Saturday, May 31, 2014

Canada PM Harper decries "communism's poisonous ideology"

Oh good grief!

Almost a quarter century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Big Steve is still stuck speechifying like a Cold War stalwart?

Harper delivered a proper podium-thumper to the "Tribute to Liberty" annual dinner in Toronto yesterday. Thats a bunch of second generation east Europeans who never got over their parent's fears about the Bolsheviks.

History has moved on, folks.

How modest of Big Steve to claim his spot in history right up there with Mulroney, Reagan, and Thatcher...

It's always nice to know that your leader has his eye squarely on the future.

The Tribute to Liberty folks are all about building a monument to honour the victims of communism.

Personally, I think building a monument to the victims of communism is a great idea.

We could put it in a public square. "Freedom Square" we could call it. Or Liberty Square.

At the other side of the square we could, in the interest of truth, justice, and fair comment, erect a monument to the victims of capitalism.

Communism died an ignoble death in 1991.

Capitalism is still chewing up its victims today.

Google's driverless car is the public transit of the future.

Think about it.

A car that doesn't require you to drive it can come to your house empty and pick you up.

When it drops you off it can pick up somebody else somewhere else.

You'll never have to worry about parking!

With efficiencies of scale kicking in, one of these transportation pods will be makeable for a few thousand dollars.

Goodbye multi-billion dollar street-car and subway infrastructure projects.

The Google-mobile uses surface roads that are already there.

Real-time GPS monitoring will make sure you get where you're going, and a vast network of hardware and software will ensure these "cars" are used as efficiently as possible.

I think they're onto something!

Requiem for the factory hands

In today's Globe and Mail Adam Radwanski offers a sympathetic treatment of the plight of southern Ontario's once-thriving working class.

Radwanski's lament goes on for many thousands of words. He interviews numerous academics, union officials, as well as the de-industrialized working class who struggle to survive on minimum wage jobs after their factories have been shuttered.

He even offers a passing hint that many of those jobs may have ended up in Mexico.

But what is truly amazing is that he manages this entire in-depth analysis of Ontario's manufacturing collapse without a single mention of NAFTA.

I remember Brian Mulroney campaigning on the JOBS JOBS JOBS NAFTA NAFTA NAFTA!!! platform back in the middle '80s. It was an obvious crock of BS from the get-go. It was a pitch geared to appeal to our inherent racist belief that the brown folks south of the Rio Grande were not up to building stuff in an industrial economy.

No one knew the truth better than the factory worker's themselves; working on an assembly line at Ford or Chrysler ain't rocket science, and Mexicans will be happy to do our work for a small fraction of our hourly wage.

We knew from the beginning we were doomed.

Thirty years later the national newspaper of record waxes nostalgic for a bygone era, but completely ignores the single most important reason why southern Ontario went from industrial heart-land to rust belt.

That's intellectual dishonesty of the highest order.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Portrait of The Empire in decline

You know when the NYT adopts a tone of nostalgia when referring to The Empire, we have entered dark days.

Before long they'll be penning articles about "The Century of American decline."

"American Ordinariness."

Hell, if this trend continues, we might be seeing the USA portrayed as just another nation among nations...

We might encounter an America caught up in ordinary nation-type pursuits like improving the standard of living for her people, providing health care for everyone, providing quality education and opportunity for everyone...

Fuck that!

Canada's Harper government commits another $3.5 billion to third world moms, as long as they don't need abortions

Stephen Harper cares.

If you read the press releases from Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Gold Mine Development and Maternal Health, Harper's Canada is a world leader in caring and providing for moms 'n tots world-wide.

After all, the future of all humanity resides in the wombs of expectant women world-wide.

But not a penny of that $3.5 billion will ever help women end a pregnancy that was forced on them.

That's an issue that may be huge in many "developing" countries, but it's too "divisive" to be countenanced by the do-gooders who get funding from the Harper gang.

Yup, we're all for reproductive health, as long as you reproduce our way...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Clippers owner to reap billion dollar windfall after racist rant

Yup, his conniving bimbo girlfriend thought she had him by the balls when she released that recording of Sterling's offensive musings about black folks. You know, black folks like the ones who play on his team, live in his developments... hell, even black folks like the bimbo herself!

Politically correct America went ape-shit. Never in American history has more outrage been generated, more umbrage taken!

Wrongs would have to be righted, virtue would have to prevail. The NBA declared that the senile windbag would be forced to sell the franchise, to sever once and for all the relationship between that racist relic from a bygone era and the most progressive sporting brand in the world.

Looks like the Clippers are going to Steve Ballmer for two billions. That's about a billion dollars more than the most optimistic estimates of the team's value prior to this controversy.

Let that be a lesson to racist tyrants everywhere...

Montreal cops have orgy in cruiser

If this story is true Montreal's finest must be even dumber than we knew. These gals were obviously hot for men in uniform, unless this was a copper shake-down, but either way, could they not at least find their way to someplace out-of-the-way? I mean, once you're seen on the world wide web doing the oinky-boinky right there in your police car and your police uniform, I would expect that your dreams of making detective are pretty much dashed.

But lets not be too hard on these lads; they are among the lowest paid big-city cops in Canada, and have the most onerous duties. Just a few hours down the road in Toronto the cops get paid twice as much and their biggest challenge is tailing the mayor and a few Jamaican weed dealers he associates with.

Meanwhile, in Montreal, these poor underpaid oafs have to deal with the Mafia, the Hells Angels, the Red Square terrorist network, a vast criminal conspiracy in the construction industry, and that's all on top of tailing their own mayors.

They're so busy they can't even get home for a roll in the hay... who can blame them for grabbing a quickie while on duty?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Drone on; Illusionist-in-Chief unveils imaginary new directions in US foreign policy

President Obama's speech at West Point today made it clear that American Exceptionalism remains an article of faith in the White House.

"America must always lead on the world stage."

Speaking of the Ukraine situation he claimed, "Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away." That claim echoes the delusional analysis offered by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times yesterday, "Putin Blinked", in which Friedman makes a stout defence of Obama's "new" diplomacy the day before the West Point speech.

You'd almost think he had an advance copy...

Putin didn't blink unless you believed all the nonsense about how he was planning to seize the entirety of the Ukraine and possibly the Baltic states too. That nonsense originated with Beltway think-tanks and Western media, not with Putin.

Putin did what he had to do and nothing more. It is far more important to Russia to have a stable Ukraine next door than it is to the Western pundits commenting from half way around the world. Whereas the US and certain other NATO nations were loudly clamouring for war, it was Putin who continuously reiterated Russia's determination to resolve the crisis peacefully.

Both Friedman and Obama cling to the belief that America still leads the world. America leads the NATO gang and a few client states. Beyond that, most of the world's population now lives in states that no longer look to the US for leadership. What they look for in America is a nation that plays by the same rules as everyone else and treats other nations, large and small, with the same respect it demands for itself.

When they hear Obama's grandiose claims of leadership on the world stage and look at the international drone war and the incessant meddling in countries around the world, they know that day is a long way off.

Is Putin isolated? Hardly. Major NATO partners are more than keen to maintain good relations with Moscow. Putin is meeting Hollande in Paris next week and you can bet it's not to be harangued about imaginary Russian expansion in eastern Europe. Increasingly, developing countries world-wide are looking for alternatives to the EU/IMF/USA extortion and protection rackets that have failed them for the past fifty years.

It is not Putin's Russia that is becoming isolated; it's the USA.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Obama leaves ten thousand US troops in Afghanistan to guard opium crop

I didn't make that up.

These guys did.

Frankly, I think there's another reason, which is not to say opium doesn't figure into the calculations, but it's more of a side-show.

You'll note that the Karzai government hasn't agreed to any of this, so really what we're dealing with is a non-story presented as a fact.

I think it's sort of like when you're getting kicked out of your girlfriend's place but you leave a few things behind just so you have a semi-legitimate excuse to drop in any time.

