Monday, October 31, 2016

Ukraine Pres Poroshenko pays high personal price for nation's freedom and democracy

Petro Poroshenko used to be one of the top oligarchs in Ukraine; those few dozens of visionaries who, due to their integrity, intelligence, and hard work managed to divide up the nation's wealth amongst themselves in the glorious (for them) window of opportunity that opened up just as the sun was setting on the Soviet empire.

While the fortunes of the vast majority of Ukrainians were going down the toilet, Poroshenko and his fellow oligarchs were shamelessly enriching themselves. Like his fellow oligarchs, Petro studiously scaffolded his political connections into an ever-growing personal fortune. In 2012 Forbes magazine welcomed him into the ranks of the world's billionaires. A year later his net worth stood at US$1.6 billions.

Alas, there then blew in the "Nuland-Pyatt Spring," the gentle breezes of which wafted through the Maidan in early 2014, grew and grew and grew in intensity until it was a virtual hurricane for freedom and human rights, its virtuous force 5 winds blowing an elected government clear out of the country!

Under a recent law, Ukraine's parliamentarians are now required to self-disclose their net worth. All to do with the never-ending war on corruption, don't you know, and according this story at Deutsche Welle,  Poroshenko has declared a meagre 26 millions!

Wow! From 1,600 millions to 26 millions in a mere two years? That loss is almost Trumpian in scale!

But perhaps we should not feel pity for the man prematurely. Didn't his name come up in those Panama Papers revelations? You don't suppose those shell companies were part of a plan to disappear his assets, do you?


Saturday, October 29, 2016

The relentless pursuit of happiness

What the fuck is "happiness" anyway?

I've got two divorces and a bankruptcy under my belt. Not a Trump or Reichmann bankruptcy, where you diddle the creditors while paying teams of $1,000/hour lawyers to ensure that you're going to keep your mansions and your yachts etc.

I'm talking about the kind of bankruptcy where you do in fact lose everything.

Regular folks have a different bankruptcy experience than the Trump and Reichmann crowd.

They get to keep everything while their buddies in the big banks take a loss on the balance sheet, and "business as usual" sails merrily along on its pre-ordained course.

That wasn't my bankruptcy.

And I've got the credit rating to prove it.

The Farm Manager is bitter that a bunch of her colleagues at her day job are taking time off to go on those all-inclusive holidays to Cuba or the Dominican Republic.

I figure why not just drink yourself silly in the comfort of your home?

If nothing else you'll save yourself all those hassles at the airport.

I can fire up the Ninja 500 or the Mustang 50 and be at the Wiarton liquor store in ten minutes.

Mind you, that only happens when you probably shouldn't be driving anyway.

Otherwise it's closer to fifteen minutes.

Shit happens.

Wiarton is changing. There's some decent restaurant action going on.

The Green Door would do a brisk business even if it was in downtown Toronto. Tim's a superb chef and he and Sarah make a great team. They're big city restauranteurs in a small town, and I've never had a bad experience at their place.

The guy who transformed Coalshed Willie's into Dockside Willie's deserves some accolades too. Don't let that Ford pick-up with the six inch lift fool you; this guy knows his culinary shit.

When you drive past the marina you notice there's a couple of fifty-foot-plus Sea-Rays berthed there. A nice used Sea-Ray 52 Sundancer is going to set you back half a million bucks.

You can still buy a decent abode in Wiarton for under 150.

When you go past the marina there's a few houses on the shore of Colpoy Bay before you get to the water treatment plant. One of those was on offer this year for half a million. It must have sold, because last weekend we drove up that road and there was a brand new Aston Martin parked outside that place that had been for sale.

In the rain.

When there's a perfectly good garage attached to the house...

Makes me wonder, what's in the garage?

Seems to me that the Aston Martin and fifty foot Sea Ray crowd are finding happiness right here in Wiarton.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Standing up to "Russian aggression"

I see where the Daily Mail is all-aboard for ramping up NATO provocations on Russia's borders.

And you have to love this map that details Putin's plan of attack!

The UK is sending 800 troops to Estonia as part of a Nato reaction to Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, with both sides increasing their military capability in eastern Europe in the biggest military build-up since the Cold War

Does Putin even know about this?

Thank God for that battalion of 800 UK troops who will stop the Ruskies overunning the Baltic states!

Would you call this a news story, or would you call it irresponsible war-mongering?

Dateline Canada: Is Trudeaumania on the wane?

Justin has had a year now to do something.

I mean do something other than swanning about on the world stage sniffing out photo-ops.

Electoral reform? Not so fast... we need to study it a little more...

Legalizing marijuana? Hey, we need more time to study that too...

Oh bullshit!

Lot's of countries have done it, plenty of US states too. It can't be rocket science. My hunch is they'll keep studying it till they're satisfied that their friends on Bay Street are going to be the big winners. Ya, it'll happen eventually, but welcome to corporate cannabis.

Big bud.

But there are signs that Justin's bottomless well of charisma isn't charming the rubes the way it used to. Check out this story at CBC about Justin's reception at the Young Workers Summit on the weekend.

Shouting and jeering?... forsooth!

