Saturday, January 28, 2006

Emergencies don't wait.

Does capitalism have to ultimately end if we are going to rescue this planet? Yes. Is it going to end anytime soon, whether we dream it to happen or not? No. We can have an end goal of eliminating capitalism in mind, but in the meantime, we have to work within current realities. There are real emergencies facing us right now. Darfur. AIDS and extreme poverty in Africa. Ballistic missile defence. A US government with a hegemonic agenda. In light of all this, we can't wait for the capitalist system to fall. We have to start the battle on these issues now. These issue will not wait. They will get worse. Yes, I realize that capitalism contributes at least in part to each of these emergencies. However, we can and must fight to address these emergencies with the consideration that capitalism will be in place as the dominant economic system in the world.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Palestinian election.

Hamas has won the Palestinian parliamentary elections. Now, I would not have voted for them. They're too militaristic and socially conservative for me. However, The Palestinian people have spoken, and that is who the world has to deal with. I hope that Israel respects the democratic choices of the Palestinian people. They did call for the destruction of Israel in their campaign, so that is a good start.

Juan Cole asks, How do you like your democracy now, Mr. Bush.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Conservative minority

Well, we have a new government. The bad news is it's a Conservative government led by Stephen Harper. The good news is it's a a minority government. All parties will have to work together to get anything accomplished. It would be great to see them tackle electoral reform. They would not be allowed to implement some of their more right-wing pieces of their agenda. I think the Kelowna accord will hold.

There are a couple of things to be concerned with. One is that the Liberals could cave and joined the conservatives on something like missle defence, which the Martinites at one point endorsed, in exchange for something they want. Another is that, if the parliament goes well, the electorate could subsequently reward Harper with a majority. Harper is in some respects an unknown quantity. He used to have quite radical political views. It's to believe he could change that much in a few years. Maybe he could, but there's no way we could no that. The electorate, come the next election, must be reminded of that uncertanty.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Harper watch II

Couple of more things on Harper.

Check out one of his main advisors, Tom Flanagan of the University of Calgary, who is an unabashed racist:

What ignited the most fury was Flanagan's contention that aboriginals were simply conquered peoples who'd been bested by Europeans with a higher degree of "civilization," as he termed it. That argument, peppered with references to "savagery," hadn't been heard in polite company for decades. "There's a fundamental racism that underpins his view," says Radha Jhappan. "It's an amazingly selective reading of history and it's driven by a particular right-wing agenda that wants to undermine the claims of collectivity."

Also, The history of Harper's relationship with the Reform/Alliance/Conservative front National Citizen's Coalition:

During his time at NCC, Harper strongly promoted the NCC agenda, including its bedrock issue, privatizing health care:

“GLORIA MACARENKO: Stephen Harper, what do you think of a parallel private health care system in Canada?
STEPHEN HARPER / V.P, NATIONAL CITIZENS' COALITION: “Well I think it would be a good idea. I think we're headed in that direction anyway. We're alone among O.E.C.D countries in deciding that we'll have a two-tier system but our second tier will be outside the country where only the very rich and powerful can access it and will be of absolutely no benefit to the Canadian health care system. So I think this has been the wrong way to go. And clearly we're moving in another direction.”” [53]

With respect to child poverty, Harper said:

“These proposals included cries for billions of new money for social assistance in the name of “child poverty” and for more business subsidies in the name of “cultural identity”. In both cases I was sought out as a rare public figure to oppose such projects.” [54]

Concerning bilingualism:

“After all, enforced national bilingualism in this country isn’t mere policy. It has attained the status of a religion. It’s a dogma which one is supposed to accept without question. … [M]ake no mistake. Canada is not a bilingual country. In fact it is less bilingual today than it has ever been...As a religion, bilingualism is the god that failed. It has led to no fairness, produced no unity, and cost Canadian taxpayers untold millions.” [55]

On federal-provincial relations:

“If Ottawa giveth, then Ottawa can taketh away… This is one more reason why Westerners, but Albertans in particular, need to think hard about their future in this country. After sober reflection, Albertans should decide that it is time to seek a new relationship with Canada. …Having hit a wall, the next logical step is not to bang our heads against it. It is to take the bricks and begin building another home – a stronger and much more autonomous Alberta. It is time to look at Quebec and to learn. What Albertans should take from this example is to become “maitres chez nous” [56] .