So, if for instance those 9,800 stay behinds were ever to be threatened by Taliban terrorists or Chinese terrorists or Russian terrorists or Pakistani or Indian terrorists, the long arm of Uncle Sam's law would have an immediate justification to come down like a ton of bricks with the full weight of Yankee military muscle.

After all, we didn't piss away half a trillion dollars in that shit-hole just to hand the place over to the bad guys.


Who will pick up Rob Ford's Escalade at impound lot?

Let's see now; potentially life-changing or even world-changing elections in half a dozen countries in the past week, Ukraine troops and "terrorists" fighting it out in front of the Donetsk Porsche dealership, 2-300 Nigerian schoolgirls still in the clutches of terror obsessed Koran-crazed radical Islamists, the Pope in the Holy Land, climate change threatening to drown and bake or bake and drown all of us years before we ever thought possible, and the number one story in Toronto is this;

Who will pick up Rob Ford's Escalade at impound lot?


Monday, May 26, 2014

Not a bad week for The Empire in Africa

First of all, you've got United States Army War College grad General al-Sisi winning an election in Egypt. al-Sisi is still a youngish man, so by the expected life-span standards of middle-east despots his victory should sew up Egypt for Western interests for the next thirty years or so.

Meanwhile, right next door in oil-rich Libya, US citizen and "rogue" Libyan General Khalifa Haftar is doing God's work imposing order on the 1001 Libyan militias that have run amok over the past three years. Both of our generals are committed to crushing the Muslim Brotherhood, and both have better relations with Israel than they do with the Palestinians.

At the same time, our allies in Kenya and Nigeria have doubled down on the "terrorist threats" in their midst, promising "all-out-war" against al-Shabab and Boko Haram respectively. The call to war was immediately echoed by French colonies Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
Declarations of perpetual war can only be music to the ears of AFRICOM boss General David Rodriguez and the Pentagon.

So while it may no longer be a perfect world, rumours of The Empire's imminent demise are greatly exaggerated.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Foreign Minister Baird's very undiplomatic brand of diplomacy

John Baird didn't waste any time congratulating Ukraine on the fact of its election.

Baird also takes a moment to crow about Canada's "long and proud history of providing election observers."

If this story from Victoria's Times Colonist is true, Canada's long and proud history of providing bilateral election observers began with the 2004 Ukrainian election and has been entirely limited to the Ukraine. We were part of multilateral observer missions to other countries prior to 2004 and we continue to be today, but in Ukraine we have an entirely different approach.

Why? Because the partisan Russo-phobic Ukrainian-Canadians who make up the majority of the personnel being sent to Ukraine, would never be permitted to be part of those internationally sanctioned observer missions because of their vehemently partisan viewpoints. Election observers are supposed to be neutral.

But that partisanship extends all the way into Baird's office. His congratulatory press release on the election manages to mention Russia twice, in the most undiplomatic terms. Dude, you're Canada's top diplomat! Start acting like it!

There are 101 really important issues that Canada and Russia need to co-operate on, especially around the Arctic. The gratuitous anti-Putin rhetoric so beloved by Harper and Baird is undiplomatic, unprofessional, and not in Canada's interest.

As for that vaunted Ukrainian election, it sure looks to me like they've elected a Yanukovich crony. The "Chocolate King" was also the king of the national bank under Yanukovich, was he not?

And the fact that he was a prime financier of the 2004 "Orange Revolution" means he knows his way around the CIA- State Department's office of colour revolutions.

And the multiplicity of hats the man wears should lead to some questions of just how a billionaire who was head of the national bank of a now-bankrupt state really accumulated his fortune.

At the same time, he has business interests in Russia and recognizes that continued good relations with Russia are essential for Ukraine's long-term prosperity.

And on top of all that, it falls to him to impose the EU-IMF austerity agenda on a people who are already among the most impoverished in all of Europe.

Ukrainians live in interesting times.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Forgetting Jimmy Page

I was a really big Led Zep fan back in the day.

I have a tattoo to prove it.

There are many reasons to forget Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page.

The egregious misogyny of their touring tales.

The endless plagiarism controversies.

But just as you're ready to let them go, you find something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QATICdf7b-0

...and everything can be forgiven.

Phooey to Louis

Louis Proyect styles himself The Unrepentant Marxist. While he may well be unrepentant, there is certainly room for discussion about what sort of Marxist he was/is.

His most recent missive seeks to disparage any hope of a left-right convergence. Ralph Nader is the specific target of Louis' wrath.

Back in the day I used to hate Ralph Nader. He was the guy who killed the Corvair - America's answer to the Porsche 911. In the decades since I've more or less come around to the view that Ralph did every potential Corvair purchaser a huge service by killing it before it killed us.

Along the way, Ralph did the progressive side a huge service with his Public Interest Research Groups. That's now become the equivalent of a service club on a lot of university campuses.

Go Ralph!

So Louis is pissed that Ralph is talking about a left-right convergence. Ralph is inviting folks to his get-togethers that Louis would never deign to talk to.

Get over yourself, Louis. Progress is made when people talk to people they see as their enemies. Talking to the converted is a feel-good exercise that feels good but doesn't have a chance of advancing anything.

Talking to your enemies can change everything.

The last Lick's standing

Up until very recently, Lick's Burgers was an up-and-coming burger brand in the Toronto area. Founder Denise Meehan carved a niche for herself that promised to shake up a market dominated by you-know-who.

Then it all went down the shitter.

The last Lick's standing, so far as I know, is on the west side of Spadina near the University of Toronto. The proprietor is an affable Iranian expat, and his right-hand man is a youngish Jewish chick who balances her studies at U of T with full time employment at Lick's.

Talk about an odd couple!

Hoonan the Iranian went rogue on Denise Meehan a couple of years ago, when it became obvious that head office had gone rogue on him. He's still flying the Lick's flag, but due to legal considerations that may not last much longer.

But while it does, pop into the last Lick's standing and enjoy one of their old-school "homeburgers" while you can.

Lease this Bentley for only $3,250/month



I was listening to an interview with the economist-du-jour Thomas Piketty the other day wherein he remarked in passing that the marginal tax rate in America for a good chunk of the mid-20th century averaged over 80%.

His point was that a relatively high marginal tax rate obviously didn't kill capitalism.

There is a move afoot to discredit Piketty, based on his alleged tendency to cherry-pick the stats that support his thesis. Why that's news puzzles me; isn't that what academics do?

In any event, that doesn't impact his observation that capitalism can thrive with substantially higher tax rates than the rich enjoy in the modern era.

But it might cost a few Bentley sales. As you know, Bentley is the pinnacle of the Volkswagen brand. I have a hunch that the Volkswagen brand will survive a handful of lost Bentley sales.

As for that Bentley you can lease for $3,250 a month, that special offer comes from Bentley Toronto and is featured on the front page of the "M" section of today's Globe and Mail.

No doubt that's a nice piece; all the performance of a Mustang GT without the stigma of low price.

Joyce Banda decides democracy not so great after all

When Malawi's electoral commission released preliminary results showing President Banda a distant second in this weeks presidential race, she immediately discovered massive voting irregularities and declared the election null and void!

Banda has long been a favourite of the West, one of a supposed "new breed" of African leaders comfortable in their role as perpetual second-class citizens in the global village, unlike an earlier generation of self-styled freedom-fighters and anti-colonial agitators.

What's shocking is the absence of Canadian election observers on the ground in Malawi. I guess they're all busy in Ukraine this week. Doesn't the Harper gang care about democracy in Africa?

Does this have undertones of racism?

Or is it just because there are no significant numbers of Malawian-Canadians voting in the next Canadian election?

Ukrainian oilygarchs distraught over loss of Crimea petrol reserves

That, in a nutshell, is why "the West" is so concerned about democracy in Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Yup, turns out there could be gold in that there Black Sea... black gold, and lots of it.

And you thought our concerns were based on our love of freedom and democracy?

