Archive for November, 2006

The fate Elizabeth May’s by-election challenge

According to Elections Canada, Elizabeth May failed to win the London-North-Centre by-election.  The official results with all polls reporting in are:

Lib: 34.9%

Green: 25.9%

Cons: 24.4%

NDP: 14.1%

My predictions, based on the predictions of other bloggers, and various statistical techniques were:

Lib: 32.3%

Green: 18.9%

Cons: 24.9%

NDP: 23.1%

What I find interesting is how close my Liberal and Conservative numbers were to the actual results all the while my numbers failed to predict a massive shift from the New Democrats to the Greens.  It appears that regardless whether the Greens are on the left or not, NDP voters either don’t care, believe that the Greens are on the left, or believe Elizabeth May personally is on the left.

Loving/hating the Canadian Green Party

Since today is election day in the federal By-Elections of Repentigny, QC and (more interestingly) London-North-Centre, ON, I decided it was appropriate to talk about what the entire blogosphere is talking about today:  Elizabeth May.

Allow me to begin by stating that I am very pleased with the fact that May is starting to shift the Greens back to their roots on the left where they belong.  Now many people I know will debate with me as to whether the Greens are inherently on the left or on the right.  In fact, just about every Green blog that I’ve seen enjoys putting the meaningless platitude forward that the Greens are “neither left nor right: but in front”. 

This is complete, unadulterated, crap! 

EVERY party can be placed on a left-right spectrum and the measure of where it stands on this spectrum is simple:  does it stand for safeguarding the accumulation of capital in the hands of the few or not?  

Now, when I said that the Greens belong on the left, I was not making a normative statement based on my personal world-view or ideology.  I make the argument that the Green Party of Canada ought to be on the left for two reasons:

#1) All green parties that are a part of the Global Greens movement (as the Green Party of Canada is) subscribe to what are called the 4 pillars.  These are:

     Ecology;

     Social Justice;

     Grassroots Democracy; and

     Non-violence

While we may disagree on whether pro-capitalist tax reforms (like a flat tax etc…) are inherently opposed to social justice, no serious person can argue that they help the cause of social justice.   So at best, these tax reforms that the Green Party of Canada (and the Ontario Green Party) support, ignore one of the founding principles of the Global Greens which constitutes a significant portion of that party’s ‘soul’.

#2) The second reason why the Green Party of Canada belongs on the left is because history has shown that the most successful green parties are on the left.  Take the following examples:

a) Germany:  The German Greens are undoubtedly the most successful Green Party on the face of the planet.  Some of their current and historic policies include:

i) Opposition to NATO military operations on German soil.

ii) Opposition to the bombing of Afghanistan by American-led coalition forces following 9/11.  (Note that even the NDP in Canada supported this mission at that time, as did the Labour Party of the UK, the Democrats in the US and the Social Democrats in Germany)

b) Finland:  The Finnish Green League is another one of the more successful green parties on the planet.  The Green League has attacked socialism as not caring about the environment (and, understanding Finland’s historical relationship to the USSR and the Soviet’s perverse brand of “socialism” this is entirely understandable).  However, what’s more important to note is that they have also criticized the free market as disastrous for the environment.  Thus, while they’re not far left, they’re certainly left.

c) Belgium:  Both of the green parties of Belgium – the French-speaking “Ecolo” and the Flemish “Groen!” – are firmly planted on the left and were strong left-wing voice in several coalition governments.  Unfortunately these two parties have recently become much weaker.

d) New Zealand:  New Zealand once had two green parties:  the “Progressive Green Party” (which, despite its name was right-wing and aligned itself with the National Party) and the “Green Party” (which was left-wing).  Guess which party was destroyed and guess which one is still around?  C’mon, guess?

Now, what has Elizabeth May proposed as her tax plan in this by-election?  You can read about them in the London Free Press here.   She proposes:

“Creating senior government tax incentives and policies, including skills and trades training, to foster “green” businesses and industries.”  (If you can explain what that means, then you’re smarter than I am.  I do however understand what government tax incentives are:  giving money to corporations as if they’re hard done by)

“Establishing a small-cities green venture capital fund”.  (Supposedly, this would be geared towards small firms, however large corporations take advantage of venture capital as well.)

