Archive for the 'conservative' Category

If this is the Tories’ idea of protecting children, I’d hate to see their idea of not protecting them

It’s funny how the Tories will talk the good talk of defending children when it suits their ideologically narrow world view only to turn around and actively exploit even more vulnerable children by having them guard our military assets and killing machines.  It’s of course, not ‘ha ha’ funny, but rather more on the sardonic side.  If this is what protecting children means to the Conservatives, I’d hate to see their definition of not protecting the children.

An excerpt from an article by Thomas Walkom in today’s Toronto Star:

“Back in 2002, Canada signed on to an international treaty aimed at rehabilitating child soldiers.

In fact, Canada was the first to ratify the so-called Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that requires signatories to give special consideration to captured enemy fighters under the age of 18.

The treaty says they are to be segregated from adult combatants. As well, those who capture children must make every effort to reintegrate them into society.

[…]

Amir Attaran, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, and Andy Knight, a University of Alberta political scientist, make the case that, in Afghanistan, Canada is running afoul of the very treaty it once championed.

I first heard the pair on CBC Radio’s The Current. Yesterday, I phoned them up. Attaran, who has been a vocal critic of Canada’s detention policy in Afghanistan, points out that government documents released in a court case last fall show that Canadian troops in Kandahar indeed capture child fighters, only to turn them over to Afghan security forces for what is usually a brutal interrogation.

That, he says, is a clear violation of Canada’s international obligations and – depending on how the children are treated by the Afghans – almost certainly a crime under Canadian law.

Citing press reports, Knight told me that there is also some suggestion of Afghan teenagers being used, with NATO co-operation, to guard military facilities.

A national defence spokesman told me yesterday that the Canadian Forces hand over suspected child insurgents to the Afghan authorities who incarcerate them in a juvenile wing at Kandahar’s main prison.

But the two human rights experts say this isn’t sufficient. They say that when Canadian troops capture children, they should hand them over to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. It operates a rehabilitation centre in the country for former child soldiers and so far has successfully demobilized 7,400.

Confidential documents released as part of a court case brought against the government by Amnesty International point out that Ottawa is well aware of the UNICEF project. Yet none of the minors captured (and thanks to the ongoing federal court case, we know there have been at least three) has ended up there.

[…]

“Canada was once at the top of the heap in this regard,” says Attaran. “Now we’re keeping company with those at the bottom.”

As a Marxist, I’m obviously not prone to quoting from the Bible, however one quote does spring to mind:  It’s the Biblical definition of the hypocrite outlined in Matthew 7:4:

“cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then
thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Government to Canadians: Struggling only makes it harder for you

This past Wednesday, I was hosting my cousin who was up visiting Ottawa from Toronto.  As a part of the sites he wanted to see, I took him to Parliament to watch Question Period since he’d never been.

Usually, the press only covers the first few questions that Dion, Duceppe, Layton and also usually Ignatieff ask, and then uncerimoniously catch up on the fine art of sleeping with one’s eyes open.  Thus, had I not actually been in the gallery, I’d likely have missed this gem of a question from Conservative MP Patrick Brown (Barrie) directed to the Minister of Labour since it was the last question of the day. 

From Hansard:

Question:

Patrick Brown (Barrie, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, some members of this House may be aware that a recent study found that in 2005, Canada lost more days of work due to labour disruptions, both lockouts and strikes, than any other G-7 country. The big picture is that these numbers represent $700 million in lost annual gross domestic product.

    Could the Minister of Labour inform this House how he is addressing this very serious issue?

Answer:
Hon. Jean-Pierre Blackburn (Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CPC):  

    Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about those numbers. Work stoppages hurt workers, their families and their communities and they are also bad for businesses.

    As Minister of Labour it is my responsibility to look for new ideas to keep the talk going on between unions and employers. I have launched a study on the causes and impacts of work stoppages. The study will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on ways to improve labour relations in our country.

    An expert, Mr. Peter Annis, will consult with unions and employers and will submit a report to me with recommendations.

unions.pngSo, memo to unions:  The Minister of Labour doesn’t understand what causes strikes nor does he understand the impacts of work stoppages.  I’ll give the minister a hint:  in 1905, before any massive strikes began and struggles against capitalism began, the average worker’s wage was pennies per hour and there was no minimum wage, no safety standards and no government assistance for the poor.
But, as for the other point about “struggling only makes it harder for you”, that sent a shiver down my spine.  Is this going to be the Conservatives’ new campaign slogan?
conservative-election-platform.png

Another conservative elected, another crook revealed

It’s official: our own (not so) beloved Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien has been charged with 2 criminal counts relating to his alleged fixing of the 2006 Ottawa Mayoral election to ensure his election and avoid what at the time appeared to be the inevitable election of a gay left-of-centre mayor (gasp!).

