Saturday, February 25, 2012

One Young Staffer is Not Enough

Conservative operative Michael Sona, is taking the fall for the voter suppression scandal and has resigned as a staffer.  What the conservatives would like us to believe is that he acted alone.  Give me a break.

Sona, in the background during Ezra Levant's sponsorship of Ann Coulter, is a product of the Manning Centre for Destroying Democracy, fashioned after Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute

Voter suppression is one of the courses taught.

Journalist Jeff Horwitz signed up for a weekend seminar and wrote an excellent article on the subject.
The students, strait-laced kids from good colleges, seem unconvinced. The lesson -- that with sufficient organization, the act of voting becomes less a basic right than a tactical maneuver -- doesn't sit easy with some students at first. Gourley, a charismatic senior from South Dakota and the treasurer of the College Republican National Committee, assures them: "This is not anti-democracy. This is not shady. Just put [the polling place] somewhere where you might have to put a little bit of effort into voting." The rest, Gourley explains, is just a matter of turnout.
Just a matter of turnout".

Sona was the young man who tried to steal the ballot box at the University of Guelph, forcing the rules to be changed, ending the practice of making it easier for students to vote.  Harper knew that he'd lost the youth vote, so had to make sure they didn't vote at all.

These are the kinds of things these young operatives are taught.  They don't dream them up on their own.

So how much is Sona's "resignation" going to cost the Canadian taxpayer?  Two decades ago, Ezra Levant and Jason Kenney claimed that $40,000 would buy a lot of silence, when they paid off Matthew Johnston.
In 2011, Christiane Ouimet, the Harper appointed ethics czar was given $500,000, when she promised to head to Florida so as not to explain why she ignored more than 50 ethics complaints against the government.
So what's the going rate for silence in 2012?  Enough for Sona to start his own firm, I'll wager.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why are we so Shocked to Learn that the Conservatives Stole the Election?

During the G20 in Toronto, when Canadian citizens were being arrested, beaten and shot with rubber bulletts, simply for engaging in their democratic right to protest, at Charles McVety's Christian College, another event was taking place.

With an election on the horizon, Harper's point man to the Religious Right, was hosting a seminar with none other than Karl Rove, the man who helped to steal two elections for George Bush.

McVety also runs the Canadian chapter of Christians United For Israel, a frightening and Apocalyptic Christian fundamentalist group, that promotes the nuclear annihilation of the Middle East.  Apparently that's what God wants them to do.

The Christian College had previously hosted an election stealing seminar with Ralph Reed, attended by Jim Flaherty and several Conservative operatives.

The fruits of their labour were finally realized in May of 2011, when Stephen Harper got his majority. 

However, it was the manner in which he obtained this goal that is now in question.  Not questionable at all though, given the fact that they learned from the best American democracy thieves:  Rove and Reed. (and for Harper the late Paul Weyrich)

Of course, Harper is again claiming not to know about the bogus phone calls, that have led right back to the Conservative Party.  He is "promising" to get to the bottom of it.

Just like he promised to investigate the election financing scheme that brought him to power in 2006.  Instead, he sued us, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And let's not forget the Cadman affair, when a dying man was bribed for his vote.  Stephen Harper didn't know about that either, and when a tape was produced suggesting otherwise, he claimed that it was doctored.  An FBI forensic lab proved that he was lying.

Again, he sued instead of explaining himself.

For a man with such unprecedented control, it's hard to believe that he wasn't aware of what was happening right under his nose.

This makes him either a first class liar or the stupidest man in the country, neither good attributes for a leader.

I think Elections Canada must determine that the last election was a fraud.  I doubt the NDP would want that, however, so what they should do is simply hold bi-elections in all of the ridings that Conservatives won through voter suppression and bogus telemarketing smear campaigns.

If they get away with this, it means that we will allow them to get away with anything.

Monday, February 20, 2012

If Maurizio Bevilacqua Wants to Clean up Vaughan I Know Where he Should Sweep

404 System Error, score another home run with their exposure of some questionable financing in Julian Fantino's campaign.

Seems Fantino is running two separate accounts, in a non-transparent fashion, one with a balance of $300,000.

Why two accounts and why were the records of only one of the accounts presented to Elections Canada?

Is Fantino accepting donations over the $1,100.00 limit imposed by our current government?

As a former Mike Harris crony, nothing that Julian Fantino does surprises me.  He had quite a reputation back in the day.

NOW magazine reported in October of 1999, of:   Fantino's Conservative ties to (Mike) Harris and the law-and-order platform ... "The kind of policing Fantino embodies is the scary part. The steroid boys will get a free hand. It'll be road-boss country again." It's moving the policing discussion a huge step backward," says another councillor, recalling the "kiddie porn" busts Fantino presided over in London that, when all was said and done, amounted mostly to an anti-gay witch hunt."

And a month later when he was handed the job of police Chief in Toronto:  "... firm signals from the Progressive Conservative government at Queen's Park that Mr. Fantino is the man Mike Harris and his people have wanted for the job."  His appointment was political and not based on merit.

Harris wanted to put a tough face on his so-called "law and order" agenda, and Fantino's was that face.  Sadly, that's all he brought to the job, as one retired RCMP Sgt from Caledonia says: “Fantino was a complete joke as far as law and order was concerned

The case of Peter Shoniker is a perfect example.  Shoniker was a fundraiser for Mike Harris and the boys, who was caught in a sting involving money laundering.  Seems Shoniker washed clean $700,000 and outright stole another $50,000.

When he was approached by an undercover RCMP corporal in 2003, and asked for help to launder $250,000, money he said was stolen from the pension fund of a Hamilton union, Shoniker readily obliged. He told Cpl. Lewis he would use his special status as a lawyer to evade police surveillance. And he bragged about his connections to highly placed police officers:.“I'm untouchable, untouchable by the police. Not a cop in this country who would dare burn me, question my integrity.”

And indeed at his trial, guess who came to his rescue?  Yep.  Julian Fantino, who painted Shoniker as a saint.

Fantino knew how to play the game.  Attack the gay community but make sure that your Conservative friends are taken care of.

Another example of this was brought to light in April of 2011, when it was revealed that Fantino had secured a $10 million federal grant for a hospital in Vaughan, that appears to have been given under false pretenses.  In fact, two members of Fantino's re-election team resigned over the scandal. 'Two Vaughan Conservatives have quit their riding association over a $10 million federal grant given to a health care project spearheaded by MP Julian Fantino’s former fundraisers.'

And the two former fundraisers in question?  'Michael DeGasperis, the hospital group’s chair, and Sam Ciccolini, the director, ran Fantino’s successful byelection fundraising campaign in November 2010.'

Now go back to the leaked documents on 404.  Who is handling these questionable transactions?   Sam Ciccolini and Michael Degasperis.  Recipients of the $10 million gift.  And as the Star notes, this money is not even going to the hospital, which is a provincial expense, but is 'earmarked to help develop a site for health-related facilities to complement a hospital.'  Private, for profit, health care.  As yet there are no shovels in the ground.

