Sunday, October 30, 2011

Letting Go of the Urban Legends

I attended an event yesterday for Ron Hartling, who is running as president of the Liberal Party of Canada. Speakers included Peter Milliken and Liberal MP Ted Hsu.

However, I learned more from one of the guests, who like me, had been a supporter of the federal PC Party until it was bought out by the Reform-Alliance.

She told me that she had grown up in Calgary, moving to the Toronto area several years ago, until finally settling in Kingston. She mentioned the first time she returned to Calgary for a visit. Her father accused her of talking like an "Easterner", but she said "no, dad. I'm not talking like an Easterner, I'm talking like a federalist."

So much of the Western alienation that brought the Reform Party, and even the NDP, to prominence, is the stuff of urban legend. The difference between the NDP and Reform, is that the NDP grew up and moved on. Canada's new Conservative Reform-Alliance Party has not, nor do they want to.

They need to keep the old grievances alive because those are what fuel the Conservative Movement on both sides of the border.

The first bit of sand in the shorts came when Alberta's Social Credit premier, William Aberhart (1935-1943), wanted to create his own currency and rewrite banking laws.  Ottawa stepped in.

Then in 1960, Social Credit premier Ernest Manning (1943-1968) considered allowing the American oil industry to detonate a 9 kilotonne atomic bomb in northern Alberta, in an experiment to determine if nuclear power might help remove oil for the oilsands.  It could have removed Albertans as well.  Ottawa stepped in.

Many in the West, have used Ottawa as a scapegoat for decades.  Not to say that they didn't have legitimate complaints, like bilingualism and the metric system.

However, the largest catalyst has been the National Energy Program of Pierre Trudeau.  Three decades later, they just can't drop it.  So maybe it's time for a little history lesson.

The Alberta corporate sector didn't like the NEP, because it discriminated against petroleum companies that were foreign owned.  The devastation in the wake of the NEP was not due to the program, but Brian Mulroney's scrapping of it, leaving no protection for the industry when OPEC moved in.

Says author and political science professor Trevor Harrison:
Oscar Wilde wrote that there are only two tragedies: one is not getting what one wants; the other is getting it. In the fall of 1985, the latter tragedy befell Alberta's oil industry. The OPEC cartel failed to agree upon a world oil price. The result was a global free-for-all among producing nations. Canada's oil and gas producers were caught in the middle. Having recently gained freedom from the NEP, Canada's oil and gas industry was not protected as the price of oil dropped from US $27 per barrel ... to $8 per barrel by August 1986. ... Forty-five thousand oil workers lost their jobs."  (Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada, By Trevor Harrison, University of Toronto Press, 1995, ISBN: 0-8020-7204-6 3, p. 97)
In fact, many Canadian corporations liked the NEP because it allowed further exploration on public land.  However, by 1980 only 26.1% of the Petroleum industry was Canadian owned and 18.7% Canadian controlled.  Canadians had lost their voice.

However, the grievance of both American and Canadian corporations, was proposed changes to the tax laws, which would have closed up loopholes.
When Allan MacEachen was appointed finance minister in 1980 big business requested that government examine the tax system with a view to making changes. But MacEachen's senior advisers soon focused his attention on how billions of dollars were being lost yearly to scores of dubious corporate tax breaks.  Finance officials put together a tax reform package designed, among other things, to eliminate 165 of the most costly and counter-productive tax expenditure measures and in the process increase revenue by close to $3 billion. When he introduced the legislation it caused a firestorm of protest from the corporate elite.

Neil Brooks, now professor of tax law at Osgoode Hall Law School, was working for the finance department on the tax reform package and has recalled the tactics of the large corporations. "It's almost a classic example of what's called a capital strike. I mean, business simply said to the government that if you go ahead with these measures we will stop investing in Canada." The development industry reacted instantly. "Literally the next day they were closing jobs down and . . . pulling cranes off construction jobs." (The Myth of the Good Corporate Citizen: Canada and Democracy in the Age of Globalization, By Murray Dobbin, James Lorimer & Company, 2003, ISBN: 1-55028-785-0, p. 168)
If this was really about the manipulation of oil prices by Ottawa, then Ontario would also have a grievance, over Diefenbaker's National Oil Policy.
The aim of the National Oil Policy was to promote the Alberta oil industry by securing for it a protected share of the domestic market. Under the policy, Canada was divided into two oil markets. The market east of the Ottawa Valley (the Borden Line) would use imported oil, while west of the Borden Line, consumers would use the more expensive Alberta supplies. For most of the 1961-73 period, consumers to the West paid between $1.00 and $1.50 per barrel above the world price, which, just before the 1973 OPEC oil embargo and price increase, stood at around $3.00. They also paid proportionately higher prices at the pump than Canadians east of the Borden line. (Towards a Just Society: The Trudeau Years, By Thomas S. Axworthy and Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Viking Press, 1990, ISBN: 0-670-83015-1. p. 51)
This meant that Ontario paid the higher Alberta price and were restricted from shopping for a better deal, while foreign owned companies got to import cheaper product.

So why aren't Ontario politicians riding NOP in the same way that Western politicians ride NEP?  (Wouldn't that make a great Cat in the Hat episode?).  It's because of different philosophies.  Forward thinking politicans let go of the past.  The regressive Conservative Movement needs to keep the past alive to continue to ride the wave of anger.

"Us" against "Them".

In the spirit of Halloween, it's time to let go of the urban legends and ghosts of the past, and move toward what is best for all Canadians.  Unfortunately, under our current government, that will never happen.
"Westerners, but especially Albertans, founded the Reform/Alliance to get "in" to Canada. The rest of the country has responded by telling us in no uncertain terms that we do not share their 'Canadian values.' Fine. Let us build a society on Alberta values." Stephen Harper
That would be fine if they were "Alberta values", but they are in fact, American Conservative "values", so, no thanks.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Should We Be Concerned With Those Harper is Passing the Pipe With?

In 1911, the United States Supreme Court broke up Standard Oil, then the largest multinational corporation, because it was simply becoming too big and powerful.  The company's battles with former president Teddy Roosevelt were legendary, as depicted in this 1906 Punch cartoon.

Standard Oil New Jersey has since grown to become Exxon, so unfortunately the action did not stop the continued threat of corporations becoming more powerful than government.

The XL pipeline that Harper plans to build for the Koch Brothers, that will send bitumen to the U.S. for refining, is causing concern on both sides of the border.

However, while the pipeline is an important area for discussion, we should also be looking closely at the company that our government is doing business with.

Not only have the Koch Brothers waged a war against President Obama, but they are also engaged in some troubling international escapades.

Bloomberg ran an in depth story this month: Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales.

They revealed that the company had been bribing foreign government officials to secure contracts. 

When that story first broke, Koch went into damage mode, firing many who were simply following orders.  Also fired typically was the whistle blower.

