Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dancing Around the Polls Will Only Make You Dizzy

The news this week was of two recently published polls. One was conducted by Forum Research and the other by Mainstreet Research; with completely different results.

Forum shows some drop in support for the NDP but has them forming a minority government. Mainstreet, on the other hand, shows a huge surge by the Conservatives, with them in majority territory, and too close to call for the opposition.

Tracking social media, comments are all over the place, depending on your political drug of choice.

Let's look at the Mainstreet Poll to the right, which has become a real bone of contention.

Liberal supporters are happy that they are gaining on the NDP, but naturally terrified that Harper could get another majority.

NDP supporters, understandably, are in a complete tither.

While they fed off the euphoria of polls conducted prior to this, they are now up in arms, attacking Postmedia and the little known firm Mainstreet.

Some say it's run by a Liberal, others say a Conservative.

Over on Rabble, David Climenhaga is blaming Postmedia, even going so far as to ask why they only published the results of one poll.

It's nonsense of course, because they commissioned the poll, and most newspapers only publish the poll they paid for, when they commission it. An opinion piece might delve into more.

Since the boost to the Conservatives is being attributed to the Universal Child Care cheques that went out this week, Climenhaga also finds this to be bogus.
... on Monday and Tuesday when the poll was taken, virtually no parent in Canada had received their Universal Child Care Benefit cheque. The first ones started showing up in mailboxes in most parts of Canada on Wednesday. I'm just saying.
He might be right about when the cheques appeared in mailboxes, but notifications showing the amount you would receive, were sent out the week before.  Also, many if not most, were direct deposit  My grandson's was in the bank on the 20th.

If we question Postmedia's poll, it would be why they wanted it conducted on the day and day after, the windfall, before the revelations that it's not such a windfall after all.

Besides, those cheques won't drive people to the polls on election day, the only polls that really matter.

So Who and What is Mainstreet Research?

Back to the NDP accusations that it is run by a Liberal or a Conservative.  I visited my friend Mr. Google, and it would appear that they are neither.

Besides conducting polls, they work on campaigns, mostly at the municipal level.

They have been advisers to the Alberta Conservative Party and ran the campaigns of at least two Liberals. They wrote favorably of Rachel Notley, and predicted her majority four days before the Alberta election. They were also the first to suggest that she had won the leaders debate.

As to being right-wing, they have several unions as clients, instructing them on how to get their message out and how to become more political.

What other polls do show this week, is that the Liberals are holding or gaining ground, and NDP support is dropping, with divided gains.

I read them for amusement but the only pollsters I trust are Wiarton Willie and Shubenacadie Sam, who by the way also had conflicting predictions this year.  Sammy won.

Although I did hear a rumour that Willie was a CPC operative and Sam once worked for Jean Chretien.

I'm just saying .....

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why I Am Not Promoting ABC or Strategic Voting This Election. I Will Not Get Fooled Again

So as you know I took some time off from my blog.  I was tired and needed a break, but knew that I'd start up again,  when the election was near.

I didn't blog about any of the leadership races, but did have an opinion.

I think the Liberals got it right, but the NDP could not have got it more wrong.

I'll post on why I like Justin Trudeau later, but first want to explain why I am rejecting Thomas Mulcair and the NDP.  (don't get mad until you read it all)

I first got back on the horse, with the idea that there would be a spirit of co-operation between all opposition parties, since the need to get rid of Stephen Harper could not be more urgent.

Then I watched the news coverage of the protests over Harper's Bill C-51, and saw many NDP members carrying signs with Justin Trudeau's image, blaming him for the Bill.

First off, it would have gone through no matter what, and no one wants to be seen as not having concern for the nation's security, especially during an election year.  The Liberals fought for amendments that would have removed the worst elements.  The NDP waited, saying they hadn't yet made up their minds.  Odd, given the Draconian nature of the un-amended document.

I think they waited to see which way public opinion would swing, hoping to gain some leverage.

When it looked like there was enough opposition, they flatly turned it down, even voting against their own amendments.  Some pundits see it as a smart political move.  I see it as a disaster.

