthy people to own so many homes they haven't seen all the rooms in them, while at the same time it shrugs its shoulders at mass homelessness; Rejecting the bigoted "tradition" that love can only be shared between a man and a woman is NOT "moral nihilism."

"A post-Marxism"

If one were to ask the oafish stephen harper what he understands by the term "post-Marxism," one should be prepared for a rambling monologue approximating the half-remembered ravings of David Horowitz. Mackenzie-King attempting to rationalize his occultism would make more sense than whatever the boy from the mail-room at Imperial Oil could attempt.

"with deep resentments, even hatreds of the norms of free and democratic western civilization."

Please note; these words were uttered by the ONLY prime minister in the history of the Westminster-style system of parliaments to have been found guilty of contempt of Parliament. Those words were spoken by a man who stole a majority government via electoral fraud. As is true throughout history, when "conservatives" cannot win at the ballot-box, they have no qualms about taking power via fraud or even force. And their "moral relativism" helps them in their insanely hypocritical tirades against those who would likewise use force to expel them from their stolen offices.

harper has a deep-seated hatred of freedom and democracy. Again, this is due to his ever-present fear of having his half-understood certainties exposed for the crap that he's vaguely aware that they are. FEAR. That is the answer to all of the conscious policies of stephen harper. Fear of challenge. Fear of change. Fear of exposure. The policies of sniveling cowardice.

Ask harper to get down to brass-tacks about what it is about "western civilization" that he loves, and you'll find yourself in a miasma of disconnected inanities about capitalism, Winston Churchill, and traditional marriage. You'll soon become disgusted with this gibbering mediocrity before you and walk away. harper will take this opportunity to try to convince himself about his beliefs, and continue talking to himself, only to give up after a minute or two in confusion and disinterest.

Speaking of disinterest. I think I'll tackle the second paragraph of harper's strained attempts at intellectual clarity for tomorrow's post.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Robin Williams with Louis CK

I guess this might have been one of the last things that Robin Williams did. Robin Williams was "on" a lot during his career. Sometimes he crashed. But I'm going to miss the guy.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

So Much For THAT Idea!

We never even pretended to start to try!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Yesterday's post was just a cathartic exercise for me. I was just flabbergasted to hear that Nestle was still pushing its infant formula on women with no access to clean water for at least 15 years after they'd signed an international code of conduct saying they'd stop doing so.

Now, I just want to say again, that the left mystifies and bewilders me. Why do we no longer want to gain power? What's the point of all of our activity if we really don't want to achieve anything by it?

If our lack of resources (including access to the media) is preventing us from getting our message across, ... why do we not then think seriously about how to go about GETTING some resources?

Do we imagine that we are the angel sitting on society's shoulder, talking into one ear as the voice of conscience, while a red devil stands on the other shoulder appealing to society's basest instincts?

Because the hour is late and our voice hasn't been having much effect.

If we're waiting for a cataclysmic revolution to sweep away all the rot and leave humanity purified and ready to face the 21st Century, ... what are we doing to bring this about?

From where I''m sitting, it looks a lot like nothing.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

"Nestle" rhymes with "Nazi"

Back in the 1970's, there was an international outcry against Nestle's sickeningly cynical, profit-driven, economics-based, inhuman policy of getting new mothers in poor countries to abandon feeding their infants with breast milk and convincing them to switch to formula.

They would send women dressed as nurses into hospitals to "counsel" these women; telling them that breast-feeding was fine but infant formula added necessary vitamins and minerals, telling them that infant formula was superior to breast-feeding entirely, telling them that mothers and babies in the rich countries used infant formula and look how great things are for them, ... whatever.

How does a private corporation get to send disguised sales representatives into hospitals on a regular basis? By building extra wings to the hospitals in these poor countries. By giving "gifts" or bribes to hospital administrators or doctors in poor countries.

Now, if you don't know about this scandal and haven't already anticipated it, there's a big problem with convincing new mothers in poor countries to switch from free, healthy breast-milk to infant formula. Infant formula requires money to pay for it. Infant formula requires clean water to be mixed into it. It requires heat to warm it up. It requires literacy to read the portions of formula and water to be mixed. It requires more math if a mother finds herself in the tragic situation of having to dilute it to feed more than one infant (often an impossibility).

So, obviously, it was no surprise that these same hospitals began to fill with dehydrated, malnourished infants. And there was a huge outcry.

