Monday, January 20, 2020

The Wet'suwet'en Raids and Canada's Garbage Culture

Right off the top of my head I believe that some elected members of the Wet'suwet'en people ("Indian Act chiefs") gave their approval for the bitumen pipeline to go through their lands but that other members of that community do not recognize their authority and do not agree to having the pipeline.

It takes a particular amount of shamelessness for any Canadian politician to send the RCMP in to enforce a court order (of dubious legality) against First Nations protesters. This is the same RCMP who only recently were discovered to have utilized the presence of lethal snipers AT THE START of a movement against a previous, peaceful road blockade. [This is the same RCMP that is rife with sexual harassment and institutional injustice against women employees btw.]

This is the police force of a legal system that disproportionately arrests and incarcerates First Nations people. This is a police force that has sexually abused First Nations women. This is a society that reneges on its Treaty commitments. This is a society that ignores a First Nations suicide epidemic. This is a society that cheats First Nations peoples for decades and then ignores court orders to pay what it owes for all those decades of cheating.

Sending in armed goons against the Wet'suwet'en People again, and imposing a media blackout on this action, does a lot of damage to the Trudeau government's mewling about "reconciliation." Regardless about what anyone can say about the supposed internal conflict between the Wet'suwet'en themselves, this police action simply looks bad.

But to abuse these First Nations peoples for the sake of a bitumen pipeline in the age of global warming? Even worse! Why disgrace yourself simply to convey dirty tar to the Pacific Coast? Even disregarding the (likely and horrendous) chance of an accident that will devastate the local eco-system, the burning of this tar will continue to add to the planetary climate catastrophe that is already upon us.

What sort of shit-head culture engages in such loathsome, stupid behaviour?

Well, Canada's, obviously. Because as a people we've decided that top two political choices of around half of us are the shit-head Liberals or the even more rancid, stinking shit-head Conservatives. Coming in Third Place is the shit-head NDP that (as an institution) attempts to pander to the supporters of the other two parties by replicating as much of their stupid policies as its own membership can stomach. Then we have the Greens and the BQ who (for this blog post) I'll relegate to merely affecting which of the two major parties can govern.

It is a garbage culture. And from where I'm sitting it's inexcusable. I simply cannot fathom the depths of human failure that are needed to vote "conservative." And I mention this because the material fact of having such a large proportion of the electorate that votes for a "conservative" party answers the question about how we're capable of doing something so simultaneously scuzzy and stupid as to abuse the Wet'suwet'en in order to put a pipeline through their lands.

We have a country where the federal Liberals voice some mild concerns about Saudi Arabia's barbaric misogyny and when this brings down a diplomatic shit-storm on us we meekly acquiesce. One of the reasons we do so is so that we can continue to sell weapons to this regime, even though it is implementing a genocide of World War II proportions in the country of Yemen. And while the federal Liberals are doing that, our scum-bag Conservative Party of Canada is condemning them for having upset the murderous, fanatical, corrupt, disgusting House of Saud in the first place.

All of us, across the political spectrum, across social-economic classes, ethnic and gender identities, ... this collective of "Canadians" living in "Canada" ... are molded such that we can, from time-to-time, vote for absolute intellectual, moral, and public policy garbage as Jason Kenney, Doug Ford, or stephen harper.

While even I'm surprised at the astonishingly insane antics of Jason Kenney in Alberta, I was expecting a lurch towards austerity for the public and slavish service to the oil sector and "business" in general. Who would have thought otherwise? The Alberta right-wing were exposed as pathetic failures in 2015. Right-wing policies have failed the people of Alberta. Yet they voted for this corrupt, deluded closet-case and his gang of idiots again. Garbage culture.

Ontario's last election resulted in a majority government for the Ontario Progressive Conservatives under the obnoxious buffoon Doug Ford. Ford campaigned on a platform of thin air with a smattering of obvious lies. And enough voters were absolute idiots and/or ignoramuses that they voted for him to govern the province. And now, ... well it's a total shit-show. All sadly predictable. Garbage culture.

We are, all of us, complicit in the perpetuation of this vile nonsense.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

What I Forgot To Say Yesterday

Yesterday I posted something I'd been fiddling with for a few weeks about Matt Taibbi's summarizing of the US Justice Department's IG Horowitz report on the FBI's investigation of the Trump campaign. In the labour of actually typing it out, one of my central points became forgotten, and I pressed "Publish" without it.