The two charges are fraud and influencing or negotiating appointments or dealing in offices.

According to the CBC, OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) representatives and law professors alike can find no historical precedent in recent history of a sitting Canadian mayor having criminal charges levied against them specifically because of issues surrounding their election as Mayor.

Yep, conservatives certainly are the ‘values’ party.

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words”

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”   -Orwell, 1984


I know I’ve been bringing up Orwell a lot more frequently as of late (see here, here, here and here), but when I came across this comment on reddit.com yesterday, my mind just screamed to me: “NEWSPEAK!  NEWSPEAK!  NEWSPEAK!”

The comment is:

“Progressives like to blame the greed of corporations. Libertarians like to blame the coercion of government. Progressives want democratic action to solve corporations, and end up giving a ton of power to the government.  Libertarians want the market to solve problems, and give a ton of power to corporations.

We need to get together and realize that elite power sucks regardless of where it originates. Progressives need to stop looking at the government as a benevolent solver of problems. Substitute libertarians for progressives and the market for the government.

What we need is a third way. I don’t even mean a third party, but a political consensus that acknowledges we need to be ever vigilant against elite power.  I think this consensus can be forged and maintained on the internet. I hope that the campaign of Ron Paul is only the start.” (source)

It isn’t that this particular writer is attempting to manipulate somebody.  Indeed, on the contrary,  think it is obvious that this writer is genuinely interested in progressing beyond the existing state of politics.  The reason why this comment is indicative of Newspeak, though, is that this person is writing as if he has just discovered for himself a ‘new’ idea for a political viewpoint when in fact, the idea for what he is talking about has existed for hundreds of years since at least the time of the so-called ‘Diggers’ in mid-17th Century England. The only problem is that, because of ‘Newspeak’ (for lack of a better word), the very essence and meaning of the word he seeks has been removed from political discourse and to the extent that it can be found in political discourse it is, just as Orwell predicted, taken to mean the exact opposite of what it actually means.

Orwell writes:

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

So let’s see here: this writer is looking for some new ‘third way’ forward away from Conservatism and authoritarianism other than libertarianism and what the U.S. laughably considers to be ‘progressivism’.

Here is a graphical view of a standard 2-axis political orientation chart with the left-right economic spectrum horizontally and a vertical axis demarcating statism and state control versus anti-statism.  This is nothing new or revolutionary, but it is in a way, precisely its simplicity and commonality that illustrates the point I am trying to make better than anything else.

As you can see, there is a huge gaping hole in one quadrant.

For ease of reference and clarity, I’ve superimposed the position of various people onto this grid according to politicalcompass.org and other sources.

new-left-right-spectrum-people-2.png

While it is clear that every other ideology in the political compass grid is easily labeled (i.e., I could have easily gone into more detail and labeled the bottom right corner ‘Anarcho-Capitalism” and the top edge from roughly the centre to the far right as “fascism” and so on and so forth), it is true that, unlike all other quadrants on this grid, there is no one agreed upon word describing the bottom left quadrant (where Chomsky and I reside).

Chomsky himself alternates between calling it broadly “libertarian socialist” and “anarcho-syndicalist” (yes, I’m aware those are technically two different things, but I’m just talking insofar as a broad name for the quadrant goes).  I call it “True Marxism” or “True Progressivism”.  But there are also any number of other names for it:

-Anti-statist Communism (a redundant phrase as far as I’m concerned)
-Anarchist-Communism
-Trotskyism
-Post-Marxism (a term popularized by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe)

So, in essence, Orwell’s fear of the ‘destruction of words’ has been realized.  Not only does the general populace not have a universally agreed-upon word to describe our ideas, but we ourselves can’t agree on a word for ourselves.  We are, quite literally, they who are without name.  We can no longer use the word Marxism — although it would quite technically be an accurate label for the quadrant broadly understood — because, just as Orwell predicted, it’s meaning in modern parlance has been inverted into its exact opposite.