There needs to be an investigation into this, but now that the RCMP are not allowed to investigate the government, one of their primary jobs, fat chance of that happening.

The new mayor of Vaughan, Maurizio Bevilacqua,  is determined to clean up Dodge, ending backroom deals and changing their reputation as the “City Above the Law”.

But until they get rid of Fantino and his cronies, I'm afraid it will be a futile effort.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

If Stephen Harper Was Still a Libertarian he Would Hate Stephen Harper

There is a great site called 404 Systems Error, that functions much like Wikileaks, though with Canadian content.

They have recently posted an old fundraising letter of Stephen Harper's from 2001, when he was heading up the corporate funded activist group: the National Citizens Coalition.  The NCC has always painted themselves as Libertarian, so I now wonder why they are not sending out fundraising letters calling Harper "a jackass".

In August of 2001, what got his boxers in a twist was Elections Canada, who were going after a blogger Paul Bryan, for violation of the Elections Canada Act, by prematurely posting results of the vote.

Harper calls then head of EC Jean-Pierre Kinglsey, "heavy-handed" and "an advocate of the most minute of controls and regulations".

And yet two years later, Harper and Peter MacKay were able to convince Kingsley to register their new party on a Sunday:     "The documents that were provided show that the initial presentation to the Chief Electoral Officer concerned the creation of a new party, not a merger. To date no explanation has been given for the changed wording or of how it was arranged that the Chief Electoral Officer received the merger application on a Sunday".

It's interesting that this new party was created on December 7, the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbour.

However, in 2001, Stephen Harper believed that EC was taking "the threat to freedom to a new and dangerous level."

Enforcing the law, according to this devout Libertarian, was "more dangerous than luring children toward violent pornography".  He also believed that control of the internet and the press just for the sake of controlling information was "ominous and very scary."

So should we be scared now that he controls not only the press, but is monitoring the internet? "Our basic freedom of speech and our right to information is at stake here."

The Conservative's new Bill C-30, is exactly the kind of "gag order" that the NCC once fought against.  Yet I went on their website and could find no opposition to it.  Proof that these groups are nothing more than fronts for big business.

To stifle debate, the Conservatives are suggesting that anyone who opposes the Bill is in support of child pornography.  But all tighter monitoring will do, is drive them underground, where they'll reap bigger profits because of the increased difficulties of distribution.

Maybe Stephen Harper should go back to the National Citizens Coalition.  Our country could sure use someone so passionate about protecting us from a tyrannical government.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Climate Change Deniers Get Caught With Their Carbons Down

Heartland Institute is an oil industry front group, devoted to dispelling the science of climate change.  The bulk of their funding comes from Exxon and the Koch brothers.  The same Koch brothers that Stephen Harper is using our tax dollars to build a pipeline for, so that they no longer have to pay decent Canadian wages.  The jobs will instead be outsourced to Texas.

Recently, Heartland got caught with their carbons down, when sensitive material was leaked to the press.

Astonishingly this leak required no espionage or hacking.  Someone simply contacted the institute for a copy of their budget, and got exactly what they asked for, by a careless (ex?) employee.

Maybe we should try this with the National Citizens Coalition.

But now that names have been named, can Heartland survive?  Several so-called socially conscious corporations are a little red-faced, and may not renew their tax-exempt donations, including General Motors and Microsoft.

Heartland are amateurs though.  Why simply rely on tax-exempt status and court corporations?  In Canada, Stephen Harper found a way to fund similar groups with our money.  Case in point, Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, once run by his former chief of staff Kory Teneckye.

After several of us bloggers blew the whistle on their 2005-06 annual report, filled with images of conservatives from Rhona Ambrose to Gerry Ritz, they pulled it from the internet.  I have a hard copy in my files that I keep meaning to get out and scan.  There is a photo of Harper that I'm sure was photo-shopped.  They probably bought in online as they do with many of their "official" images.

CRFA also tried to use a televised ad that included a speech by Stephen Harper during a campaign stop.

For their efforts, Jim Flaherty's 2007 budget included a two billion dollar grant for research into using Green Giant creamed corn to run your Hummers.  Or something else just as ridiculous.  It's not like they actually research anything.

Another 32 million was given for an ethanol plant in Collingwood, that never did go anywhere.

Stephen Harper even brazenly gave a Senate post to another CRFA employee, JoAnne Buth.  Nice to see that cronyism is alive and well and living inside the conservative bubble.

From Friends of Science to CRFA to the Heartland Institute.  It's all about money, money and more money.  Our money.

Gag the scientists but pay the fuel industry to spout nonsense.

This one's for Larry Miller:
"Our national policies will not be revoked or modified, even for scientists." Adolf Hitler

Friday, February 17, 2012

So What Does Larry Miller Think of Jason Kenney's Hitler-Like Move?

'Walking past the hundreds of stately Somali refugees lined up outside the gates of the UN High Commission for Refugees here in Nairobi -- men in tidy shirts and slacks, women in baby blue, fuchsia or copper chadors -- the pasty face of Jason Kenney floats into my mind.

Later, watching the images of the nearly 400,000 starving Somali women, children and men crammed into the Dadaab refugee camp on Kenya's border with Somalia, there he is again, forcing his way into my imagination: Jason Kenney, Canada's minister of immigration and xenophobic rhetoric ....'  (1)
In Kenney's world only the tidy shirts and slacks need apply.  Unless of course you're a tidy shirt and slacks wearing Muslim.  His department has made it clear "No Muslims!" (Harperland)

Astonishingly, Kenney has been able to redefine the term "refugee" as "queue jumper," "illegal alien," or his favourite xenophobic term: "terrorist."
Fortunately for Peter Van Loan, someone like Jason Kenney was not immigration minister when his family fled Estonia after it fell to the Soviets.  They were able to avoid arrest and execution, when given asylum in Canada.  Or as Bruce Cheadle reminds us of Vic Toews.

There's a global recession and Canada's economy is not immune. Shiploads of strange, foreign refugees — economic migrants and oppressed minorities — have been landing on our shores, fleeing civil war, economic upheaval and famine. No one is certain how they can be assimilated and there are concerns about criminals, subversives and agitators in their midst.  "If (their) ... government is threatening to deport them ... it is probably because they refuse to obey the laws of the country, and we should have full information regarding the facts," one mainstream advocacy group objects.
The year was 1929 when migrant Mennonites were fleeing deportation to certain starvation in Siberia under Stalin. Fortunately for Toew's Ukrainian refugee parents and grandparents, they were able to find safe haven in Canada.  Those queue jumping, illegal alien terrorists.

However, today Toews refers to those like his parents and grandparents as "customers".  From his June 2011 press conference he explained the reasoning behind his mistrust of potential "smugglers".  "What we're trying to do is to put a big question mark in the minds of the potential customers.  About the prospect of quick family reunification and we're trying to say to them that you, even if you get asylum status in Canada, it won't necessarily be permanent. We believe that those doubts seeded in the minds of potential customers  will significantly depress demand and the price point ..."