Essentially I was going to say that the FBI abused its powers, perjured itself (I mean it did flat-out lie to a [FISA] Court right? Isn't that perjury?) and violated the rights of a US-American citizen (Carter Page) in order to spy on the political campaign of a candidate they did not like. This is a bad thing. Furthermore, this initial fraud and abuse of power produced the toxic swill of "Russiagate" and all the journalistic abominations contained therein. And that even if you anti-Trump people (mostly liberals) are happy with ignoring these truths and pretending that they didn't happen, Trump's base is going to do the opposite.

You see, the IG Report is a real, existing thing. It's a fact. It's based on reality. Which is that the initial investigation into Trump's collusion was based on fraud. And that the fraudulent nature of that investigation probably goes a long way to explaining why Saint Mueller could not find collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. That the US mainstream media either deliberately lied or deluded themselves as they covered the entire topic. (Very often they obviously lied, as with the Guardian's nonsensical claim that Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.) What do you call news reports that say that something happened when it didn't happen? Oh yeah! You call that "FAKE NEWS."

What do you call it when there are investigations of people, based on fraud and abuse of power, that violate people's rights and freedoms in order to find evidence of guilt for something that never happened and that is ridiculous on its face? Oh yeah! You call that a "WITCH HUNT."

Liberals and progressives! Why oh why did you have to foolishly give support to FAKE NEWS and an ominous WITCH HUNT and thereby give validation to Donald J. Trump's claims and the beliefs of his fans? Because the ends justified the means? Because attacking that monster was more important than not embarrassing yourselves? Because you only made him stronger! Because "Russiagate" being based on fraud, failed utterly. You true believers might have convinced yourselves that Trump is a "Russian usurper" or Putin's butt-boy, and that only his criminal obstruction prevented Mueller from proving this. But it doesn't matter what you believe. It doesn't matter because it's demonstrably not true.

Trump's fans, and many "independent" voters look at all of this swill and they feel vindicated. You achieve less than nothing. You damage your own cause. You show yourself as hopelessly partisan and tribal and hypocritical as anyone else.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Commentary on Taibbi's Commentary on I.G. Report

I feel compelled to address this subject because I need to believe that liberals (and/or progressives) are salvageable. Conservatives, for the most part, adhere to a worldview that is almost completely full of shit. They indulge in brazen hypocrisy so often that it is hard to imagine they're capable of better. Reality seems to have a liberal bias. But, sadly, with the demonstrated incapability to recognize the monstrousness of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Justin Trudeau, liberals are showing themselves subject to the same toxic, partisan insanity that conservatives are. The terrifying levels of self-delusion that went into "Russia-gate" demonstrated by liberals came as a further blow to my dwindling faith in humanity. I want to post this piece in the hopes that a progressive "Russia-gater" might somehow read it and have the scales fall from their eyes as they suddenly grasp how utterly ridiculous, counter-productive and insane their conspiracy theory was.

The shit-for-brains "Russia-gate" conspiracy theory goes like this: Donald J. Trump (held up as a figure of pop-culture laughs for decades before exposing himself as a shameless racist) might have been groomed by people from Russia as far back as 1987 (ie., the last days of the USSR) to be an political-intelligence asset for them. 1987 was the year that Trump went to Moscow with vague plans of building a hotel there. The hotel was never built despite there having been numerous rounds of discussions all the way up to 2014.

Somehow, even though the project never got to the point where even one shovel went into the ground, it was still enough to make Trump want to become President of the United States so that he could eliminate sanctions placed on Russia by Barack Obama for Russia's having seized the Crimea in 2014. [Do we follow that? In order to get a hotel built in Moscow, Trump would become the POTUS, do Vladimir Putin a favour, and thereby get the approvals and the financing for his dreamt-for hotel that he never built.] The decision to step-up support for Trump went into high speed in 2012 (says long-time conspiracy theorist Malcolm Nance) on the evening that Obama beat Mitt Romney. Within a year of that event the Internet Research Agency (IRA) had been created and would begin its sophisticated psy-ops campaign to influence US-Americans to elect Donald J. Trump as President.

The St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency is a troll farm. It's run by a billionaire who (not surprisingly) knows Russian leader Vladimir Putin. It spreads disinformation around the internet with a pro-Russian bias. One way that it self-finances is by creating online groups of non-IRA members (attracted to whatever political cause is being used) and letting paying advertisers have access to them. All-in-all, this outfit (which has morphed into "Russia's vast troll army") is alleged to have spent somewhere between $100,000 and $1,000,000 on US facebook and other social media sites on a number of themes during the 2016 election cycle. Supposedly this piddling amount can be credited with sowing divisions between US-Americans that wouldn't have otherwise existed, or turning the election in Trump's favour. (FWIW, Israel has its own internet trolls, as does the USA.)