They let Stephen Harper completely off the hook, neutralizing what should have been an important election issue.  Now he can shift focus to the economy, something many people believe is his strength.  It's not of course, but there's nothing like those taxpayer funded ads, and big fat cheques,  to convince Canadians otherwise.

Thomas Mulcair also came out of the gate attacking Elizabeth May.  Thems fighting words.  You do not attack Elizabeth May unless you are prepared to go a few rounds with me.  I was already angry with Mulcair when he went after Libby Davies, because she dared to sympathize with the Palestinians.  Then of course there was the caucus revolt against Jack Layton and the whole "pooling" scam.

However, even given his shortfalls, I was still prepared to promote him for prime minister, if he was deemed to have the best shot (not based on polls months before an election).

On my Facebook page, I have many discussions, some of them quite heated, since I have friends from all political stripes; even ones who want to kill me, or at least shut me up.

NDP supporters don't want me to speak ill of Mulcair, constantly saying that we need to work together. ABC and all that.  However, what they are really saying is that I should just get behind Thomas Mulcair.  Yet, if I bring up the Bill C-51 fiasco, many will immediately start slamming Justin Trudeau's "support" of it.

He's not a wizard and doesn't have a magic wand.  If he did, Harper would be sunning himself on Alcatraz Island.  Or better yet, on  one of the polar drifts, broken away because of global warming.

Bill C-51 is now a distant memory for most Canadians, which is sad because it really is a horrible bit of legislation, though I think much of it will be nullified by the Supreme Court.

When Pierre Trudeau enacted the  War Measures Act, in response to the terrorist FLQ kidnappings and murder, many Canadians were appalled.  This was nothing short of treason.  However, polls of the day either supported Trudeau or had no opinion.  History gives it credence.

Despite the attack on Parliament Hill being perpetrated by a mentally ill homeless man with a gun, it gave Harper his false flag war, and an excuse to further erode our civil liberties.  I can't tell you how many people I speak to, who still believe that ISIS was behind it.

If Bill C-51 is going to be used as an election issue, Harper will win that debate.  Let it go until after the election.  There's nothing anyone can do about it now.

From Anger to Hissy Fit to Oh My Gawd!

So here I was, all peeved and throwing darts at my autographed picture of Tom Mulcair (kidding I don't have one), and to relieve some tension I took out my blog.  I was just going to publish a couple of silly attack style pieces.  That'd fix him.  (Like he cared)

But then when I started doing a bit of research, I discovered that almost everything the NDP  uses to sell this man to us, is a fabrication.  I soon realized that this was not a person of principle, but kind of a buffoon.  His entire career was based on advancing his career.  No one likes a headline more than Mr. Mulcair.

I started getting a knot in my stomach, not unlike the knot I got in my stomach, when it looked like Stephen Harper was going to win the election in 2006.  I want Harper gone too, but I'd like his replacement to be worthy of the job.

With all of this conflicting emotion, I decided to start another blog.  One that just challenged some of the things people believe of him, with my usual list of sources. In fact, a lot of what I discovered, could not be made up.  It's just too weird.

Justin Trudeau grew up in the public eye. We feel like we know him, and can't deny the accomplishments of his father.  But what do we really know of Thomas Mulcair?

I went on the NDP site and notice that they only have about a third of their candidates in place.  Are they hoping to create so much hysteria around Mulcair, that they can again push through paper candidates like they did in 2011?

How is that any less undemocratic than the unfair elections act or Harper's gerrymandering?  Besides, Mulcair will no doubt self destruct before election time anyway.  He always does.

If they were really hoping to use the cult of personality to win, they should have gone with someone like Peggy Nash, who has the creds to back it up.  She could have generated some excitement.  A woman, strong and smart, with a good union background.

However, when it comes down to it, my politics are in this order:

1. Canada
2. liberal
3. Liberal
4. Green

Canada is first, so in the final days, I will promote and vote for who ever is best to take down Stephen Harper.  However, I think that everyone should forget talks of ABC, strategic voting, or heaven forbid, coalitions.