And to clarify Harper later added:

“It is imperative to take the initiative, to build firewalls around Alberta, to limit the extent to which an aggressive and hostile federal government can encroach upon legitimate provincial jurisdiction.” [57]

Regarding protection of human rights:

"Human rights commissions, as they are evolving, are an attack on our fundamental freedoms and the basic existence of a democratic society…It is in fact totalitarianism. I find this is very scary stuff." [58]

On partisan politics:

"You join a political party if you want to work for a politician; you join the NCC if you want the politician to work for you…The press could have gone one better though. They could have quoted me directly. I have been consistent and unequivocal for a long time now - I have zero interest in leading this new entity or any existing party…I like my job as President of the National Citizens’ Coalition. I think it's important to have an organization dedicated to the NCC's principles and not subject to the pressures of partisan politics. Before the NCC, I spent over 10 years of my life pursuing those principles in partisan politics, including a number of years as the first policy officer of the Reform Party. While I don't regret that at all, I have no desire to do it over again. In fact, there is almost nothing I would rather do less." [59]

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Harper watch I

Check this out, from the Globe and Mail.

"Canadian voters have been led to believe that American conservatives are scary and if the Conservative Party can be linked with us, they can perhaps diminish a Conservative victory," Paul Weyrich, president of the Washington-based Free Congress Foundation, wrote Thursday in an e-mail forwarded to other conservative leaders.


Mr. Weyrich said in his e-mail that he had been called by Gerald Chipeur, a Calgary lawyer and outspoken backer of socially conservative causes, who said that Liberal-leaning news media in Canada were likely to phone U.S. right-wingers "in the hopes that someone will inadvertently say something that can be hung around the Conservatives."

Mr. Weyrich suggested to recipients of his message that "if the Canadian media calls, please do not be interviewed until Monday evening, at which point hopefully there will be reason to celebrate."

Mr. Weyrich, a veteran spokesman for the U.S. right, said in an interview he could not "verify" the e-mail. When it was suggested this was a non-denial denial, Mr. Weyrich snapped, "You can make of it whatever you wish."

Contacted in Calgary, Mr. Chipeur refused to comment on his contacts with Mr. Weyrich and hung up the phone.


Mr. Weyrich's e-mail was sent to an assistant who was asked to forward it to other right-wing groups. It made its way through two e-mail groups of right-wing sympathizers before landing at the New York Observer, which published it on its website.

Mr. Chipeur, a leader in the fight against same-sex marriage, backed Mr. Harper's 2004 leadership campaign and is Alberta chair of Republicans Abroad, a group that promotes the party among U.S. expatriates. Mr. Chipeur is a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen and attended the 2004 Republican national convention in New York.

Mr. Weyrich, 61, is a long-time conservative activist and commentator. In a column written in 2004, he argued that free speech was dead north of the border because it was "no longer permissible in Canada to preach that homosexuality is a deviant lifestyle. That is now hate speech. A minister or priest risks jail by preaching what is in the Scriptures."

"The culture has really collapsed there as it is about to collapse here," he warned, saying that if a liberal did not win the 2004 presidential election, as was the case, it could come in 2008.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Stop Stephen Harper

It looks like Stephen Harper will be our next Prime Minister. What remains to be seen is whethe he will command a majority or minority Conservative government.

A minority would be no sweat as far as Canadian progressives who want to protect the Canada we have is concerned. He will have no one to bargain with. The Liberals and Tories are filled with enmity for one another. I can't see Jack Layton and the NDP cowtowing to the Conservatives on important issues such as the environment and militarization. Dealing with the Bloc would look bad on the Tories, and in some ways the Bloc as well. The Tories agenda on things like Kyoto, missile defence, and social conservative issues, would be in oppoistion to the Bloc positions on this issues. If the Conservatives win a minority government on Monday, I don't think we'd have anything to really worry about.

