Sunday, November 29, 2009

Okay, Show of Hands

All those who think Stephen Harper is ready to wrestle unruly Conservative premiers to the ground over greenhouse gas emissions raise your hands.

Yeah, thought so.

It's crunchtime for Stevie. Somehow he's going to show his face at the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen even though he's transformed Canada into a global pariah on the global warming scene.

Steve is going to stick to his 20% (2006 baseline) GHG emission reductions by 2020. He's going to say that but Steve knows that talk is cheap, especially when it comes from his mouth.

You see, even a modest cut like the one Steve's touting is going to take a lot of discussion, a lot of negotiation and a very tough agreement uniting some very diverse outlooks, notably Special Ed Stelmach's.

The clock is running down on the Athabasca Tar Sands. The miracle, carbon-capture technology we've been promised - forever - is nowhere to be seen. Yet Ed and Steve and their overseers also known as Big Oil are eyeing big increases in bitumen production. It's going to take the equivalent of cooked books to pull that off - intensity based emission targets (a fancy term for "scam").

2020 is just barely a decade away. That's not much time to cut emissions by one-fifth, not much time at all. And yet, beyond his hollow words, there's no activity in sight anywhere.

I think Steve's hoping that the American congress will take him off the hook by sinking Obama's emissions reduction initiative before it is launched. Then Steve will say Canada can't act without being led by Washington and he'll consign the whole business to the circular file.

This jerk is so terrified at the prospect of actual emissions cuts that he won't even deal with the challenges of adaptation to the change that's already coming from existing global warming. He's not lifting a finger to prepare the north for what's already happening or to prepare the coasts or to prepare central Canada or the prairies. It's as though, as far as Steve's concerned, nothing is happening.

Stalin deliberately ignored warnings that the Germans were poised to invade and how well did that work out for the Soviet people? Here in Canada there's trouble on the horizon and we've got our own leader busy staring at his shoes.

Tony Blair, War Criminal

Then British PM Tony Blair was told months before the fact that invading Iraq would violate international law and the UN Charter. He got that warning, in writing, from his most senior legal adviser, Lord Goldsmith. How did Blair react? According to The Guardian, he took away Goldsmith's place at the cabinet table:

Lord Goldsmith, then attorney general, issued the warning in an uncompromising letter in July 2002, eight months before the invasion. It was becoming clear in government circles that Blair had had secret meetings with George Bush at which the US president was pressing Britain hard to join him in a war to change the regime in Baghdad.

The hitherto unpublished letter has been given to the Chilcot inquiry on the Iraq war. Goldsmith is due to be questioned about it early in the new year with other senior government lawyers who questioned the legality of an invasion at the time. Goldsmith warned Blair that "as things stand you obviously cannot do it [invade Iraq]", a source familiar with the dispute told the Guardian.

Increasingly concerned that Blair was ignoring his earlier advice that regime change was "not a legal basis for military action", on 29 July 2002 Goldsmith wrote to Blair on what the Mail on Sunday described as "a single side of A4 headed notepaper".

The typed letter was addressed by hand, "Dear Tony", and signed by hand, "Yours, Peter". In the letter, whose existence was confirmed by other sources, Goldsmith warned that the UN charter permitted "military intervention on the basis of self-defence", but it did not apply here because Britain was not under threat from Iraq; that the UN allowed "humanitarian intervention" in some circumstances, but such was not the case in Iraq; and that it would be very difficult to rely on earlier UN resolutions approving the use of force against Saddam.

Bush is all but immune from prosecution but Blair isn't. Shouldn't somebody be putting this man on trial for an illegal war that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis?

When Bush Dropped The Ball And Why We're Still Paying For It

December, 2001. The Commander in Chief of the most militarily powerful nation on earth had the evil mastermind who had initiated the attack on America on 9/11 holed up in a cave in the mountains of Afghanistan - and let him go to fight another day.