All parties are jockeying for position, and need to focus on what their party has to offer.  I visit Facebook pages of my NDP freinds and they are often more about Justin than Steve, so I don't apologize for any partisan rants, though I'm often just messing with people.

We need more political debate in this country.  That's how we got into this mess in the first place.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Excuse Me Mr. Mulcair, But What in the Hell are Middle Class Values?

I grew up in a family of the working poor, spending a good portion of my childhood in public housing.

My dad did his best to provide for his seven children, but money was tight, and we lived from payday to payday.

He supplemented his income by doing a bit of gardening for a couple of wealthy clients.  We never owned a car, so he would carry his little push mower on the bus.

One summer he decided to try something different. He made arrangements with a man who owned a bit of property close by, to lease a plot of land where he could plant a garden.  The idea was that he would grow vegetables and sell them in the neighborhood.

In lieu of rent, the landowner would receive a portion of the harvested crops.

My dad could grow anything anywhere, and the garden flourished, but when he sent us out to sell the produce, we found that while many people would love to buy, they simply did not have the money.

I would come home and say that Mrs. ---- 's husband didn't get paid until Friday, and she might buy something then.

Knowing what it meant to have to wait several days for much needed wages, my dad would take the vegetables to Mrs. ---- and give them to her, saying that he had pulled too many and didn't want them rotting and would she please take them off his hands. This soon became the norm and that garden kept many families going that summer.

He never made much money.  In fact, he probably lost, but what his children gained from this, was the knowledge that some things are worth more.  My dad already knew that.

Another memory from my childhood, took place when I was about eight.  My dad had received a cheque in the mail for $1.36; a rebate from an over payment on something.  He endorsed the cheque and sent me to the corner store to cash it and buy bread and milk.  Don't laugh.  At the time both items were nineteen cents each.

Anyway, the clerk at the store misread the figure and put the change in the envelope that my dad provided, from $13.60.

When I got home and he realized what had happened, he took out the appropriate amount and made me take the rest back, worried that the poor girl would lose her job for being short in the till.

In the latest NDP ad, Thomas Mulcair states that he was "raised with middle class values".  What in the hell does that mean?  The middle class refers only to an economic group, so if he means that he was raised to understand that money was important and that the "values" pertained to how much they had, then say that.

But if he means that only his class had values, while the rest of us did not, there is a problem.

Your true value comes from the kinds of things you value and not the size of your paycheque.

If he had said this in passing, I would have thought it a Freudian slip, but it's in an election ad.  "Raised on middle class" values sound more like something Republicans would say, assuming that if you're poor you're just lazy, and if you're affluent you've worked hard to get there.

All parties are courting the middle Class this election and with good reason.  When we had a strong middle Class we all prospered.

I recently thought about the families in that community, and with a few exceptions, at least one parent worked.  They might have gone through periods of being laid off and would have to tap into social programs, but only temporarily.  What kept them going was the determination to ensure that their children had a better life.  I know, or at least know of, many of those children, and indeed they do.

They became members of the middle class, but not because they worked harder than their parents, but because there were more opportunities available to them, primarily because we had strong unions.  Not everyone belonged to a union, however, those union wages kept the economy going, creating a snowball effect.

Then in the 1980s, things began to change.  Conservatives and Libertarians tried to convince us that if they implemented policies that made the rich richer, and large corporations stronger, there would be a trickle down affect, that could make us all rich.  It didn't happen.

Corporations started outsourcing jobs and hoarding their money, or using it to drive smaller companies out of business.  The corporate welfare state was born.

And the  wealthy took the position that the masses only wanted to take THEIR money and since they could afford to buy politicians to protect THEIR interests, all of those hard working people were hung out to dry.

Any hope of upward mobility was dwindling.  For many, you only worked to survive.

In an eleventh hour attempt to rectify the folly, politicians are trying to correct the mistakes made by people like Margaret Thatcher in Britain, Ronald Reagan in the U.S. and Brian Mulroney in Canada, but it's an uphill battle.  Those at the top don't want to part with their stockpiles unless it's to prevent the need to do so.