A majority, on the other hand, would be a frightening prospect.. Harper has said he would be restrained by the courts and by the Senate. With respect to the courts, he would be. That means the issues like same-sex marriage and abortion are safe from revisitation, for the forseeable future, anyway. However, it is customary and expected for the Senate to eventually pass all legislation that is sent to it from the House of Commons.

My major concerns with respect to Harper are numerous. These include agreeing to negotiate with the US over missile defence, saying no to the Kyoto treaty, and and retracting the aboriginal agreement reached a couple of months ago. Harper has already indicated these positions on these issues in his platform. In my opinion, human survival is at stake with respect to the missile defence and climate change issues, and it is extremely important that Mr. Harper be prevented from having enough power to follow through on his plans for these issues.

Monday, January 16, 2006

We need you more than ever

Martin Luther King was a hero to me.

I first really got into him when I was about 23 years old. I grew up in a fiarly conservative household, and largely took incorporate the values of my parents when it came to political views. In fact, believe it or not, I was involved with the young Conservatives. Man, they were a radical bunch. Radical right, I mean.

Anyway, I eventually got the the point when I was 22, where I somehow ended up taking personal growth workshops (that's another story entirely). Though this, over time, I discovered what was really important to me. That involved getting in touch with values that I always had, but never really realized it. Values of compassion, understanding, love, tolerance.

Upon this grand realization, one of the things I did was read a biography of Martin Luther King, Let The Trumpet Sound. I was truly inspired by reading the life story of the loving compassionate, idealistic, brilliant man. I immediately took him on as a role model. I wanted to live my life according to these values, and make a difference in the world.

I also learned through my education of the life of King, about the Mahatmai Gandhi, who was essentially King's role model.

The sum of this education is that I know what I believe in, and am not afraid to take a stand for it. Thank you Martin.

Now to the here and now.

Here is a speech by Al Gore for MLK Day comparing wiretapping by the Bush administration to the wiretapping of King in the 60s.

From Juan Cole's blog, here are 10 things Martin Luther King would have done about Iraq.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Before we get too depressed or stressed out, here's some good news from Chile.

Another domino of US domination has fallen.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Harper, the media, the witch, and the wardrobe.

I was quite frustrated with the CBC yesterday (I listen to CBC radio everyday while I'm driving around. Stephen Harper had released his election platform. I kept hearing that the Tories would implement tax breaks and avoid touching social programs.

What I didn't hear was that Harper has said that he wouldn't say yes to Kyoto. His openness to missile defence negotiations with the US wasn't anywhere to be heard. There was some reference to his possible reneging on the aboriginal agreement from a couple of weeks ago, thanks to a press conference held by native leaders.

However, if I didn't already know about his BMD and Kyoto positions through the web, I would have gone through the whole workday without hearing. Given the importance of these two issues to human survival, that is disturbing.

On the positive side, I was actually concerned before the Tory platform announcement that the Tories could form a majority on January 23. Thanks to his reactionary platform, I am now reassured that that could could not happen. That is, if the media gives it air and space.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Bush on trial

There's an international commission inquiry being held in New York later this month regarding Bush's alleged war crimes. The counts read as follows.

Wars of Aggression

The Commission will inquire into the following charges:

Count 1: The Bush administration authorized a war of aggression against Iraq.

Count 2: The Bush administrations authorized conduct of the war that involved the commission of “war crimes.”

Count 3: The Bush administration authorized the occupation of Iraq involving, and continuing to involve, the commission of “war crimes”, “crimes against humanity” and other illegal acts.

full indictment

Torture and Indefinite Detention

The Commission will inquire into the following charges:


Count 1: The Bush administration authorized the use of torture and abuse in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law and domestic constitutional and statutory law.


Count 2: The Bush administration authorized the transfer (“rendition”) of persons held in U.S. custody to foreign countries where torture is known to be practiced.

Illegal Detention:

Count 3: The Bush administration authorized the indefinite detention of persons seized in foreign combat zones and in other countries far from any combat zone and denied them the protections of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war and the protections of the U.S. Constitution.

Count 4: The Bush administration authorized the round-up and detention in the United States of tens of thousands of immigrants on pretextual grounds and held them without charge or trial in violation of international human rights law and domestic constitutional and civil rights law.