The US Senate has released a report that finds Osama bin Laden was 'unquestionably' within the reach of US troops in that December, hiding in the Tora Bora caves. From The Guardian:

The report asserts that the failure to kill or capture Bin Laden when he was at his most vulnerable, in December 2001, has had lasting consequences beyond the fate of one man. The al-Qaida leader's escape laid the foundation for today's reinvigorated Afghan insurgency and inflamed the internal strife now endangering Pakistan, it says.

In other words, Bush and his puppeteer Cheney are directly responsible for allowing bin Laden to slip through America's fingers just as they're responsible for doing al Qaeda's bidding for the rest of their time in office.

bin Laden survived and al Qaeda morphed into a decentralized Hydra stretching from north-east Africa to Indonesia and north into China and Russia as well as Europe. Then Bush/Blair/Cheney gave al Qaeda the shot in the arm it so desperately needed by their ill-conceived decision to wage an unnecessary war in Iraq.

These neo-conservative punks could never overcome their delusions of grandeur and omnipotence that led them to blunder everything from global terrorism to the global economy and, in the process, positioned America for inevitable decline. Imagine - running historic deficits, waging two wars and cutting taxes for the rich (which had to be funded out of foreign borrowings). Blue collar and white collar stagnation accompanied by a massive transfer of notional wealth to the oligarchy.

Bush/Cheney inflicted more lasting harm on America than bin Laden could ever imagine in his wildest fantasies. Then again, they didn't do the rest of the world any favours either.

Those of us who live with the scourge of Stephen Harper would do well never to forget what these far-rightwing ideologues can do to a country.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

CTV/Global - Socialism For The Rich?

They're the voice of the right - the Conservative Television Network, the primordial swamp that spawned Toadus Duffy, and the ever right nut-licking CanWest Global, the rotting shack that Connie the Con and Izzy the Mort built. They're the media paragons of free enterprise, the eviscerators of all thing lefty, all rank socialist nonsense - - - until it comes time to lining their own pockets.

Unless you're long dead you haven't been able to escape the media war underway between the "private" broadcasters and Canada's cable companies. Strip away the bullshit and boil it down to a fine reduction and what you get is the television networks pleading for the government to give them a hunk of someone else's earnings. Shit, does that sound mega-Socialist or what?

Suddenly the voices of arch-conservatism want - why they want to share the wealth! So long as its somebody else's wealth, that is. What's next, a Red Star adorning CTV's logo?

The Nets used to earn their money. They sold advertising based on the number of folks who watched their shows. Ever get suckered into filling out one of those BBM (Bureau of Broadcast Measurement) booklets to record every show you actually watched every day for two weeks?

It didn't matter whether you watched Lloyd Robertson via cable or got the signal via bunny ears antennae. All that mattered was that you watched Lloyd and dutifully recorded it. No matter where you watched Lloyd, once you recorded the fact it went to his network's numbers and that determined how much advertisers would pay for a 30-second or 60-second spot on that show.

Cable operators picked up that signal - right out of the airwaves - and spread it around to even more viewers. Try living among the coastal mountains and seeing how much Lloyd Robertson you can get if you don't have cable. So, cablevision is actually increasing the Conservative Television Network's bottom line by spreading the Gospel of Lloyd to the weak-minded everywhere. They take that post-menopausal reptile to all sorts of places he otherwise wouldn't be able to reach. Hell, cable ought to be charging CTV for that disservice to the public.

Oh no. You see the networks are hurting. It seems they've just spent so much bringing us American Idol and Survivor, So You Think You Can Dance, Real Douchebags of New Jersey, Big Brother and all that other bullshit programming that they're no longer happy with their bottom line. And when a real Conservative believer starts feeling the pinch, what do they do?

Ask Wall Street. They start looking to loosen their belts with somebody else's pocketbook. All of a sudden, they're Socialist as all Hell. And like all Pinkos, they head straight for the government (assuming its a sympathetic Conservative government that owes them favours, big time) for a little relief. Relief as in - the other guy's money.