Mulcair only states that he will strengthen the middle class, but since he also promises not to raise taxes on the wealthy, or the corporate sector, it's anyone's guess how he'll do it.   He also does not have a great track record when it comes to unions.

Stephen Harper boasts that his tax policies have helped families, but like Mulcair's "middle class", they are an exclusive group, with gold plated halos.

Money Sense's Mark Brown recently did a breakdown of the tax policies of the Liberals and Conservatives and Stephen Harper's plan only starts to look better once your income hits $192,000.  That's almost $70.000 more than the top range of the upper middle class, so clearly they are not his priority.

Harper does boast of the increases to his Universal Child benefits, but since they're taxable, few in the middle class will gain anything.

Strengthening this important sector is a step in the right direction, but assuming that they have more non-financial value than the rest of the population, is absurd.

You can be middle class and steal, lie or cheat.  You can commit adultery, have substance abuse problems or even commit murder.  You can vote Liberal, Communist, NDP, Conservative, et al, or not vote at all.

And you can have strong core values whether you make $15,000 a year or $15,000,000.

I know this because I was raised with my parents' values and they, Mr Mulcair, HAD CLASS!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Unearthed Job Application Stephen Harper 2005

The latest Conservative attack ad to discredit Justin Trudeau is childish at best with a strong scent of desperation.

It's a mock meeting discussing Trudeau's resume as he applies for the job of Prime Minister.

However, going back to 2005, when Stephen Harper himself was applying for the job, what were his credentials?

He quit most things he started.  He was a staffer for Brian Mulroney but quit when Mulroney refused to address cancelling Employment Insurance, or at least making it more difficult to obtain.

He was a Reform Party Member of Parliament but quit when things weren't going his way.

He ran the National Citizens Coalition, a corporate advocacy group initially created to end Public Healthcare in Canada.  He quit that to run for leader of the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance/Canadian Reform Alliance Party (CRAP)/Conservative Party of Canada (They had an identity crisis).

He won that race but when he lost the 2004 election .... he quit.  With a lot of misguided persuasion he got back on the horse, but in 2005 he was hardly Prime Minister material, though he did know how to cheat to win an election, a skill he has only gotten better at.

So what if we put ourselves in that room, with that group, as they determine whether or not Stephen Harper was right for the job.

"Let's talk about Stephen"

"I hope he's not as bad as his hair"

"What does he know about balancing a budget"

"He did study economics so would know that if you grow the economy, the budget will balance itself.  No economist would argue on that point, so let's move on. "

"What does he say about keeping us safe?"

"Well he has been on a celebrity Fox News tour telling anyone who'd listen that we should join George Bush in Iraq."

"That's crazy talk.  Iraq was not involved in the attack on the World Trade Centre.  Besides, even if they defeat Al-Qaeda as they suggest, there will always be another group, perhaps worse, ready to take their place.  Canadians have spoken clearly.  No Iraq War!"

"If his aim is to simply go where the United States goes, what kind of leader will he be?  Sounds more like a follower to me. "

"So what are his priorities, other than making war?"

"He wants to put a stop to same-sex marriage"

"Like that's our biggest problem."


"I've read a copy of his speech to the Reform Party Assembly that earned him a round of applause.  In it he wanted to cancel EI, Old Age Security and Canada Pension"

"Yes.  A lot of seniors left the Reform Party after that.  He's not worth the risk.  Our seniors need those safety nets, as do our workers."

"And don't forget that he sued Canadians because he wanted corporations to determine the outcome of elections."

"I'm not saying some day, but I'm saying forever.  This man is not right for this country.

"Who does his hair?  I suppose if he got the job he'd hire a hairdresser. But can't he afford one now?"

"Stephen Harper.  He's just not right for Canada."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Could Someone Possibly Guilty of War Crimes Really Win a Nobel Peace Prize?

Social media has been buzzing recently over the announcement that the B'Nai Brith has put forward Stephen Harper's name as a possible recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

This prestigious award is presented to an individual or group of individuals who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

Above all. The promotion of peace.

It boggles the mind.