"No one is certain how they can be assimilated and there are concerns about criminals, subversives and agitators in their midst."  The "customers" of the Toews family perhaps?  Just as fortunate for them, Vic was not yet in the picture and indeed there would not have been a Vic at all if Kenney was running the show in 1929.  At least not in this country.

In an unprecedented move, Jason Kenney has presented legislation that will create "safe" lists.  Bill C-31 would also block claimants from so called “safe” countries from appealing a negative decision to the new Refugee Appeal Division and it would eliminate a provision that called for a committee of experts to decide which countries would be placed on the safe list.  It also ultimately gives the Kenney full discretion over the yet-to-be-established safe list.

His list.

Where's our Nazi spotter Larry Miller?  It's a dangerous thing when one man can make and control a list that determines the fate of entire groups of people.

One country on Kenney's list is Czechoslovakia, and concerns the Roma of that country.  Those queue jumping terrorists need to stay home.  After all, as he points out, Czechoslovakia is a democratic country and champion of human rights.

Or are they?

According to Canwest European Correspondent Peter O'Neil:
A ghastly arson attack that has left a two-year-old girl fighting for her life contradicts Canadian and Czech government assertions that an exodus of Roma refugee claimants to Canada is driven by economics, rather than fear of persecution, say members of the Roma community here.  ... They say they face a constant threat of neo-Nazi attacks and hateful demonstrations, where marchers head into Roma communities and call them "parasites," organized by increasingly sophisticated organizations such as the far-right Workers' Party.

"We are afraid for our lives," said Martin Duna, 31 ... "We are worried that Hitler is coming back." ... Duna's reference to Hitler, who sent Roma, as well as Jews and homosexuals, to extermination camps during the Second World War, isn't as extreme as it may sound ... Czech municipal politicians have won nationwide public praise for evicting Roma from apartments to live in metal containers in city outskirts; and human-rights groups have reported involuntary sterilizations of Roma women from the late 1960s to as recently as late last year.  Growing neo-Nazi violence, as well as discrimination and even segregation in areas such as health, housing, education, criminal justice and employment, have been reported in numerous publications issued by the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the U.S. State Department and Amnesty International.
Does this sound like a country committed to human rights?

And how does someone like Jason Kenney qualify as the supreme keeper of lists and authority of what constitutes oppression?

He has a high school education, dropping out of prep school at a time when that prep school, St. Ignatius was accused of running a cult.  He made headlines in San Francisco for his attacks on the gay community.  He challenged the Pope Paul because he opposed the Iraq War. He established the Christian Coalition in Canada, a group determined to take North America back to the time of the Reformation.

Or according to one of Kenney's teachers the '50s.  Not the 1950s but the 1550s.

He has had no job outside of politics, running a pyramid scheme called the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, inspired by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform.  Much of his time was spent traversing the country forcing politicians to sign a pledge not to raise taxes.  Mike Harris signed Kenney's pledge.  Enough said.

This new legislation is nothing more that a power trip by a narcissistic nincompoop.

I can't wait to hear what Larry Miller thinks of all this.  Maybe I'll give him a call.

1. In Africa, It's Sickening to See Tories Play Refugee Politics: Here at the bleeding edge of the Somali crisis, I can't shake the face of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, by Cam Sylvester, The Tyee, July 20, 2011

Thursday, February 16, 2012

First Abortion Then Contraception or is it the Other Way Around?

Remember the Lil Rascals and their He-man Women Haters Club?  Well they grew up and helped to launch the conservative movement.

In the United States, in the 21st century, GOP presidential hopefuls, are now arguing over the legality of contraception.  Can you imagine?


It's being labelled a womens issue, but how many men out there support a ban on contraception?

If this was a decade ago, living in Canada, I would laugh and laugh and laugh.  But given that our own government has the same regressive ideas, I have little to laugh about.

In fact, in the United States, people are fighting back against the Religious Right.  Planned Parenthood is standing their ground, while in Canada, it is being knocked to the ground.

Prop 8, the California law banning same-sex marriage has been overturned as unconstitutional, and other states are slowly granting the right to equal marriage.  In Canada Harper is playing games through the back door.

He has been working hard and often secretly, to roll back gains made by Canadians in terms of social issues.  And while claiming not to have plans to  reopen several debates, he is doing just that.  He hates to lose and he has lost on so many fronts.

Now another pawn has made a move forward, in an attempt to move us backward.  Stephen Woodworth, Conservative MP for Waterloo.  We've seen them all from Brad Trost to Rod Bruinooge, pretending to be acting alone, when in fact they can't even choose their own tie in the morning, without risking the ire of the exalted one, if it clashes with the planned mood of the day.  (Thank you Dean Del Mastro for that bit of info)

Woodworth is not acting alone, but is just the latest mysogonist selected to "reopen the abortion debate".

He wants to declare that a fetus is a human being.  If this is passed then I hope that all mothers and pregnant women take the government to court, demanding retroactive benefits to cover the time from the date of conception to birth.  Nine extra months of universal child benefit and child tax credit.

And since it's womens reproductive rights that are being tampered with, why not extend the courtesy to men?  All males, once they reach the age of 18, must have a sperm test.  Anyone with a low sperm count would then have the letter "L" stamped on their forehead.

If women can get an extra nine months of benefits, why should they risk hooking up with a loser?

Rick Santorum is now leading in the polls for the Republican nomination in the U.S.  Pundits and comedians are having a field day with his views, and many are now mocking his sweater vest.  Apparently that is the uniform of the social conservative.

Santorum wants to wage war on Iran, killing innocent children, while claiming to be "pro-life".  He opposes gay rights, equal marriage and wants to legalize peeping into the bedrooms of Americans, but only by government.

And how exactly is he any different from our current government?

If you think this will stop at abortion, think again, and again and again.

They will not stop until we are a nation of gun totin', women hating, gay bashing, war mongering, narrow-minded Neanderthals.

Or what is more commonly called "conservatives".

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Larry Miller Needs to Stop Quoting the NRA and Ezra Levant Just Needs to STOP!

Last week, Conservative MP Larry Miller, compared support for the gun registry to Adolf Hitler and his apparent disarming of Germans.

Most people were shocked but they shouldn't have been.  The NRA uses this argument all the time and before they pried the gun from his "cold, dead hands", Charlton Heston declared:  "Any of the monsters of modern history such as Hitler and Stalin-confiscated privately held firearms as their first act."  Wayne R. LaPierre, the current executive vice president and chief executive officer of the NRA, similarly highlights the link between gun registration, confiscation, and the German experience." (1)

Miller uses his NRA material to challenge the statement that the conservative movement is determined to socially re-engineer Canadians.  Maybe instead of reading the American Rifleman, Miller should read a bit of history on his boss.  Tom Flanagan claimed that Stephen Harper wrote the Reform Party's policies on guns and only stopped short at calling it "a right to bear arms".