Count 5: The Bush administration used military forces to seize and detain indefinitely without charges U.S. citizens, denying them the right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts.


Count 6: The Bush administration committed murder by authorizing the CIA to kill those that the president designates, either US citizens or non-citizens, anywhere in the world.

full indictment

Destruction of the Global Environment

The Commission will inquire into the following charges:

Count 1: Denial and Distortion of Scientific Consensus and Findings--
The Bush administration has consistently denied the scientific consensus around global warming and its causes. Administration officials have misrepresented, distorted, and suppressed scientific information on the subject, especially as it would impact public opinion.

Count 2: Obstructionism on International Efforts--
The Bush administration has refused to take any measures to curb the emissions of greenhouse gases, guided by narrow corporate interests. It has withdrawn from any international efforts that would impose binding restrictions, however minimal. It has done this with full knowledge of the catastrophic effects of global warming and the disproportionate U.S. share of world greenhouse gas emissions, the leading cause of global warming.

full indictment

Attacks on Global Public Health

The Commission will inquire into the following charges:

Count 1: Imposition of Abstinence-Only HIV Prevention Programs--
The Bush administration is using its political influence, aid, and funding in the sphere of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment to advance policies and programs that worsen the AIDS pandemic. Guided by a Christian fundamentalist ideological agenda, the administration is promoting and forcing deadly abstinence-only HIV prevention and sex education programs instead of proven comprehensive programs that comprise consistent and correct use of condoms.

Count 2: Imposition of “Gag-Rule”--
The Bush administration has re-instated the “gag-rule” policy which restricts foreign organizations that receive US funds from using their own, non-U.S., funds to provide legal abortion services or even provide accurate medical counseling or referrals regarding abortion. This policy has led to the closing of reproductive health clinics dependent on international funding in very poor parts of the world. In many areas, these clinics have also been the only source of HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs, including the supply of much-needed and life-saving condoms.

Count 3: Distortion of Science--
The Bush administration and its political operatives have distorted sound science and attempted to suppress medical research studies in HIV prevention when it conflicts with the ideology of the Christian Right.

Count 4: Restriction of Generics--
The Bush administration has used its political and economic power to coerce other countries into agreements that severely restrict the manufacture and supply of generic drugs, the only affordable option for most HIV positive people in the Third World.

full indictment

Hurricane Katrina

Count 1: Knowing failure of the Bush administration to adequately maintain and upgrade the levees directly contributed to the foreseeable loss of life and suffering of many people when Hurricane Katrina struck.

Count 2: Despite foreknowledge of Hurricane Katrina striking land as a greater than category 3 storm and the devastation that this would cause, the Bush administration failed to implement an emergency evacuation plan for people who were in the path of the storm and unable to evacuate the area on their own.

Count 3: The Bush administration neither launched an immediate rescue operation nor provided the emergency shelter, food and water needed to save peoples’ lives and prevent needless suffering.

Count 4: Federal authorities blocked the provision of emergency services, including rescue and provision of food and water on the part other levels of government and private sources despite the obvious need for this kind of relief.

Count 5: Federal authorities enforced repressive conditions and eventually carried out an evacuation that separated families, including separating small children from their parents, and left many people not knowing where their loved ones were located and even if they had survived the storms.

Now, I don't believe that the commission would have any legal standing in enforcement, or as official charges and/or convictions that would go on the books. I do however think that this is important in a few different ways.

First, it is if nothing else symbolic, and these indictments, even if symbolic, will serve to empower the Bush's victims and opponents.

Second, it will provide a tightly knit collection of evidence on which future cases against Bush could be made in different venues.

Third, the involvement of highly reputable academics and legal scholars will add to the credibility of the commission.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Tory fantasy cabinet.