When I first read about this scandal, I don't know what I was doing, but I came away from it thinking that the deaths from this policy numbered into either the hundreds or the thousands.  Perhaps the health services in these countries were able to rescue thousands of infants (although the damage at this critical period of these infants' lives had already been done).

Well, in response to the outcry, there was an international campaign against this revolting corporate behaviour:
Nestlé boycotts spread from Switzerland and Britain to the US, where shareholder activism and court challenges against other milk companies – led by the Sisters of the Precious Blood, a religious order working under the umbrella of the Interfaith Centre for Corporate Responsibility – achieved a fine balance between grassroots organising, legal process and catchy communication.
The campaigns attracted wide-spread support from medical professionals, health authorities and civil society in developing countries. So in 1981, the UN World Health Assembly (the governing body of the World Health Organisation) recommended the adoption of an international code of conduct to govern the promotion and sale of breast milk substitutes.
Nestle signed on to this code of conduct. The good guys won, right?

Let's continue. Some time in the 1990's, the newspaper The Hamilton Spectator ran an editorial from some dude, maybe even the CEO, of Nestle Canada. This guy lived in Burlington, which is the nice bedroom community across the harbour from Hamilton. (Although the poor, rich shlubs who own lakefront property in Burlington are invariably treated to a gorgeous view of Hamilton's steel plants!) So this no doubt well paid high-level executive was blathering on about Nestle's tradition of corporate responsibility and blah, blah, blah, and, obviously, he had to deal with the infant formula scandal. He mentioned the scandal  and then said that it was all based on misunderstandings. And that was the end of his dealing with that scandal. It was about three sentences in a half-page newspaper editorial.

And I was like: "That's it? Your company killed hundreds, maybe thousands of infants, and the best you can say is that it's all a 'misunderstanding'??"

A normal person would think that having contributed to the death of ONE infant (let alone hundreds, or even thousands) would be a big deal, requiring more than just "It was all a big misunderstanding"!

It was then that I looked at this guy's head shot and thought about Adolf Eichmann and his infamous "I was only following orders."

If bought-and-paid-for Supreme Court Justices are going to tell us that corporations are not just legal persons, but actual PEOPLE, with rights to free speech and stuff, why don't we hold them more accountable? Imagine if Nestle appeared on Oprah or something; "Yes. There were those hundreds of infants who died of malnutrition thanks to some scam I started to push more formula in poor countries, ... but I'd like to think I've learned from my mistakes. I've put that all behind me. I hope the people I hurt can find it in their hearts to forgive me. I'm not the person I was then. This is the new me!"

So this Nestle Canada fucker was just taking one for the team. He had his nice house in Burlington, Ontario, Canada (NOT, apparently, Forest Hill, Toronto!) and he was pushing chocolate bars and stuff in Canada and part of his obligations was to sweep his company's mass-murder under the carpet. So he did. And if he's like most people, he no doubt has children, and he no doubt tried (they must be grown up by now) to teach them the difference between right and wrong, but he's a complete failure as a human being when the chips are down.

Years later, it's the internet age, and for one reason or another I look up this scandal again. I don't remember where I found the info then, but here it is now:
"The results can be seen in the clinics and hospitals, the slums and graveyards of the Third World," said War on Want. "Children whose bodies have wasted away until all that is left is a big head on top of the shriveled body of an old man." 
In the Times, United States Agency for International Development official, Dr. Stephen Joseph, blamed reliance on baby formula for a million infant deaths every year through malnutrition and diarrheal diseases. 
It also hindered infant growth in general, said War on Want. Citing "complex links emerging between breast feeding and emotional and physical development," the group said breastfed children walked "significantly better than bottle-fed" kids, and were more emotionally advanced.
A MILLION DEATHS! Every year for years! And, in case you think that left-wing link is playing fast-and-loose with the truth, and that the NY Times link is equivocal about that number, here's the Sydney Morning Herald with corroboration:
A report by Save the Children names a clutch of global brands, including Nestle, Danone, Mead Johnson, Abbott, Friso and Enfamil as being involved in dubious marketing practices.
It estimates 95 babies could be saved every hour, or 830,000 a year, if new mothers across the world breastfed immediately after giving birth.
So, we are talking about millions of lives here. And why am I now talking in the present-tense about Nestle's crimes?