In a world without a nomial label attached to these ideas, the consequences of which are illustrated beautifully by the comment above, it has become nearly impossible for people to even think revolutionary thoughts because the person has to derive them from scratch themselves without the advantage of their long and rich history.  And, even if they do derive these ideas from scratch, the problem remains about how to express these ideas to others without further cluttering up the nomenclature for such ideas.  Thus, I would argue that it has come to the point where our very existence, our very presence as individuals holding these ideas, has itself become a revolutionary act.

While I am crushed by capitalism,
I continue to breathe.  And so long as
I breathe, I continue to hope.  And it
is this hope that animates my struggle.

See Also:

War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

Our entire existence summed up in one cartoon

All that glitters is not golden

When does it start?

U.S. Presidential Candidates compared to Canadian political parties

Propaganda in Action: Ontario’s election “priorities”?

A new poll just released by Environics, shows something more revealing than it bargained for. What it shows can be considered even more proof that the media does not have a left-wing bias.

The Environics poll asked Ontarians what they thought the most important factor/issue determing their vote in the upcoming election would be.

The results are interesting.

environics

Now, some of these factors can be broadly categorized into socialist/social democratic issues (namely heath care and social programs/poverty/minimum wage) and conservative/capitalist issues (namely the economy and taxes). Recompiling the list with these ideological concerns grouped together results in this list of what Ontarians care about:

ontario-election-issues-people.PNG

So what do Ontarians care about? Notice that by far, the answer, according to Environics, is overwhelmingly coherently socialist/social democratic issues, followed by two ideologically neutral issues, then followed by coherently conservative or capitalist issues.

But now let’s take a look at what the mainstream media coverage of the Ontario election considers to be the important issues.

We can see that the media has little interest in the issues that Ontarians actually cares about:

ontario-election-issues-media.PNG

I compiled the data for this table using targeted advanced Google news searches and can be verified, if you’re interested, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

We progressives can easily convince ourselves that society is hopelessly biased and political culture hopelessly corrupted by the mainstream media, but I see these results as reason for optimism rather than forlornness.

Voters aren’t clamoring for tax cuts despite the hugely disproportional media coverage of the issue and voters continue to support socialist issues as their #1 election issues. If that, in and of itself, does not give progressives great faith in the prospects for the kind of changes we seek, then I don’t know what will.

~

See also:

The ‘Propaganda in Action’ series (the rest of the series)

The NDP are cowards, what should true progressives do?

What do politics and monkey shit fights have in common?

The propaganda & hypocrisy of 9/11 anniversary media coverage

The Paulitics coverage of the Ontario 2007 election

I fought Hitler and all I got was eternal damnation??

tshirt-eternal-damnation.pngIf anybody out there in reality-based reality was searching for more proof that right-wingers use some pretty tortured logic, search no more.

This is an except from a comment that was left a few days ago.

“I’m reading about what they [by “they” he means the Republican/socialist side in the Spanish Civil War] did in Spain when the commies attacked the state it is scary. Especially when you read the stories vs hearing that they killed 10% of the population of madrid. Killing 10% sounds tame you hear that every woman between the ages of 10-50 had been raped and how they killed all the nuns is more a cult of satan.”

That’s right folks, you read that first part correctly.  Despite the fact that there were two sides in the Spanish Civil War — the Republicans who supported the national, democratically-elected socialist government versus the anti-democratic insurgent Nationalists who were supported by Hitler and Mussolini and led by future dictator Francisco Franco — it was the side which supported the government which attacked the government.

Then, did you know that every woman between the ages of 10 and 50 was raped?  I know, I was surprised to learn that too.  But I suppose we’re not supposed to think rationally about how plausible that is, we’re just supposed to have faith that it’s really true.

Now, I’ve skipped over the whole “10% dead” figure used — because I guess, considering the absurdity of the other claims in that paragraph, it’s comparably reasonable to assume that 100% of the dead in the Spanish Civil War were attributable to to Republicans and that the openly fascist Nationalist side, I presume, must have used flowers and daisies and marijuana to overcome the Republicans.  I also figure we’re just supposed to use faith and assume that since Spain, at that time, had a population of 23.7 million and since 500,000 were killed, that somehow that equals 10% of the population and not the 2% that our fancy reality-based mathematics tells us it should be (source: here and here).

But really, it’s the last phrase there that makes this guy’s comment truly art.

The Republicans — the people in the conflict who were fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the future dictator Francisco Franco, the people who were defending the democratically-elected republic against a fascist dictatorship-in-waiting — were more like a “cult of Satan” than the side supported by Hitler.