Good on those millennials for asking real questions and demanding real answers instead of settling for a selfie with the golden boy.

The think tank here at Falling Downs figures we're seeing the emergence in Canada of the wave of disenchantment that has been sweeping the Western world, a disenchantment driven by working people who have had enough of the bullshit of their ruling elites.

It's another manifestation of the same rejection of business-as-usual that shocked the GOP aristocracy when an interloper pulled the Republican nomination out from under the stable of elite insiders who absolutely knew it belonged to one of them.

The same disgust with the establishment that, had it not been for a primary campaign utterly rigged by the Clinton machine, would have made Bernie Sanders the Democratic Party candidate.

People are choosing to say no to the status quo.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Walloons save Canada from CETA

CETA, the latest "free trade" boondoggle, negotiated by the Harper gang but now fully embraced by the Justinians, has been dealt a hopefully fatal blow by the Belgian state of Wallonia.

Trade agreements are so beloved by Canada's opinion makers that it has for a long time been deemed unnecessary to explain WHY these deals are good for us. They just are.

CETA offers little or nothing in gains for the average Canadian, but brings a whole lot of risks.

CETA will open up labour mobility for Canadian workers!

In fact, that will be Canada's biggest "win" under the agreement.


Yup, Canadian workers will be able to collect those massive EU paycheques our brothers and sisters in France and Germany take home!

Only one problem with that scenario; why would an employer in a high wage EU country hire Canadians, when they've got ready access to workers from EU members like Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Slovakia, where wages are typically less than half of what they are here or in Western Europe?

They wouldn't.

But under CETA Canadian employers would have access to those eastern European workers.

CETA also opens up government infrastructure programs to foreign companies. So, in the event that Toronto ever gets around to letting contracts on that $3 billion one-stop subway line Mayor John Tory has been touting, there's nothing to prevent a EU conglomerate from bidding on the contract and then building it with Bulgarian labour.

And this is a good deal for Canadian workers?

Get the fuck outta here!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ten things I learned from today's Globe and Mail

1. Elizabeth Renzetti wants me to know that she appeared alongside Margaret Atwood at a fundraising breakfast this week. Her column on A2 was devoted to sliming Donald Trump, who really doesn't need any help with that. She is very sad that "a sizeable proportion of the electorate" is prepared to vote "an alleged groper" into the Oval Office. Don't cry Liz; it's happened before.

2. It must have been a busy week for Renzetti. In addition to rubbing elbows with Atwood, she's got a feature interview with Bruce Springsteen in the Arts section. Not only is he a mega-zillionaire rock star, I learned that he is quite an audacious political pundit with some astute insights. He likes Hillary and thinks she'd be a very good president, whereas Donald is a real danger to democracy. Who knew?

3. The Focus section is mostly focused on Donald Trump this week. Tabatha Southey assures us that "there's little to remark upon in WikiLeaks heavily hyped document dump." Really? Wonder what Brad Marshall, Luis Miranda, Amy Dacey, or Debbie Wasserman Shultz would think about that assertion? She's also alerting us to the fact that Bad Vlad, Donald's hero, is probably behind this WikiLeaks outrage. The most recent document dumps also illustrate that, while Obama may be right that it's impossible to rig an American election, the Podesta emails convincingly demonstrate that the Dem hierarchy is determined to try.

4. Joanna Slater and Affan Chowdry inform me that the suggestion the election could be rigged is "preposterous." Whew! Good to know!

5. Joanna and Affan also make the observation that Al Gore was gracious after being swindled out of the 2000 election. They're worried Trump might not be as gracious. Yes, when the preposterous happens, it's good to have a gracious loser who is happy to roll over... for the good of the country, of course.

6. Still in the Focus section, John Ibbitsson informs me that to steal the election would require corrupting the media, the pollsters, and the vote itself. On the last point, google "hacking voting machines." For the former, see what you can find in those innocuous WikiLeaks revelations.

7. John also throws in a plug for the journalism profession, informing me there's a "crusading tradition of the craft." Sorry John; the tradition of progressive muck-raking journalism was dead by the time Washington unleashed shock and awe to vanquish Saddam's arsenal of WMDs, to the enthusiastic cheer-leading of your profession. And that was a quarter century ago. Get real!

8. John quotes professor Arthur Lupia of U of Michigan who assures us that "voter fraud is a myth." Good enough then, I guess. That tidbit follows a paragraph which references Project Veritas. Two high-end Dem operatives, one of whom has allegedly made hundreds of visits to the Obama White House, lost their jobs this past week after they admitted hiring people to stir up violence at Trump rallies. Corruption? What corruption? Shades of Hitler's Brown Shirts?

9. Slate's culture podcast host Stephen Metcalf gets a guest slot in the Focus section. He informs me that in the Trump camp "...preparations are being made for a ghastly finale, in which populism is turned loose on democracy itself." Wow! That's some scary shit!

10. I don't want to leave the impression that Canada's newspaper of record was only about American politics today. I did in fact learn about Adam Capay, a young native Canadian man who has spent over 1,500 days in solitary confinement. Thank you Patrick White!

For that The Korean charged me $5.75. I'm returning the paper tomorrow to get my money back.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pot-addled hillbilly screwed now that baseball season is over

Well, I guess it's not over if you're an Indians fan.