Because they're still going on! Fifteen years after Nestle signed on to the WHO's code of conduct, Sayed Aamir Raza Hussain, was an ambitious young salesman in Pakistan. He lands a job with Nestle as a "medical delegate" from 1994-1997, and begins to raise sales of infant formula through the judicious use of "gifts" to hospital administrators, until one day a doctor brought him face-to-face with the consequences of his actions:
Hussain quit. Then, spurred by his conscience, he went public.
He flew to Europe and released a fulsome account of what he’d done as a Nestlé employee. His report, called Milking Profits, included bank slips, written authorization of gifts for doctors from his supervisor and company invitations to be sponsored guests at medical conferences. 
Now it's time for another one of Nestle's Eichmann's to speak up:
At the time, Nestlé’s spokesperson dismissed Hussain as liar and would-be blackmailer. He said there was a tape that proved it. A German documentary about Hussain was spiked. His credibility was questioned.
And now?
Nestlé Canada’s Catherine O’Brien, whom I contacted, responded that the events in the film “seriously misrepresent the facts about our activities” and that Hussain’s allegations are “not at all consistent with our policy and practices on responsible marketing of breast milk substitutes.”
What are we to make of this? Nestle was pretty well condemned for its methods for getting new mothers in developing countries to opt for infant formula, and its well known that families in developing countries could not read the instructions for the formula (assuming they were printed in their own language!), could not afford adequate amounts of formula, could not ensure the formula was mixed with clean water, could not provide any other means for delivering the immune-builders and other benefits of breast milk that were not in the infant formula.

Let's split the difference between 100 and 1,000,000 deaths caused by these policies and agree that perhaps 100,000 infants a year died of malnutrition and disease because of them.

Without admitting guilt, Nestle agrees to a code of conduct that forbids these practices in 1981. Ten years later, all a Nestle Canada executive has to say for his company is that it was all a misunderstanding. Full stop. What the fuck he meant by that is to be forever a mystery. You'd think he'd want to dispel all these horrible accusations when given a whole half-page newspaper column to tout his corporations' virtues, but apparently all he can say is that empty bit of verbiage.

A few years later, in Pakistan, at least one salesman, with his supervisor's blessings, has decided, all on his own, to engage in the exact same practices that got Nestle a public-relations black-eye in the 1970s? This salesman (and his supervisor) never received any training? They were never told about the international code of conduct they were obliged to follow? Nestle never supervised its sales forces in these countries? Are we to imagine that a second scandal wherein Nestle is found to be pushing formula on women who don't know how to use it, thereby causing thousands of infants' deaths, wasn't an issue for this country, so they sat there in Switzerland counting their profits without a care in the world?

And then, supposedly, this salesman gets the bright idea to quit his sales job and bring all his receipts to tell the world that it was all Nestle's fault when the head office were really innocent little lambs? He decided to tell the world about his own murderous mistakes and pass them off as his corporate masters, because, um ... well, ... you see.

You'll notice that "seriously misrepresents the facts" could mean just about anything. It sounds a bit more professional than "It was all a big misunderstanding" but it's still pretty meaningless.

Now here's the thing. Some women can't breastfeed. Some women can't breastfeed enough. It's difficult. Formula is a lifesaver in many situations. Women in poor countries have it even harder. Besides all the difficulties they share with women in countries like Canada, there's the fact that they themselves might be too malnourished to provide breast milk. They might be too stressed because of the razor's-edge of survival they and their families are on. For truly desperate women, infant formula is the best substitute. For the small demographic of wealthy and middle-class career women, formula might be a welcome alternative to breast-feeding. But even if there are women who are malnourished, surely the answer isn't to go into maternity wards and dupe women otherwise doing fine with breast milk into substituting expensive formula that requires clean water sources that they don't have?

Surely the answer is to feed women too malnourished to produce milk, than to foist expensive formula on everyone without regard for the consequences?

This link shows how Nestle always takes the wrong answer to a genuine problem. Some women too malnourished or stressed to breast-feed? Push formula on every mother in that country! Infants dying from drinking formula made with contaminated water? Take over the water supplies, filter 'em, and then sell them at a gigantic mark-up to those poor people. 

Why am I making the Eichmann/Nazi references? Well, there's the obvious corporate shills who were "only following orders." But there's this whole thing: "This was not our policy!" "We are not responsible!"

How different, really, is all this from "Hitler never signed an order saying to exterminate all the Jews!"?

Holocaust deniers claim that it wasn't six-million Jews deliberately killed by the Nazis who may have expressed their hatred for the Jews in the most explicit terms for years and years. No, no, no.. It was only a few hundred thousand. And what can we expect? The British interred enemy aliens. So did the Americans and the Canadians (especially in the case of the Japanese).  How many of their prisoners would have died if food deliveries and medical supplies were made impossible as a result of massive bombing and an entire nation besieged and then invaded and plundered by enemy armies?