Trust me, I'm no fan of the fat cat cable companies but the Land of Lloyd really gets my goat when they start pulling this crap. Hey jerk - live by the sword, die by the sword. We've already given you a much too big hunk of the public airwaves. If you can't make a go of it from that - Piss Off!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Did They Really Torture Detainees?

Okay, I wasn't there. Neither, I'm sure, were you. But ask yourself this. Would a government that tolerates its security forces grabbing little boys off the street and ass-raping them in public really have many qualms about torturing detainees as a matter of course?

It's not much of a stretch, is it?

Carbon Trading Voodoo

Caught a documentary on CBC last night about "Carbon Hunters." These are young entrepreneurs who scour the world looking for ways to identify eco-friendly projects that might qualify for lucrative carbon credits.

The show gave a few examples. Prairie farmers who don't plough the soil anymore but use a different tilling technique that doesn't release as much carbon from the soil. Bingo, carbon credits! Or a Texas oilman who got his hands on 2-million acres of Amazonian rainforest. Bingo, ginormous carbon credits. Or a village in India where the locals gather up their cattle poop, mix it up in a tank, draw off the methane emitted and pipe that through to their homes for cooking fuel. You guessed it, carbon credits.

Here's the deal. Do we grant these annual carbon credits in perpetuity - forever and ever, amen? For the prairie farmers, I could see giving them credits for a few years, at least long enough to give them some incentive to shoulder the cost of new farm machinery, but forever? No way. And what about all those cattle in India? Sure you've collected all the crap and beautified your neighbourhood but you were going to burn that poop anyway and, besides, what about all the methane those cows fart out all day long that you don't capture? That's the real problem and you're not doing one damned thing about it. In fact, you might find it worthwhile to start aquiring more cows because they're now genuine cash cows.

Okay, where are my carbon credits? I was fixing to breed myself a herd of cattle but no, in the interests of the environment and to fight global warming, I've decided to deny myself those cattle. So, I'm saving the world not only from their poop but their farts to boot (no, don't try to visualize that at home).

This is a scam with all the efficacy of paying farmers not to grow stuff. You wind up with the carbon credit scammers raking in bucks to provide political cover for GHG-emitting industries.

I think Monbiot was right. This carbon trading business is really just like moving food around your plate with a fork.

“Carbon trading was an idea with potential but the danger is that

it so rapidly develops into a scam.”

- James Lovelock

It's Not Like I Killed 12,400 or Anything

Let's do the math. 10-years in prison or about 3,653 days all in. 12,340 dead or at least that's the number you'll admit to. That'd work out to about three and a half murder victims a day for each day you've spent in the slammer.

But hey, enough's enough already!

Khmer Rouge mega-murderer and torturer-in-chief Kaing Guek Eav knows it wasn't right to execute 12,340 innocents and, okay, it wasn't right to torture the hell out of them first either. But it's not like they had to spend ten years in prison, is it?

In wrapping up his mea culpa, "Comrade Duch" as he was known in his wild child days asked the court to consider his cooperation and his sincere apology and the 10-years he's already spent behind bars and - release him. Duch's lawyer clarified he was indeed asking for an outright acquittal.

I'm betting there's no acquittal in store for Comrade Duch. The prosecution is leaning more toward something in the range of another 40-years for the 67-year old monster.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Irish Cops Colluded with Catholic Church to Cover Up Decades of Child Abuse

It was child abuse on a "huge scale" and it went on for almost thirty years thanks to collusion between the Irish Garda (police) and Catholic Church officials. From The Guardian:

The devastating report on the sexual and physical abuse of children by the clergy in Ireland's capital from 1975 to 2004 accuses four former archbishops, a host of clergy and senior members of the Garda Síochána of a cover-up.

The three-volume report found that the "maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church and the preservation of its assets" was more important than justice for the victims.