Get real!

This does however raise the question, why should the West's foreign policy, dictated as it is by ExxonShellBP, be perturbed by whether those Black Sea reserves are controlled by Moscow or Kiev? After all, even in the wake of incessant blather about "punishing sanctions", it's business as usual for the international petroleum big dogs in Russia.

Here's why it matters; in dealing with Kiev the oil majors are assured of negotiating with the latest in a long line of kleptocrats, each greedier than the last, and all eager to sell out the interests of the Ukrainian people for personal enrichment. That's been the history of Ukraine since independence, and that's the way we like it.

With Russia in control of the Black Sea oil reserves, we have to deal with Putin instead...

Long live a free and democratic Ukraine!

Iranian billionaire executed for bank fraud

Now there's a headline redolent with understatement!

If Amir Aria'd had the good sense to commit his multi-billion bank fraud in America, he'd be celebrated in the business pages as a visionary, a savant, a wheeler-dealer extraordinaire...

Some Ivy League palace of wisdom would name its business school after him.

He'd be an A-lister in high society.

Perhaps a major medical centre would name a new wing in his honour.

Instead, he's dead.

Now you know why Western elites hate Iran so much!

Friday, May 23, 2014

World leaders appalled with coup in Thailand; hunky-dory with coup in Ukraine

Who the hell are these "world leaders" that keep showing up in our headlines?

"World leaders", "public opinion", "international opinion",... it's all the same bushel 'o bullshit, isn't it?

When you read those words in any Western media platform what you're reading is the latest Beltway/Pentagon talking points.

"International opinion" or the "Western consensus" is code speak for Pentagon propaganda.

I suspect that the reason for being appalled about the Thai situation is that they've not yet figured out which way the winds are blowing.

Our children's future; big student loans and Mickey D employment prospects

We've ranted about this before, but it bears repeating; there is no viable future in condemning the next generation to minimum wage shit jobs while they're trying to pay off their student loans.

That's gonna turn an entire generation into flaming commies!

Mickey D's CEO Don Thompson is one guy who doesn't buy into this commie crap. He totally believes $7.25 an hour is a fair wage.

Mind you, he is personally in the ten millions a year range, so he may not quite see things the way one of his burger-flippers does.

(By the way, they don't actually flip the burgers at McDonald's anymore...)

That's where we're at in US media. The $7.25 an hour folks can't pay their light and heat and rent, let alone their student loans...

But the ten million a year CEO is right there to set the record straight...

How reassuring!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Libya turmoil still Gaddafi's fault

That's the word from US Ambassador Debora Jones.

“There never was a functioning Libyan state per se,” she said. “That weakened state permitted Gadhafi to exploit the situation. … He was like an abusive parent” who squeezed his own people of resources while doling out Libya’s oil revenues on foreign causes and conflicts.
You'd think that three years after NATO's war to destroy the Gaddafi administration there'd be some grown-ups there prepared to take responsibility for the absolute disaster they've created, but some good old honesty is rather too much to expect. Instead, it's all Gaddafi's fault.

As for Gaddafi exploiting that weakened state, I'm not certain that free housing, health care, and education, including $200 millions per year to send Libyans to study at foreign universities worldwide, would meet the standard definition of "exploit".

As for any possibility that Washington might be backing the "rogue" US-Libyan General Haftar, she claims the US is taking a wait-and-see attitude to ascertain what his agenda might be.

Let's see now; the man spent over twenty years living five minutes away from Langley, had no visible means of support, was flown back to Libya by the US in the late stages of the 2011 war... and they don't know what his agenda is?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The blissful ignorance of outsourcing Statscan duties to Kijiji

Nothing against Kijiji; we bought a nice used tent trailer with just a bit of mould on the tarp off Kijiji at a good price. Crank up the roof and open up all those side windows, and you don't even notice the mould! At least when there's a decent breeze blowing.

But should Kijiji be the default source of information for the federal government after they've carved $30 million out of the Statscan budget?

The Canadian Labour Congress thinks not.

The editorial board of Canada's newspaper of record thinks not.

And it's not every day that those two see eye to eye...

So it is good news that the Harper gang has dropped Kijiji as a source of vital statistical info to guide their policy decisions.

But have they restored funding to Statscan?

Of course not! Here's why; it's easier to govern when you're flying in the dark.

You have total freedom to just make shit up!

That explains our economic policy, our First Nations policy, our education policy and our foreign policy!

Hey, who needs facts when you're always right anyway?

60 days in jail for killing your daughter?

Here's cultural sensitivity at its finest.

Hey, that's 60 days more than the guy would have got in his homeland, where beating up your daughters if they missed a spot while vacuuming is apparently socially acceptable.

But it's at least ten years less than a non-immigrant Canadian would have got for killing his daughter because she missed a spot while vacuuming.

Coming soon to Canada; bridal pyres...


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The free-floating Nigerian political elite

The Nigerian political elite are the envy of the political classes world-wide. Nigerian senators make more than US senators, and they're able to pull that off in a country wherein the majority of the population gets by on a dollar a day. Or less.

Now that's some big-time political chutzpah, baby!

But they're untethered. The head of the Nigerian body politic is no longer attached to the body, ie that majority doomed to perpetual poverty.

Luckily, we now have US, UK, Israeli, and Canadian boots on the ground, all to ostensibly help in the search for "our girls", which of course obliges them to assist in the Nigerian war on terror.

I have a hunch the Nations of Virtue will be staying awhile.

Arianna Huffington joins Canada's biggest hedge fund

Right-again left-again golden girl Arianna has made a bit of a right turn again. She's joined the Board of Directors at Onex.

Onex is Canada's biggest hedge fund, or "private equity firm" as they like to style themselves these days. Sounds more responsible and dignified.

Maybe Arianna was motivated to hang out with high end hedgies after pocketing that $300 million for selling the left-slanting Huffpost brand.

Oh, life can be rich with irony...

Saving democracy on the cheap

Part of the fallout from Harper insider Yaroslav Baran's coup at Canadem, which resulted in the contract for those Ukraine election observers being awarded to a new entity, is that the observers on the ground are enjoying a massive pay cut.

Apparently they're not happy about it.

This time around the Canadians will be upholding democracy for approximately half of the daily stipend paid to OSCE election monitors.

That's left a lot of them worried they'll be subsidizing their mission out of their own pockets.

Well, that shouldn't come as a surprise. They are after all constantly referred to as "volunteers".

Europeans too stupid to monitor European elections

The underlying premise behind Canada's decision to send bilateral election observers to Ukraine can only be that the OSCE isn't capable of getting the job done. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe even lets the Ruskies into the club, so obviously they can't be trusted.

I'm not sure "bilateral" is the correct term here. It implies that Ukraine will send observers to Canada to monitor the next Canadian election.

That might not be a bad idea.

Anyone who has followed the machinations of the Harper gang as they try to short circuit the democratic process in Canada will appreciate the irony of their zest for observing it in Ukraine. From the robo-call scandals to "election reforms" calculated to disenfranchise tens of thousands of Canadians, we have become accustomed to Harper's cynical undermining of democracy.

Then again, this isn't really about monitoring elections in Ukraine; it's brazen pandering to the 1.2 million Ukrainian-Canadians Harper is grooming for the next Canadian election.

Gov't review concludes Canada sent too many election observers to Ukraine in 2012; Harper responds by sending more this time!

There's a reason Canada is the only country that sends bilateral observer missions to Ukraine.

"There are 1.2 million Ukrainian Canadians... forming one of the most influential diaspora groups and voting blocs in the country."

What? This isn't about altruistic concern for the state of Ukraine's democracy? Shame!

Who knew?

No, apparently it's more about shameless vote-grubbing right here in Canada.

Frankly, the torrent of wildly partisan pronouncements coming out of Ottawa over the past few months should disqualify Canada as a non-partisan observer. Canada's embrace of the non-elected putschists in Kiev has been an embarrassment to anyone who remembers when Canada actually had a measure of credibility on the world stage.