“Creating clusters and networks of small- and medium-sized green enterprises.”  (Because, apparently, businesses have always had problems creating networks amongst themselves)

“Boosting railway links in the Windsor-Quebec City transportation corridor and reducing reliance on trucks.” (This is common sense and everybody from David Orchard to the NDP to Jean Chretien supported this)

And lastly,

“Creating a new pool of civic funding through a change in tax policy to allow municipal bonds to be held within RRSPs.”

Now I think some of these tax policies are good ideas.  For instance, I have no strong objections to municipal bonds being held within RRSPs, nor do I oppose a beefed up Windsor to Quebec train corridor.  What I do object to is that there is NOT ONE MENTION of:

1) Homelessness

2) Access to healthcare

3) Quebec-style, federally-funded daycare (to be fair, May did come out in support of daycare elsewhere by saying that she supports the Liberals’ old plan developed by Martin and Ken Dryden)

4) NAFTA and the crushing effect Free-Trade is having on both labourers and on the environment (ever heard of Bulk Water export?)

5) The decreasing standard of living in Canada

So, the question is:  If I lived in London-North-Centre, would May be getting my vote?

The answer is ‘yes ‘ and the reason is because I’m a hopeless optimist and I am hopeful that maybe May just didn’t have time to develop an economic policy that spoke to the full range of issues that she (hopefully) cares about.  I’m hopeful that she will continue to shift the Greens to the left, away from the dreadful legacy of her predecessor, Jim Harris.  I’m hopeful that she will keep the NDP on their toes and prevent them from sliding further to the right.  Lastly, I’m hopeful that she and the NDP will be able to have a serious dialogue about the negative effects of capitalism on people and the negative effects of capitalism on the environment.   This is a dialogue which needs to be had in this country and I think it’s a dialogue that will show that the left-wing parties and the environmental movement have more in common than they think.

Workers and environmentalists of the world, unite!

Who do we care about?

If we listen to the Western mainstream media, the US and the UK and their allies are in Iraq due to their care and compassion for human suffering in Iraq.  In fact, this humanitarian argument is the specific argument Michael Ignatieff gave for why he supported the Iraq war during the Liberal leadership debates.

We’ll ignore the vast corpus of literature documenting how the US and the UK and the West didn’t care about Iraqi humanitarian conditions in the 1980s when the Iraqi government was a major recipient of US Foreign Aid and Military Aid.  We’ll also ignore the fact that after Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Iranians and  largely Kurdish villages in northern Iraq, the US responded by…… resupplying Hussein.

Giving George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume he felt that his former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and his father were wrong in their Iraq policy during the 1980s.  Therefore, let’s use only the Bush administration’s behaviour to determine whether they care about Iraqis. 

I think the single most damning evidence – damning because both a) its convincing and b) its irrefutable – is the treatment of US dead compared with the treatment of Iraqi dead.

Consider the following:

We know that as of Friday, November 24, 2006 at 10am EST, there were precisely 2,869 American soldiers killed in Iraq (and 2,303 of those were killed in combat) .   Moreover, we know that there were precisely 9,977 soldiers who were wounded and not returned to duty (which is just slightly higher than the standard formula of ‘wounded = fatalities x 3′).   We even, therefore, know the precise wounded-to-fatality ratio of U.S. soldiers as well as the breakdown of fatalities by month.

While we can’t photograph these people, it is clear that the Americans, the British and the West, clearly care about them.

On the other side of the spectrum lay the Iraqis.

How many Iraqis have been killed?  Nothing has been published by the US.  No serious estimations have been given.  And no serious efforts to obtain estimates have been attempted.  The closest thing the Bush administration has come to quantifying the Iraqi dead is here:

Anecdotal evidence?  I’ll be the first to admit it.  That’s why I was so pleased to learn that a team of professional statisticians and medial practitioners had conducted the most thorough investigation of Iraqi war dead since the start of the war.   Finally, some hard solid evidence, using sound statistical measurement techniques, to quantify what the American government refuses to quantify.  What do you suppose the Bush administration’s reaction to this data was?

Well, take a look for yourself:

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

If you want a more detailed explanation of why this survey is legitimate, you can watch Les Roberts give a longer lecture on his methodology here:

So, do we really care about Iraqis?  If we don’t care enough to count them, can we say that we care enough to develop a system of government for them which actually benefits them rather than us

If we acknowledge that their entire system of government was designed primarily for our benefit rather than theirs, the next question inevitably becomes:  ought we to think that Iraqi ‘democracy’ as it exists now is even a good thing?  If it is not, and if Iraqis have no mechanism through which their voices can be heard, is it unreasonable to understand why they would resort to terrorism?  If it’s understandable, is it out of order to assume that you might resort to violence were you placed in a similar situation?