Four former archbishops in Dublin – John Charles McQuaid, who died in 1973, Dermot Ryan, who died in 1984, Kevin McNamara, who died in 1987, and retired Cardinal Desmond Connell – were found to have failed to report their knowledge of child sexual abuse to the Garda from the 1960s to the 1980s. But the report added that all the archbishops of the diocese in the period were aware of complaints.

The report, launched today by the Irish justice minister, Dermot Ahern, also concluded that the vast majority of priests turned a "blind eye" to abuse, although some individuals did bring complaints to superiors, which were not acted upon.

The report, commissioned by the government, strongly criticises the Garda and says senior members of the force regarded priests as being outside their investigative remit. The relationship between some senior gardai and priests and bishops in Dublin was described as "inappropriate".

Bye Bye, Dubai?

It wasn't supposed to end this way. The Emirate of Dubai was supposed to be the playground of billionaires, not their graveyard. For a decade or more, Dubai spent like there was no tomorrow - artificial island neighbourhoods crafted to resemble palm trees, the most opulent hotels on the planet, even the world's tallest man made structure, the Burj Dubai pictured above.

Then world oil prices collapsed and, along with that, so did Dubai's notional wealth. Stock markets around the world took a hit as Dubai announced that Dubai World, the government's investment company is suspending payments to creditors for up to six months. From The Telegraph:

Dubai has been among the most dramatic victims of the credit crunch, with property prices halving from their highs in September 2008, leaving a huge overhang of debt. Dubai borrowed $80bn in a four-year construction spree designed to turn its economy into a Middle Eastern powerhouse of finance and tourism.

Dubai World is one of the emirate's main state holding companies and said on Thursday that it was asking for a delay on debt until at least May 30. One of its subsidiaries, the "palm island" developer Nakheel, is due a $3.52bn Islamic bond repayment, plus charges, on December 14.

About That Disappearing Afghan Army

Remember that Afghan National Army, the force we've spent the last eight years training, our one and only exit strategy for the AfPak War?

Well, even the US Defense Department is reporting that, for the year ending this past September, the annual desertion rate in the Afghan National Army is running at 25%.

Asia Times Online reports that the desertion rate has been increasing of late:

"...the rate of turnover in the ANA is accelerating rather than slowing down. That acceleration could increase further, as the number of troops whose three-year enlistment contracts end rises rapidly in the next couple of years. Meanwhile, the Defense Department (DoD) sought to obscure the problem of the high ANA turnover rate in its reports to the US Congress on Afghanistan in January and June 2009, which avoided the issues of attrition and desertion entirely."

...That desertion rate prompted analysts at the US Army Center for Lessons Learned at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to conclude that the ANA would not be able to grow beyond 100,000, according to an article in the current issue of Military Review, published at the same army base.

The authors, Chris Mason and Thomas Johnson, both of whom have had extensive experience in Afghanistan, write that that the analysts at the Army Center concluded that by the time the ANA got to 100,000 troops, its annual losses from desertions and attrition would roughly equal its gains from recruitment."

So, to look at it another way, if the West is planning to get out of Afghanistan just as soon as we train an Afghan force of 200,000, we're there - well, forever. Yes, until the end of time itself.

Does Canada Deserve to Be Booted Out of The Commonwealth?

A coalition of activists, politicians and environmentalists has called for Canada to be exiled from the Commonwealth because of our abysmal record on climate change. From The Guardian:

The coalition's demand came before this weekend's Commonwealth heads of government summit in Trinidad and Tobago, at which global warming will top the agenda, and next month's UN climate conference in Copenhagen. Despite criticism of Canada's environmental policies, the prime minister, Stephen Harper, is to attend the Copenhagen summit. His spokesman said today: "We will be attending the Copenhagen meeting … a critical mass of world leaders will be attending."

Canada's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are among the world's highest and it will not meet the cut required under the Kyoto protocol: by 2007 its emissions were 34% above its reduction target. It is exploiting its vast tar sands reserves to produce oil, a process said to cause at least three times the emissions of conventional oil extraction.