I can't think of a single incident or plank in this government's platform that promotes peaceful resolutions to anything. They even turned Toronto into a war zone during the G-20 Summit in 2010, then praised the police for their brutality.

During this horrific abuse of human rights, one police officer told a citizen "This ain't Canada right now". For many of us, it feels like we've not lived in Canada since Harper took control of our country in 2006. And I don't use the term "took control" lightly.

But just as an increasing number of Canadians are being made to feel that they are unwelcome visitors, in what was once their "home and native land", the international community has found a Canada that is no longer a peace broker, but a bully for corporate interests.

When Documentary film maker Michael Moore was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, she stated that she was shocked to learn from him, the things being done in their country's name.

All Canadians need to read The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper's Foreign Policy, by Yves Engler. It becomes very hard to feel like a proud Canadian when you learn what this government is doing in our name. "This ain't Canada right now" indeed.

On Power Play recently, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (from Canada's first Conservative Party that was disbanded in 2003), stated: “When Canada, for the first time in our history, loses a vote at the United Nations to become a member of the Security Council . . . to Portugal, which was on the verge of bankruptcy at the time, you should look in the mirror and say: ‘Houston, I think we have a problem.’”

Yes we have a very serious problem, and for the B'nai Brith to put forward Stephen Harper's name for a Nobel Peace Prize, not only mocks the integrity of the award, but is a slap in the face to his victims, at home and abroad; who see Harper as the antithesis to peace.

His government is not only supporting the genocide of Palestinians by Israel, but sending out fund raising letters asking for help to make sure that they can continue to condone the slaughter.

The Afghan Detainee issue is yet to be settled satisfactorily, and there is strong evidence that Canada could face a war crimes tribunal with the International Criminal Court, not only because of our handing over of prisoners for violent interrogation, but for the extraordinary lengths that Harper went to to stop the investigation.

In 2012 the UN strongly rebuked Canada, not only for our complicity in torture, but for our horrendous immigration policies and unwillingness to protect Canadian citizens abroad.

We were once a country with a moral conscience, but under Harper, have become a country with no conscience at all.

In 2007, the Nobel Peace Prize went to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change"

Instead of addressing Climate Change, Harper has gone above and beyond to not only deny that it exists, but to make sure that groups like the IPCC cannot operate in this country. He has also poured billions of tax dollars into the Tar Sands, and their weapons of mass destruction.

How could anyone possibly believe that this man is deserving? Maybe we need to look at who put forward his nomination.

Frank Dimant of the B'nai Brith is hardly an unbiased judge. While the Brith is a commendable organization, Dimant has aligned himself with the radical Religious group, Christians United for Israel.
In 2006, Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College hosted the first event (Israel You're Not Alone) of a newly created coalition called Christians United for Israel (CUFI). CUFI counts amongst its members such extremists as John Hagee, Pat Roberston and the late Jerry Falwell. In fact, Frank Dimant, BB Canada's Executive Vice President, shared the podium with McVety and Hagee, and thanked them both in these terms: "But we (Jews) and Israel are not alone because of you and the tremendous leadership of Dr. McVety and Dr. Hagee") (Jewish Tribune, May 25, 2006.
Former U.S. Presidential nominee John McCain, was forced to distance himself from John Hagee, because of remarks he made suggesting that Hitler was doing God's work when he drove the Jews to Palestine.

And Charles McVety, who once handled Jim Flaherty's Ontario leadership bid, is Canada's Religious Right leader, and the man who brought Karl Rove to Canada to instruct Conservatives in the art of stealing elections. They were apt pupils.

Dimant sees Harper and his government, not as brokers of peace, or advocates of human rights, but as willing accomplices in a Holocaust.

There is a group; Deny the Nomination of PM Stephen Harper for 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, and a petition in support of this denial with almost 30,000 names.

Columnist Heather Martinuk condemns the petition, suggesting that it makes a mockery of the Peace Prize's goal. She claims that it is just partisan attack on the Prime Minister and suggests that we should take pride in the fact that he is being thought of for the prestigious award.