However, more troubling was the fact that they were supplying Iran with chemicals, through their foreign subsidiaries, side stepping the sanctions against the country that George Bush included in his "axis of evil". (A term coined by his former speechwriter, David Frum)
Internal company records show that Koch Industries used its foreign subsidiary to sidestep a U.S. trade ban barring American companies from selling materials to Iran. Koch-Glitsch offices in Germany and Italy continued selling to Iran until as recently as 2007, the records show. The company’s products helped build a methanol plant for Zagros Petrochemical Co., a unit of Iran’s state-owned National Iranian Petrochemical Co., the documents show. The facility, in the coastal city of Bandar Assaluyeh, is now the largest methanol plant in the world, according to IHS Inc., an Englewood, Colorado-based provider of chemicals, energy and economic data.
So while funding the Tea Party, who claim to be the only true patriots, Koch is unpatriotically doing business with a deemed enemy, providing them with sensitive materials. 

This used to be called treason.  Now it's called the Free Market.

Of course this is business as usual for the corporate sector.  IBM created a punch card system for the Nazis that helped to categorize all German and European Jews and other minorities.  According to Andrew Marshall in Financing Fascism:  The Military-Industrial Complex and the Rise of Neo-Conservatism
The punch card machines would punch in specific numbers, which would have different meanings, for example, one number would identify the person to whom it is being assigned as a Jew or a Gypsy or a Communist, and so on. Another number would determine the person’s fate, assigning specific numbers to mean slave labour, to be shot or what was termed ‘the special treatment’; gas chambers. These numbers were then tattooed onto the arms of each person interned in concentration camps. When Allied troops entered concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, there inside the camps, they found the punch card machines clearly showing the proud corporate logo of IBM. There are even photos of the CEO of IBM sitting down at a table with Hitler in the early 1930s.
IBM was not the only corporation to profit from the Holocaust.  According to Marshall, GM manufactured many of the vehicles Hitler used in his military campaign, and through their German subsidiary company, Opel helped to build leaded gasoline plants for the dictator.

Other companies profiting from Nazi aggression included Ford, Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon), Chase Manhattan Bank (now J.P Morgan Chase), DuPont, Dow Chemical - the list goes on.

However, there was another Nazi war profiteer that should give us pause.  Prescott Bush, grandfather of George Bush.  He was the director and Vice President of the Union Banking Corporation, that helped to finance many Nazi pursuits.  Another of his business ventures, the Silesian-American Corporation, profited from slave labour at Auschwitz concentration camp. (2)

When it was discovered that Bush was conducting business with the Nazis, he had his assets frozen, but after the war was compensated by the U.S. government to the tune of $1.5 million.  That was how he started the Bush family fortune.  Prescott Bush would go on to become a U.S. Senator, and both his son and grandson, Presidents.  Who said that crime doesn't pay?
 
With Harper and company posturing over Iran, why are they getting into bed with those supplying chemical to the "enemy"?  "The biggest threat to the world?"
 
And they wonder why the necessity of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
 
The closest my father ever got to a cuss word was "cripes", but that word packed a wallup.  So CRIPES why are we allowing corporations to get so big that they can not only push us into war but profit by supplying the other side?
 
Our addiction to oil is going to be our Waterloo.
 
According to retired Army brigadier general Steven M. Anderson:
As the military’s senior logistician in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, I saw the impact of our oil addition in the Iraq combat zone. Our appetite for fuel wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, transfers $1 billion daily in our wealth to the Middle East, and puts our soldiers at risk. The fuel trucks we depend upon provide hundreds of convenient rolling targets for our enemy. My experiences in Iraq convinced me that the greatest threat to our security is our over-reliance on oil and that Americans must immediately take steps to cut our petro-addiction before it’s too late.

The Keystone XL pipeline doesn’t help. This pipeline would move dirty oil from Canada to refineries in Texas and would set back our renewable energy efforts for at least two decades, much to our enemies’ delight. It would ensure we maintain our oil addiction and delay making the tough decisions regarding energy production, management and conservation that we need to start making today.
The $7 billion that Harper is sinking into this project could be better spent

Sources:
 
1. “IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation”, By Edwin Black, Crown Publishers, New York, 2001

2. "How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power", By Ben Aris and Campbell Duncan, The Guardian, September 25, 2004
.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

So Would Stephen Harper Vote for Rick Perry or Herman Cain?


I originally thought that Stephen Harper had more in common with Rick Perry.  Both are strong advocates of the death penalty, guns and the flat tax.

However, Rachel Maddox revealed something on her program this week, that connects him closer to Herman Cain.  Both Cain and Harper are beholden to the Koch Brothers.
On her show Monday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow noted that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is an avid numerologist who is obsessed with the number 45. She also pointed out numerous links between Cain and the conservative billionaire Koch brothers. For instance, before running for president, he worked for the Koch-funded conservative group Americans for Prosperity.
I mentioned Americans for Prosperity before, not only because they are behind the Tea Party, but because they worked with the Harper government on an ad for U.S. TV, that challenged President Obama's healthcare plan.  You can read about it here.

Sun TV's Ezra Levant spent a summer as a fellow at the Koch Foundation, arranged by Charles Koch himself, and has since written a book Ethical Oil, which should be subtitled The Tarsands Smokescreen.

Stephen Harper is using our tax dollars to build the Koch Brothers a pipeline, which will send all the good jobs in the industry South.

Americans don't want the pipeline, but Obama is under a lot of pressure to accept it, on the basis of job creation.  Having Cain in office would be like having the Koch Brothers in office, and would provide a new BFF for Stephen Harper still moping after losing his Georgie.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The End of an Era and a New Beginning


In November of 2009, Bloc Quebecois MP Claude Guimond, was suffering from H1N1, the virus that was making people incredibly sick and costing lives.

However, there was an important vote in the House of Commons that he didn't want to miss, so the Bloc asked the  Conservatives if Guimond could be paired.  This is a procedure where a government MP and an opposition MP agree not to vote for a specific period of time, allowing an MP to be absent.

The Conservatives refused.  They all wanted to make sure that their name appeared on the "yes" side.

The vote was on scrapping the gun registry, and there was a great deal of tension in Canada, because several NDP MPs were going to vote with the government.

Mr. Guimond made the trip, showing up in Parliament wearing a surgical mask.  We won, but it turned out to be bittersweet.  A Harper majority in the House and the Senate, assures that Canada has taken a crucial step toward creating the "gun culture" that the Reform Party always wanted. 

Stephen Harper wrote their gun policy, which will now be written by Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson of the NRA.  Canadian culture has been shot in the head.

I love how our compliant media is using headlines like "Conservative keep promise to scrap registry", suggesting that this is a positive thing.  They should read "Conservatives follow through on their threat .... "  They have clearly lost their credibility.

Some provinces want to create their own registry, since it is vital to police, but the government is vowing to destroy all records at a weenie roast and branding hoedown.

The image of the Conservative posse making their announcement with white men holding shotguns, made me think of  the movie Deliverance.    The only thing missing yesterday, were banjos and Ned Beatty's underpants.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rick Perry Steals Stockwell Day's "Flat Tax" idea, who Stole it From the CTF, Who Stole it From ....