Those days are gone.

Long-time Harper crony gets contract to provide Canadian election observers for Ukraine election

There's been a bit of a flap over Canadian "democracy promotion" NGO Canadem losing the contract to supply 500 election monitors for the Ukraine elections later this month.

Instead, the contract goes to newly minted democracy promotion NGO CEOM, which stands for Canadian Election Observer Missions, and is the creation of two other NGOs, the Forum of Federations and CUSO.

The spokesperson for CEOM is none other than long-time Harper operative Yaroslav Baran, according to this story in the Globe and Mail.

But what's really amusing is that as of today Baran remains listed as a member of the Board of Directors of Canadem!

Hmm... a little political intrigue in the backrooms?

A little back-stabbing perhaps?

Some good-old-fashioned Harper gang cronyism?...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fifteen is fair and the Battle of Blair Mountain

Haven't spent a lot of time in West Virginia. I vaguely remember going through Wheeling as a kid. It was a Sunday morning and what I remember is a guy washing his new GTO at the side of the street.

Ergo, West Virginians could afford new GTO's.

More recently I was scoping out an old mansion on the banks of the Ohio River as a possible site for a retirement project. Imagine the blog View from the Ohio River... The fruition of my B&B dreams... Bola Granola on the banks of the Ohio...

Whatever.

In between, I ran through that part of the country back in the early '80's. I like to pick up local newspapers to get a sense of what's going on. The local newspaper had an advert for truck-drivers willing to make $2,000 per week, and willing to cross picket lines.

I was pretty damned willing on the first part, but not so much on the latter. You're obviously being paid off to be a strike-breaker.

Which brings us to the present. Last week saw the national "fifteen is fair" protests. Didn't get a lot of traction in the corporate media.

Which is a shame. I think the extant labour hierarchy will soon be the extinct labour hierarchy, if it isn't already.

The young kids getting the fuck-over with outrageous student loan debts and Micky D employment prospects are more than fed up with the existing union hierarchy.

After all, the current union leadership are the guys who have presided over the collapse of the labour movement in America. They're the guys who green-light two-tier contracts. They're the guys who proudly announce settlements that leave their membership working for sub-poverty wages.

Enough of that!

How many American school children are acquainted with the Battle of Blair Mountain?

Virtually none, with the possible exception of a few lucky kids home-schooled by progressive parents.

Almost 100 years after Blair Mountain, America's working class has again come back to square one.

Don't look to government to improve your lot.

Take action!

The coal companies in West Virginia couldn't make a profit without the collaboration of their workforce 100 years ago, nor can they today,

Your local McDonalds franchise can't make a profit without the collaboration of their workforce either.




Lockheed Martin shills still flogging F-35 strike fighter

My first question is why the Globe and Mail allowed this pro-Lockheed propaganda into its commentary section instead of making the company buy advertising space.

Writer Paul Manson's background is unique in that he has been both the chief of Canada's defence staff and chief of Lockheed Martin Canada. The cosy connection between Lockheed and the Canadian defence establishment was further illustrated last September when Lt. General Charles Bouchard, the guy who directed the NATO bombardment of Libya in 2011, was named head of the company's Canadian operations.

Critics claim the F-35 is designated the II because it is too heavy, too slow, too fuel thirsty, too complex, and too expensive. That might be why Manson shied away from performance specifics in his article, focusing instead on generic fear-mongering and Canada's international image.

How do you like this howler?

The West failed to see that in short order, it would find itself immersed in strange new conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now, suddenly, Ukraine. Predicting the place, time and nature of modern human conflict is a mug's game.

Not so fast, Mr. Manson! The only thing "strange" about these conflicts is that none of these enemies posed any threat to the "West". They were strictly wars of opportunity voluntarily entered into by NATO. Picking the place and time of your next war is simple enough when you're the party starting them.

And then there's this;

Not to be disregarded is the impact the selection will have on Canada's international image as a contributor to collective security.

The meddling by NATO in the above countries has improved our collective security? That's an extremely dubious proposition. With respect especially to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, it is plainly obvious that Western intervention has had the opposite effect. We're being asked to commit many billions to this technology based on what our allies in this dysfunctional military alliance might think of us?

From a Canadian perspective, would we not be better served by taking leave of this alliance which long ago outlived it's usefulness, and invest those billions in the many pressing needs we have right here at home?

Globe & Mail sticks it to farmers

Barrie McKenna has a story on the front page of the business section today bemoaning the injustice of Bill C-30, aka the "Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act".

In McKenna's view, fairness is a zero-sum game. "What's fair for farmers is by implication less fair for every other business that uses the rails to move goods..."

I think what's unfair is writing an article purportedly about the railways' lack of capacity to move grain, without mentioning that CP Rail has idled 400 locomotives and 10,000 rail cars since US hedge fund Pershing Square bullied its way into control of the company. You don't need a PhD in logistics to conclude that would reduce capacity.

And McKenna is either naive or disingenuous when he writes "Ottawa could also have simply let the market fix the problem. When there is excess demand and short supply of rail capacity, freight rates will naturally go up... it would give the railways more revenue to make badly needed investments, helping resolve capacity constraints."

What foolishness! Why would the railways want to reduce capacity constraints that increase freight rates and profitability? What the management of CP Rail has shown is a commitment not to investing in the railway, but in maximizing the amount of money they can take out of it.

Back in March the company announced their intention to spend close to a billion dollars on a share buy back. That's an expenditure that does absolutely nothing for rail capacity and won't get one bushel of grain to market one minute sooner. It's an expenditure designed to boost the share values of stock-holders, nothing more and nothing less.

Bill C-30 may well be a heavy-handed solution to a rare and unforeseen problem, but when the invisible hand of the free market isn't working, sometimes the heavy hand of regulation is needed to move things along.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

NIMBY elitism and autism

I see where the other half of the Ford Team is in hot water for casting aspersions on the bona fides of a group home for autistic teens.

Employing a time-tested NIMBY strategy, Ford opined that the residence, home to three autistic kids and their full-time supervision, had destroyed the neighbourhood.

Oh-oh... you know what that means... declining property values!

It wasn't that long ago that popular wisdom held that property values would go down when brown people moved onto your street. We now properly view that attitude as archaic and racist.

Swap out "brown people" for "autistic teens" in that equation and you're in Toronto in 2014.

Any marginalized group is fair game to keep out of your neighbourhood.

We have to reject that rejectionist attitude.

Mike Weir shows he's not over yet

Ya, I know it doesn't help our hillbilly cred, but we tend to look in on a bit of PGA action from time to time.

So it was quite a thrill to see Mike Weir on the leaderboard for the first time in forever. Almost made a day of it at the Byron Nelson!

Attaboy Mike! Canada applauds!

Mike trousered three-quarters of a million for losing.

The Farm Manager's cousin Jason Gore is semi-retired now, but when I run out of retirement savings we're heading to California where Jason promised me a job polishing his clubs and waxing his Mercedes.

If I'm lucky I'll maybe worm my way into carrying the bag for him when he hits the seniors tour.

I coulda been a factor on the tour myself if I'd stuck with it. I remember beating Bryan DeCorsa in a round on Victoria Road many years ago.

Unfortunately, he was just a seven year old kid hanging around his dad's golf course at the time, so I'm not sure that counts for anything...

Ontario needs Tim Hudak?

Yes we do, according to the Toronto Sun.

Hudak gonna set things right by firing 100,000 lazy-ass civil servants!

Chop down the corporate tax rate to next-to-nothing to boot, and by God, there's gonna be a jobs bonanza right here in the promised land!

A million new private sector jobs!

One shudders to imagine the nature of those million jobs. Yes, you could cut the corporate tax rate to zero, and yes, that would attract a few corporate bottom-feeders who would create a few minimum wage jobs. Is that really what Ontario needs?