These arguments have an internal plausibility, but then there's the reality of the "Holocaust by Bullets" in the Soviet Union. Supposedly the Nazis filmed themselves stripping thousands of Jews naked and then throwing them in ditches and shooting them all dead. But when it came time for the concentration camps, they had nothing but the best intentions for the people in their care. And then we get the Nazi holocaust deniers cretinous "scientific" disputes about the gas chambers which all turn out to be utter bullshit.

So, now we have this chocolate/infant formula manufacturer that pushed infant formula willy-nilly, for years, throughout the poor countries, not thinking that the people getting the formula could scarcely afford it. Not thinking the families using the formula might not be able to read the instructions. Not thinking that they families had no access to clean water. Not thinking, just pursuing the almighty goddamned dollar.

In this day and age, 830,000 infants are estimated to die each year, due to the lack of breastfeeding. This has been going on since the 1970s. Let's just say 100,000 babies a year have died. Let's say this started in 1970 and ended in the year 2000 (three years after Syed Aamir Raza Hussain quit his job). That's 100,000 babies multiplied by 30 years for 3,000,000 babies.

"But I was just following orders."

Here's a link to the TIFF's feature of "Tigers."

Here's a link to the trailer of "Tigers."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Power of the Propaganda System and the Status-Quo

So, right now, Canadian support seems to be roughly one-third for the appalling stephen harper and one-third for the appalling (but dreamy) Justin Trudeau. With one-fifth going for the Liberal-lite NDP and one-tenth going for the Greens.

In Toronto, the race for mayor appears to be between John Tory (who doesn't have a clue about most important things) and Rob Ford's less "charismatic" (which is to say that he's just a bullying thug with none of Rob's endearing "I'm a total fuck-up" charm) brother, Doug.

Signs of a debased and diseased political culture if you ask me.

How does this happen?

The other day I was visiting my 83-year old mother. She watches the news. She can't read the paper very much these days. I can't really say that she pays close attention to the news, because she is always very hazy on the details. (Her mind is as sharp as it's ever been. So it's not a case of old-age.)

But she regurgitates all the opinions that the right-wing owners of the news media so obviously want people to believe.

Out of nowhere she told me she didn't think Obama was a very good president. I agree with her that 's he terrible, but for entirely different reasons. She thinks he's an incompetent and a failure. She never said anything about the failure of the brain-damaged-by-drinking-repeatedly-to-black-out/cocaine-snorting george w. bush.

I could always tell she sympathized with Rob Ford. When I told her that I'd probably vote for Olivia Chow (the incredibly boring centrist who has a transit plan that already has the money in place) she looked at me like I was crazy. Again, Rob Ford's complete and total ignorance, incompetence, hypocrisy, stupidity, ... nothing. She sorta liked the guy.

Of course, she's quite worried about ISIS. And they're obviously bad dudes. But I explain in great detail how they're a product of US foreign policy, a deliberate creation, financed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies, and none of it registers.

It's a very powerful system.

I'm reminded of this young female co-worker I had back at the turn of the millennia. We were temp workers in a warehouse. This young lady loved nothing more than to take ecstasy and go clubbing. She didn't talk about anything but that and the warehouse soap-opera gossip. But one time, in a group discussion about the future, she concluded her musings with "Or maybe Saddam Hussein will blow us all up."

Obviously, by sitting in front of the television while the news was on, she'd absorbed that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat to the world and to her very existence.

Then, for ignorant people who are passionate about politics, there's FOX News and Rush Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh is a shameless con-man. A sleazy huckster. The sort of guy who thinks nothing of taking boner pills to make his slimy pecker rise to the occasion (past all the barriers caused by excess cholesterol and etc.,) in front of an impoverished teenage prostitute. A guy in his sixties, on his fourth marriage, who tells a young feminist that he wants to masturbate to videos of her private sex-life. And he's supposedly a spokesman for "traditional values."

The cretinous, ignorant, hypocritical, bullying, moronic Bill O'Reilly, has the highest rated news show in television for years on end. I mean, the guy is a complete idiot. Lazy and stupid. But there he is, yammering as if he has a fucking clue.

I don't know how we change it. Some social forces combined together in the 1960's and 1970's to force it down. But then, the corporate elites and their "traditional values" hypocrites and chumps denounced them for their snobbery and elitism, and (as they always tend to do) pronounced themselves victims and rebuilt their fortress of ignorance and bigotry.

Something will have to change, but I can't say what it is right now.