In 2006, Time magazine raised the alarm over Stephen Harper's control of the media, which included his unprecedented secrecy of what goes on in cabinet meetings.

However, if you want some idea of what they might sound like, watch the Republican debates and listen to their candidates. They all speak the same language.

This week Rick Perry is touting the "flat tax" as an innovative way to restructure the tax system, and it will be even flatter than Herman Cain's 9-9-9. The only thing flatter will be their heads.

This is not a new idea but one that has been flogged for decades. "Reduce government so you can drown it in a bathtub", Grover Norquist, and his Americans For Tax Reform, have been promoting this for twenty-five years.

Canadian Kevin Avram, attended a conference in Austin, Texas where he met a representative of the “Association of Concerned Taxpayers”, then headed up by Norquist. He came home and created the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, once headed up by Jason Kenney.

In 1998, the CTF invited Stockwell Day, then head of the Alberta Treasury, to a briefing on how this tax plan to make the wealthy even wealthier, works.

Mike Harris and Preston Manning wrote a paper Building Prosperity in a Canada Strong and Free, in which they not only tout the "flat tax" but also want to end Capital gains taxes.

When Stephen Harper spoke at the Frontier Institute, another vehicle of the corporate sector, there were protests against the Institutes policies, including, yes, the "flat tax". He snuck out the back door, his Modus Operandi.

Jim Flaherty also stated that once the books are balanced (or he engages in a bit more creative bookkeeping), he is going to "flatten" taxes.

All of these neocons sound like parrots on crack. "Perry wants a flat tax", "Flaherty wants a flat tax", "Harper wants a flat tax", "Norquist wants a flat tax", Tea Party wants a flat tax" ...."

As Joe Holley reminds us:
Perry is hoping to capitalize on universal frustration with the current system, draw attention away from Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 flat tax proposal and create a clear distinction between himself and Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor has been critical of a flat-tax system in the past, arguing that a tax structure that was too flat would hurt the middle class.

A flat tax would indeed be more regressive than the current complicated system. It would reduce the percentage that high-income earners pay, while increasing the burden on lower-income groups. That’s fine with some conservatives, who believe that wealthier earners shouldn’t be shouldering so much of the tax burden.
That's it in a nutshell. Creating a tax system that further widens the gap between rich and poor. Just what we need.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's Not About Occupying Wall Street But How Best to "Occupy" Ourselves


In the 1960s, college and university campuses, known for their apathy, began to erupt into political activism. Rosa Parks, the black woman who refused to move to the back of the bus, inspired many to stand up, or perhaps more appropriately, "sit-in", for racial equality. Her actions had sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and a young preacher, Martin Luther King Jr., who led the boycott, wrote a book: Stride Toward Freedom.

Motivated by King's words, on February 1st, 1960;  four black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical School, David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, and Joseph McNeil, sat down at a "whites-only" Woolworth's lunch counter and ordered coffee. Following store policy, the lunch counter staff refused to serve them.

The next day, 27 young people appeared at that lunch counter to protest the store's actions, and engaged in a "sit-in". The third day there were 60, and the fourth, more than 300.

Their actions ignited a wave of student sit-ins, and despite beatings, arrests and the sting of fire hoses, the protests continued to grow, in much the same way that the Occupy Wall Street protests are growing today.

Many who marched for equality then, were from the privileged white class, but knew that segregation was fundamentally wrong.  Many Occupy Wall Street protesters have jobs.  Others are retired and don't need jobs.  They just understand that 1% of the citizens should not control all the wealth, and more importantly, that governments should not be catering to that top 1%.

As Bill Maher said this week, they do not oppose capitalism, but only those who have abused it.

I read a column on a U.S. site, critical of people like Susan Sarandon and Kanye West, lending support to the occupiers.  After all, they are hardly one of the 99%.  But having money does not mean that you can't empathize.

To the movement, 'Wall Street' is not a noun.  It is an adjective to greed and injustice.

The actions taken on that bus in Montgomery or that lunch counter at Woolworths, did not single handedly change the world, but were the catalyst for much needed change, that has greatly influenced how we feel today.

When it was learned that Republican presidential hopeful, Rick Perry, had a ranch named "niggerhead", the public reacted with shock.  Fifty years ago they would not have batted an eye.

Since the 1960s, the right-wing has tried to push back the Civil Rights Movement, in the same way that they are trying to discredit this one.  They have failed.  Their money has bought power, making it easy for someone like Stephen Harper to enjoy it, but they have not been able to change our core values.

In 2009, Conservative insider Tom Flanagan, wrote a follow-up to his 1995 Waiting for the Wave -- WFW: The Reform Party and the Conservative Movement.  I thought there might be some revelations, but it still has just enough fact to make the non-fiction category, but barely.  This must be what he meant when he said that something "doesn't have to be true, just plausible".  I'll call this book convoluted plausibility, and leave it at that.

However, I took exception to his list of Reform Party accomplishments, aside from the way they connived themselves to political victory.  Flanagan suggests that Reform's legacy is that politicians now talk about "families", saying that (the late) Jack Layton was just as likely to propose policies to help hard-working families, as Stephen Harper. (p. 215)

Would that be the same Stephen Harper who boasted that one of his National Citizens Coalition accomplishments, was killing the baby bonus?  It wasn't scrapped of course, but adjusted based on family income.  And let's not forget this one:  "Universality has been severely reduced: it is virtually dead as a concept in most areas of public policy... These achievements are due in part to the Reform Party..."  - (Stephen Harper, speech to the Colin Brown Memorial Dinner, National Citizens Coalition, 1994.)

What Reform attempted to do was redefine what constitutes a family, by marginalizing any who don't fit their mould of stay at home mother, working dad, conforming children.

Before Harper was born, politicians put families on the agenda.  It was called The Welfare State, and it has served us well.

Jim Flaherty and Mark Carney, now claim to understand why the Occupy Wall Street protesters are angry.  Flaherty says:  “Income distribution is important and there is a concern that a very, very small group of people have very large incomes and that others do not have those same opportunities.”  He fails to mention that his policies have helped to create that gap.

If he was sincere, he would vow to roll back corporate taxcuts and refuse to continue with the Mike Harris/George Bush "red tape commission", that will remove all safety and environmental standards that impede the top 1% from getting richer, while putting the bottom 99% at risk.

A perfect example of this is with Maple Leaf Foods.  The Harper government began allowing food processing plants to inspect themselves, resulting in the death of 20 Canadian citizens, who didn't get the memo.

Yet now those "job creators", who have not only benefited from deregulation, but have also enjoyed enormous tax breaks, are going to layoff 1550 workers.

The whole neoconservative agenda is a crock.  Just ask Rick Salutin.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has the potential to change how we view financial inequality, in the same way that the Civil Rights Movement changed how we viewed racial inequality, and the Womens Movement, gender inequality. 

In Kingston, Ontario;  there is a small group of protesters, camped out in a city park.  They are breaking bylaws, but our mayor has promised not to move them, because their message is too important.  Local citizens come by on a regular basis, with food and messages of support.

It is quiet, non-violent, civil disobediance.

