Friday, November 30, 2012

Everybody else is out of step

An old joke goes like this. A proud mother is watching her soldier son marching past in the company of his fellow soldiers. She notices that he advancing - left-right-left-right - while his fellow soldiers are going forward right-left-right left.

She nudges the lady next to her and says, "Just look at that! Everybody is out of step except my Johnny!"

From Olivia Ward, foreign affairs reporter for the Toronto Star.

Palestinians win historic vote over Canada's objections 
On the podium of the packed, cavernous General Assembly before the vote, Baird said that Canada opposed a resolution to upgrade the Palestinians’ status “in the strongest terms,” insisting it “undermines the core foundations of a decades-long commitment by the international community and the parties themselves to a two-state solution, arrived at through direct negotiations.”
...[A]nd in a scolding apparently intended for the UN assembly, [John] Baird said that “as a result of this body’s utterly regrettable decision to abandon policy and principle, we will be considering all available next steps” — a hint that Ottawa could further reduce or halt its funding for Palestinian projects, or sever diplomatic relations.
...[O]ttawa’s vote drew mixed reviews in Canada. Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith, congratulated Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a statement, saying he had “once again . . . shown his government’s readiness to exercise leadership on the international stage. He has taken a principled stand and has refused to allow Arab reactionary actions and mass intimidation to move the Canadian government from its resolve.”
But Thomas Woodley, who heads Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, said the group “vehemently disagrees with the Harper government’s stance,” adding that UN backing for the Palestinians “was not a vote against Israel, nor a vote in opposition to negotiations” but in favour of an “independent, viable Palestinian state.”
And so, most of the world must be out of step except for the Harper government's "Johnny".

Humiliating and terrifying.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Jeff Huber - R.I.P.

When I read that Stanley McChrystal, former queso grande in the Afghanistan debacle, had decided that the key to solving the problems in the U.S. military was to reinstate the draft, I decided to go and look to see if Jeff Huber had anything to say about it.

Jeff Huber was a retired Commander from the U.S. Navy and spent his post-military time skewering incompetent military brass, worrying about the state of the military and his country and writing, with considerable wit and wisdom, about the current affairs in both spheres.

His blog, Pen and Sword, apart from the serious stuff, also made reference to his beloved but mischievous dogs. He had a health problem last year during which he disappeared from the blogosphere for a few months but reappeared, saying that the "reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated", or words to that effect, a la Mark Twain.

His last blog post was January 8th, 2012. According to fellow writer Kelley Vlahos, in her article for, Remembering Jeff Huber, he died from natural causes in his Virginia Beach home on January 25, a few weeks after finishing the first draft of his second book. He was 57 years old.

After all his years in the service of his country and all the years after that worrying about the direction it was taking, he doesn't have to worry any more.

And that's about the only good thing I can say about this.

Bye, Jeff.

"Fear no more the heat o' the sun;
Nor the furious winter's rages,
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney sweepers come to dust..." 

-William Shakespeare

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Harper gags Canadians with their own money

From the Real News Network:

There is a North-America wide strategy to take away the right to mass protest.

The New anti-Semitism: criticism of Israel

From Aljazeera English, a commentary on the quasi-Parliamentary committee's report about the supposed rise of anti-Semitism in Canada.

Anti-Semitism will always be with us because stupid, bigoted people will always be with us. But to attempt to change a definition of an abomination like anti-Semitism to fit political, evangelical or Christian Zionist ends is dangerous and profoundly stupid.

There is an element in the Canadian government who wish to support Israel, no matter what it does. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. It also sounds like treason. The Harperites are trying to change the definition of that, too.

Canada clamps down on criticism of Israel

While the CPCCA's final report does contain some cases of real anti-Semitism, the committee has provided little evidence that anti-Semitism has actually increased in Canada in recent years. Instead, it has focused a disproportionate amount of effort and resources on what it calls a so-called "new anti-Semitism": criticism of Israel.

Indeed, the real purpose of the CPCCA coalition seems to be to stifle critiques of Israeli policy and disrupt pro-Palestinian solidarity organizing in Canada, including, most notably, Israeli Apartheid Week events. Many of the CPCCA's findings, therefore, must be rejected as both an attack on freedom of speech and freedom of protest, and as recklessly undermining the fight against real instances of anti-Semitism.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Post Office Matters

In the last few weeks, Canada Post workers started staging a series of rotating strikes across the country. They had been trying to negotiate with Canada Post management for quite a while on such matters as raises to cover the cost of living increases, sick leave etc. Essential services like social assistance cheques were still being delivered and mail was circulating, although slowly.

Canada Post responded by locking the workers out, thus shutting down the system completely.

Now Harper and his Con buddies have "stepped in" to order them back to work. With the "reverse Midas touch" that Harper has demonstrated so often and so well in the years he's occupied the throne, he has now caused negotiations to cease entirely.

Harper stepping in to fix anything is like setting an enraged bull elephant on the petunia beds, pretty much the same result of anything he and his colleagues have put their minds to (using the phrase loosely) in the last godawful five and a half years.

Bird and Fortune, two British comedians, discussed the privatization of the British post office in the early nineties, something that the howling nicompoops have avocated here in recent weeks.

Their conclusion? Privatizing the post office allows management to show their ruthlessness and greed, to say nothing of stupidity.

Ten minutes of wonderful dialogue.