Hudak's race-to-the-bottom strategy has failed everywhere it's been implemented. This is just the latest recycled version of the old Thatcher-Reagan trickle-down. You remember that; be nice to rich folks and eventually that niceness gonna trickle down on the regular folks...

Rich folks will of course love that strategy. It works for them. It frees up a little more cash to donate to the pols who are prepared to do their bidding.

Here's the trouble with trickle-down economics; the rich get richer and the rest of us just get soaked.

Ontario does not need Tim Hudak.

Al Jazeera, Fox News, Reuters all mum on "renegade" General's CIA links

Oh, but this story is stinkier than a lorry-load of Danish cheese...

Here's the Reuters version.

And the Al Jazeera version.

Fox News attributes the troubles to a "General Hifter" and neglects to mention that he is retired.

All of them and virtually every other mainstream story forget to mention General Khalifa Haftar's illustrious and well-documented history of collaboration with the CIA.

Coincidence?

Canada's mysterious silence on human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia

A Saudi court sentenced Raif Badawi to 1,000 lashes and ten years in prison last week. His crime was starting a web-site that invited open debate about politics and religion.

I've been eagerly clicking on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs, waiting for the Minister to announce his alarm or condemnation or at least the fact that he is appalled. And even if the matter is too trifling for Mr. Baird himself to comment on, perhaps a few words from the very junior Minister of Religious Freedom, Andrew Bennett, might be appropriate?

Alas, this gross violation of human rights and religious freedom has gone completely unnoticed by Ottawa. In fact, you'd have to go all the back to February to find a mention of Saudi Arabia in the daily press releases from Foreign Affairs. Here it is;

Largest Advanced Manufacturing Export Win in Canada’s History

Manufacturing sector workers and firms to benefit from creation of thousands of jobs across southern Ontario and every region of Canada
February 14, 2014 - London, Ontario - Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, and Danny Deep, Vice President, General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, announced today a historic multi-billion dollar contract win for vehicles and associated equipment, training and support services.
The announcement was made in London, Ontario, where the light armoured vehicles will be designed and manufactured and which will become the epicentre of a cross-Canada supply chain directly benefiting more than 500 local Canadian firms.
This 14-year contract will create and sustain more than 3,000 jobs each year in Canada, with southern Ontario accounting for approximately 40 percent of the supply base.
Facilitated by the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), the Government of Canada’s international government-to-government contracting organization, the contract is with Saudi Arabia, a priority market under the government’s new Global Markets Action Plan.
Mystery solved! A "historic multi-billion dollar contract" was signed last February for Canada to provide thousands of armoured cars to the Saudi military! Ironically, that was also the month that our friends in Riyadh officially made criticism of their rule a terrorism offence!
Note how any mention of Saudi Arabia is limited to a single reference in the last sentence. Note also that the Harper gang considers Saudi a "priority market".
I guess we can stop looking to John Baird or Andrew Bennett for any expression of outrage or alarm over the Raif Badawi travesty.




"Rogue Libyan General" on CIA payroll for thirty years?

There's a story breaking this morning about a rogue General in Libya attempting to overthrow the imaginary government in Tripoli. A certain Major General Khalifa Belqasim Haftar has thus far sacked the parliament buildings and attacked the base of a nearby Islamist militia.

If the name rings a bell it should; this story from BusinessInsider three years ago poses the rhetorical question, is the good General the CIA's man in Libya?

What is known for sure is that whoever's man he may be, he spent a comfortable twenty years or so living the good life in a small Virginia community a short commute from Langley. I know! We mustn't jump to conclusions! Just because a semi-retired Libyan Major General lives near Langley doesn't mean a gosh-darned thing!

Nick Turse recently wrote a story about the pending AFRICOM mission to train up a new Libyan army. Perhaps Maj-Gen Khalifa couldn't wait? There is also information linking him to the CIA sponsored coup that took out the Habre regime in Chad in 1990, which would link him to The Agency even before his sojourn in Virginia.

So while the General may indeed have gone "rogue", it's also possible that he is just following orders... from Langley.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

CNN's desperation propaganda tries to make Dems look different than GOP

What else can you possibly make out of this hatchet job?

Dems take on Koch brothers?

Believe me, the only quibble Harry Reid and the rest of the Koch-bashers in the Democratic elite have with the Koch brothers is that they haven't been spreading their political contributions to the Democratic Party.

The mere fact that that there exists such an artefact as a "billionaire" tells us only one thing; the tax code is way fucked up.

Beyond that, whether those billionaires support the billionaire-loving Democratic Party or the billionaire-loving Republican Party is pretty much a moot point.

Fact is, both parties are totally owned by the millionaires and the billionaires. If Harry Reid is having a conniption because the Koch boys are funding his GOP rivals, that's tough luck for Harry.

It's got nothing to do with democracy in the USA.


Making Nigeria safe for schoolgirls and oil companies

Quicker than you can say "bring back our girls" NATO has in effect used the supposed crisis to engineer an invisible coup in Nigeria.

While NATO boots from at least three member states are already on the ground to "help" in the search for the Chibok girls, President Hollande called an emergency meeting of regional leaders in Paris. The presidents of Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Cameroon, and Chad all agreed that Boko Haram was an al Qaeda front and would require "total war" to defeat.

That must have been music to the ears of the US and UK officials in the room. Western oil companies have been keen to have at northern Nigeria for decades. Alas, the security environment has not been conducive to the exploitation of these resources.

How convenient then, that a total war led by NATO will close off northern Nigeria to terrorists and open it for oil development!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The "victim" trap

There's a great story on view at Counterpunch today by one of my favorite Israeli writers, Uri Avnery.

In The Moral Right of the Refugees to Return Avnery outlines his relationship with Palestinian hard-liner Salman Abu Sitta. Sitta is a "hard-liner" because he advocates for the unfettered right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to their former homes in what is now the state of Israel.

As any sensible person who lives in the real world should know by now, that is what's known in diplomatic circles as a "non-starter."

As in, it ain't gonna happen.

Nevertheless, Abu Sitta sticks to the moral high ground and insists that this must happen.

Avery politely acknowledges that moral high ground, but takes a more pragmatic approach.

As in, it ain't gonna happen.

Ironically, Salman Abu Sitta is himself a very pragmatic person. After the Nakba he did not spend the next 65 years sitting around in a refugee camp nursing his very legitimate grievances.

He got out into the world and made something of himself. He is today a millionaire many times over on the strength of his international construction conglomerate.

That doesn't happen when you're sitting around in a refugee camp feeling sorry for yourself.

There is a lesson in that for every member of every group that has ever been abused, disenfranchised, marginalized, and otherwise shit upon by the winds of history.

That includes not just Jews and Palestinians, but Armenians, Kurds, Germans from the Prussian territories, Canadian Indians, natives the length and breadth of the Americas, Russians in Ukraine, Ukrainians in Russia, and many many others.

Which proves that you can buy into the victimhood of the refugee camp or the reservation...

Or you can do something else.

More leadership goodness from the Harper gang; saving the lives of women and children all around the world except on Canadian Indian reservations

It's not as if we haven't commented on this before.

Canada is a world leader in saving the lives of women and children, dontcha know.

And here we go again, another blockbuster press release from John Baird's Department of Foreign Affairs, Gay Rights, Mineral Rights, Corporate Rights, Railroad Rights of Way, and Foreign Aid; Canada saves lives and improves health of women and children around the world.

Yup, we are spreading Harperite goodness worldwide! Everywhere around the world except right here in Canada it would seem!

Virtually invisible on Canadian media platforms is any discussion about UN special envoy for native rights James Anaya's report on the living conditions for Canada's million plus native population.

Seems that while we are busier than busy improving the lives of women and children all around the world, women and children in Canada's native communities are stuck in a nightmare of poverty and abuse.