Rick Mercer has a new hilarious post on his blog. He imagines what a dream Tory cabinet would look like. A must read for all Canadian progressives with a sense of humour.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Canadian Juniors

Canada won the World Junior Hockey Championships. Yay!! In Vancouver. Yay Yay!! Against Russia. Triple Yay!! For the Second Year in a Row. Quadruple Yay!!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Letterman kicks Bill O'Reilly around on Late Night

I caught David Letterman last night, and he went a couple of rounds with Bill O'Reilly. Letterman is a smart guy. I think his on-air feeling otherwise is just schtick. Anyway, methinks that Oh Really came away from the encounter more than a little bruised. Here is the transcript

O'Reilly: Okay, so let's stop with the lying and the this and the that and the undermining and let's get him. That is putting us all in danger. So our philosophy is we call it as we see it. Sometimes you agree, sometimes you don't. Robust debate is good. But we believe that the United States, particularly the military, are doing a noble thing, a noble thing. The soldiers and Marines are noble. They're not terrorists. And when people call them that, like Cindy Sheehan called the insurgents 'freedom fighters,' we don't like that. It is a vitally important time in American history. And we should all take it very seriously. Be very careful with what we say.

Letterman: Well, and you should be very careful with what you say also.

[audience applause]

O'Reilly: Give me an example.

Letterman: How can you possibly take exception with the motivation and the position of someone like Cindy Sheehan?

O'Reilly: Because I think she's run by far-left elements in this country. I feel bad for the woman.

Letterman: Have you lost family members in armed conflict?

O'Reilly: No, I have not.

Letterman: Well, then you can hardly speak for her, can you?


Letterman: Yeah, so why are we there in the first place? I agree to you, with you that we have to support the troops. They are there, they are the best and the brightest of this country. [audience applause] There's no doubt about that. And I also agree that now we're in it it's going to take a long, long time. People who expect it's going to be solved and wrapped up in a couple of years, unrealistic, it's not going to happen. However, however, that does not eliminate the legitimate speculation and concern and questioning of Why the Hell are we there to begin with?

O'Reilly: If you want to question that, and then revamp an intelligence agency that's obviously flawed, the CIA, okay. But remember, MI-6 in Britain said the same thing. Putin's people in Russia said the same thing, and so did Mubarak's intelligence agency in Egypt.

Letterman: Well then that makes it all right?

O'Reilly: No it doesn't make it right.

Letterman: That intelligence agencies across the board makes it alright that we're there?

O'Reilly: It doesn't make it right.

Letterman: See, I'm very concerned about people like yourself who don't have nothing but endless sympathy for a woman like Cindy Sheehan. Honest to Christ.

Letterman: I'm not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling, I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap. [audience laughter] But I don't know that for a fact.

[more audience applause]

Paul Shafer: Sixty percent.

Letterman: Sixty percent. I'm just spit-balling here.

O'Reilly: Listen, I respect your opinion. You should respect mine.

Letterman: Well, ah, I, okay. But I think you're-

O'Reilly: Our analysis is based on the best evidence we can get.

Letterman: Yeah, but I think there's something, this fair and balanced. I'm not sure that it's, I don't think that you represent an objective viewpoint.

O'Reilly: Well, you're going to have to give me an example if you're going to make those claims.

Letterman: Well I don't watch your show so that would be impossible.

O'Reilly: Then why would you come to that conclusion if you don't watch the program?

Letterman: Because of things that I've read, things that I know.

O'Reilly: Oh come on, you're going to take things that you've read. You know what say about you? Come on. Watch it for a couple, look, watch it for a half hour. You'll get addicted. You'll be a Factor fan, we'll send you a hat.

Letterman: You'll send me a hat. Well, send Cindy Sheehan a hat.

O'Reilly: I'll be happy to.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year.

Happy belated New Year. May it be a sight better than the last one. May this be the year where global consciousness turns a corner and we come closer to realizing peace in our time. May you and yours as a happy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year.

Hard Rain's a Gonnal Fall by Bob Dylan

One of the most powerful songs ever written, in terms of imagery and metaphor:

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son ?
And where have you been my darling young one ?
I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

Oh, what did you see, my blue eyed son ?
And what did you see, my darling young one ?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin'
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand takers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son ?
And what did you hear, my darling young one ?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin'
I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin'
I heard ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin'
I heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin'
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

Oh, who did you meet my blue-eyed son ?
Who did you meet, my darling young one ?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded and hatred
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

And what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son ?
And what'll you do now my darling young one ?
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin'
I'll walk to the deepths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are a many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner's face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I'll tell and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin'
But I'll know my songs well before I start singin'
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.