Speaking of which, did you hear about the Canadian do-gooders who went to court to prevent MLB using the term "Indians" and the Chief Wahoo logo?

They lost. Cleveland's MLB team are still the Indians, and their mascot is still that fake Indian chief.

I was surprised at the loss. MLB must have sent some pretty high-powered pinch-hitting lawyers up here to make that happen.

I get the point of the do-gooders; that buck-toothed Indian chief is derogatory in every way.

Here's my problem.

Native Canadians have had the dirty end of the stick for about 400 years.

When the do-gooders score a symbolic victory like getting the Cleveland Indians to change their name or drop their mascot, a lot of well-meaning people figure, hey, the work is done!

These symbolic victories take the pressure off governments to do anything meaningful.

So the Cleveland MLB team changes their name, they get a new mascot, and everything is happy happy except that the vast majority of North American native people still live in sub-standard housing, still have sub-standard health care and education, and still have incarceration rates and suicide rates that should make every social justice warrior blush.

But nobody sees that shit anymore because, hey looky here!... what a great symbolic victory we just won over Chief Wahoo and the dominant white racist culture.


Anyway, for a Toronto sports fan I guess we've got the Leafs to look forward to...

And those Blackhawks.

Jays done

Gotta admit I didn't join the Jays till the 8th. No, the sunlight streaming onto the front stoop was just too much of an attraction.

I had a choice.

Watch the sun set over the far ridge behind Bass Lake...

Or watch the sun set on the Blue Jays.

Turned out I got to watch both sunsets.

Hey, maybe next year!...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

There'll be nothing "sunny" about Canada's deployment of "peacekeepers" to Mali

Regular readers will already know that the think tank here at Falling Downs has their money on Mali being the destination of choice for Justin's yet-to-be-announced peace-keeper mission.

We came to that conclusion after a careful analysis of the Canadian-owned gold mines per capita stats in various African nations.

Ya, I know that might seem a bit cynical. Hey, maybe PM Sunny Ways has a new formula. If so, please let the public see that new formula!

I'm personally expecting more of the Harper era not-so-sunny tie-in between our investors and our peace-keepers.


A once proud and prosperous region of Africa rendered a shit-hole by the Nations of Virtue.

The beating heart of colonialism lives on via France's involvement there, according to the commies at the World Socialist Website.

Oddly enough, the beating heart of colonialism also keeps on beating there according to the neo-fascists at the John Birch Society.

When the far left and the far right agree that Mali is a nation fucked over big-time by the former colonisers, I'm ready to buy in.

Obviously, PM Sunny Days is too... but just what is he buying into?

For my (tax) money, I'd rather see those "peacekeepers" up in Attawapiskat building some decent housing or something...

Or maybe some flood barriers in Winnipeg...

Or some social housing in Toronto, where the minimum wage has you making under two thousand a month before deductions and a one bedroom apartment will set you back... about what you just made that month!

Too bad about the groceries and all that other shit... hey, not to worry; that's why we have such a nice network of foodbanks!

Come to think of it, we've got all kinds of shit right here at home that our money and manpower could address, instead of spreading more colonialist goodness in Africa.

This amigo presides over a failed state

When the wildly over-hyped "Three Amigos Summit" played out in Ottawa last summer, the news consuming public was treated to a tsunami of bullshit about how great NAFTA has been for all concerned and how photogenic the two most recently elected amigos were.

We haven't heard much about Mexico since, probably because when you spend virtually all your news resources smearing one Donald J. Trump, there's really not much room left in the schedule to broadcast actual news.

Frankly, I had no idea that three Catholic priests were murdered in Mexico in September in the space of a week, or that fifteen priests have been murdered in the past four years, until I accidentally stumbled over the story at the Guardian. But I sure was acquainted with Mr. Trump's potty-mouth, which has been by far the biggest story in American media for the past few months.

That British website certainly indulges ample anti-Trump fear-mongering on its own account, but at least they still find the energy to report other stories.

That's quite an interesting stat plopped in there near the end; over 97% of crime in Mexico is either never reported or never investigated. A further stat the story doesn't mention; of the less than 3% of crimes reported and investigated, over 90% are never solved.

Those are failed-state kind of numbers, are they not?

Monday, October 17, 2016

What's new in the "war on terror?"

Well, the good guys are about to put the boots to the bad guys in Mosul.

And that's a good thing, of course!

Read around a bit and you'll find plenty of stories that claim thousands of Mosul jihadis have already been spirited to Raqqa in Syria. By the US allies.

Yup, no point killing them in Iraq if they can be useful in making regime change in Syria,

I suspect the Mosul operation will go swimmingly well.

The Raqqa operation, not so much.

Why America's "Deep State" cannot allow a Trump win

It's all about Putin.

Trump is on the record more than once claiming he wants to "get along" with the evil dictator.

Consider the ramifications.

If America were to get along with Putin, that would put paid to the Russia-USA rivalry.

Good-bye Carlyle Group shareholder value, and many others as well.

What's going to happen to the fabulous Lockheed-Martin F-35 boondoggle when people realize it's a boondoggle?