Scrapping the gun registry is being seen by the gun lobby as only an important first step.  They firmly believe that if we all carried guns there would be less crime.

I watched an interesting documentary Gun Fight, and in it Diane Sawyer, after receiving so many emails that if students could carry guns the Virginia Tech tragedy would never have happened, she challenged gun enthusiasts to prove it.

Recreating the scene, when the gunman came into view, those involved couldn't even get their weapons out in time.  The shooter had the element of surprise.  Had others been armed, I think there would have simply been more deaths.

Miller claims that his comments were taken out of context, but I'm curious just how he would like us to take them.

Then of course, Ezra Levant, tiring of performing his impersonation of an owl on crack, for Sun TV, decided to pen (type, scratch?)  his support for Miller.  Under the heading: Censoring Hitler — and the Past, he gives one of the most convoluted history lessons, using not only gun control, but free speech and concern for human rights; as ingredients for a return to Nazi tyranny.

However, Levant does not blame Hitler, but  "do-gooders" and the Treaty of Versailles.

The Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1918 and covered military disarmament.  The gun control law was passed a decade later, in 1928, by the Weimar Republic, to deal with the civil unrest after the war.
The Weimar government was attempting to bring some stability to German society and politics.   Violent extremist movements of both the Left and Right, were actively attacking the young, and very fragile, democratic state. A government that cannot maintain some degree of public order cannot sustain its legitimacy ... Gun control was not initiated at the behest or on behalf of the Nazis - it was in fact designed to keep them, or others of the same ilk, from executing a revolution against the lawful government. In the strictest sense, the law succeeded - the Nazis did not stage an armed coup. (2)
In 1938, the Nazis extended the gun control act, but by then they were firmly in control of Germany.

Levant's claim that attempts to silence Hitler had created the volatile anti-Jewish movement, are just as inaccurate.  I've written of this before.  It was actually the fact that the courts continued to rule in his favour, that accelerated the hatred and emboldened the Brown Shirts.

Sun media may be in dire need of a fact checker, but they also need a little reality check.  Levant's verbal attack on Irwin Cotler is not only unfair but untrue.

Mr. Cotler is a well respected human rights lawyer, who can count amoung his clients, Nelson Mandela,  Jacobo Timmerman and Muchtar Pakpahan Cotler also represented Natan Sharansky, who was imprisoned in the Soviet gulag for Jewish activism. After his release, Sharansky went on to become the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister. (3)

Ezra Levant sings to the choir of the deaf on his television program, and now attempts to write for the wilfully blind. 

As for Miller, he's obviously auditioning for a spot on the Friends of the NRA television program.  Maybe Winchester will throw a few bucks his way too.


2. The Myth of Nazi Gun Control, by N. A. Brown, GunCite, July 21, 2001

3. Wikipedia

Monday, February 13, 2012

Canada's Environment Minister Warns of Danger of Climate Change

Peter Kent in 1984, before he got sucked into the bubble, that facts can't penetrate.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

China Must be Called to Task Over Human Rights Violations

Stephen Harper is visiting China for trade talks, and many believe that as the heads of the two countries meet, human rights issues must be addressed.

Warning:  These stories may be disturbing.

 - A vocal opponent of the government and an advocate for human rights, is routinely questioned.  They also target his associates and friends warning them that the man is an anarchist, despite the fact that he is merely a vocal opponent of the government . (1)

 - A popular U.S. journalist is stopped at the border and held for 90 minutes as officials search her papers and computer then demand to know what she will be speaking about when in the country. (2)

- Foreign lecturers are routinely banned if it is deemed that their views contradict government policy (3)

- Without even engaging in protests, citizens are harassed on the chance that they might. (4)

- The government regularly monitors newspapers, broadcasts, and websites. (5)

- Policing at protests is militarized. (6)

- Journalists are silenced (7), arrested (8), intimidated by police (9) and held hostage (10).

- Books are banned (11), scientists (12), whistle blowers (13) and police (14) are silenced.

- University professors are targeted. (15)

- Anyone protesting government policy is automatically deemed to be an enemy of the state. (16)

- The country is even being investigated for possible war crimes. (17)

And things are not much better in China.

The media is criticizing Stephen Harper's down on his knees begging for Chinese exports, as being hypocritical.  For years he purposely shunned them, saying that some things were more important than the "almighty dollar".

However, I think the real hypocrisy is coming from the Canadian people.  We are demanding that China be held to account for its human rights abuses, while ignoring the growing number of human rights abuses at home.
"Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see." -  Martin Luther King, Jr.

1. When CSIS rings your doorbell: With the G20 Summit approaching, political activists accuse the federal spy agency of trying to undermine democracy and freedom of speech,  by Catherine Solyom, The Gazette June 11, 2010

2. U.S. journalist grilled at Canada border crossing

3a. Too Dangerous for Canada
3b. Banned From Canada for a Year for War Protest,  by Ann Wright, October 30, 2007
3c. U.S. anti-war protester barred from Canada: And Peace Activist Alison Bodine was banned for     two years, The Chronicle, October 30, 2007

4.  RCMP Deny Harassing Olympic Protesters 

5. Ottawa spends nearly $40 million on media monitoring

6a. May Toronto's G20 be the last
6b. Amnesty International calls for review of security measures at G8 and G20 summits in Ontario
6c. 'I have lived in Toronto for 32 years. have never seen a day like this'
6d. Young protester not backing down
6e. Diversion possible

7. Controlling The Message
7b. PM Harper's iron message control working

8b. Canadian journalist arrested, possibly beaten

9. Cons Order RCMP to Block Media  Media have no flight plan on PM's plane

10. Media have no flight plan on PM's plane

11. Tories muzzle environmental scientist: Catch a fire

12. Federal scientist unfairly silenced, union says

13. Effectively silencing Canada’s whistleblowers
14. Federal government has no business micromanaging RCMP commissioner

15. Tories accused of digging up dirt on ‘Liberal’ profs

16. Affidavit accuses Prime Minister's Office of threatening environmental charity
17. Could Canadians be charged with war crimes? If public inquiry not called, Canadians may be charged at International Criminal Court

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stephen Harper Shows Corporate Tax Cuts at Work

On March 19, 2008, Stephen Harper posed for a photo-op at London's Electro-Motive plant to showcase a $5-million federal tax break given to Caterpillar, the American buyers of the Canadian company.

When Caterpillar, famous for union busting in the United States, amid record profits, wanted the employees to take a 50% pay cut and surrender their benefits, amazingly no new Harper photo-op.

However, in an interview from inside the bubble, one of Harper's many royal messengers, trumpeted the royal decree:  “A low tax environment is the best way to ensure job creators come to Canada and stay in Canada, as proven by the nearly 600,000 jobs created in Canada since July 2009.”