We can no longer rely on politicians to do what is right.  We are the ones who must draft policy and set the agenda.  It only takes a few, and then a few more, and a few more, and a few more ................

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Harper Stacks Judiciary For American Conservative Movement

Brian Abrams is a former Conservative candidate for Kingston and the Islands.  He had a pretty good showing in 2008, but lost to incumbent Peter Milliken. 

After his defeat, the Conservatives launched an all out attack on this riding.  They saturated it with taxpayer funded ten percenters, warning Kingstonians that if we voted for Michael Ignatieff, he would leave us and join the Samurais.

Yes, apparently Michael Ignatieff had once jokingly claimed that he was a Samurai Warrior and it was of vital importance to our national security, for us to know that.

Abrams took a beating in the local press for this waste of our money and also for not supporting the Prison Farm protests.  Local candidates for the Liberal, Green and NDP parties were at every meeting and most rallies.

When it became clear that he would not be able to win an election, the Conservatives bought him off with an appointment to Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, to make way for their star candidate, local businesswoman Alicia Gordon.  She lost.

I was concerned with Abram's appointment, not only because he was one of the most partisan creatures on the planet, but because he had been the attorney for the local police department.  I believe that the judiciary and law enforcement should be separate. He was also a former RCMP officer.  Could he rule against the police if there was wrongdoing?  Or against Conservative ideology?  I don't think so.

I remember during the 2008 campaign, on his blog he claimed that he was sitting around worrying about the hardships that the Green Shift/carbon tax plan of St├ęphane Dion's would impose on people in this riding.  He knew that the plan was revenue neutral, but if he had to lie to get ahead, he could lie with the best of them.  He should have been sitting around worrying about the devastating affects of Climate Change.

However, this isn't really about Abrams, but rather how Stephen Harper chooses his appointments.

Bruce Ryder had an excellent column in the Star yesterday:  Are we appointing the best judges?  While most of the media and some MPs are chasing shiny things, aka: the announcement that one candidate was not bi-lingual, they are missing the obvious.

The views and qualifications of the appointees.

A former selection, Justice Marshall Rothstein, has already taken a stand against collective bargaining, despite the fact that he promised not to let his personal views affect his decisions.

Ryder raises another issue.  Of the four Harper selections to date, NONE are committed to upholding our Charter rights and freedoms.  This is not an accident.

In 2004 Harper actually ran against the charter, promising to use the Notwithstanding Clause to overturn things like abortion laws, gay rights, women's rights and hate speech laws, (which he likened to totalitarianism).
To the Conservatives, the charter is social engineering, elevating individual rights over personal responsibility and undeserving minorities over the taxpaying majority .... Constitutional experts have warned that the Conservative platform is so anti-charter it is a legal minefield. "A lot of this stuff raises serious constitutional issues." the University of Ottawa's Ed Ratushny told CanWest Global News Service. The experts have identified at least 12 positions that either, violate the charter, are ripe for serious court challenges or would require amendments to the Constitution. (Winnipeg Free Press, June 25, 2004)


In the 2005-6 campaign, some in the Canadian media became alarmed with Harper's ties to the American Religious Right and their Conservative Movement, prompting one of their leaders, Paul Weyrich (above right), to send an email to his flock, warning them not to talk to the Canadian press. At first he denied that the email was his, but later confirmed that he had indeed attempted to hide Harper's close relationship with members of his team.  (Harper's U.S. neocon booster changes his story, By Beth Gorham, Canadian Press, January 27, 2006)

When Harper failed to get a majority, Weyrich told his followers not to worry.  Said he:
"It is not widely known in this country that a Canadian prime minister has more power than a United States president. Harper could appoint 5,000 new officials. (No confirmation is required by the Canadian Parliament.) The prime minister also could appoint every judge from the trial courts, to the courts of appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court, as vacancies occur.

"Harper's partisans believe he could maintain power for four years, during which time Conservatives hopefully would witness many vacancies created by Liberals leaving the courts. (ibid)
In his new book Rogue in Power, Christian Nadeau reminds us that Harper has indeed been doing just that.
And for Harper, the appointment of judges is ... part of a strategy whose objective is to profoundly change the relationship between government and other institutions to one of master and servant.  Placing judges who hold and will support the neoconservative agenda ....  at least three judicial appointments to higher courts were motivated by religious [Right]reasons—Dallas K. Miller in Alberta, Lawrence O'Neil in Nova Scotia, and David Moseley Brown in Ontario. Miller is the founder of an association that advocates home-schooling. O'Neil has told the Commons that pregnant women have no right to control their own bodies. Brown is known for his battles against gay rights. (Rogue in Power: Why Stephen Harper is remaking Canada by Stealth, By Christian Nadeau, Lorimer Press, ISBN: 978-1-55277-730-5, p. 53-54)
Paul Weyrich is also a founding member of the Council for National Policy, the pro-military, religious organization where Stephen Harper gave his "yes I really hate Canadians this much" speech in 1997.  Said Harper:
"The establishment came down with a constitutional package which they put to a national referendum. The package included distinct society status for Quebec and some other changes, including some that would just horrify you, putting universal Medicare in our constitution, and feminist rights, and a whole bunch of other things."
Funny.  None of those things horrified me, but the thought of losing them scares me to death.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Swindlers Revisited: Why Canada's Occupy Wall (Bay) Steet Movement is Important

A friend left a comment on my blog yesterday, reminding me of a book I had read several months ago, Swindlers.  She was just in the process of reading it herself.  Timely, given the current protests against Wall Street greed.

Anyone questioning why citizens have taken to the streets, need to read this book.

In it, the Rosens (father and son), tell us of how Jim Flaherty and Stephen Harper have signed Canada on to a new set of rules governing corporations.
Thanks to our self-regulated auditors, Canada will soon adopt [Came into effect on January 1, 2011]  new accounting and auditing standards called International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Under IFRS, corporate managers will have even more freedom to distort and manipulate their financial reports to make themselves look better than they really are. Despite the devastating impact it will have on investors and the utility of financial statements in general, auditors succeeded in pushing through the change because of complete disinterest from lawmakers and a lack of recognition by investors that auditors have no interest in upholding their needs. Canadians simply assume that a self-regulatory body like the auditors would look after public interests, not just their self-interests. (Swindlers: Cons and Cheats and How to Protect Your Investments From Them, By Al Rosen and Mark Rosen, Madison Commerce, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-897330-76-0)
They are now legally allowed to lie on their financial statements to lure potential investors.  When I wrote of this before, I received an email asking why it mattered.  After all, it was just rich people cheating other rich people.

However, this affects all of us, because it could mean company pension plans, RRSPs, mutual funds ... things we don't think about every day but they could have a serious affect on our future financial well being.  More from the book:
Judging from the stories that run in the newspaper, you probably think that Canada is a pretty safe place to invest your money. After all, we just survived one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression. Some of the biggest names in the world of banking and finance have disappeared, but not a single Canadian bank collapsed. Canada must be doing something right, right?