The coalition claims Canada is contributing to droughts, floods and sea level rises in Commonwealth countries such as Bangladesh, the Maldives and Mozambique. Clare Short, the former international development secretary, said: "Countries that fail to help [tackle global warming] should be suspended from membership, as are those that breach human rights."

The World Development Movement, the Polaris Institute in Canada and Greenpeace are among the organisations supporting the plan. Saleemul Huq, a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said: "If the Commonwealth is serious about holding its members to account, then threatening the lives of millions of people in developing countries should lead to the suspension of Canada's membership immediately."

Well, our laughingstock of a prime monster vowed to raise Canada's profile on the international stage and, between this and prisoner torture, he's certainly succeeded in putting Canada in the limelight, er crosshairs.

What Hillier Ignores - At Our Peril (Jackass, Scene 2)

It's amazing what comes out of that man's mouth.

Safely-retired ex-general Rick Hillier isn't too worried about the likelihood that Afghan detainees turned over by Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities were in fact tortured. He sort of dismisses all that by claiming that most of them were probably Taliban anyway. I think the term he used was "farmers by day, Taliban by night." Using Hillier's perverse logic, in Afghanistan there are no innocents.

But wait, there's more!

Everybody - Karzai, the White House, NATO, you name it - says the key to this conflict is to drive a wedge between the moderate Taliban and the extremists, the terrorists. Karzai wants to set a place for them at the table. He's been trying for years to win them over.

Even if that bemedalled jackass is right, most of those detainees, the 'farmer/insurgent' types, would be the very moderate Taliban we're supposed to be working to win over. Rick, you moron, that's 'win over' not 'work over.' Is this guy so dense that he doesn't get that?

I'm just guessing here but it seems to me that when you deliver moderate Talibs into the hands of torturers, your odds of winning them (or their brothers and kids) over go straight down the toilet.

What Would You Do?

What if.

Here's a scenario. For 20-years there have been an abnormal percentage of babies born with deformities.

Now it's discovered these deformities were the result of pregnant women being exposed to a chemical, Additive X, that gave beverage producers a really cheap shortcut to manufacture certain products.

Then you find out that top politicians from that time, now comfortably retired, knew how dangerous Additive X was but denied it because they didn't want to interfere with their friends, the beverage industry.

These politicians were the only people capable of acting but they chose to look the other way instead. They even ran interference for the beverage manufacturers, preventing their own government scientists from speaking out. The aftermath of their wilful neglect is genuinely horrific.

What should we do with these politicians who knowingly violated the public trust, who put the interests of a powerful few over the safety and wellbeing of the many? Is cursing them out enough? Are we to be content merely to see their reputations in tatters? Or do we somehow hold them truly accountable, deprive them of their freedom and property as punishment for the horrible suffering they have allowed when they knew better, when it might have been preventable? Do we hold them responsible?

While this sounds hypothetical, we might be asking ourselves these very questions just twenty years from now. The fallout from global warming may have all of us asking those questions.

It's not likely that Canada will melt or go up in flames over the next two decades (although the forests of British Columbia might). But we might well be dealing with the fallout of severe climate change in other, more vulnerable corners of our world, some of them highly dangerous places.

If we reach a "tipping point" over the next twenty years, as some of the top climate scientists warn could well happen, we're going to be spectators to a genuinely grotesque, unfolding reality shift steadily heading our way like a stampeding herd of cattle. By then, of course, events will be out of our hands thanks, in large part, to decisions taken and not taken by those in power twenty years earlier.

Once it becomes plain that we're all caught in the grip of runaway climate change I think I'd want those who allowed that to happen brought forward and held accountable. Stephen Harper, Jim Prentice, John Baird, might as well toss in Rona Ambrose to boot. From the moment they moved to subvert Stephane Dion's "Green Shift" they've been failing to protect this country and our people.