Fortunately, when you live inside that bubble you are protected from an army of facts.  Safe within its walls, you can blanket yourself in terms like "job creators" and "tax relief".

And if the army of facts come knocking, reminding you that the Washington Post has proven that the "job creators" did not create jobs, or that Canada lost almost 300,000 good full time positions, replaced with part-time - BOING!  They just bounce right off.

When it turned out that our "tax relief" was only for the wealthy and that the average Canadian worker is paying more in taxes - BOING!  Look out!

The wealthiest Canadians are now earning 189 times more than the average Canadian - BOING!

The $5 million gift to Caterpillar actually cost us 460 more good jobs - BOING!

Payroll taxes also went up for small business - BOING!

Cost of living has risen by 9% since Harper took office while wages have become stagnant - BOING!

The number of low income families has increased in Canada since 2008 - BOING!

Since 2006, fresh vegetables are up 18%, bread up 37% and dental care up 14%, just as examples - BOING!

Since 2006, the debt Canadian families carry relative to their disposable income has risen by 20% and Canadian households now hold the highest debt amoung the top 20 advanced countries in the OECD - BOING!

Since 2005, gas prices have risen more than 20% - BOING!

Since Harper took power personal bankruptcies have risen by 33% - BOING!

The cost of running the government has risen by 21% in the past five years - BOING!

I could go on but I'm getting tired of bouncing off that impenetrable bubble.

Caterpillar should have to give that $5 million break they got from us as "job creators" back, now that they are simply "job destroyers".


Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Lost Boys of Neverland Have Been Discovered

In March of 2001, Rahim Jaffer, an Alliance MP, got into a bit of trouble when a hoax he had helped to perpetrate, blew up in his face.

Jaffer then owned a string of coffee shops in Edmonton, one of them set to open on the very day that he was supposed to do a radio interview with Peter Warren, on Corus Radio Network.

To solve the problem, Jaffer had his administrative assistant, Matthew Johnston, appear in his place.  However, when the show was aired, someone recognized Johnston's voice and called into the station to complain.
Peter Warren, the show's host, says the hoax was eventually revealed, but not before both Johnston and Jaffer tried to cover it up. Warren says his producer asked Jaffer directly if they had talked to him on the air.

"She reached him [Jaffer] at his cafe in Edmonton and said to him, 'Was that you on the interview with Peter Warren on the Corus Radio Network an hour ago?' and his answer was, 'Yes it was. I was happy to do the interview'."   Warren says they finally got an admission from Johnston and Jaffer when they asked them to put their version in writing.
Jaffer's friend, Ezra Levant, would later say that "Matthew had acted entirely on his own".

However, Preston Manning, leader of the Reform Party that had morphed into Alliance, gives a slightly different version of the story, one far more believable.  (Think Big: My Adventures in Life and Politics, p. 379-80)

After realizing that he had set up the radio interview on the day that he would be opening his new coffee shop, Jaffer made arrangements himself with Matthew Johnston, to appear in his place. Since it was radio no one would see him, and the Edmonton-Strathcona MP drilled his replacement on potential answers to specific questions.

When the media got wind of the hoax, Jaffer and "his team" went into damage control.  According to Manning:
Chuck Strahl, the House leader, first learned of all this from Jason Kenney at a strategy meeting at Stornoway. Chuck told Jason that Rahim's account had better be the whole truth, because the media would be looking for contradictions, and if they found any Rahim would be in even greater trouble. Jason [Kenney] then said "I wouldn't worry about that. $40,000.00 buys a lot of silence."
Apparently that was the amount of taxpayer funded 'severance' given to Matthew Johnston for keeping quiet.
The reference to $ 40,000.00 was made without elaboration. The next day the same statement about $40,000.00 was repeated by Ezra Levant to both Chuck Cadman and Deborah Grey, who at his time demanded an explanation. Ezra then said that it meant nothing, that he was just shooting off his mouth and it was no big deal.
I would say that fraud is a pretty big deal. Matthew Johnston was later named senior vice-president of Levant's magazine, the Western Standard.

Jason Kenney, Rahim Jaffer and Ezra Levant were once known as the "Snack Pack".  All young Reformers, all single (Jaffer later married Helena Guergis) and all products of the Fraser Institute.

A decade later the two remaining members, Kenney and Levant, have become more like the Lost Boys of Neverland, from J. M. Barrie's play Peter Pan.
They are boys who fall out of their prams when the nurse isn't looking and were lost by their nannies in places such as Kensington Gardens. Having gone unclaimed for seven days, they were whisked off to Neverland, where they live with Peter Pan. There are no "lost girls", because girls are much too clever to fall out of their prams and be lost in this manner.
A little tumble out of a pram does explain a lot, and when we hear of another hoax involving Jason Kenney and Ezra Levant, it becomes clear that this pair simply refuse to grow up.
Bureaucrats working in Jason Kenney’s department posed as immigrants to pull off an elaborate stunt for Sun TV News, according to documents obtained by CP’s Jennifer Ditchburn. (Wait. What? How is this real?)  According to Ditchburn, what happened was this: Sun TV was supposed to film a citizenship reaffirmation ceremony in their studios, but the department could only find three people willing to participate. Instead of cancelling the stunt, they had federal employees, presumably on the federal clock, stand in for the rest of the crowd.
And in typical fashion, Kenney is blaming someone else.
" I want always to be a boy, and have fun. Come with me where you'll never, never have to worry about grown up things again " Peter Pan

Friday, February 3, 2012

More Hands Found in Harper's Deep Pockets

In 2007, knowing that they couldn't ride Adscam forever, the Harper government put our tax dollars to good use, by hiring a private investigator to dig into the Liberal's polling expenses.

However, the firm he hired did not uncover the results he was hoping for.
An independent investigator hired by the Harper government to look into past Liberal polling practices has wound up shining an unfavourable light on the Tories' penchant for polling. Daniel Paille notes that the Conservative government has commissioned more than two polls per business day, a figure he calls "quite astounding."
His report shows that the government spent $31.2 million on opinion research in the last year - more than any previous year and almost twice the $18 million spent on average during the Liberal years. Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Paille, a former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister, last April to conduct a probe of federal contracts for public opinion research between 1990 and 2003.  The objective was to determine whether a judicial inquiry into the previous Liberal government's polling practices was warranted.
Since it cost taxpayers $610,000 for the report, should there not have been a judicial inquiry into the Harper government's polling practices? Of course there should have been, but the whole thing got swept under their lumpy rug.

To avoid such dangerous transparency dinging them again, the conservatives limited their polling and instead hired a rash of "consultants" who do everything from monitoring the internet to "advising" elected officials.

And to keep them all employed, they create offices with lavish titles, making it appear that they are doing wonderful things on behalf of Canadians.  Unfortunately, many are not working at all.  Like the Appointments Commission:
Canadian taxpayers have shelled out more than $1 million for a federal appointments commission that has no commissioners and hasn't overseen a single appointment in four years. In fact, it isn't even supposed to exist.  Stephen Harper created the commission in 2006, and promptly scrapped it in a huff.  Yet the spending continues, and indeed the commission lives on, despite serving no apparent use.
In 2010 they were actually asking for a budget increase, despite being a phantom commission.