If you believe that, we have some bad news. The risks you take by investing in Canada have never been greater. And the so-called protection that Canadians think they receive from regulators, lawmakers, and auditors has never been weaker. (ibid)
Good PR (propaganda) at taxpayers expense, has led us to believe that we are financially sound.  We're not.  Since coming to office, the "Harper government" has been on a deregulation drunk.

During one binge, they flooded the market with sub-prime mortgages and the next day found themselves in bed with AIG.  Some morning after.

Another weekend of partying and they bailed out our banks to the tune of $125 billion.  The drunkenomic hangover.

More from the Rosens:
Corporate lobbying power and the absence of an organized investor voice in Canada means that most regulatory actions favour corporate interests. Canada is the only major country in the world that allows the same people who audit public companies to financially control the process that sets the auditing rules. This basic and fundamental conflict of interest means that auditors can set rules that cater to their paying corporate clients over the needs of investors.

There's a lot of money involved in these financial cons. Based on our extensive experience with auditor negligence and executive dishonesty, we estimate that investors have lost hundreds of billions of dollars to scams in Canadian financial markets. Even if you haven't invested a penny in the stock market yourself, these losses affect you. Anyone who collects a pension, saves for his children's education, or simply pays her taxes like an honest citizen suffers from the disinterest of our regulators and lawmakers in prosecuting dishonest corporate executives, aided by acquiescent auditors.
If power is intoxicating, unchecked power is inebriating. 

A few more brown-bagged calamities:

A former Goldman-Sachs employee is running the bank of Canada and has brought along a colleague to act as his assistant.  The same Goldman-Sachs who helped to create the last economic crisis, and the same Goldman-Sachs who warned their clients not to invest in Canada.

Another Goldman-Sachs employee has been signed on to handle Canada's foray into derivatives.  Investor Warren buffet calls derivatives "weapons of mass destruction", but that won't stop Flaherty.  He's even putting some of our Canada pension funds into this risky venture.

Stephen Harper's chief of staff came right off Bay Street to secure the purchase of the F-35s for one of his clients.

And yet Flaherty claims that Canadians have little to protest.

Chantel Hebert is suggesting that instead of protesting Canadians should vote.  Maybe if the media kept us better informed, we would.  Every time they refer to this government as "Tories", they are putting another nail in our coffin.

A Queens University political science professor was asked recently why people are protesting.  She said that the question should not be "why?" but what took them so long.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mea Culpa Occupy Wall Street Canada


When I posted on the success of the occupy Wall Street movement in Canada I said that Harper, Flaherty and Clement were there. 

I was referring to the above photo from the National Post.

I now realize they were just men in costume, dressed up as Harper, Flaherty and Clement.

Silly me.

I Am So Proud to be Canadian Today


I was afraid that the Occupy Wall Street protests in Canada may not be well attended, given the human rights abuses at the G-20.

But Canadians rock. Being locked in cages, beaten by police and kettled on the streets like livestock, scared no one.

The National Post has some great photos. I love the first one, though I'm not sure why Harper, Flaherty and Clement would show up at this event.

I was also surprised to learn that Canada not only joined the movement, but may have inspired it. According to the Global Post:
It was a homecoming of sorts this weekend as the Occupy Wall Street movement made its way north. Thousands turned out in peaceful protests in more than a dozen cities across Canada, with the largest rally— about 4,000 protesters— appropriately enough in Vancouver, the capital of the country’s laid-back left coast and home to the spark that lit the fuse.

Last July, in a moment of inspiration that’s already become iconic, the Vancouver-based Adbusters magazine printed a centrefold poster urging the angry and disaffected to occupy Wall Street.
How cool is that?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Report of the Liberals Death Was Greatly Exaggerated

"The report of my death was an exaggeration" - Mark Twain

Everyone loves that Mark Twain quote in all of its variations.  It was prompted by the visit of a reporter, sent by his paper to investigate whether or not Twain (Samuel Clemens) had died after news of a lengthy illness.

Twain was very much alive and not even sick.  It was his cousin who was failing.

Chantal Hebert wrote a column this week predicting the death of the Liberal Party.  Her reasoning was that they are losing ground provincially.

What a silly assumption.

Provincially, the Liberal Party has never had a stronghold.  They haven't governed in Alberta since 1921, Manitoba since 1958, and Saskatchewan since 1971.  They now hold power in Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and PEI.  And her comment that they almost lost opposition status in Newfoundland?  We are talking the difference between 6 seats and 5, and she fails to mention that the Liberals actually gained two seats.

Since she's moved to the right, she's really lost perspective.

In the words of Mark Twain:  "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please".
 
A few facts.  In 1984, the now defunct federal PC Party won a majority with a staggering 211 seats.  The Liberals were reduced to 40 with the NDP gaining and not far behind them with 30.

Everyone was predicting then that the Liberals were on their way out and that the NDP would take their place.  Yet the NDP at the time were losing ground provincially.  They were beat out in Saskatchewan in 1982 and would not rule again in B.C. until 1991, and Manitoba until 1999.

Ed Broadbent's popularity had no affect provincially.

In 1988, the NDP did even better with 43 seats, though the Liberals also gained with 83.  No provincial surge for either party,  though the NDP did take Ontario, based more on the popularity of Bob Rae, than his federal counterpart.   By 1993, the federal NDP was reduced to 9 seats, and everyone was writing their eulogy.

Recently, in Ontario, the Liberal incumbent Dalton McGuinty had been written off, but he campaigned well and beat the odds, finishing just one seat short of a majority.  NDP's Andrea Horwath had a good showing because she is smart and endearing.  She rode no one's coattails.

The federal Liberals were reduced to 40 seats in 1984 and less than a decade later won a majority.  The NDP were down to 9 in 1993 yet are the official opposition in 2011.
 
The Liberal Party is now the oldest and most experienced, and they will find their way back.  The NDP, the second oldest, will continue to be successful if they can move beyond the personal success of Jack Layton, who brought them to where they are, and define who they want to be.
 
I think if the Tories had held on after being reduced to two seats, they could have eventually beat out the Reform-Alliance.  In 1993, that fateful year, they still garnered 2,186,422 votes, a million more than the Bloc's 1,846,024, who netted 54 seats, and pretty close to the Reform Party's 2,559,245, who took 52 seats. 
 
In 1997 their vote count was 2,446,705 for 20 seats, to Reform's 2,513,080 (60 seats) and the Bloc's 1,385,821 (44 seats).
 
But Peter Mackay owed $500,000 and Stephen Harper found someone willing to pay it off ( MacKay's financial secret safe with Harper: No conflict, party leader says, by Stephen Maher, The Halifax Herald Limited, May 13, 2004),  and as the old saying goes, the rest is ... well you can finish that sentence.
 
The Liberals are not dead.  It's only a rumour.
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." - Mark Twain 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hippies on Wall Street. Why Not??


There is a recent suggestion that the "Occupation" of Wall Street has become a "hippie haven".  I actually see people of all ages and from all walks of life, but if you want to discredit the movement, dismiss them with a seemingly negative connotation.

However, would it be so bad if the demonstrations took on a 60s flair?