And it's not just their position on cutting carbon emissions for which this bunch deserves to be held personally accountable. They have not kept the public informed on the effects of climate change that we will have to address from the GHG emissions already in the atmosphere. Change is coming. Where I live it's already arrived. Seasonal floods, extended drought, severe storms, species migration, vanishing salmon stocks, the onset of sea level rise.

So what is Ottawa doing to protect us, to inform us of what's happening and what is to come in the near and mid-range future? What information is it giving us so that we can assess our prospects, evaluate options and begin the inevitably long process of planning and implementation of measures to adapt to these changes? The questions are long but the answers are brief - nothing. It's a lot safer when you want to push megaprojects like the Tar Sands to keep the plebs in the dark.

You see, the Harper government realizes that, if they told us that we're in for some serious, unpleasant changes, we just might begin to take these problems seriously. That might lead us to ask questions they don't want to hear and they most definitely don't want to answer.

I don't think this "out of sight, out of mind" approach to climate change is responsible. I really hope I'm wrong but I suspect there will be consequences, a price we'll have to pay for the Conservatives' inaction. And I truly believe that, if that turns out to be true, these people deserve to be held personally responsible for the fallout from their inaction.

And that's what I'd do.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Torture? Our Allies? Who Knew?

Oh my, don't they squirm?

Look, if our "allies" don't have a problem with ass-raping little boys right in front of our soldiers, is it really that big a leap to think they might not have too many qualms about indulging their other proclivities on detainees we put in their hands?

And, just in case you think the boy-buggery thing is made up too, it was reported in the New York Times as far back as 2002 - well before our own soldiers began trying to get their betters at home to deal with it.

Want to guess just who used to hang Afghan kid-diddlers? And no, it wasn't NATO.

General Ludicrous Slams Colvin

Rick Hillier knows a thing or two about ludicrous. Anyone who thought he could carry on an effective counter-insurgency campaign in a volatile province of 900,000 people with a miniscule garrison force of just 2,500, mostly support types, is well versed in all things ludicrous.

That's why it was a bit of a giggle to learn today that now safely-retired General Rick Hillier dismissed as ludicrous allegations by a senior Canadian diplomat that Afghan detainees turned over to Afghan authorities by Canadian soldiers were probably all tortured in some way or another.

Hillier said he didn't even read Richard Colvin's reports - until he did - and even then there wasn't a word in them about torture. Nothing, nada, zilch.

Hillier's account was echoed by Major General David Fraser, another of Canada's perfectly mediocre general officers. Fraser made such a litany of ludicrous claims while he commanded troops in Afghanistan that he's almost as expert on that as Hillier. Remember Operation Medusa when he claimed he had a thousand Taliban completely surrounded and that they would either surrender or else die? Remember how those Talibs picked up their guns and walked straight through Fraser's cordon undetected to fight another day? If you're interested, search this blog for posts on David Fraser and his "unique" insights and accomplishments in Afghanistan.

You Can't Say We Weren't Warned

The road to Hell is indeed paved with good intentions.

The New York Times is reporting that Barack Obama will make a firm pledge at next month's UN climate change summit in Copenhagen that would see the United States effect a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from a 2005 baseline.

There kids are your good intentions. There too is your road to Hell.

What's wrong with a 17% cut in GHG emissions? If leading climate scientists are right, a 17% cut calculated on a 2005 threshhold is far too little, far too late. Proposing this also doesn't mean that Obama or his successors will be able to deliver. Somebody is going to have to overcome a Bought & Paid For Congress. And then there's going to be the fudging and won't that be fun to watch. It'll be all cap'n trade with an awful lot more emphasis on trade than cap. Let the games begin.

But getting back to that awful road, the one that leads to that burning place. The solution isn't cutting emissions by some percentage based on some year's baseline emissions through one guise or another. The solution is much simpler than that. It's cutting emissions enough before the planet itself really shows us a thing or two about emissions. You see, we're sort of like the match to the fuze. Nothing much happens when you burn the fuze. It's only when the burning fuze reaches that black powder in the keg that you have a really serious problem. By then you won't even be thinking about the match, will you?