Their site is here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Harper's War Agenda

From by Derrick O'Keeffe

Expanding foreign military bases serves Harper's war agenda

"Canadian fighter jets have flown more than 400 sorties over Libya thus far, and NATO's air campaign is intensifying. The Canadian planes have been operating from a NATO base in Italy. To fight wars from the air, you need to have the use of foreign bases.

Last week, Le Devoir broke the news that the Canadian government had completed agreements for new foreign bases in Jamaica and Germany, with talks ongoing to establish bases in Kuwait, Tanzania and several other countries."

The piece includes a link to the Canadian Peace Alliance and a statement against Canada's garrisoning of the planet.

"The Canadian Peace Alliance condemns the plans of the Harper government to establish new foreign military bases for Canada. This is a policy that has been in the works for some time but, like so much else about Canada's foreign policy, it was completely excluded from the discussion during the recent federal election

...The announcement about new foreign bases came at the same time as a request to keep Canadian Forces on the ground in Richelieu, Quebec to help with flood relief was being ignored. The Harper government continues to encourage costly and unnecessary deployments of the Forces abroad, while showing little interest in using its resources at home for disaster relief.

Foreign bases have nothing to do with Canadian security, and everything to do with the Harper government's desire to be able to participate in future military aggressions like the ones ongoing in Afghanistan and Libya."

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Young woman urges a "Canadian Spring"

My admiration goes out to young people standing up to their elders (but rarely betters, whatever the Harper echo chamber may think of themselves) and their activism is one of the few things I can feel hopeful about in this era of unthinking Harperism.

Rogue page inspired by Arab uprising, wants Canadians to mobilize

During the throne speech of the new Harper "Majority" Regime - 40% of the vote, 25% of eligible voters - this young graduate who took a position as a page in the Senate, held up a home made red stop sign with the words "Stop Harper!". She was escorted from that august chamber - normally the meeting place of Harper-appointed yes-men and women - by a guy dressed in 18th century militaristic gear.

There was tut-tutting at the lack of security by a scared Con spokesman, his own insecurity whipped into view by the thought that a young woman armed with a sign was a danger to his own god-ordained right to dictate to Canadians what they had to do - or be charged with High Treason.

Funny how the Cons are all for freedom from dictators - or so they say - but can't see the autocratic agenda of their new Saviour is a danger to the country. Who, exactly, holds the treasonous agenda here?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian War Crimes in Afghanistan

A lengthy, well-documented and detailed piece by Michael Keefer, professor at the University of Guelph, Ontario, on the complicity of Harper and his minions in Afghan detainee transfer to certain torture, deliberate blocking of information at the highest levels in the Canadian Forces and the Canadian government and outright lies from Harper's government when questioned by news and parliamentary committees about it.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian War Crimes in Afghanistan

"...[A]ccording to law professor Amir Attaran, who has seen uncensored versions of the documents that the Harper government has so strenuously resisted sharing with Parliament, the paper trail is thoroughly incriminating. In March 2010 Attiran told CBC News: “If these documents were released [in full], what they will show is that Canada partnered deliberately with the torturers in Afghanistan for the interrogation of detainees […]. There would be a question of rendition and a question of war crimes on the part of certain Canadian officials. That’s what’s in these documents, and that’s why the government is covering up as hard as it can.”

This question hasn't even come up in this election campaign except by Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party (NDP) whose position all along has been against the war and Canada's part in it. For his efforts, his was given the name "Taliban Jack" by Harper Conservatives and their supporters.

Michael Keefer's conclusion:

"The clear pattern of intentionality revealed in the words and actions of senior Canadian government bureaucrats and senior military officers is both embarrassing (these people actually believe, despite copious evidence to the contrary, that torture produces real ‘intelligence’) and also a scandalous offence against the rule of law.

More scandalous still is the evidence that these people were acting on directives from Stephen Harper—that Harper knew perfectly well that the Afghan puppet-state tortures the prisoners handed over to it by the Canadian Forces, but nonetheless permitted the continuation of this system, and that he actually took charge of the program of lying about it. "

Sunday, April 24, 2011

So much excellent writing about the contemptible Harper Government

As we limp our way toward another Harper minority government (or, may the gods forbid, a Harper majority), there is so much to read by some truly great bloggers.

James Laxer:

Ten compelling reasons to vote for Stephen Harper:

Stephen Harper - Sans moi, le deluge

Stephen Harper: Now He’s The Champion of National Unity

David Climenhaga and his Alberta diary.

Neil Kitson

Canada's 2011 Federal Election

Harper's government has been found in contempt of parliament, the first time that it has happened in any country with the parliamentary system. Stephen Harper and his merry band of loyal acolytes have tried to make it appear that the whole thing is about a budget, another blatant lie.

In the last election, people who had posted lawn signs for a Liberal candidate in London, Toronto and the Niagara Region of Ontario had the break lines cut on their cars. In the last couple of days, cars have been vandalized and houses spray- painted with graffiti, e.g. "Lie-beral scum". Liberal and NDP signs have been defaced or destroyed. One Liberal candidate in the riding west of Ottawa had one hundred of his signs spray-painted with the crosshairs of a gunsight, just like the unlovely Sarah Palin's tactics. These are not the tactics of the centrist or left-of-centre parties. Why would they deface their own signs? Some Con supporters suggest it's done to elicit sympathy for themselves.

Harper has made my skin crawl since I first saw him. With each following lie, dirty deal, corrupt official, attack ad and his blatant ignorance (if I'm being charitable) or breaking of our laws, he has become more nauseating and frightening.