If he was deserving, we would be proud. Instead we continue to bow our heads in shame.

Fortunately, the international community does not share Martinuk's views, and Harper has as much chance of winning this, as he does a singing contest, but if the nomination is upheld, it will be an undeserved honour, imprinted in Canadian history. We can't let that happen.
“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.” Catholic Monk and Social Activist Thomas Merton

Monday, September 1, 2014

Don't Blame Stephen Harper, Blame Edmund Burke

"If a sociology professor applies a day before a medical doctor, the professor's application gets processed first ... I mean, we don't really need a sociology professor. ".  Jason Kenney

Stephen Harper's recent refusal to call a public inquiry into missing and exploited Aboriginal women, should not come as a surprise to Canadians, given his background and the ideology of the Conservative Movement.

Modern Conservatives do not believe in sociological phenomenons, viewing them as too grey an area, in a world that is black and white, right and wrong, left and right.  Everything in between is simply minutiae, and therefore, not worthy of attention.

Jakeet Singh,  an assistant professor in the Department of Politics & Government at Illinois State University; addressed this issue in an excellent op-ed piece, published in the Toronto Star:  The ideological roots of Stephen Harper’s vendetta against sociology

Singh suggests that the roots of this belief system can be traced to Margaret Thatcher, and quotes her now infamous line "there is no such thing as society".

However, we have to go back a little further than that.

Conservative author and journalist, Yuval Levin, outlines the origins of this thought in his new book:  The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left

The inspiration for many modern political struggles, can be traced to the philosophies of Burke (1729-1797) and Paine (1737- 1809) and their views on revolutions.

The American Revolution may not have taken place, had it not been for Thomas Paine.  Initially, most colonists  viewed the anger over taxation without representation, as an issue for the wealthy elites, who simply didn't want to pay their share.

However, Paine's pamphlet Common Sense, stirred up a passion for liberty.
The pamphlet begins by establishing some principles for distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate rule: that government exists to secure the freedom and security of its equal citizens and that any government that fails to do so is not worthy of the name, regardless of its pedigree. (Levin p. 35)
It's rather ironic that the GOP and the new U.S. Tea Party, see themselves as a direct lineage of the founding fathers, when in fact, America was built on liberalism, in direct opposition to conservatism.

Edmund Burke did support the American Revolution, however,  but only because he was constantly seeking a balance, to avoid tyranny.  He saw the King's refusal to address the legitimate concerns of the colonists, as tyrannical, and suggested that if he continued in his stance, than they certainly had the right to self governance.

He did not, however, see this as a basic "human right", as Paine did, but simply as a solution to a problem.  Burke never dealt with metaphysical distinctions and had no time for anyone who did.

Because of that, he opposed the French Revolution and its philosophical Rights of Man.  An elitist, he believed that the masses were ill equipped to decide who should govern them, but that that task should be left to a chosen few.  Otherwise, decisions would be based on what citizens wanted or thought they wanted, and not on what they needed.
" What is the use of discussing a man's abstract right to food or to medicine? The question is upon the method of procuring and administering them. In that deliberation I shall always advise to call in the aid of the farmer and the physician, rather than the professor of metaphysics." — Edlund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790
In other words, "...  we don't really need a sociology professor. ".

I watched a documentary on Ronald Reagan, and his son told the interviewer that his dad could never really grasp the idea of abstract notions , like "the poor".  Harper is no different.
"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.”  Stephen Harper,  The Bulldog, National Citizens Coalition, February 1997
There is no such thing as "child poverty", but if you see a child who looks hungry, simply feed it. There is no epidemic of murdered and missing aboriginal women, but if you know of someone who murdered them, call the cops. Again, simple solutions to complex problems.

The Starting Point- 1789
In a radio broadcast on April 1, 1933, Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, proclaimed it clearly : with the Nazi revolution "the year 1789 has been expunged from the records of history."  It was obvious to all why Goebbels compared 1933 to 1789.  Any contemporary, whether schooled in history or not, instinctively knew that the French Revolution was the measure of things in the modern world. "We want to eradicate the ideology of liberalism and replace it with a new sense of community"  (Foundational Pasts: The Holocaust as Historical Understanding, By Alon Confino, Cambridge University Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-52173-632-9, p. 6)
The National Socialist Party of Germany, in 1933, saw a classic struggle between right and left.  They had a visceral hatred of communism and the liberalism that allowed communism to flourish.

