Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Ideology at the Root of All Our Problems?

Journalist and author George Monbiot's article on Neoliberalism appeared in the Guardian earlier in April.  

It's been a few years since Ronnie and Maggie started inflicting their neoliberal views on the world, but their legacy lives on.

At a time when rapidly growing inequality is becoming a political football and when "trade deals" like the TPP with its "Investor-State Dispute Settlement" rules that look poised to remove the right of nations to make their own decisions, it's an article that is worth reading.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

How to Define a Democracy (Just Not in Canada)

Andrew Coyne was speaking at the Broadbent Institute recently, in support of replacing our antiquated First Past the Post electoral system.

In 5 minutes, he described what several characteristics of a democracy and then proceeded to demonstrate why those democratic principles aren't happening in Canada.

Watch the video.

Learn about the alternatives.  A brief summary can be found here.

Let your MP know that we need change and that you expect him or her to support that change.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Wiley's Long-Awaited Update

The Road Runner episode we've waited 20 years to see.
Posted by George Murphy on Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Keeping Tabs

In the interests of holding our Federal politicians accountable, we have....:

Use this.  Keep track.  Write Letters.  Demand Action.

A Message From Ellen

As the American election campaign continues, there have been persistent stories about Americans looking into moving to Canada, should Donald Trump (or whoever else they can't abide) win the presidency.  

Ellen had this message....

Dear Infidels....

The other day, I posted a short video clip to my Facebook page.

Another ardent Facebook watcher took umbrage, calling it naive and insulting.  I'd agree that the article was probably an over-simplification, but I'm not sure about the other criticisms.  I'd say the evidence seems to support the video's main contentions.

My response went this way:
Well, I'm not certain what you find insulting about the video clip, although it's probably an over simplification of the situation. However, let's take a look at what it said.
By my count, there were 5 or 6 points made in the clip. I did a simple Google search on each one just to see if there were any exaggerations.
First, calling it a “war”. The Americans started this back in Dubya's time with the “War on Terror”. Never mind that it's impossible to wage a war on an idea, the origin of this use dates back at least that far. Besides, when you have jet fighters, rockets, bombings, mass exodus of people.... what else could you call it?

Ted Cruz has actually called for a crackdown on Muslim neighbourhoods. Personally, I don't know what that tactic might achieve other than resentment and fear, but that's what Ted Cruz has asked for. I'd also point out that the shooter in the Sandy Hook school murders was white and, probably, nominally Christian. I don't recall Ted asking for a crackdown on white Christian neighbourhoods, but perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.

Trump has condoned torture. His statements have been documented. This is a man running to be President of the USA. Google “Trump” and “torture”.

Cable news and, indeed, most news outlets, have made a very big deal out of every “terrorist” bombing, or whatever. No real surprise. That's what news organizations do. If it bleeds, it leads, as you know. But there is a significant difference between the way the media covers terrorist attacks in places like Paris and how it covers (or doesn't cover) terrorist attacks in places like Beruit. This article describes the differences.
In fact, if you Google “media coverage of terrorism”, you will find many, many articles that discuss what is troubling about how the media deals with all of this. You might not agree, but there it is.
The term “existential threat” has become a bit of a cliché. Do some research. Even Obama doesn't think ISIS is an “existential threat” to the USA. ISIS is a band of thugs and murderers, but that's about it.
 It's a well-known fact that rogue organizations like ISIS badly wish to create a “them vs us” mentality. It makes it so much easier to recruit new members. There are many sources online that describe how they do this and what Western reactions do to help.

 The main goal of any terrorist organization is to instill terror in the hearts and minds of a group of people or a country. I'd say, given the reaction in the USA, it's at least partially working. Personally, I find many, many other things more scary, including some of those white folk wandering around America with their guns. The numbers back me up on this.

Although you brought it up, the video did not suggest ignoring terrorism. The problem has far deeper roots than that. In no particular order, the West created chaos in Libya (sure, “we” got rid of a madman, but you can't claim the country is now somehow better – it's a complete mess); the West has been meddling in Afghanistan for decades. It's a mess too.

Then there was Iraq and you can't claim that Iraq is now better off after years of war. Currently, it's Syria, and the only real difference here is that Europe and, to a very small extent, North America, has been inundated with refugees, a situation that only shows that there may be consequences to sticking your nose in where it doesn't belong.

Some people could see the initial video and claim that it advocates ignoring acts of terrorism.  That's certainly NOT what I think the video is saying.  Whatever you call them, acts like the bombings in Paris, Brussels, Boston and London are criminal acts.  They kill and maim.  They most certainly should NOT be ignored but dealt with as the criminal acts they are.  

The main point is this: many countries in the West have been meddling in the affairs of other regions for decades, continuing traditions that started in the colonial era.  Our foreign policies have been motivated by misguided attempts at regime change abetted by corporate greed.  Stable but brutal regimes have been removed and replaced by chaos.  We've attempted to force social change without understanding that it's really none of our business. Our policies and interventions have NOT been working.  At all.  And the chickens are coming home to roost.

Friday, March 25, 2016

End of an Error

Former Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, died a few days ago.

As is often the case, the death was marked by editorials contending that he was misunderstood, improperly maligned, "flawed", of the common man..... and so on.  Sure.  Right.

I felt Rob Ford was a hot air buffoon and an embarrassment to Toronto and Canada.  Trump Lite, if you like.

Apparently I am not alone in my opinions on this matter:

From the Torontoist: "An Honest Assessment of Rob Ford's Legacy".

From TVO: "The Rob Ford Legacy that Many Refuse to Confront".

From "On the Death of Rob Ford and the mourning of Abusive Men".