Do they all have to move to Africa before the Harper gang notices the problem?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pot-addled blogger two years ahead of the curve on Temporary Foreign Workers

Check this out;

http://theviewfromfallingdowns.blogspot.ca/2012/04/new-foreign-worker-rulers-push-down.html

What? Employers using the TFW program to drive down the wages of Canadian workers?

Who knew?

Today it is of course a front-burner story that gets lots of traction everywhere. Two years ago our little think-tank was a very lonely voice in the wilderness.

So if you want to stay way ahead of the media big-boys, keep reading this blog!

Academic freedom still alive in Canada

It's been a heady 24 hours since the news broke that tenured University of Saskatchewan prof Robert Buckingham had been fired for firing off a letter critical of his school's austerity measures.

Condemnation of the firing was virtually universal.

Good!

Sad to say, there is such a thing as a free speech hierarchy in this country. University professors are pretty much at the top of it. While guys like Phillipe Rushton and Tom Flanagan have found out the hard way that even that hierarchy has its limitations, overall it seems that Canadians are comfortable with the idea that those who work in the world of ideas need to be able to voice unpopular ideas without fear of losing their jobs.

That's why Buckingham's sudden dismissal was such a shock. If a tenured university professor cannot publicly voice dissent about his employer's policy decisions, then the rest of us are truly screwed.

Today the President of U of S went public with an apology to Buckingham. She referred to the firing as a blunder and offered him a tenured position at the school. Since Buckingham was mere weeks from retirement anyway, this may be more symbolic than anything else, but it's a symbolism that has real import.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Western media green-light anti-Muslim genocide in Nigeria

Here's a headline ripped from a mainstream Canadian news outlet, the National Post; Vigilante groups killing suspected Boko Haram militants...

Who do you think might qualify as a "suspected" Boko Haram militant? Any Muslim within reach of a bloodthirsty mob?

And all those US/UK/Canadian "helpers" who have magically appeared on the ground in Nigeria, without any discussion in their home countries or in the UN, who are they fighting? Boko Haram of course; the evildoers who kidnap innocent schoolgirls. And how are they to distinguish between the genuine Boko Haram terrorist and a mere suspect?

They can't, of course.

Luckily, Nigeria has the kind of massive oil resources that can readily be called upon to indemnify the occasional mistake.

Hey, if ya gotta fight terror, that's the perfect place to do it!

Olmert case proves that in Israel the big dogs are not too big to jail

I'd be one of the last guys to come out waving the banner for Israel's justice system, but the six year sentence handed to Ehud Olmert yesterday for trousering a few hundred thousand shekels in bribes from property developers is not a scene that could possibly play out in any other of the Nations of Virtue.

Former Canadian PM Mulroney got away with considerably more in the Airbus affair. Phoney Tony and the last three US presidents used their time in office to grease the skids of cronyism on a scale that makes Olmert look like a small-time ward-heeler.

But let's give credit where credit is due. This verdict is a victory for the Israeli public and the Israeli judicial system.

Colonial masters take over search for kidnapped schoolgirls from inept Nigerian government

As recently as yesterday Reuters was reporting that Nigeria was willing to negotiate the freedom of the kidnapped schoolgirls with their captors.

That was apparently a bridge too far for the colonial masters. Today the top UK official in Nigeria announced that Nigeria would on no account negotiate with Boko Haram.

Thank God the Brits are there to stiffen the backbone of their inept Nigerian underlings!

Frankly, it's more than a little unsettling to see the red carpet being rolled out for Nigeria's colonial masters. British, US, and Canadian "assets" are already on the ground and in the air "helping" in the search for those schoolgirls, and by extension "helping" in the struggle against Boko Haram.

I suppose that since they've finished "helping" Afghanistan in its struggle with the Taliban, they're at loose ends for things to do...

Nigerians will soon rue the day they invited in these "helpers."


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The importance of a proper sight-in for your firearms

I was sitting on the front stoop having a smoke the other day, because that's the only place in the house the Farm Manager will allow me to have one.

Only it's not even in the house!

See how they grind us down?

So while I was out there I'd been letting off the odd burst from the Panther AP4 I'd just added to my collection.

That's a nice piece of hardware, let me tell you.

But I'm just sitting there in the chair on the stoop, when I notice a racoon moseying in the general direction of the chicken coop we fabbed onto the near side of the barn.

Hmm... we been losing chickens lately...

Gonna have a surprise for that 'coon in a minute or two when he comes outa that barn with one of my chickens clamped in his chomps.

Now I should spell out that the barn is about 200 yards from the stoop wherefrom I view this scene, and the drive is about in the middle.

Sure enough, here comes Mr. Racoon out the henhouse... and I stand up and have him in my sights, just over the roof of the Jeep, which is parked in the drive.

In my sights...

I loose a burst...

Racoon drops the chicken and scurries away. Musta missed.

But there's seven or eight holes in the hind-end of the Jeep.

What the fuck?

Whoever did the last sight-in on this puppy had her about five feet to the left and five feet down at a hundred yards!

I head over to investigate, and by god, when you have been addicted to cigarettes for your entire adult life you don't even know it, and it was just as I tossed my butt away that I realized the gas tank is leaking...

Well holy shit! That fireball coulda burned my eyeballs out! Luckily I closed my eyes in time and when the Emergency Response guys found me in the bushes a couple of hours later, at least my eye-lids worked.

And my eyes too, truth be told. Right now I can see a sling apparatus of some sort holding my ass end off the bed, and over to my right, but I can't quite turn my head enough to see it because of the neck brace, there's a buzzer I can hit when I need the attention of the nursing station.

I could go on, but I think my point was you should take the time to sight in that new gun properly.

Now you know what can happen when you don't.

Monday, May 12, 2014

You know you might be a hillbilly when you have parts cars

We keep a few in the yard behind the barn.

You never know when you might need a random part.

Heck, sometimes you pick up a parts car and it turns out to be in better shape than your daily driver. That's when you swap the plates around and enjoy many more miles of happy motoring without the inconvenience and expense of safety inspections etc.

Guy I knew was in Kentucky when his motor went. Bought another blue Lincoln Town locally, swapped the plates, had his old car towed to the scrap-yard, and drove that Lincoln all over Canada for the next ten years with nary an incident.

But I digress. What's troubling me is that I have failed to fire up the old Allison back-hoe for longer than I care to admit. I'd bought a brand new battery last summer, and when I hook the battery charger to it, it doesn't even want to take a charge.

Meanwhile, the old Montana van behind the barn, where it's been buried in a snow drift for the last six months, fired right up with its ten year old OEM battery.

My old pal Jimmy Lippert, may he rest in peace, prided himself on never driving a car built during the decade he was driving it. I recall him going to the wrecker to find a AC unit for the Buick LeSabre he was driving. Buddy at the yard wants $250 for the AC.

So Lippert says "well whadya want for the whole car?"

After a bit of back and forth they settle on $300 for the entire vehicle, and by golly he drove that car for a good five years!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Baird adds railroad oversight to ever-expanding Foreign Affairs portfolio

You know you're a somebody when a week after you complain about a malfunctioning rail crossing signal in your neighbourhood, the rail company gets a new CEO.

And we can rest assured that John Baird is very definitely a somebody among somebodies. His department is now officially known as The Department of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Foreign Aid, Gold Mine Development, Women's Development, Children's Rights, Women's Rights, Railway Rights of Way, Religious Freedom of the Right, Gold Mine Freedom, Ukraine Sovereignty and South Sudanese Sovereignty.

He's one busy dude, that Mr. Baird.

What Ukraine could learn from Canada

Unfortunately, I don't think the "Canada model" is very likely to be foregrounded by the war-mongering cretins of the Harper gang.

Harper, Baird, et al have gone out of their way to declare their support for the illegal coup in Ukraine. Several factors drive this. One is the reality of many hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian-Canadian voters possibly playing a pivotal role in the next federal election.

Another is the fantasy harboured by certain policy makers around Harper that Europe and Ukraine can be weaned off their reliance on Gazprom, because Canada can step up and replace Russia as a source for the natural gas that Europe depends on to power its factories and heat its homes.