If America didn't have to spend trillions on imaginary military solutions to imaginary problems, America might be able to afford health care and housing for her veterans.

Any candidate who calls out this great boondoggle will of course be roundly vilified by the establishment that stands to lose everything if the American people sniff out this scam that's been funded by their tax dollars since forever.

That's why Trump can't be allowed to win in November.

And if he does, he'll meet an unfortunate plane crash or a random shooter before January.

Welcome to Amy Schumer's "I'm with her" comedy tour

Amy obviously got the memo.

When you've got the right management team and the right publicists and the right promo machinery in place, you're gonna get the memo. Not only that, but you're going to get gigs.

That memo led Amy to conclude that a joke, if it can be called that, about Trump wanting to finger his daughter, would be a great laffer at her Tampa show the other day.

Didn't quite turn out that way.

There's gonna be poly-sci and journalism students writing dissertations for the next fifty years about how the "news business" uniformly took an anti-Trump pro-Clinton tack in this election, a reality that nobody can deny.

Any regular reader of this blog knows what I think about Trump. Two years ago I had him taking the number two slot in a possible Jindal White House run. Come to think of it, that may well have been a viable team. Just imagine an East Indian guy and a Manhattan liberal on the GOP ticket! That would have been a slam dunk!


At least not on the GOP ticket.

Anyway, it didn't happen. But this concerted media evisceration of the GOP candidate is completely unprecedented.

On my evening CBC newscast today I got oodles of info on the latest Trump controversy, which at this particular moment seems to be about his claiming the elections are rigged.

Ask Al Gore about that one.

But there's nary a word about those thousands of Podesta emails that have been dumped in the public square, which, if nothing else, demonstrate that the team around Hillary is more than happy to game the system.

Amy and her ilk need to take a cold hard look at who they're campaigning for.

When they come to their senses they'll realize Jill Stein wasn't such a bad idea after all.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Who can possibly be surprised at the collapse of Obamacare?

It looks like the private insurers are abandoning Obamacare in droves.

And no wonder. Being forced to provide health insurance to sick people would be the kiss of death for any private for-profit health care outfit.

For-profit health care only makes a profit by NOT providing health care to sick people. How hard is that to understand?

Too hard for much of America, by the looks of things.

Trump tried hard to slime Canada's single payer system by pointing out that many Canadians choose to spend their own money to travel to the US for timely health care.

He has a point. My own dear mother was one of those Canadians who opted to cross the border to get timely health care rather than wait for her spot in the line-up in the Canadian one.

That's a problem Canada needs to solve.

But I recall my dear daddy explaining to some of our New Jersey relations that nobody in Canada ever went bankrupt because they couldn't afford their health care.

He had a point too.

Canada's single payer system has issues. Issues that can be remedied with more astute management.

The for-profit American system of health care is irredeemably fucked.

Why should corporate interests be enriched by denying sick folks the health care they need?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Personality crisis

It was a late autumn afternoon in Guelph sometime in the mid 70's. The New York Dolls had just come out with an album that, I recall to this day, was pegged by one of the top rock & roll writers as a collision between the Rolling Stones and a semi-truck. I think it might have been Lester Bangs, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, I was so exquisitely drug-addled on that autumn afternoon that I decided, then and there, that I was heading to New York City to make my mark, come what may.

I was off to New York City!

Stood in front of my house out there on Hwy 86 with my thumb out and a knapsack slung over my shoulder.

A couple hours later I'd made it as far as the corner of Hanlon Expressway and College Ave. The drugs were wearing off. It was dark by now. Cold too, and rapidly getting colder.

Soon I was cold sober, ten miles from my house but still 500 miles from New York City.

That's when I remembered that my pal Higgins lived just a couple of blocks from that intersection.

Long story short, after I got cold enough, I made the fateful decision to walk a couple of blocks instead of hitch-hiking my way to NYC, unlike the protagonist in a famous Lou Reed song.

Higgins' place was warm! I pulled the forty pounder of CC out of that knapsack and me and Higgins made a night of it.

So if you're wondering why I never made it big in the NYC underground music scene, blame Higgins.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Oh oh... Justin's Canada perilously close to punching above its weight again

Just when you figure it's safe to say that Justin's done absolutely nothing with his first year in office, along comes this story.

Yup, apparently we are leading important initiatives at the UN again. In this case it's the initiative to prohibit the vile but duly elected Assad regime from killing "armed moderates" who seek to overthrow the state.


Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Will Justin actually ever do anything? Or is he just waiting around till he can officially be Hillary's well-coiffed poodle?

Latest Podesta emails reveal... OH MY GAWD DID TRUMP JUST SAY THAT?!?!?!

Did it strike you as odd that just in time for that first tranche of Podesta emails, a Trump "sex tape" came out of the woodwork?

And as thousands upon thousands of deeply incriminating emails betwixt and between various Dem aristocracy operatives find the light of day, the national brand media franchises focus instead on who Donald Trump may have groped?

You'd almost think that Big Media and Big Politics were in cahoots!

The guidance counsellor should be wearing this one

So I see where one Crenshanda Williams has found her fifteen minutes. And probably not in the way she'd hoped for.