Who ever said right-wingers can’t be ‘creative’ with logic when it suits their purposes?

————- 

For those of you in the reality-based community who want to watch a really fantastic segment on the Spanish Civil War that Democracy Now! did a while back, you can find it here:

Democracy Now!  Fighting Fascism: The Americans – Women and Men – Who Fought In the Spanish Civil War

Conspiracy theories, a North American Union, and other B.S.

My mother enjoys torturing me by e-mailing me the incoherent rants of right-wing malcontents from time to time.  I suppose it’s part of a game she plays with me which I claim to hate but actually in reality secretly don’t mind.  But I guess, on the other hand it could also be because maybe she believes that angering up the blood and having your face turn red with frustration periodically is somehow therapeutic.

Either way, she stumbled across this gem of a video and decided that I should have to share in her pain and so she passed it along to me today. (And I’m in an apparently sadistic mood today and thus feel that you, my reader, should also suffer along with me as well… it’s a vicious cycle, it really is.)


(The original link to the video was here on this 9/11 truth blog)

Now, at first, I was beguiled by the “Impeach Bush” banner at the top of the blog she linked to and thought that this would actually be a reputable video on media distortion.  Perhaps, I thought, it might be a joint interview with Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman discussing new data on their Propaganda Model?  Perhaps an interview with Robert McChesney, author of Rich Media: Poor Democracy?  Perhaps an interview with Chomsky, Herman AND McChesney, I foolishly thought as I got comfortable and settled into my chair to enjoy the show.

“Oh, goodie,” I found myself thinking “59 minutes and 49 seconds.  This is going to be a full length feature.”

… And then the conspiracies came a-comin’.

For instance, did you know that everything which is reported in the media is controlled by the Freemasons and other secret, shadowy organizations who are all either associated with communism or who are at least sympathetic to it?  

I know, I was surprised too. 

Peter Jennings was a communist sympathizer.  Dan Rather was a communist sympathizer.  In fact the video even goes so far as to claim that William Buckley Jr. was a communist sympathizer.  Seriously?  William Buckley Jr.! The same conservative pompous right-winger who was fond of arguing that the U.S. engages in benign imperialism?

Or, did you know that everybody in a position of authority in the U.S. Government is actually working secretively to abolish the U.S. Government itself and to destroy U.S. Sovereignty so that it can — depending on who you talk to — establish either a North American Union or a New World Order where the U.S. will be emasculated?

Continue reading ‘Conspiracy theories, a North American Union, and other B.S.’

Megalomania and the problem with U.S. politics

No amount of writing or blog posting could be able to better prove the point that the elite-centred cult of personality which is the American political system corrupts than this quote.

This quote is from current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg after announcing that he is leaving the U.S. Republican Party.

“I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead my city.” (source)

That’s right folks:  “my” city. 

The city belongs to him.  

He owns it.

The irony is that some U.S. Democrats will probably jump on this quote as evidence that their Republican counterparts are just so full of themselves that they lead themselves to belive things like this.

But the fact of the matter is the Bloomberg has been a Democrat for most of his life and thus is a perfect example of how the problem with U.S. politics isn’t the Republicans… its the entire structure of their system around the concept of what Marx called the ‘Cult of Personality’ (which developed very deliberately largely as a result of the progressivist reforms in the 19th Century).

If anybody needed any more evidence that authority like this corrupts, then this is it.

~

P.S. thanks to Red Jenny for the above source on the scientific study of the corrupting influence of authority on people.  She posted quite a while back and, after reading this story, I couldn’t help but think of it.

Two quotes that are essential for progressives to know

These are two great quotes I serendipitously came across in the same day which I think all progressive comrades should have at their disposal to throw back and right-wingers in certain circumstances.

Scenario #1:

Right-winger:  “If socialism is so great, why hasn’t it become wildly popular?”

Comrade:

“It took us 5000 years to put wheels on luggage”
     -William McDonough, “The wisdom of designing Cradle to Cradle”

Scenario #2:

Right-winger: “socialism is dead” or “socialism failed” or “Marxism is irrelevant”

Comrade:

“Marx is definitely dead for humankind.”

Now this quote in and of itself isn’t such a great response until you mention that it was written by Itallian thinker Croce in the year 1907 — ten years before the Russian Revolution.  And Croce wasn’t the first to prematurely dig a grave for Marxism and, as Alan Maass notes, since people are still parroting this line, he clearly hasn’t been the last.


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