And in the Edmund Burke tradition,  believed that only they knew what was good for the German people, and so dealt with those who tried to convince them otherwise.  This meant the expulsion of not only Jews (who they suggested were part of a communist plot to take over the world), but everyone with liberal ideas and "mystical" views of human rights.

They would create a new kind of socialism, in direct contrast to the Marxist or Paine idea of socialism; for the people, but not by the people, and certainly not for all the people.

The French Revolution has been seen as a defining moment in democracy, despite the fact that it failed, only giving power to the Bourgeoisie, and the eventual dictatorship of Napoleon; but it has inspired many revolutionary changes around the world.

The late 18th century public debates between two great thinkers, Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine, live on in the conflicting ideologies of today's conservatives and liberals.

The question is, what side of this new revolution do we want to be on?

The one where basic human rights are simply philosophical or one where those rights are achievable and necessary?

One where "poverty" is merely an "idea" or one where the visual, and yes sociological studies, are proof that "the poor" do exist, and society has an obligation to help them?

One where government should only address the needs of the top 1%, or one that addresses the needs of all citizens?

Edmund Burke or Thomas Paine?

Stephen Harper or anyone with a heart and soul?

Conservatives like to quote Edmund Burke:  "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” .  The only problem is that Burke never said that.  If you pick through things he actually said, you could perhaps create the sentiment, but not find the direct quote.

The closest researchers have come to citing the remark, might be to John Stuart Mills, who in an 1867 inaugural address at the University of St. Andrews, said:

"Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."

Mills was a liberal.

However, you can quote me on this ""The only thing necessary for Stephen Harper to continue his ruthless revolution, is for good Canadians to do nothing.”

As good Canadians we can all do something.  Vote him out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Are the New Conservative Election Fraud Plans Going up in Smoke?

In April of this year, an ambulance was called to 24 Sussex Drive, after a teenage girl had consumed too much alcohol. No charges were laid, despite the fact that she was underage.

The occasion was a birthday party for Stephen Harper's son Ben, and the official response was that the Harpers were just a normal family. Yes, apparently all normal families ply teenagers with enough alcohol, that they have to be rushed to hospital, apparently suffering from alcohol poisoning.

(The image above is our Justice Minister Peter MacKay and his beer bong)

However, rather than using this as an opportunity to address the growing problem of teen drinking, Harper attacked Justin Trudeau for wanting to legalize marijuana.

Double standard or plain ignorance? Tough call, but one thing that history has taught us, is that prohibition only increases criminal activity, while creating new social norms.

Bathtub Gin and the Devil's Music

In November of 1933, on the eve of the end of Prohibition in the U.S., Fortune Magazine ran an article, summing up the era since 1919, when the Draconian Volstead Act was put in place.

"Moonshiners" "bootleggers", "speak easies" and "bathtub gin"; defined the period, as did Al Capone and others who protected their prohibition empires with violence, that included shoot outs with police.

The Fortune article focused not on the history, which was well known, but on prohibition's impact on American culture. Noting that before the ban, Americans drank 140 million gallons of liquor a year, and during the ban, that increased to 200 million gallons a year, they spoke of a "rebirth" in the industry that manufacturers of spirits had to address.

Bathtub chemists had not only made gin the new drink of choice, but had created a new class of drinkers.
... the bootleg industry, discovered that the one thing prohibition prohibited was the manufacture of the native U.S. drink, rye and bourbon whiskey, and so it gave the thirsty citizens something else and changed the taste of a generation.

The calculation of the taste factor now baffles everyone in the business. Before prohibition, gin went into Martinis and Negroes. The alcohol industry of the 1920s made it a drink. The younger drinking generation was weaned on it and an entirely new body of drinkers, women, preferred it to whiskey .....
Gin flowed freely at parties and in the Speak Easies and Jazz Clubs, throughout the 1920s, where dancing and "wild" music helped to define the era. But something else was becoming popular. Marijuana.