No, instead, she will always be seen as a heartless shrew... I mean, who hangs up on a 911 call?

Especially when they've got a job as a 911 operator.

But I for one believe the rush to judgement we see in the media is more than a little unfair to Crenshanda.

I'm willing to bet that when she embarked on her career as a helper of desperate persons, she was probably one of those do-gooders who are so full of the milk of human kindness there's puddles on their cubicle floor.

Then the reality of the job takes over. Every other call is a butt-dial. After that, every other call is somebody who locked themselves out of their apartment or locked their keys in the car.

If you're not really really committed, you could get jaded pretty quick. I really sympathise with Crenshanda, because I think I'd get jaded too.

I mean, just a week ago, we had a story in the news where a local teen called 911 because her parents made her go on holiday with them... what do you say to that caller?

Let me see if I got this right. You called 911 because your parents took you to Auntie Evelyn's cottage for a week?



Hey kid, get the fuck outta here!


Ya, I can see where it might happen.

But isn't that where the high school guidance counsellor should be held accountable?  Did they not have a responsibility to know Crenshanda well enough to offer her meaningful career advice?

Apparently not.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Political Correctitude alive and well in Canada

Couple of stories caught my eye today that made me say getthefuckouttahere. I was sitting in the public library at the time, so of course I said that under my breath, but after I got back in the woods here at hillbilly central I just had to holler it out...


Here's the story of Maj. Gen Mike Rouleau's court martial.

Here's the story behind his court martial; he was reloading his weapon when it misfired. Nobody got hurt.

That's cause for a fucking court martial?

Get the fuck outta here!

Here's the other one.

Seems that Ontario's Human Right's Commish Renu Mendhane has implored the Blue Jays and MLB to refrain from referring to Cleveland's NLB team as the "Indians," because that's disrespectful to Indians. You, know, the actual Indians who used to own this continent.

Not those other Indians who invented curry and whose restaurants we now favour.

I kinda in a way almost see the point. Here's the problem; you get to make some trite symbolic gesture, and that gives you a free pass to do fuck all about the real issues for the next year, next five years, next generation...

The real issues are, in no particular order:

  • the housing crisis in native communities
  • the education crisis in native communities
  • the employment crisis in native communities
  • the health care crisis in native communities
  • the clean-water crisis in native communities
And that's just scratching the surface. Not calling the Cleveland Indians the Cleveland Indians is going to make what difference to any of these crises?

None. Zip. Nada.

It'll make the feel-good crowd feel good that they "accomplished" something.

Get the fuck outta here!

If Dog Lives Matter, the scourge of political correctitude must be pretty much down for the count...

Gotta admit that in my adventures in literacy BLM used to mean "Bureau of Land Management." That's the government bureaucrats who prevent redneck white cowboys from running their cattle on public lands for free.

I kinda thought that wasn't a bad idea, keeping private cattle off public lands, which made me a bit of a socialist at the time. If not a communist.

Then Black Lives Matter comes along and I have to do a double check on any BLM headline. Are they talking about this BLM or that BLM?

There's not a heck of a lot of common ground between the two BLMs.

The black BLM is kinda floating along on the winds of political correctitude.

The Bureau of Land Management, not so much.

 The other BLM has taken umbrage over appropriations of their slogan. White Lives Matter? That's disrespectful of black lives. Blue Lives Matter? That's beyond the pale.

But when pop-culture mega-star Axl Rose tweets that "Dog Lives Matter" we don't hear a lot of complaining from the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Why not?

Well, because dogs are dogs and cops are cops. Whites are white and blacks are black. Axl Rose is... well Axl Rose I guess, and as a pop culture superstar he has a license to say whatever he wants to say, without censure.

But it does seem to pencil in some limits to political correctitude... as in, you can transgress the boundaries if you are a bona fide star in the pop culture firmament.

Otherwise, you're a racist shit-bag.

Speaking of shit-bags, Mr. Trump sure hit the wall this weekend, did he not? That wildly misogynistic tape put him dead to rights, eh?

Well, I'm not so sure. Here's one of the left's (and I'm talking about the actual left, not the Clintonesque-Dem fake left that today finds itself to the right of the Republican candidate on practically everything) uber-swamis, Counterpunch grandee Jeffrey St. Clair, musing about the long history of senior pols on both sides of the aisle proving themselves at least as misogynistic as Mr. Trump.

I was surprised he forgot to mention Trump's fellow Manhattan billionaire, Michael Bloomberg.

Surely the virus of political correctitude has infected all parties on all sides. Just as the scourge of misogyny did before it.

But what bothers me is that our corporate media found copious acres of space available for Trump's alleged transgressions this weekend, which are utterly irrelevant, and absolutely no space for the thousands of Podesta emails that were leaked this weekend, which have an immediate bearing on the future of America should Hillary become the next President of the United States.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

More evidence-free cheer-leading for "free trade"

I see where Toronto Star business columnist David Olive has another screed on view about how great globalization/free trade is for us; World must accept realities of globalization.

Oh, must it really?

Is this an article about actual facts, or is it vacuous pro business propaganda? I've read it through a few times, and I can find no reason why the "world must accept realities of globalization."