The Religious Right want to take us back to the Reformation.  The Neocons to the 1950s, before the Civil Rights movement.

The Hippie generation created a lot of positive change, and maybe we need that kind of spirit again.  No Joan Baez yet, but Rage Against the Machine, Kanye West and rapper Talib Kweli have entertained the crowd.

They also have the support of Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo and of course, the wonderful Michael Moore.

More inspiring, however, was the appearance of a group called The Protest Chaplains, who travelled from Boston with their signs:   "Blessed are the poor" .  What a wonderful contrast to the Tea Party who imply that God thinks the poor are just lazy.

If social media is any indicator the protests appear to be gaining traction.

The times they are a changin'.


Are Members of the Religious Right Christians or Pagans?


I came across a piece from 1967, written three years after extremists began taking over the Republican Party, with the nomination of Barry Goldwater to run for president.  He took a trouncing but the movement was given a huge boost.

They had established the parameters of the New American Right.  Anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-liberal, anti-welfare state, anti-communist, pro-military, pro-guns, pro-"God".

The piece was in the forward of a book by John H. Redekop: The American Far Right (1968),  and was written by Mark O. Hatfield, a long serving Republican senator.  He died recently, one of the last of the moderate in his party.

Hatfield was a delegate at the 1964 Republican National Convention, and in his keynote speech, denounced the extremism he saw infiltrating the GOP.  His speech was met with an anticipated strong reaction, but he was more surprised by the amount of hate mail he received from people who called themselves Christians.

His story was not surprising.  In Canada, Brian Mulroney took a page from Ronald Reagan's hymnal, and courted Canada's Religious Right to help him get elected.  He then established a "God Squad" to deal with their pressing issues.  One member, Jake Epp, helped to draft a bill as Minister of Health, that would have given two year prison terms to any doctor performing an abortion, unless the mother's health was at risk.

His squadron became so inflamed at the concession, that Mulroney was forced to move Epp to another ministry.

Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer, whose book A Christian Manifesto is said to be the blueprint for the Religious Right/Moral Majority, left the movement himself and wrote a book Crazy for God, in which he exposed the racism and hypocrisy of these so-called "values voters".

He faced a similar firing squad, with letters and emails laced with so much profanity, that it frightened him.

More than four decades ago, Hatfield warned:
This type of political extremism feeds on fear and frustra­tion ... The political extremists have reacted to this frustration with determination to purify the American dream, to remold our in­stitutions and way of life according to their prescription for a perfect society. 

The Far Right has been successfully united by a well-designed, well-financed, and persistent campaign of fear. ...  And the continual fanning of this fear has created such a distortion in the perceptions of some adherents of the Far Right that they can no longer distinguish between fantasy and reality, or between cause and effect.
Well designed and well financed are definitely key, especially the well-financed part. And even then, the suggestion was that most of the money came from "oil tycoons". Hatfield continues:

If the Far Righters were to present a picture of the world, their medium would be block-printing. They could thus represent the world in sharp blacks and whites ... The validity of their judgments rests on the logic of "either/or" and they have little tolerance or even comprehension of a middle ground between these two extremes. They would deny that gray is often the color of the complex truth. "The logical fallacy of the excluded middle..." Far Right crusaders would deny that a man is Christian if he does not share their political beliefs. Their "either/or" philosophy extends into the realm of religion, and they counsel that you can accept either the welfare state or Christ — but not both.
David Kuo, a former member of George Bush's "Faith-based Group", spoke of the same kind of  'take no prisoners', 'no middle ground', philosophy.  He said that the group he eventually moved away from, believed that there should be no such thing as moderate Republicans or right-leaning Democrats.

Right vs left.  Conservatives vs liberals. You are with them or against them.  In his book Harperland, Lawrence Martin spoke of a visiting foreign leader who was quite taken aback by Stephen Harper's view of Liberals.  While the foreign leader often locked horns with his political opponents, he stated that Harper actually "hated" his.  He found that kind of open hatred unnerving.

Hatfield, however, spoke of something else, when it comes to movement conservatism and their religiosity.  They are not really Christian at all.  Instead of believing that God created man in his own image, they have created God in their image.  That of a "White, Protestant, anti-Communist American".   Now it's a White, Protestant or Orthodox Catholic or Jew, anti-Muslim American or Canadian.
This unholy marriage of religion and politics has produced a perverted Christianity based not on love but hate, not on charity but persecution. The Far Righters are definitely not practicing religious fundamentalism, as they claim, but are actually practicing a form of paganism. They worship at the idol of "country" and have substituted the gospel of anti-Communism for the gospel of Christ.  In almost all aspects, political extremism is a negative force on our society; it is a force that should be understood and its power properly respected.
I think he really hit the nail on the head. The religion that this group practices, is one of false gods. Guns, flags, right-wing politicians, money, Wall Street, bankers ....



Above is Rick Perry, a Republican presidential hopeful, raising his arm and arms for the Lord.  He epitomizes the new political evangelist, invoking cheers when he brags about how many people he had put to death when Governor of Texas, even beating out George Bush's record.

We have been giving them too much credit when we call them the Christian Right.  They are the Pagan Wrong.  Heathens who kiss their guns goodnight (honest.  Visit some of the websites) and carry signs that read "God hates fags".

We're not persecuting Christians when we expose the Religious Right, but instead are saving their integrity.
 
What I find amazing is that despite all the money that has been poured into movement conservatism, we are still a pretty progressive people.  Most Canadians and even most Americans, have accepted homosexuality, equal marriage and a woman's reproductive rights.  They oppose war, and do not believe that Islam is our biggest threat, despite what Stephen Harper and George Bush say.
 
And they don't believe that a woman's place is in the home, unless that's where she would like to be, or that a family is only defined by mother, father and children.
 
If there is a God, maybe she's on our side after all.
 
The movement has had a lot of political success, but only because many people vote Conservative or Republican, because of tradition; and the chronically wealthy support them because they like not having to pay their fair share of taxes.
 
Canada's Reformers only gained power when they bought out the rights to the PC Party.  Before that, Reform-Alliance was dying a slow death.  Their message was just not palpable to the majority of Canadians.
 
We need to see what Hatfield saw, that the movement is a threat to our peace and prosperity.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Republican Debates Now Turning Into the Reform-Alliance Debates


Watching the Republican presidential hopefuls duke it out to determine who is the most absurd, I'm reminded of how far this party has fallen since the days of Eisenhower. I doubt they'd get anyone "normal" to run now.

In the latest round of insanity, Rick Perry's team is attacking Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon, which apparently is the next thing to being in a "cult".
The Mormon faith of Mitt Romney, a leading contender to be the Republican presidential candidate, has been thrust to the forefront of the electoral contest. Robert Jeffress, an evangelical pastor and supporter of a Republican rival, Rick Perry, said the religion was an anti-Christian "cult."

... Jeffress, who leads a 10,000-member Baptist mega church in Dallas, said evangelical Republicans had only one option in the party's primary elections because Mormonism was "a cult." He added: "Every true, born-again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian." Asked if he believed Romney, 64, was a Christian, Jeffress said: "No."
This nonsense reminds me of Canada in 2000, when Preston Manning and Stockwell Day were competing for the leadership of the Alliance Party.