Harper's longtime friend Bruce Carson, was awarded $5 million to study something or other, though his studies appear to stop at escorts
The ethics czar had 50 pending ethics violations waiting to be investigated when she was paid $500,000 to just go away.

Recently another bogus office was uncovered by Greg Weston. 
A federal agency created by the Harper government with great political fanfare in 2008 is costing millions of dollars to achieve pretty much nothing.  The Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board has just about everything a budding government agency could want.  So far, it has spent over $3.3 million for new offices, computers and furniture, well-paid executives and staff, travel budgets, expense accounts, board meetings, and lots of pricey consultants.  All that's missing is a reason for it to exist at all.
The Harper government had already spent through the almost $9 billion surplus of EI funds, so there is nothing left to invest. That hasn't stopped the bogus board (run by Tradex) from demanding bigger offices. Guess where the surpluses went?

The conservative base allows this man to get away with anything.  Had the Liberals done this, they would have been all over it.
A columnist for a Western paper once wrote a piece praising Harper for not appointing staff based on patronage.  I promptly reminded him that the Harper government had just set a new record for patronage appointments, even beating out Brian Mulroney.  He demanded to see my sources.  After providing them, he never contacted me again.
Maybe it does just come down to the size of their brains.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The High Cost of Corporate Tax Cuts

The Harper government's plans to reduce the deficit with savings from Old Age Security, are absolute nonsense.  Their argument is that it will be more beneficial for younger workers.  Just how is forcing Canadians to work two years longer, going to help those entering the workforce?

They will have to wait two more years for a job to open up.

However, this decision does provide an opportunity for Canadians to sum up this government's performance and goals, and determine who is really benefiting.

In a letter to the Ottawa Citizen, David Hobson says:  Harper government takes from the poor
If I understand the economics of the Harper government, it is this: first, lower taxes for the wealthy corporations; second, maintain MP's pension plans. Harper, I understand, at 55 will receive a pension of $250,000 per year from public funds. By the time he is 67 he will have received $3,000,000.

Now for the rest of us: first, payroll taxes will be up; second, Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement eligibility age will be raised from 65 to 67. This mostly affects low-income seniors and those in poor health.  I guess it is a matter of priorities. Give to the rich and take from the poor. Why didn't we hear of this plan during the election?
Why didn't we hear of this plan before the election? I know why. Because Harper WOULD NEVER have been re-elected. In fact back in the day, when his Reform Party was being created, they lost a lot of support from seniors when it was discovered that they wanted to gut OAS. He learned from past mistakes that honesty is the worst policy.

Dobson mentions the payroll tax increase, which not only affects workers, but small business.
Employers and employees will be taking a hit in the pocketbook due to increases to employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan deductions starting Jan. 1, says a new report by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.  Both groups would pay a total of $306 extra in payroll taxes in 2012.
The EI rate will rise to 1.83 per cent from 1.78 per cent for employees, and for employers, the employers, the rate will increase to 2.56 per cent from 2.46 per cent which, along with corresponding increases in maximum EI and CPP amounts, will bring their contributions up by $164 per employee.  This amount could be substantial to a struggling small business.  They will either have to raise their prices or reduce their staff to cover the extra costs.

Large corporations are fine.  When Harper took power the corporate tax rate was 21%.  It is now 15%.  By comparison, the U.S. corporate tax rate is 35%.

And where are all these great jobs promised with these gifts to the wealthy?  According to the Canadian Labour Congress, corporations are hoarding their cash,  paying out larger dividends to shareholders and beefing up executive salaries.

Corporations that do hire are places like McDonalds and Walmart.  Low pay, mostly part-time, and with few if any benefits. 

And this government's support of union busting corporations, like Caterpillar, is going to further reduce the middle class.

I had a conversation with a conservative friend of mine who operates a thriving restaurant.  She supported Harper's solidarity with Caterpillar saying that unions hurt her ability to find good staff.  Clearly she was reading Tim Hudak's balderdash.

So I asked her what her business would look like with no middle class.  If everyone is making minimum wage, or only slightly above, how many could afford the luxury of eating out?  Was her customer base corporate executives or teachers, civil servants, factory workers?  She went a little red faced and I could tell that the message had hit home.

She knows who frequents her establishment and I doubt she'd ever even met a corporate executive.

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein, created a little chart of what programs and government policies best stimulated the economy.  The GOP fought for an extension of George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, while gutting social services.  This is what the chart looked like.

Food stamps, something the Republicans are hoping to do away with, were the big winner.  What will the business of grocery stores look like, without them?  Those billions the GOP want to cut, mean billions in lost sales.  Note that corporate tax cuts provided a net gain of zero.

Low income Canadians spend their benefits locally and our middle class props up most small businesses.  Corporations hoard and corporate execs hide their money in the Caman Islands.  So who should we support?

Toys For the Boys

Liberal MP Judy Sgro is right when she says  “The government has caviar tastes when it comes to jets and jails, but a baloney budget when it comes to seniors.”  And NDP finance critic Peter Julian, reminds us of some of the costs of Harper's boy toys and "build it they will come" prisons.
“A single F-35 costs $450 million.  That would pay Old Age Security benefits for 70,000 Canadian seniors. Its prison plan costs $19 billion. That would pay annual benefits for 2.9 million Canadians seniors...
And Peter Mckay is mulling over the purchase of nuclear subs, that would cost billions to purchase and maintain.

This government's priority is not Canadians.  Jets for Lockheed Martin and pipelines for the U.S., Korea, China and Norway.  It's time we start fighting back.

Someone reminded me of a post I wrote in 2010, about a fiesty senior citizen named Solange Denis.  She took on the Mulroney government when they put corporations above seniors.  Her efforts caused them to back down.  Do we have a Solange Denis out there today?

Or will my premonition come true, that one small voice would now be "lost in the deafening silence of 34 million"?  We need to find our voice.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When is the Price of a Politician Too High?

Since Citizens United paved the way for the wealthy to buy U.S. political candidates outright, there is more for Americans to worry about than losing their democracy, though that is certainly a blow to a once democratic country.

The people with all of this money expect something in return and in the case of Newt Gingrich, and his financial backer Sheldon Adelson, it might be a price few Americans are willing to pay.

Adelson apparently has demanded that the $10 million he gave to Gingrich be repaid with a war in Iran, if Gingrich is ever president.  (maybe on the moon)

Bill Maher and former Republican Congressman Mark Foley (yes that Mark Foley) discussed this recently, and Foley rightfully claimed that the "passion of the moment should not dictate foreign policy".  This bubble that conservatives live in, that facts can never penetrate, has to burst, before they do something really stupid. 