And we can. All we have to do is build a pipeline from the gas fields to the coast, build a LNG terminal, and build a fleet of LNG tankers.

If all the toast lands butter-side-up we should be good to go in about twenty or thirty years!

In the meantime, there is something Ukraine could learn from Canada. Quebec is universally recognized as both a "distinct society" and at the same time an integral part of Canada. Yes, the possibility of separation hangs in the air always, but life goes on.

So the referenda in eastern Ukraine that were universally condemned by mainstream Western media today who all got the outrage memo from Jen Psaki, could be seen in the same light as a Quebec referendum on separation.

Life will go on...

Put the guns and the war rhetoric away already!

Blame Nigeria's political elite for Boko Haram

While the #bringbackourgirls campaign shines a spotlight on the Boko Haram terror group, let's not forget that such groups do not spring out of a vacuum.

It took many years of epic mismanagement of the Nigerian economy before the Islamic insurgency took root among a people who had for generations been excluded from the supposed oil bonanza. Not only have the political elites managed to squander and outright steal hundreds of billions in oil wealth, they have managed to simultaneously run up billions more in debts to boot!

Such management wizardry does not go unrewarded; Nigerian politicians are not only the best paid in all Africa, they lead the entire democratic world!

Meanwhile, an estimated 70% of the population in the Muslim north lives on less than a dollar a day.

Who can feign shock that such rampant mismanagement would eventually lead to an insurgency?


Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Ontario election; voting for the lesser dorkshit

It's nothing but fear, loathing, and more loathing here in the promised land as we prepare to exercise our democratic franchise.

As a principled non-voter I bring a nuanced outsider's perspective to this electoral race.

Trust me, they're all dorkshits.

Horvath precipitated this election by thinking she had some clout with Wynn in approving the last budget. Wynn called her bluff, and here we go.

That caught perennially unprepared Tim Hudak unprepared. Hudak is a blast of Thatcherite nostalgia campaigning on cutting government jobs and corporate taxes. Because that'll create jobs. Because look at how well it's worked everywhere the gullible voters have fallen for the ruse.

Right.

I'd have to google the Green Party to find out the name of their leader, so I'm not going to dignify such a pathetic excuse for a political party by making the effort.

Shame.

As for Horvath, Wynn gifted her the dream NDP budget and instead of running with it, she decided to hold her breath and hold out for more.

Stupid.

Which brings us back to Wynn. Climbing out of the PR hole Dorkshit Dalton dug for her has been no mean feat. Not that she is out of it by any stretch, but she is making some progress.

Good!

It's a tough call, but Wynn is clearly the best of a bad lot...



The long slow death of Journalism

The long slow death of the journalism profession has been analysed and prognosticated upon for at least the last twenty years.

Hard to believe, there are still tens of thousands of idealistic youth coming up around the world who dream of becoming "journalists." They see themselves as future foreign correspondents, jetting around the world from one hotspot to another on their expense account, meeting and interviewing the famous and infamous, filing stories exquisitely researched and of course always "objective" to the core, because that's how you learn to do it at J-school.

Bullshit!

Nevermind expense accounts; today's J-school grads fight one another for unpaid internships.

Objectivity? The J-school grad learns quickly that objectivity is a really great thing so long as it doesn't rock the boat too much among the corporate overlords who own modern media. If the up-and-coming J-star gets too objective they'll soon imperil their unpaid internship.

Then they'll be scrabbling for employment on the lower rungs of the journalism hierarchy. That'll find them at the local community newspaper, where they'll be competing for min wage employment with any high school grad who can wield a camera and string two sentences together.

But it gets so much worse, dear budding journalist. Folks who think about this stuff see a computer algorithm winning a Pulitzer within five years. That's got to light up the hearts of those corporate overlords! Unpaid interns might work cheap but they can still be a pain in the ass compared to a computer-generated algorithm.

That's pretty much the final nail in the coffin of the journalism profession. Journalism schools on the other hand will probably wobble on for another generation or two, due to institutional inertia and the desperation of credential-seeking aspirants who don't realize their train has long left the station.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What's so honourable about the National Day of Honour?

The Harper government has decreed that May 9 will be a "National Day of Honour" to commemorate our contribution to the failed Afghanistan war.

If there is one over-arching lesson to be learned from our tragic involvement in this farce, it is that Canada would be far better off without being bound by NATO obligations to go along with whatever foolishness the Pentagon deems the next critical mission to save freedom and democracy.

Not only would we be better off; so would the Afghans.

But the Harper gang has to paint a happy face on this abject failure.

Let's do justice to those who gave their lives to this meaningless and unnecessary conflict by declaring May 9 "Get Canada out of NATO" day.

US commits to more carnage in Syria

How else to explain the attention lavished on lame-duck "leader of the moderate Syrian opposition" Ahmad al-Jarba.

Jarba is completely an American fabrication. He commands no opposition on the ground in Syria, he doesn't spend any time in Syria and hasn't for years, but his imaginary leadership group is now officially recognized in Washington as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people.

The fake news about this independent rebel leader looking to America for heavier weapons is at this stage in the Syria war just a propaganda smoke-screen designed to hide the fact that Bashar Assad's military is beating the crap out of our "rebels."

And they are "our rebels."

The original protests would have fizzled out soon enough without the entire US "democracy promotion" infrastructure propping it up and fanning the flames.

But the latest US-installed "leader of the moderate opposition" is getting front page cred with his call for heavier weapons.

That can only mean that America's free press is telegraphing the US commitment to many more years of carnage in Syria.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Boko Haram bride-stealing raid paves way for US boots on ground in Nigeria

A month ago Western media waxed jubilatory as the news broke that Nigeria was now the biggest economy in Africa.

The fact that this "achievement" was due to accounting hanky-panky and not any actual change in the Nigerian economy was little commented on.

The fact that 50% of the population lives on less than a dollar a day wasn't mentioned at all.

The large-scale bride-stealing raid by Boko Haram is becoming the outrage-du-jour in that same Western media, and that's created a receptive environment for the West to "help" Nigeria even more. No less an altruistic helper than AFRICOM is ready to pony up military advisers etc. according to US Secretary of State John Kerry.

There's a reason Boko Haram is gaining traction in Nigeria. In the Muslim north of the country the poverty is even more excruciating than in the south. The billions upon billions of oil wealth has ended up on the balance sheets of foreign oil multi-nationals and in the pockets of their tiny clique of corrupt Nigerian insiders.

People are pissed off and are not going to take it any more.

Yup, that's a classic case of Islamic terrorism if ever there was one!

And OH MY GOD LOOK THEY KIDNAPPED INNOCENT TEENAGE GIRLS!

Not even the heinous al-Qaeda has ever stooped to such depraved depths of barbarity!

Obviously, it's high time to send in the US Marines and the drones to protect the teenage girls...
and the oil.

Monday, May 5, 2014

What if America went down the toilet and nobody noticed?

I'm not sure exactly what psychoanalytic anthropologists do, but William Manson found time to speculate about the future of America's working classes in a story on view at Counterpunch.

And those folks in W. Virginia that Trip Gabriel was writing about in the New York Times are exactly the kind of people Manson is worried about.

Here's the thing; that's the fastest growing demographic in America. Folks are falling through the cracks and then falling through the cracks again till they eventually fall right off the map.

Jobless.

Homeless.

This is happening to entire families. Where once there was a social safety net of sorts to at least break the fall, now there's a growing population building a parallel society beyond the margins of official America.

That 92 million Americans of working age are not in the workforce is an interesting statistic. They can't all be trust funders.

But they are all but invisible to official America, where people watch Fox News and CNN and vote for the Democratic or the Republican party.

What's happening is that official America is losing population and the population beyond the margins is growing by leaps and bounds.