The sub-head kind of gives the game away, doesn't it? If you're iffy about "free trade" you're obviously a xenophobe. Nobody in Canada wants to be a xenophobe. Heck, if you're a xenophobe in Canada you're probably a scab-picking opioid addict who hates immigrants and sympathises with the racist Trump campaign. Who wants to be tarred with that brush?

Here are David Olive's proofs that free trade is great.

Here are some inconvenient truths for free trade critics:
  • To oppose free trade now is to close the barn door long after horse has gone. Due to the lingering malaise from the Great Recession, growth in trade this year will be a mere 1.7 per cent, compared with an annual 7 per cent in the 1980s and 1990s. Growth in world trade has been slowing to a crawl for years.
Hmm... was not the Great Recession the result of the Lehman collapse, which was a result of the deregulation that is part and parcel of globalization?
  • The decline of globalization is bad for poor people. More vigorous trade among countries over the past generation is the leading factor in the reduction of extreme poverty worldwide, which has been cut in half over the past two decades. About three years ago, the UN was able report that for the first time in history, the number of poor people in the world had ceased to grow, and is now in decline.
This is a result of "free trade?" Really? The biggest improvements in poverty stats over the past generation have come from India and China. Show me the free trade agreements that made this improvement possible.
  • The goods that account for so many of the offerings at Wal-Mart, Costco, Dollarama, Home Depot and the like — imported from China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and other lower-wage countries — have for the past three decades reduced the rate of inflation in North America by about 1 per cent a year. Considering that the current rate of inflation in each of Canada and the U.S. is 1.1 per cent, that’s no small number. Globalization raises incomes in emerging economies, while in the West it drives down the cost of living.
There you have it, working class America; your wages have been stagnant for forty years but you can buy a 52 inch flat-screen TV for under five hundred bucks at Wal-Mart, so stop whining already.
  • Any business or country intent on growing its sales or economy is compelled to seek free-trade access to emerging economies. There just isn’t enough GDP growth in the mature economies to sustain growth rates of more than 1 per cent or 2 per cent. The fastest-growing markets for the West’s high-priced goods, including cars, energy-efficient appliances and mainframe computers — are located among the emerging economies, greater access to which the vilified trade deals would make possible.
Growth growth growth... if we're to have a sustainable economy and a sustainable planet, we seriously need to get away from this obsession with growth. Why can't we have sustainable stability instead?
  • Especially in the U.S., trade deals are condemned as job killers. But it’s not the fault of any trade deal that North America has starved its social infrastructure, notably education. We haven’t confronted technology’s impact on low-income workers who often are “precariously employed,” lacking job security. The U.S. ranks a dismal 30th in student test scores, and Canada ranks an unimpressive 13th. North America’s real problems include income inequality; gender bias in hiring, pay and promotions; the affordable housing shortage; and the impact of private-sector underfunding of R&D.
And how will the TPP and the other trade agreements in the pipeline rectify any of those problems? 
  • No question, the TPP is ambitious. Of course, its stated aims include spurring economic growth in Canada, the U.S. and the 10 other founding TPP members. But it also promotes faster access to cheaper generic drugs (much to the annoyance of Big Pharma); eradication of child labour and forced labour; the right to collective bargaining (that could be a problem for Southern U.S. states that effectively prohibit unionization, a major contributor to income inequality); improvement in workplace conditions, notably safety; and stricter environmental protections. That’s a short list of both social and economic improvements the TPP, CETA and the TTIP are committed to achieving.
Olive is writing pure fiction now. TPP will reduce prices for prescription drugs? That's not what I've been reading. And Big Pharma is annoyed with the TPP? Olive knows this how? Big Pharma has been inside the TPP tent while the agreement was crafted. The media and politicians were not. There's been zero transparency about the TPP, and what little we know comes from unauthorized leaks. But Olive knows Big Pharma is annoyed?

I don't think so.

But my biggest problem with Olive's vapid spot of cheer-leading was this non-sequitur in the middle of his story;

 We’ve seen the 1965 Auto Pact transform southern Ontario into an industrial powerhouse. 

What's David been smoking? Not that I disagree with the statement that the Auto Pact transformed southern Ontario into an industrial powerhouse, but because the Auto Pact was the very opposite of a free trade agreement!

The Auto Pact was about strictly regulated trade, not "free trade."

And what's happened to that southern Ontario industrial powerhouse since NAFTA?

Southern Ontario's powerhouse manufacturing sector was utterly decimated by NAFTA. I know, because I used to work there. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

10,000 NGOs rub their hands in glee as disaster flattens Haiti yet again

Yup, there's another tsunami of relief money heading to Haiti! Billions upon billions will be flooding into that benighted land in the coming months.

Luckily, Haiti has the NGO infrastructure in place to absorb all that money. There's at least 10,000 NGOs on the ground to soak up all that cash. In fact, some estimates put the NGO count at over 16,000.

No matter how you look at it, there are more do-gooders on the ground in Haiti than anywhere else on the planet. The question is, are they doing any good?

Or are they just cashing in?