When Jason Kenney and Day brought in the more radical fundamentalists to campaign for them, Manning's camp suggested that there was a "Jim Jones Kool-Aid quality to what was going on." (1) AKA: a cult, though in this case they weren't far off the mark.

Jason Kenney attended St. Ignatius Jesuit school in San Francisco, when it was said that one of the instructors, Fr. Cornelius M. Buckley's "liturgies based on Catholic orthodoxy, inspired a "cult like" following. One of Kenney's teachers confirmed in an interview, that our Jas wanted to take religion back to the 50s. "Not the 1950s, but the 1550s".



I called the university myself and spoke with a Jesuit priest, an extremely nice man. He claimed to remember the case well and said that the pro-choice advocates used law students from the school to represent them. It was a very polarizing time.

Stockwell Day also has a history of religious extremism. The minister who took over for Day when he was running the Bentley Bible schools told journalist Gordon Laird:
Throughout this period, Stockwell Day was assistant pastor and school administrator. "They changed their by-laws so that the people would have no say - leaders to be appointed by other leaders, as determined by scripture," explains Rathjen. "It was a haughty, arrogant, pride-filled success story that led to disaster." Fuelled by American-style revivalism, the church emphasized radical gospel practices - such as speaking-in-tongues - that whipped worshippers into a frenzy. "They have emotional experiences and then try to build a doctrine around it," explains Rathjen. The intensity of the church and constant stream of visiting American pastors gave Bentley an international profile within fundamentalist circles. But the church eventually succumbed to its own extremes.

"I would say that it was as close to a cult as you can get," says pastor Rathjen. "They were still holding on to the Christian teaching - but with manipulation and control.
(2)
In 2002, when Stephen Harper and Day were competing for the leadership, similar arguments ensued. From Report Magazine:
One thing is for certain. This is going to be a dirty campaign--perhaps even nastier than in 2000, when the Tom Long campaign was accused of being a homosexual coven and Mr. Day was compared to mass murderer Jim Jones. And despite Mr. Harper's promise to avoid personal attacks--a promise made also by Mr. Day--it was his campaign that drew first blood.(3)
After Maurice Vellacott held a rally for Day at his Bible college, Harper accused them of exploiting religion:
Last week, organizers for Mr. Harper went public with concerns that Mr. Day is appealing to a narrow base of religious groups -- including orthodox Jews, Pentecostals and anti-abortion Catholics -- in a bid to regain the leadership post he was forced to relinquish late last year.(4)
Yet, not long after winning the leadership, Harper told a group of supporters that he would also be tapping into Day's fundamentalists to create "his base".
... he outlined plans for a broad new party coalition that would ensure a lasting hold on power. The only route, he argued, was to focus not on the tired wish list of economic conservatives ... but on what he called “theo-cons”—those social conservatives who care passionately about hot-button issues that turn on family, crime, and defence ... Arguing that the party had to come up with tough, principled stands on everything from parents’ right to spank their children to putting “hard power” behind the country’s foreign-policy commitments ..." (5)
Later Stephen Harper would brag that he had more pro-life supporters than Day. Good for him.

Anyone who doubts that Canada now has its first Republican government, only needs to watch the current Republican debates.

This is why you can't mix religion and politics. C.S. Lewis's hallway with the little rooms representing the different faiths, got boarded up and the house has been set on fire.

I think this "new conservatism" will collapse under the weight of their own nonsense.

Sources:

1. Requiem for a Lightweight: Stockwell Day and Image Politics, By Trevor Harrison, Black Rose Books, 2002, ISBN: 1-55164-206-9, p. 62

2. Bentley, Alberta: Hellfire, Neo-Nazis and Stockwell Day: A two-part look inside the little town that nurtured a would-be prime minister - and so"me of the most notorious hate-mongers in Canada, By Gordon Laird, NOW Magazine, 2000

3. Strange Alliances, By Kevin Michael Grace, Report Newsmagazine, February 04, 2002

4. Day slips into Bible college for Rally, By S. Alberts, National Post, February 13, 2002

5. Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons: The rising clout of Canada’s religious right, By Marci McDonald, Walrus Magazine, October 2006

Monday, October 10, 2011

Grassroots at the Real Grassroots. What a Novel Idea


The Occupation of Wall Street protests are growing, and appear to have staying power. Without the corporate funding of the Tea Party, they started with just a small group and an idea.

Taxpayers were forced to bail out Wall Street, and yet Wall Street now sits on a mountain of cash, refusing to bail them out.

What are these so-called "job creators" doing with all that money? They certainly aren't creating jobs.

So this small group took to the streets to deliver their simple message and it's beginning to resonate.

Republican presidential hopeful, Herman Cain, suggests that they are playing the victim card. They are jealous of the wealthy, otherwise known as Republicans and their posse; and if they're out of work it's their own fault.

Can you imagine someone wanting to be president of the United States, openly declaring that he has no interest in representing the working class, who are now the "hardly working" class?

He's now tied for the lead.

Canada's occupation of Bay Street protests will start this week and let's hope they are a success.

The fools gold of neoconservatism has been exposed as worthless.  Giving more money to the rich, only helps the rich, who in turn help the conservatives stay in power.

In Ontario, Tim Hudak's campaign was reliably disappointing.  "Low taxes", tough on imaginary crime and going after welfare cheats.  If he'd thrown in "long-haired hippies", it could have just as easily been Ronald Reagan's 1967 campaign in his first run for Governor of California.

In fact, it probably was. For almost half a century, neocons have stuck to the same script.

In Kingston, our local conservative candidate Rodger James, had more signs than any of his opponents.  Not many on lawns, but busy roadways were plastered with them, lined up like blue and white dominoes.

I see those signs as a metaphor for today's conservatism.

Gluttony and excess, with nothing behind them but a big stick.

James finished third.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It's Time For Don Cherry to Hang Up the Ugly Jackets and Retire

The normally bombastic Don Cherry went too far on this week's Coach's Corner, calling those who oppose fighting in the NHL "pukes and hypocrites".

The "pukes and hypocrites" fought back.

A lot of kids watch his rants and what kind of message is he sending?

And what's really alarming is that CBC is supporting him.

Maybe it is time to pull the plug on them. They're becoming more like Fox News than Fox News. Glenn Beck would have loved Cherry. They both act like idiots and get paid megabucks to do it.

Time to remind Canadians just who Cherry really is. Not the hero of the working class, after standing with Rob Ford against them. Just another corporate shill getting rich off the Neocons.

I'm ashamed to say that he's from Kingston.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Put Those Things Away Ladies. This Is Too Important

The Wall Street protests continue, with activists promising to hold out for months. However, another element has been brought in, that has no place in a legitimate rally.

Topless women with signs requesting that gawkers not look at them but listen to them. I can't help but think that Karl Rove has outdone himself. They need to stop off at Wall Street, pick up their pay cheques for discrediting the movement, and then let the grown-ups take over.