As that population shift gains momentum, it will have the potential to generate radical change. Official America won't notice, because Fox and CNN will continue to reassure that ever-shrinking America that everything is hunky-dory, God's plan is unfolding as it should, American Empire is more virile and virtuous than ever...

All the way into the abyss.

And all the way there, the mainstream propaganda outlets will trumpet an economic rebirth built on eight dollar an hour jobs, and will celebrate the endless wars that let Americans, at least some of them, believe the Empire lives.

Canada's shameful neglect of native women

The Harper gang doesn't miss too many opportunities to toot its horn about the many wonderful initiatives they have underwritten to improve the welfare of women and children worldwide. Here's a press release from the Department of Foreign Affairs website a few days ago; Canadian Leadership Saving the Lives of Women and Children Around the World.

A couple of days later we are advised Canadian Leadership Saving Lives of Women and Children in sub-Saharan Africa.

And today we learn Canadian leadership improving maternal health and newborn nutrition around the world.

That's a lot of leadership! Our very own Harper gang must be the most virtuous in the entire world when it comes to improving the lot of women and children... or at least when it comes to grandstanding on the issue.

But when it comes to native women and children right here in Canada, all that altruism goes right out the window.

Stephen Maher of Postmedia News points out the Harper gang's blind spot in an article today about the complete absence of concern over the stunning revelation that 1186 native women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada over the past few decades.

Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It is good that we care about improving the lives of women and children in sub-Saharan Africa...

But it's difficult to square that concern with the refusal to so much as call an inquiry into the fate of those 1186.

Institutionalized racism at its most obvious.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Piketty is a wife-beater!

It's a true fact!

So why would you want to befoul your good conscience by reading his virulently anti-capitalist and anti-American screed Capitalism in the 21st Century?

Obviously the apologists for the status quo are having trouble refuting his research on academic grounds, so they resort to pulling some unsavory personal details out of the hat.

Piketty's main point is that capitalism is in serious difficulty. What the status quo advocates are so afraid of is that this point, long considered self-evident to the serious left, is gaining traction among mainstream economists traditionally considered center and even right of that.

It's a classic and all too desperate Ad hominem.

Capitalism as we know it is in crisis whether Thomas Piketty abused his girlfriend or not.


Heartbreak for Raptors

So a seven game series comes down to the last second and a one point win for the Nets.

That's the beauty of b'ball!

Nobody leaves with twenty minutes left because the final score is a foregone conclusion, as they will for hockey or football.

Anyway, next round for the Nets is going to be four short games and they'll be playing summer league too.

Heat all the way.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Atleo falls on his sword

The sudden resignation of Shawn Atleo today is a good-news bad-news story.

It's bad news because it throws native leadership into disarray at a time when native leadership is more important than ever.

But it's good news because it opens the door for serious native leadership who are not captured by the "hang around the fort" mentallity that captured Atleo.

Sound native leadership will not only reshape the future of Canada's native population, it will reshape the future of Canada.

Atleo, whatever his good intentions, was never the guy who was going to make that happen.

Waiting for "the big one"

Redd Foxx was one of the funniest guys in the history of funny. His Sanford and Son sitcom was must-watch viewing back in the day.

His guest spots on Flip Wilson's show were piss-your-pants funny too. Who can ever forget those times when he showed up as a guest at the "Church of what's happening now."

Timeless and unforgettable shit!

But what's got me going about Redd is that schtick he had when he was Fred Sanford, where about once per episode, on cue, he'd be having "the big one." He'd stagger around clutching his chest proclaiming "I'm coming to join ya, Elizabeth... this is the big one..."

Well, the other day, I was staggering around clutching my chest, and all I was saying was "something's wrong." And something was wrong. I'd taken the hounds out for their morning romp, and by God, I could hardly summon the strength to get home.

But I got home, staggered to the couch, and ten minutes later I was fine.

False alarm!

You'd think that'd be the end of that and we'd all celebrate by hoisting a few and firing up the bong!

You'd be wrong, wrong, wrong...

Instead, the Farm Manager is all over me going in to get "checked out."

Ya right...

First of all, I've got shit to do. Tommorow I'm taking Junior to the airport. Next day I'm gonna meet my pal Kipling for a lovely bacon and egg breakfast at the Teviotdale Truck Stop. Never mind bacon and eggs; if ya go for the "Hungry Man" you get bacon AND sausages...

And I have a sneaking hunch that after I am "checked out" both the bacon and the sausages will be verboten.

Maybe even the eggs...

See why this getting "checked out" shit isn't something I'm keen to rush into?

To say nothing of the beer and the smokes...

Anyway, I'm hoping to make out like Fred Sanford; have the false alarm once a week and continue with business as usual.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Principles of Propaganda 101: only tell half the story

This story at CBC News by Trinh Theresa Do makes an interesting case study. It is interesting in the main because it appears to go beyond the usual anti-Putin boilerplate that we have come to expect from Western media.

Why lookee, there's even a quote from David Carment, Fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, advising the US to butt out of Ukraine! What could be more fair and more balanced?

What makes the story a propaganda classic is what it includes and what it doesn't. Included is the Turkey-Russia economic relationship. And yes, we are told that Turkey has been since 1952 and remains today a NATO member and therefore our staunch ally.

All true.

Not mentioned is President Erdogan's concerns over America's efforts to undermine his democratically elected government, concerns he voiced on the Charlie Rose Show just a few days ago.

And he has a point. The US has been actively working to undermine and eventually overthrow Erdogan for years. That's the NATO big dog working against the democratically elected government of another NATO nation.

Erdogan should be pissed off.

Also not mentioned is the Gulen gambit. America has been grooming Erdogan's successor, providing Fethullah Gulen with a lot more than sanctuary in the US for many years. Gulen is destined to be more than an Erdogan replacement; in fact, simply being leader of Turkey is probably far too trivial a trinket to entice Gulen at this point.

Gulen is destined to become the face of moderate Islam world-wide, fully endorsed by the CIA, Pentagon, and the beltway think-tankers.

So there's at least a couple of angles that escaped this otherwise well-balanced progaganda piece.

Which is why it's propaganda and not news.

Another imaginary "terror plot" falls apart

When Ahmed Abbassi was arrested in New York City a year ago, it was big news.

No less an authority than NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly opined that this was proof "terrorism has not abated."

Abbassi and his collaborators were on the verge of blowing up a passenger train and poisoning the water supply of a major city. They could have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

Ya right.

A year later authorities are quietly rigging a plea bargain to get him out of the country.

Obviously, if all those terror headlines had the slightest merit this would not be happening, but as with virtually all of these domestic terror tales, most of the "facts" originate from paid informants who have a vested interest in making stuff up.

So while terror may have abated, the fevered hunt for imaginary terror plots has not.

Marie Harf; the ballsiest bullshitter at the State Department since Hilary Clinton

Jen Psaki's supposed understudy at State is showing chops that overshadow her mentor.

Check out her performance after Turkey's lame-duck Erdogan suggested that the US was stirring up protests in Egypt, Turkey and Ukraine.

“We are not behind any of the legitimate, democratic protests we’ve seen in any of those countries. So let’s be very clear that this is not about what the U.S. is doing, because we’re not doing anything. This is an internal Turkish matter. That’s where they need to focus,” U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said during a daily press briefing on April 30.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan compared protests in Turkey, Egypt and Ukraineduring an interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose on April 28, claiming that the “same groups” from the U.S. were responsible for the unrest in those countries. 

Harf, however, said the claims were “ridiculous” and “not borne out by the facts on the ground.


Meanwhile, ten minutes with google turns up the following from the 2013 annual report of the National Endowment for Democracy, a fake NGO funded by the State Department which has spent billions stirring up protests anywhere the US doesn't like the government;

Number of anti-government groups funded in Turkey, 6.

In pre-coup Egypt, 22.

In Ukraine, a whopping 56!

That's a lot of "pro-democracy" anti-government activism being funded out of Washington, and remember, the NED is far from being the only conduit of US money.

Do you think Erdogan has a point?