My Marx-to-English Dictionary & Political Images

Update: I’ve added a new section to my sidebar (at the bottom) that’s going to contain academic resources that might be useful to others.

So far there’s only two, but more will follow.

marx_dictionary.JPG

political_images.JPG

The Urban Feminist on Racism

Just wanted to point everyone reading this blog to a really great comment on Racism in light of the Michael Richard incident by The Urban Feminist.  I know I’ve got her blog listed under my links, but this specific post is really worth a look.

The Life Warrior

We enter this world, frigid and crying. For the vast majority, indeed for each and every single man who does not count himself among the great ranks of philosophers, life degenerates or, at best, plateaus from that very humble beginning.

Our humanity, our very success as individual living creatures can be judged, with relative ease, as the natural and personal conclusion to the question of ‘how do we deal with our humanity?’. The weak man attempts to defy the simple truth — a truth to which even the very stars testify — that just as we began from nothingness, to nothingness will shall all eventually return. In times past, achieving immortality through the construct of ones peers be it ballad or bust or play or verse, was the order of the day. In times present, the new more fanciful paradigm of theology is equally simplistic and quixotic as models past.

Many is the man who concocts or conjures or, far more likely, adopts a transient delusion of happiness to muffle the cries and dull the cold. These men are many in number because to delude oneself that respite from cold is simply a lifetime away, or to forget about the cold but for a while is easier than the basic sustaining function of respiration. But blessed is the man who upon seeing the world around him, understands the uncertainties and complexities of life.

Blessed is he, and for he happiness is owned who, by no act of self delusion or conviction of an uncertain promise of a quieter and warmer life to come, finds respite from his woes and the turmoil of this life by means in and of themselves.

The weak man uses distraction either by sport or company, by art or science or by prayer or drug to convince himself that the cold shall end and the cries shall pass or to otherwise forget of their presence. This man, that master of doublethink, may indeed take a fleeting moment of bravery and plunge into self-contemplation only to curtail this endeavour should he accidentally stray too deep.

The blessed man and the philosopher, who, being one and the same, more properly could be titled ‘the warrior of life’, conversely braves the cries, the slings and arrows of life, without the rosy-coloured lens of delusion, or a soul-searching that neither scratches new depths or pursues ideas to their natural conclusion. Rather, the warrior of life finds a contemporary joy unsullied by illusion, between the cries.

Update: The U.S. and the 1933 Reichstag Fire Decree

This is the promised update on the bold assertion I made in the post “Is UCLA the new Kent State”.  I think it should be clear that I am not suggesting that the police killed that student as happened at Kent State.  However, what I am suggesting is that this act is emblematic of a larger problem much more serious than Kent State and I think this post should clarify why I think that is the case.

(I apologize in advance for the formatting of this table.  The font colour, line structure and colour all seem to go weird when I publish this post)

English Translation of the 1933 Reichstag Fire Decree  USA PATRIOT Act, Military Commissions Act, and other enabling acts
Order of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State. N/A
On the basis of Article 48 paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the German Reich, the following is ordered in defense against Communist state-endangering acts of violence: N/A
§ 1. Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until further notice. As provided by the Constitution and by this section, the President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions… MCA sec. 6(a)(3)(A)]
 It is therefore permissible to restrict the rights of personal freedom [ habeas corpus ] ~In General- No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories. [MCA sec. 5(a)]                                        ~No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination. [MCA sec. 5(e)(1)]
, freedom of opinion, America is free… unless you happen to disagree with the U.S. government or the economic system.  See: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/daily/12-05/12-17-05/a09lo650.htm
including the freedom of the press, America doesn’t jail its reporters…. Unless you’re Judith Miller and work for the New York Times.  The Republican Party has also struck at freedom of the press by paying U.S. reporters to support administration policies n domestic newspapers.  Reporters the White House paid off include: Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, Michael McManus.
 the freedom to organize and assemble,  It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide “material support or resources” to a designated FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization). [18 U.S.C. § 2339A]  What makes an organization terroristic? The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act s.219 states that it’s simply any organization designated as such by the Secretary of State.
the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications, and warrants for house searches,  Bush?  Wiretaps?  Nah!
orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed. N/A (the U.S. would never do anything to property holders unless you’re a Japanese American in the 1940s)

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