Along with the IRA, Russian intelligence hacked the servers of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election, as well as the e-mails of Hillary Clinton advisor and campaign chairman John Podesta. (These are still just allegations by the way.) Russian intelligence then gave this information to Wikileaks to release. (Julian Assange denies this. So does Craig Murray, a former diplomat and current Wikileaks envoy who claims to be the person who received the leaks and gave them to the organization. Robert Mueller never bothered to interview either of these men in his quest to leave no stone un-turned to discover the truth about the 2016 election.)

Anyhow, as we all know, the whole thing was full of shit. And now we find that it was based on shit from the get-go. The US Justice Department Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, has released a report on the inquiry into the investigation of Donald Trump's Russia ties. Rolling Stone politics writer Matt Taibbi (who has already detailed the glaring journalistic failures of "Russiagate") summarizes the Horowitz Report and lays out the general idea:
The Guardian headline reads: “DOJ Internal watchdog report clears FBI of illegal surveillance of Trump adviser.”
If the report released Monday by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz constitutes a “clearing” of the FBI, never clear me of anything. Holy God, what a clown show the Trump-Russia investigation was.
Probably the same way that all powerful actors are "cleared" in the Anglo-American countries. Despite massive evidence against those being investigated, those bureaucrats who could prosecute are too afraid of rocking the boat and pissing-off powerful interests to actually enforce the law. Either because they're guilty of things themselves or they're simply cowards.

Taibbi describes how the FBI essentially LIED about their target (Carter Page) in their application for a warrant from the FISA court, and that (contrary to Democrat and allied media denials) the so-called Steele Dossier was the "central and essential" source for their application. And, as their "central and essential" source, the Steele Dossier (and subsequent breathless journalistic "bombshells" based on it) was garbage.
Steele in his “reports” embellished his sources’ quotes, played up nonexistent angles, invented attributions, and ignored inconsistencies. The FBI then transplanted this bad reporting in the form of a warrant application and an addendum to the Intelligence Assessment that included the Steele material, ignoring a new layer of inconsistencies and red flags its analysts uncovered in the review process.
Then, following a series of leaks, the news media essentially reported on the FBI’s wrong reporting of Steele’s wrong reporting.

After beginning this piece I discovered that Glenn Greenwald (who has also eviscerated media conspiracy theories about Russiagate) has weighed in on the Horowitz Report too.

If it does not bother you to learn that the FBI repeatedly and deliberately deceived the FISA court into granting it permission to spy on a U.S. citizen in the middle of a presidential campaign, then it is virtually certain that you are either someone with no principles, someone who cares only about partisan advantage and nothing about basic civil liberties and the rule of law, or both. There is simply no way for anyone of good faith to read this IG Report and reach any conclusion other than that this is yet another instance of the FBI abusing its power in severe ways to subvert and undermine U.S. democracy. If you don’t care about that, what do you care about?
* * * * *
But the revelations of the IG Report are not merely a massive FBI scandal. They are also a massive media scandal, because they reveal that so much of what the U.S. media has authoritatively claimed about all of these matters for more than two years is completely false.

This is why it's so disheartening to read otherwise intelligent people babbling about the "Russian usurper" and "Moscow Mitch" and how there was collusion goddammit but Trump obstructed the investigation and that's why Saint Robert (blood on his hands) Mueller couldn't prove it. I watch writers I used to respect turning on a dime from opposing US militarism and spying to condemning Trump for "not listening to his generals" and hoping that the CIA can save us from the Mango Mussolini.

When I read such nitwit garbage and delusion and stupidity and gullibility and xenophobia, I am again reminded of the reasons why I'm such a despairing pessimist.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Stirring World Events

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a non-binding War Powers Resolution that would prohibit President Donald Trump from taking further military action against Iran without first gaining congressional approval.
The resolution—officially House Concurrent Resolution 83—was passed 224-194, largely along party lines with just three Republicans and one Independent joining with Democrats in favor of the measure. While eight Democrats voted against the resolution, four others did not vote. Read the full roll call here.
I can't help but remember when the Republican controlled Congress voted against Obama's call for military action against Libya. (Obama decided to attack Libya anyway. And the Republicans would have called him "weak" if he hadn't called for an attack on Libya. They would have screwed him either way.)