They actually believe that they can win a nuclear war.  Having more nukes only protects you from a potential nuclear attack.  Using them means something else altogether.

Like many conservative bubble dwellers, Adelson claims to love Israel, which is code for hoping Israel levels the rest of the Middle East.  Former president Jimmy Carter was interviewed by Time magazine last week, and was asked about the Israel/nuclear situation.
Are you optimistic about Israel's future?

No, I'm not. The U.S. has the least influence in the Middle East now than it's had since Israel was formed. We are totally immune to any sort of influence from the Palestinians or from the Arab world. We are completely in bed with the Israelis, who are persecuting the Palestinians horribly, and this is contrary, I think, to the best interest of Israel.

What do you think it means that Iran seems to have its first nuclear fuel rod?

Well, of course, the religious leaders of Iran have sworn on their word of honor that they're not going to manufacture nuclear weapons. If they are lying, then I don't see that as a major catastrophe because they'll only have one or two military weapons. Israel probably has 300 or so.
Carter is an Evangelist who created Habitats for Humanity.  The Evangelists circling the GOP like vultures, would never dream of doing something to help mankind.  Instead they seem determined to destroy it, arrogantly believing that only they will survive.

We don't talk about this enough (at all) in Canada, but as Lawrence Martin warns us in Harperland, Stephen Harper follows the doctine created by American conservatives:  The Clash of Civilizations.  He is onboard with the anhilation of Iran.  Newt Gingrich and Stephen Harper together as leaders would be terrifying.

If there is one good thing about the new policies that allow corporate financing of politicians, it's that the wealthy who used to operate in the shadows, are now known to us.  They are front and centre of the ugliness.  The Koch Brothers we knew about.  Some of the others, not so much.

It turns out that Newt's sugar daddy is not just insane but allegedly engages in criminal activities.  Today's headlineGingrich's billionaire campaign backer under federal investigation after lawsuit alleges he hushed possible ties to Chinese organized crime.

Now that we know who they are it will be like shooting fish in a barrel. We'll have the billionaires begging to change the election financing rules, or at least moving back to the shadows.

Stephen Harper still refuses to tell us who financed his leadership campaign in 2003.  It might be nice to have that list so that we could shine a light on those shaping Canadian policy.  But then again, maybe it's best we don't know.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Remind me Again Why we Spent $800,000 to Celebrate the Libyan Victory?

"Gadhafi's days are over.  Never again will he be in a position to support terrorism or to turn guns on his own people. The Libyan people can finally turn the page." Stephen Harper
The Harper government spent $800,000 on a celebration marking the end of the attack on Libya.  Besides being costly in an era of "austerity", the celebration it turns out was premature.  This was not a case of "mission accomplished" but back slapping accomplished.

The stronghold of Bani Walid has been reclaimed by Gadhafi loyalists and fighting there continues:
Moammar Gadhafi loyalists seized control of a Libyan mountain city in the most serious challenge to the central government since the strongman's fall, underlining the increasing weakness of Libya's Western-backed rulers as they try to unify the country under their authority. The taking of Bani Walid, one of the last Gadhafi strongholds captured by the new leadership late last year, was the first such organized operation by armed remnants of Gadhafi's regime. A simultaneous outbreak of shootings in the capital and Libya's second largest city Benghazi raised authorities' concerned that other networks of loyalists were active elsewhere.
There is also a growing concern that weapons provided to the western backed regime are falling into the hands of terrorist organizations.   Real terrorist organizations, like al Qaeda, not those who oppose Harper's pipeline.
The Western-backed overthrow of Libyan strongman Muammar Gadhafi likely provided huge stocks of heavy weapons to terrorist groups and criminal organizations operating in the Sahel region of North Africa, the United Nations confirmed January 26 in a report. Among the groups benefiting from the arms are al-Qaeda and the deadly Islamic terror organization Boko Haram, which is currently on a killing spree in Nigeria.
The UN report explained that “due to the Libyan upheaval ... governments in the region are faced with the return of millions of economic migrants, the smuggling of weapons from Libyan stockpiles, terrorist activities, youth unemployment, trafficking in drugs and human beings, and a surge in criminality,” the international body summarized in a press release on its findings.
Westpoint had warned in 2007 that the eastern region of Libya, the epicenter of the NATO-backed rebellion, provided more fighters per capita to combat US troops in Iraq than any other nation, including Saudi Arabia. The report noted that most of these Libyan fighters were members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) who were involved "in an increasingly cooperative relationship with Al Qaeda."

That's coming from Westpoint, not some "left-wing hippie dippie rag".

The LIFG was also on the UK Terrorist watch list as late as November 2011.
The LIFG seeks to replace the current Libyan regime with a hard-line Islamic state. The group is also part of the wider global Islamist extremist movement, as inspired by Al Qa’ida. The group has mounted several operations inside Libya, including a 1996 attempt to assassinate Mu’ammar Qadhafi
Instead of worrying about LIFG, NATO used them to overthrow Ghadafi, and create a leader who would be more willing to work with them; Mustafa Abdel Jalil. But apparently it was all smoke and mirrors as the Foreign Policy magazine is now reporting that Jalil has declared Libya to be an Islamic state.
...interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil, thought to be a moderate, declared in his "liberation" address that Libya would be an Islamic state and that sharia law would be a fundamental source of legislation.
What in the hell have we done? The Green resistance movement is growing stronger and a civil war appears imminent.

So remind me again why the Harper government spent $800,000 on a photo-op, declaring their victory in Libya.  Reminds me of George Bush declaring that the war in Iraq was over in 2003.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

So Who Would You Like to Send to the Moon?

Newt Gingrich frightened even Republicans this week with his plans to develop a colony on the moon by 2020.  He had obviously given this a lot of thought, because he indicated that the colony would consist of 13,000 people and would be named the 51st state.

What he didn't say was how he would choose those 13,000.  Would it be a penal colony?  Would he snatch up vagrants on the streets?  Arizona's illegal immigrants?

I think he should have a contest and allow people to choose who they would like to send to the moon.  The entries with the best reasons for removing this person from earth would win.

So who would you like to send to the moon?  Your Boss?  Your in-laws?  That girl at the bank who pretends she doesn't see you and keeps her head down writing fictitious numbers on a piece of paper while you stand in line?  (I have issues)

If you polled Canadians I'm sure the top answer would be Stephen Harper.  But I don't think that would work.  He'd have to take along his camera crew to make sure that his images were correctly airbrushed.  It's difficult to say how good the lighting is on the moon.

Then he'd need his videographers, his hairstylist and his enormous communications team to ensure that he didn't say something really stupid.  He has so many of them, that he now has to tie them together to keep them from bumping into each other.  Too many unexplained bruises.

Harper would also insist that the Koch Brothers accompanied him.  Before long they'd start drilling into the moon so they could monopolize the cheese market.  The media would ignore the damage while chasing the glittering moon rock.