Throughout the Jazz and Swing eras, pot was consumed by both musicians and their fans. Louis Armstrong called it a "cheap drunk" and preferred it to alcohol, as did many others, including Dizzy Gillespie. Pot not only improved their stamina, but provided a new element to their music. A wild abandon that was also seen in the jitterbugging of the patrons.

This raised concern among law makers, not because of the health impact of the drug, but the influence of non-whites on pop culture. Says journalist Maia Szalvitz:
Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (an early predecessor of the DEA), was one of the driving forces behind pot prohibition. He pushed it for explicitly racist reasons, saying, “Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men,” and:

"There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others."

Hustlers, Beats and Others

By the 1950s the "Beat Movement" created a new pot user. According to the 1972 Report of the Canadian Government Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs: "... the accompanying growth of a white middle class audience for jazz music also played a role in the diffusion of cannabis-smoking."

By the 1960s, the craze had spread. Wrote Ned Polsky in Hustlers, Beats and Others:
The "beats... most enduring imprint on American culture appears, in retrospect, to have been precisely this diffusion of marijuana use to many circles of middle-and upper-class whites ....
Anslinger's ban had not reduced the use of pot, any more than the Volstead Act had reduced the use of alcohol.

In Canada, Marijuana prohibition was enacted in 1923, and while its use was mostly clandestine, a 1967 study in Toronto, revealed that its popularity was widespread enough to warrant user categories.
"The Beats", who were usually under twenty-five and inhabited "the Village" section of downtown Toronto; "The Swingers", who were mainly criminals, members of the criminal fringe and entertainers between the ages of thirty and forty-five; and "The Squares", who were upper-middle class, well-educated professionals between thirty-five and fifty years of age."
So was music the gateway to marijuajna?

According to that 1972 report speaking to the "cannabis-using population "There is almost universal consumption of tobacco and most drink alcohol (usually beer or wine)"

So is tobacco and alcohol the gateway to marijuajna?

Of course not. It's society. And society determines what is socially acceptable.

I don't smoke pot and could actually get it legally because of my MS, but choose not to. I tried it once as a teenager, and never liked it. But then I have never smoked cigarettes and the number of times that I have been drunk, I could count with the fingers on one hand.

However, none of these decisions were moral issues, but rather an aversion to chemicals.

When Justin Trudeau announced that he would legalize pot, not just decriminalize it, it triggered a storm of debate. Canadians began to question the sensibility of pot "laws", and now an overwhelming majority agree with Trudeau. He has forced the other parties to create a policy on the subject.

With the Conservative attack ads suggesting that Justin Trudeau wants to force your children to smoke pot; backfiring; they have decided to use a different approach. Spending our money to create anti-pot ads, to improve their chances for re-election.

In the meantime, they are offering an olive branch by promising to perhaps soften the laws. However, any punitive actions are long past their prime. We need to treat alcohol, tobacco and cannabis, the same, by making all of them controlled substances, rather than illegal ones.

After all, roads were not paved with good intentions but with vices.

The results in Colorado have been overwhelming, and the revenue better than expected. Add the savings in court and police costs, and it seems a no-brainer.

Stephen Harper's allowance of serving alcohol at a teen's party was not only illegal, but proved to be dangerous. He needs to get off his high horse.

If taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill for yet more of his Party's political ads, than those ads need to include the dangers of alcohol and tobacco. Despite a well publicized hoax, it's almost impossible to OD on pot, yet alcohol poisoning is real and growing.

And pot does not cause cancer, but cigarettes do.

Canada has always been a progressive country, but under this government, we we are regressing, and I'm sick of it. Given the latest poll results, I'm not alone.

Harper's new (un)fair Elections Act, and gerrymandering redrawing of the electoral map, are transparent attempts at stealing yet another election. He can't win unless he cheats and he knows that.

But given this important issue, will it all go up in smoke? Let's hope so.