Did they really think people would listen to them if they took their clothes off?

The message of the protesters is an important one. They represent the 99% of Americans that are propping up the top 1%, and they are sick of it.

Remember the 2006 leaked Citigroup memo? (Equity Strategy, By: Ajay Kapur, Niall Macleod, Narendra Singh, Citigroup Global Market Research, October 16, 2005)
The World is dividing into two blocs - the Plutonomy and the rest. The U.S., UK, and Canada are the key Plutonomies - economies powered by the wealthy. Continental Europe (ex-Italy) and Japan are in the egalitarian bloc.

... We can see a number of potential challenges to plutonomy. The first, and probably most potent, is through a labor backlash. Outsourcing, offshoring or insourcing of cheap labor is done to undercut current labor costs .... Low-end developed market labor might not have much economic power, but it does have equal voting power with the rich .... the third threat comes from the potential social backlash.
All we have left is "equal voting power", yet people are still refusing to vote, casting their ballots instead for the continuation of our plutocracy.

When does Stephen Harper ever talk about income disparity or poverty? Never. He was handed a Senate report on how to help alleviate poverty, and he stuck his nose in the air and then threw it in the trash.

Morton Blackwell, the man who helped Preston Manning set up his anti-democracy centre, and trained people like Karl Rove and Rob Anders, is one of the key players in the Neoconservative movement.

He has made their intentions clear. In a forward to Plinio de Correa de Olivier's English language edition of his book: Nobility and Analagous Traditional Elites, that promotes "the restoration of influence of authentic elites over the multitudes", Blackwell writes:
'One does not have to accept Papal infallibility to appreciate a case persuasively made, using theological, moral, and prudential arguments. This book will convince many readers, whatever their faith, that good elites are legitimate, desirable and, yes, necessary'.
Unfortunately these are not good elites. They are just greedy elites and it's time that the "multitudes" started governing themselves again, by taking back their democracy.  A little "social backlash"

The Wall Street protests are important and those topless women need to put on some clothes or go home.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

About Those Forum Research Polls

The media seems to be obsessed with the Forum Research polls, the new guru of the polling industry.

However, I received a call from them on the Ontario election and phoned them back, as they said I could, but never received a reply, as they promised I would.

They asked me who I was voting for, starting with the PCs, then Liberal, NDP, Green.

But then the next question, asked how I had voted in the last federal election, using the same order and format.

PCs, Liberal, NDP, Green.

However, we do not have a PC Party at the federal level.  They folded in 2003.

So either the poll was misleading or this firm has not done their homework.

Such an obvious error certainly questions their credibility, and not offering me an explanation, speaks to their integrity.

What do we know about these guys?

Perry Down - Protesters Up


Rick Perry is now dropping in the polls, with Mitt Romney taking the lead.

I guess having a ranch named "Niggerhead" didn't win him any points. The Tea Partiers would have loved it, but the Republican leader has to be able to win over more than the crazies to get elected.

It really says a lot for the state of the party though, when Mitt Romney is now considered to be a moderate.

And on the good news front, the Wall Street protests continue to grow.

Let's hope these stories are related.

I just finished another section of my Canadian Manifesto. It's flowing better now and should progress faster. With two elections down, I'll have a bit more time to work on it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Will Canadians Finally Rise Up Against the Evils of Neoconservatism?


I mentioned the musician Tom Morello, who had appeared on Bill Maher recently, discussing social issues.  I was so impressed with his genuine concern for societal imbalance and dedication to several causes.

Morello spoke of the "occupation of Wall Street" by folks who had just had enough.  One member of the panel belittled the protesters, claiming there were only a handful, but clearly there are more than he would have liked us to believe.

In fact, at least 800 were arrested, and the numbers are rising, not only of arrests but of demonstrators.
The group, called Occupy Wall Street, has been protesting against the finance industry and other issues by camping out in Zuccotti park in New York.  During the afternoon a long line of protesters numbering several thousand snaked through the streets towards the landmark bridge across the East River with the aim of ending at a Brooklyn park.

However, during the march across the bridge groups of protesters sat down or strayed into the road from the pedestrian pathway. They were then arrested in large numbers, and held for several hours, by officers who were part of a heavy police presence shepherding the march along its path.  At one stage 500 protesters were blocked off by police on the bridge. At least one journalist, freelancer Natasha Lennard for the New York Times, was among those arrested.
The protesters then took their march to police headquarters.
Erin Larkins, a Columbia University graduate student who says she and her boyfriend have significant student loan debt, was among the thousands of protesters on the bridge. She said a friend persuaded her to join the march and she's glad she did.  "I don't think we're asking for much, just to wake up every morning not worrying whether we can pay the rent, or whether our next meal will be rice and beans again".
400 of America's wealthiest citizens, have more money than the bottom 155 million combined.  Yet when Wall Street gambled and lost, they were bailed out, while thousands at the bottom were thrown out.

Thrown out of their jobs, out their homes and out of the government's concern.

I'm pleased to learn that a similar protest is planned for Canada.
Inspired by protesters along Wall Street and in other U.S. cities, hundreds are expected to occupy Toronto's Bay Street in two weeks to air their various grievances against the financial system and its wealthiest companies.  The protest near Wall Street in New York is entering its third week, and doesn't appear to be slowing down. In fact, a police crackdown has only emboldened protesters and some are now expecting the "occupation" to continue into the winter.

The organizers of Occupy Toronto plan to descend on King and Bay Streets on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 15 to set a base of operation to prepare for a march on that Monday. Organizers hope the occupation will last into the following week.
It's all we have now. 

Michael Moore was also a guest on the program and his discussion with Morello turned toward citizen activism.  They agreed that it would just take one person.  One "last" person.

The last person to be thrown out of their home.  The last person to lose their job to outsourcing or downsizing.  The last person to be refused medical treatment because their insurance didn't cover it.

Rosa Parks was the last person, symbolically speaking, to move to the back of the bus, simply because she was black, and she sparked the Civil Rights movement.

In Canada, wonderful little Brigette Depape, stood alone against Stephen Harper and the Senate.  She took a beating from the media and a dressing down from Senator David Tkachuk, one of the sorriest excuses for a human being who ever lived.
 
Yet Tkachuk prevailed.  We chose corrupt not courageous.
 
In July Kai Nagata quit his job as CTV's Quebec City Bureau Chief, over the state of the Canadian media, and their refusal to sound the alarm over the Harper Doctrine, a rehash of the Bush Doctrine.

But the media is still spinning themselves silly, afraid to stop, fearing they might land on a real political news story.  There are exceptions, but sadly, too few.

So if you're tired of corporate tax breaks, deregulation that threatens our environment, and the constant pandering to the rich, join the protest on October 15.

For heaven sake, a former Goldman-Sachs employee is now running the Bank of Canada.  Jim Flaherty and Stephen Harper have signed us on to new accounting rules that allow corporations to lie and cheat, without penalty, while toughening laws against far weaker, and less damaging, criminal acts.

When are we going to say enough is enough?  Who will be our "last"?