It's never clear how much of these US military actions, and the debates over them, are about US presidents seeking political gain and their oppositions basing their responses on partisan issues.

What is not at issue though is that there are dozens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of real human beings, whose lives are being devastated by the political games of these super-corrupt, amoral psychopaths. 

I mean, look at the main players of this pissing contest: A repulsive ageing grifter with a combover named Donald Trump and an alcoholic, botoxed, out-of-touch oligarch named Nancy Pelosi.

The United States has been too powerful for too long. That pathetic specimens of humanity such as Trump and Pelosi can play with the lives of so many people in their ignorant, partisan, navel-gazing contests with zero consequences. 

Now, certainly, at least some of those Democrats who voted against war with Iran did so out of conscience. And maybe a few of those Republicans who opposed Obama based their decision on consistent moral principles. But as Glenn Greenwald once said, Democratic leaders (like the revolting Hillary Clinton) often have very flexible views about what is right and what is wrong.

Here she is on critics of her and Obama's attack on Libya:

But the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Qadhafi’s side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them? For the Obama Administration, the answer to that question is very easy.

But here she was maintaining the citizenry's right to criticize the wars of Republican george dubya bush:

I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you're not patriotic, and we should stand up and say, 'WE ARE AMERICANS AND WE HAVE A RIGHT TO DEBATE AND DISAGREE WITH ANY ADMINISTRATION!'

And Greenwald's critical eye is the main reason why partisan Democratic blogger "Driftglass" is always reduced to pathetic whining whenever he thinks about him.

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Peace Movement's Brief Awakening

So Donald Trump assassinated Iranian military leader Qassem Soliemani (as well as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, leader of an important Iraqi Shia militia that is a part of Iraq's official military establishment). Many people, both for and against these murders, say that this is tantamount to an act of war. Trump himself doesn't appear to think this. Personally, I think Trump wanted a distraction from the impeachment drama, and that his long-term exposure to psychopaths like John Bolton, Sheldon Adelson, Pompeo, and the other assorted human garbage in the USA's mainstream media, has caused him to lose all sense of proportion. On the other hand, people confidently predicting an Iranian retaliation ignore the huge disparity in power between Iran and the USA. Sure, Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz, but then what? The USA would launch airstrike after airstrike and turn its major cities into smoking ruins. People who imagine that Russia and/or China would come to Iran's assistance similarly forget Russia's relative weakness and overestimate China's devotion to Iran. Both of these countries would counsel restraint.

Regardless, the prospect of World War III has produced a flicker of life in the West's moribund peace movement. Don't expect it to last. People are always bitching that I'm so negative. I, conversely, bitch about how progressives and leftists are deluded shit-heads wedded to masturbatory outbursts of stirring rhetoric while being short on proposing solutions or making their actions match their brave words.

The peace movement has been slumbering because those who tend to organize it and those who tend to show up at its rallies all have this dull sense of the futility of their actions. They don't consciously realize (and will never consciously admit) that gathering in a public place for an afternoon to wave signs and shout things has about zero influence on the insane mass murderers they say they're trying to influence. The USA has been rampaging from Afghanistan to Libya (and elsewhere) for DECADES now. At first there was a peace movement. Especially when it was the Republican, George Dubya Bush who was in power. He stole two terms of office and carried on slaughtering regardless of the peaceful afternoon rallies calling on him to stop. Then, it was the debonair, inspiring symbol of so much that is good, Barack Obama who carried out the killings and assassinations (admittedly with a greater degree of restraint than any other likely candidate for the office of president would have shown) and the peace movement pretty much went to sleep. Now, the obnoxious, disgusting human swill, Republican Donald Trump is seemingly moving the country towards a nation-to-nation war with Iran and there are rallies again.

But what hasn't changed is that teams of organizers working for a couple of weeks or a month to organize a peaceful rally, and hundreds (or even thousands) or ordinary people showing up at these peaceful afternoon rallies are still completely ineffectual at influencing the decisions of powerful murderers who are accountable to a very few oligarchs in the Military-Industrial-Complex (and other coteries of scum). This uselessness will soon make itself undeniable and the peace movement will go back to sleep. (Sleeping the sleep of the righteous, knowing that they demonstrated their opposition to this evil, even if it had zero impact.)

Prove me wrong.