And of course he'd have to be boss of this new colony, even if there was someone else better qualified.  He'd just run attack ads against his opponent, calling her a gay loving, gun hating, radical, feminist, terrorist loving liberal.  The other colonists would get so sick of hearing it that they'd refuse to vote at all, so he could then be king.

However, King Steve would never forget those behind his success.  The American conservatives.  As reward he would make sure that all the cheese was piped back to them, even if it meant starvation for "his people".

Wait a minute .... pro-American conservative? .... 51st state? .... self appointed despot?

They could call the new colony CANADA!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Too Big to Fail or So Big They Must Fail

There is an excellent Viewpoint piece in this week's Time magazine, written by foreign and domestic policy expert, David Rothkopf.

Fixing Capitalism Means Taking Power Back From Business

Rothkopf discusses not only the rise of big stateless corporations, now dictating foreign policy, but also what domestic capitalism has turned itself into. 

Using Newt Gingrich's attack on Mitt Romney as an example:  “If we identify capitalism with rich guys looting companies, we’re going to have a very hard time protecting it.”  For once I have to agree with Newt, though he's hardly an example of  principled commercialism.

Rothkopf rightfully claims that a "key part of fixing capitalism will be reconciling the large and growing imbalances between the public and private sector."  Corporations have gotten so big and powerful that when they make bad decisions, citizens are told that they must pay for those bad decisions or go down with the ship.  Yet when they rebound, they cling to their wealth and throw the rest of us out of the lifeboats.
When early corporations were established by royal charters almost a millennium ago, there was no mistaking their purpose. They had been created by the state to serve its interests. But over the centuries, they took advantage of their special status, which allowed them to achieve enormous scale and buy political favor. The result: They helped shape the development of laws that further tipped the balance of power in their favor ... Corporations have morphed from legal entities designed to ensure an enterprise could survive the death of its owners to institutions possessing more rights than people.
Even Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, condemned "the abuses of the megacompanies of his day, like the British East India Co., calling them “nuisances in every respect,” since the monopolies they fostered inevitably led to profit-destroying corruption."

Conservatives like to suggest that their radical movement is in response to the French Revolution, heralding Edmond Burke as the father of modern conservatism.  However, instead of living in the 18th century, they might want to learn from it.

The major cause of the French Revolution was the stark division of social classes in French society.  The First Estate, the Church and clergy, which represented  less than 2% of the population, owned almost 10 per cent of all land in France. They paid no taxes and relied on tithes to support their endeavours.

The Second Estate, or nobility, made up just 2 percent of the population, but owned most of the wealth.  Like the Church they paid little in taxes, despite earning enormous sums from rent on their property, and interest on loans. 

The Third Estate was everyone else. 96% of the population, with the poor propping up them all, through hefty taxes, tithes to the church, and rents to their landlords.   However, it was not the poor who initiated the French Revolution, but the middle class.  The merchants, manufacturers and professional people, who resented the birthrights of the nobility.

Today's capitalism has become a culture of nobility, where lobbyists hold court, the right-wing media act as royal scribes and the true aristocracies are the "Walmarts and Exxons of the world".  We have recreated the conditions that led to the French Revolution.

But What of 'Laissez Faire'?

The notion that if you leave business alone and let the markets prevail, everyone will win, has proven to be the biggest hoax of all time.  Says Rothkopf:
The current argument that larger government impinges on rather than protects or advances individual liberties is a far cry from the ideas that fueled England’s Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution. It ignores the fact that the void created by smaller government is often not filled by “liberty.” When matters like the global environment or regulation of derivatives trading are left entirely to market forces, for instance, outcomes tend to serve the most powerful because markets neither have a conscience nor do they ensure opportunity.
And yet the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing large corporations to be classed as "citizens", which means that they can now buy politicians outright.  No more under the table transactions.  Put your money in their mouth and a bill of sale comes out their butt.

The 96% in France created democracy.  The 1% in the United States and Canada is intent on destroying it.  What side of history do we want to be on?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Americans Fear Their Election Could End up Like Canada's. I Can Help

In the upcoming election, Barack Obama will not be challenged by the Republicans, who frankly have given up on even pretending to be politicians serving the public, but by the Super PACs.  Political Action Committees financed by wealthy corporations,  who are tired of democracy getting in their way.

Remember that leaked 2006 CitiGroup memo that they have worked so hard to suppress?
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.
They warned that voters could try to change the idea of governing only for the wealthy.
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.
It's like they predicted the Occupy Movement, that could be successful given that the "low-end", without "much economic power" has "equal voting power with the rich".  (Capitalism, a Love Story)

However, Super PACs are setting out to wrong that right.

And the way they are going to do that is with lots of money and telemarketers.  They can't garner more votes, so will instead try to suppress them.  The Koch Brothers are putting up $200 million for this venture, determined to oust Obama. 
I don't know how much Stephen Harper cost them, but they are already reaping rewards.  And if we wonder why the Harper government is so committed to outsourcing Canadian jobs, remember that CitiGroup memo.  It's all about cheap labour.  Which is why during the worst of the economic crisis, when Canadians were losing their jobs at record speed, Jason Kenney accelerated the use of migrant workers.
Money, Money, Money

Chris Matthews reminded us last week, of where those millions will be going.  To telemarketers who will work like mad to make sure that Democratic voters don't exercise their democratic rights.
The last Canadian federal election could serve as a guide to the Super Pacs, as Canadians were telemarketed to the point of madness.
In Kingston, Ontario, there were so many such phone calls, that we were ready to leave the country just to escape them.  And while Do Not Call Lists keep the cheap crap purveyors at bay, the rules do not apply to politics.  One call I received was supposedly on behalf of our Liberal candidate, Ted Hsu (now our MP), asking if we wanted a lawn sign.  The caller was so rude, that had I not been suspicious, I might have fallen for it.
Soon after, Hsu's office called asking for support and I informed them of the bogus call that I had received.  Others complained of the same thing.  Looking at the Conservative candidate Alicia Gordon's Elections Canada financial records, I learned that she paid Campaign Research more than $25,000 to annoy the hell out of us.  Remember those guys?  Think Rob Ford (but take a valium first)
Ironically when our Speaker of the House, Andrew Scheer was asked to investigate the damage done to Irwin Cotler by Campaign Research, it was learned that he himself had used them to assure his re-election.  He should have declared a conflict of interest.  Instead he gave them a free pass.
Another example is Joe Volpe, who was telemarketed out of seat.  Joe Oliver paid Campaign Research $12,159.33

An investment banker, he has now joined the Koch team to force feed us their XL-Pipeline, contributing to Canada's reputation as a Jingoistic Petro-State, calling environmentalists "radicals" and "terrorists".
If the American people want to preserve their democracy and not end up like Canada, with another stolen election, I have some advice.  If you receive one of these calls, you could just tell the caller that you will be voting so "get a life", or maybe "let me speak to David Koch" or "Am I being punked?". 
Although I think the best response might be "Where in the hell do you think you are ?  Canada???!!!"