The results of NGO do-gooderism in past disasters have been less than impressive. You've had all the A-list superstars from Bill Clinton to Bono to Sean Penn helping Haiti, and Haiti is still totally fucked. With billions of dollars on offer and stalwarts like Bono and Bill and Penn steering the ship, wouldn't you think we'd be seeing some positive results by now?

Nope. Haiti just moves from one disaster to the next. In between, we in the Nations of Virtue sometimes have to intervene to prevent the Haitian populace from electing some wild-eyed socialist like that Aristide guy.

Like, what the fuck is he all about?... giving Haiti over to Haitians?

That is some crazy shit!

No wonder they need 10,000 NGOs... and the US military to hook him off stage every time he gets too close to the levers of power.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Remembering the great teachers I had coming up

If you think you're going to read about my years at the feet of Wittgenstein, turn the page... this is about my grade one teacher etc.

Grade one was Ms. Farquhar, if I'm not mistaken. My first year of formal education. I still remember my very first day of my first year. My father dropped me off at Elora Public School, said a few words to the teacher, and off he went. I remember waving bye-bye.

Those were the days before Kindergarten and pre-Kindergarten and so forth. They're putting two year olds on the school bus these days, for fucks sakes.

By that time he'd picked up a few words of English. He'd been working at Omark for a few years. When you're on the job I guess you're kinda forced to pick up a few words. Unfortunately, once he got home from work everything was in my native tongue. Don't think I had more than three words of the English language by the time he dropped me off that day.

So it was sink or swim.

I don't know about swimming, but I must have at least floated, because by the end of that first year I was in the back row with the bunnies instead of in the front row with the turtles. Ya, there was a bunnies-turtles continuum in play even back then. Everybody knew who was slow and who wasn't.

Having a blackout about who the grade two teacher was, but I remember her car; a '59 Buick with fins and angled headlights.

Grade three, it was Ms. Plyly. And by the way, back in the day these "Ms." folks were always Miss or Mrs. It was to be another quarter century before the honorific "Ms." was invented.

Grade four was at a new school, Ponsonby Public. That's where I first crossed paths with David Card. Ya, long before he was a famous economist he was a simple farm lad from southern Ontario. Our teacher was Ms. Prickett. My one memory of her was when she freaked out at my misbehaviour the day the itinerant music teacher, a Mr. Bennett, visited our class. Apparently I was the first one in the cloak room when the bell went, and Mr. Bennett was not yet finished his accordion solo for our class.

In hindsight, I figure she may have had some designs on Mr. Bennett and my rude snub of him may have dimmed her chances. Hope not.

Grade five was Ms. Moore. I remember her telling me I'd buy her a grand piano when I got rich. Hey Ms. Moore, I'm not quite there yet, but after I syndicate this blog into e-zines, that piano could still be coming your way... but at 150 years old your arthritis may make it difficult to play...

Grade six saw me at Marden Public School under the tutelage of a Ms. Tawse. Overall, I'd have to say she was kind to me, even though I recall getting strapped for something that really belonged to Bill Bailey. Bill was one of those guys born to be a pirate and lived the pirate life, although I do recall an exchange with him when I ran into him at a gas bar many years later... "well, you can't just loot and pillage your whole life..."

You couldn't?

Fuck! What a bummer it was hearing that news come out of Bill's mouth. He could have saved me a whack of grief had he shared that insight in grade six.

By grade eight I was in the hands of Ms. McCall. She had the keener class at Willow Road, and I was bumped into it after the first month of the school year because the two English twats in charge of the dummy class thought I was misplaced.

Ha ha ha!!!

Then there was high school. GCVI.

A whole 'nother chapter...

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

White House 2016; choosing an overseer for the disintegration of the Empire

America is in decline.

Any serious person already knows this. Even the serious people who opine in the hallowed pages of the NYT or the Washington Post know they're talking shit when they talk about "American exceptionalism" etc. They know the jig is up but they're committed to maintaining the illusion.

Rodrigo Duterte, recently elected president of the Philippines, knows the jig is up too. That's why he's A-OK telling Obama to go to hell.

And he's only the most recent example of former vassal states giving the finger to Uncle Sam. NATO ally Turkey has gone rogue. The Saudis are no longer reliable allies. Israel has long been laughing off American scolding about their egregious land theft and ethnic-cleansing strategy. And why not? After forty years of American finger wagging about their settlement policy, they were just rewarded with the biggest "aid" package in US history; 38 billions in American military aid over ten years. (The fact that this is in reality a 38 billion dollar gift to the US military-industrial complex is another story.)

So the truth is, more and more former allies no longer take America seriously.

The US electorate is poised to elect a caretaker to oversee the next four years of America's decline. Due to the deliberately engineered slovenliness of America's education system, the vast majority of eligible voters are convinced that they have but two choices; Trump or Clinton. Yes, it's a forgone conclusion that one of those will be the next POTUS.

Trump claims he wants to "make America great again." Nobody knows what he means when he says that. Looking at his record, I'd guess he's hoping to make Trump even greater. He'd like to see more Trump Towers in more places. However crass and narcissistic you may find the man, there's nothing about the guy's track record that suggests he'd take any pleasure in setting entire nations aflame. No, he'd much rather see a Trump Tower in Damascus than nuke the place. Or Moscow. Or Manilla. Or anywhere.

Clinton is another story. She has a long record of setting entire nations aflame. If you saw General John Allen's flame-thrower of a speech at the DNC you can bet there'll be lots more to come.

America is indeed exceptional. Homeless vets live in the streets by the thousands. Twenty military veterans chose to end their own lives every day. America remains the only developed nation without a national single-payer health care program. America's schools continue their inexorable plunge in international rankings.

That's exceptional alright.

If you want a president who will grab the naysayers like Putin and Erdogan and Duterte by the neck and shake some sense into them, vote Hillary.

If you'd rather have a president who wants to get along with Putin and Erdogan and Duterte, and will settle for a few more buildings with his name on them, vote Trump.

Electing Trump might result in a few more Trump Towers in the short term. In the long term it might result in more people realising that the USA desperately needs serious electoral reform.

Electing Clinton would more likely result in serious conflict on any number of fronts, to the point where the entire world will be in flames... at which time it will probably be too late for those election reforms.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The white working class; America's new niggers

America's white working class, or what's left of it, are the new niggers in American society. Meaning you can shit on them, spit on them, hiss at them, and piss on them in this age of political correctitude with complete impunity.

Take a gander at this bit of slander from Kevin Williamson at National Review a few months ago.

Had Mr. Williamson posted similar slanders about black folks, BLM would have been holding a vigil in front of his house ever since.

But in the event, nothing much ever happened. The white working class are opioid-addled dumbfucks who deserve to die. Plus, they're selfish and lazy. So there you go... they've somehow slipped the leash of your regular Christian virtues and just went to complete shit.

So let's write 'em off and bury them... maybe we could open some camps for them... I mean they're mostly living in their cars anyway, what have they got to lose?

Almost fifty years ago a guy by the name of Pierre Vallieres was sitting in a jail cell in New York State, using his spare time to write a book that came out as White niggers of America.

He wrote from a Quebecois perspective, but also from a working class perspective.

Seems to me he was about fifty years ahead of his time.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Journalism is over

But journalism schools are not. Not yet, anyway.

Sooner or later the young keeners who want to become the next Oriana Fallaci or I.F. Stone will have to face a new reality. There is no place in contemporary journalism for that kind of reportage.

Me and the Farm Manager travelled to Port Elgin today for Pumpkinfest. We go for the cars, not the pumpkins. It costs five bucks to see the pumpkins. The cars are free. It's one of the finest free car shows you'll ever get anywhere.

Thirty years ago I was doing a bit of writing for my college paper, the Ontarion. Interviewed the President of the Ontario Veterinary College for a story. By the time I got home there was a message on my answering machine from his secretary; he'd like to see the story before it came out. As in he'd "like to see" it or else.

Or else what?

He was the top dog at the most prestigious school at U of Goo.

I was a dumbshit undergrad with writerly pretensions.

He wore a Rolex.

I wore a Timex.

Or else what do you think?

Big turn-out of vintage muscle cars today, and also a lot of old pick-ups. My spirits were buoyed by the FM's attraction to a number of fifty's era trucks. I can almost see myself bringing home a mid-fifties hot-rodded F-100 and getting away with it...


Nice turn out of sixties and seventies muscle cars; Super Bees, Road Runners, and so forth. What a shame that you can go to your local Subaru dealer and buy a car off the lot that will smoke those "muscle cars" in the quarter mile, never mind what they'll do to you in a corner.

There were a number of big block Chevys on display, including a supercharged Chevelle with wheelie bars. You can go to your local Dodge dealer and order up a four-door Dodge Charger that will leave your supercharged Chevelle with its wheelie bars twenty car-lengths behind in a drag race.

On the way home I stopped at the Korean variety store and picked up my Saturday Globe and Mail for $5.25. Joked with the guy behind the counter about when it might become a six dollar newspaper.

Probably next month, we agreed.

When I related that exchange to the FM, she rejoindered, "journalism is over."

And she's right.

Would Bernstein or Woodward get past their unpaid internship today? Or Seymour Hersh? I doubt it.

Helen Thomas had a great thing going till she ran afoul of the winds of political correctitude.

If those winds are strong enough to silence a veteran journo like her, imagine how they must intimidate some newbie hoping to impress on her unpaid internship.

We've still got a few folks speaking truth to power. Gideon Levy and Robert Fisk come to mind. But by and large the media space is now occupied by complacent and compliant J-school grads who will tweet and blog and Facebook according to their employers expectations.

The Farm Manager was right.

Journalism is over.

Alzheimer Air: America's first black president belatedly takes to the skies, almost missing flight on Air Force One out of Israel

Well, what else could Obama do? Leave the first black president wandering aimlessly about the tarmac?

Bill and Barry had taken Air Force One to Shimon Peres' funeral, where both of them laboured to lard up the deceased mostly fabricated reputation as a "man of peace," an exercise in revisionism that did not go unnoticed even in mainstream news platforms.

But watch this charming interaction between America's first and second black presidents.

Bill! Let's go!

That video clip does a brilliant job in humanising two men who each have more blood on their hands than anybody who has sat in the dock at the ICC thus far.