When you cut too little or cut too late (or both), you're assuming you have more time than you may actually have before the problem gets beyond your control. Rampant industrialization isn't going to kill your grandkids. The earth is going to do that. The planet is a powder keg just full of stored carbon and methane waiting to be released into the atmosphere. That's why it's called runaway global warming.

So if Obama's 17%/2005 cuts aren't enough, if they lull us into a false sense of security, it'd probably be better if he didn't bother. Oh well.

Dear Steve - No Need to Go to Copenhagen

It's hard to imagine a greater waste of Canadian taxpayers' dollars than to pick up the tab for Steve Harper and his stooge Prentice to attend the global climate summit in Copenhagen next month.

Look, Obama's already going and the bottom line is that Steve and Jimbo will be sitting comfortably on each other's thumbs in any case until the President tells them what they're going to do about global warming once he gets back. Pardon me, "until the President consults with them once he gets back." Yeah, that's right. Obama will consult with Steve. Yeah, sure.

Besides, we need Steve right here in Ottawa to keep assuring no one that detainees fobbed off by Canadian Forces to their Afghan allies weren't really tortured or at least Steve didn't personally see any of them tortured and neither did you, smartass.

And what's more, you can never rule out the prospect of torture in Copenhagen. And with global warming under the spotlight, if anyone in Copenhagen would be at risk for a good thrashing, it'd be Steve. Mr. Harper has worked extremely hard these past four years to put Canada's good name at the very bottom of the shitter and do we really need to be reminded of that?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Are You Better Off Today Than When Stephen Harper Became Prime Minister?

SHarper has been Canada's top dog since January, 2006. That's long enough to ask whether we're better off today than when he took over? The answer is "no, not by a long shot."

A report by Dale Orr Economic Insight shows that the average Canadian standard of living is off 4.3% compared to 2007.

From The Globe & Mail:

The report released Tuesday by Dale Orr Economic Insight shows Canadians have been on a downward spiral in terms of their standard of living since 2007.

The report estimates Canadians have seen a 4.3-per-cent falloff in their standard of living since 2007, in terms of real gross domestic product per capita.

And individuals living in most of the larger provinces, with the exception of Quebec, have fared worse.

The report estimates Albertans' standard of living has fallen 6.2 per cent since 2007, and Ontarians' by 5.8 per cent.

Steve promised that he'd change the face of Canada. I just didn't imagine it'd be this way.

Gore Slams Tar Sands, Michael Are You Listening?

Former vice president turned global warming guru Al Gore isn't pulling any punches when it comes to the Athabasca Tar Sands. That much was clear when he told the Toronto Star that the Tar Sands threaten the survival of our species:

"Gas from the tar sands gives a Prius the same carbon footprint as a Hummer," the former U.S. vice-president told the Star in an interview prior to a Toronto speaking engagement scheduled for Tuesday evening.

"I know that doesn't make me popular in Alberta," said the jet-hopping environmental activist, best known for the movie and book An Inconvenient Truth.

"But it's simply a fact. A lot of money is at stake, but a lot of lives and the future of human civilization are also at stake."

Gee, ya think? Of course, Al Gore is merely focusing on the massive carbon emissions problem created by Tar Sands energy. He's not even touching on the enormous waste of natural gas, the regional water and groundwater contamination and the spread of carcinogens associated with Alberta's dream megaproject.

I wonder if Michael Ignatieff has anything to add? He who declares the Tar Sands the engine of Canada's economy for the 21st century and bitumen the key to national unity for this century also.

Obama's "Play It By Ear" Afghanistan Strategy

Trust McClatchey Newspapers to get the story first. The news service is reporting that Obama has decided on a very conditional plan that could see as many as 34,000 more American forces sent to bolster the existing army in Afghanistan.

The committment comes with strings attached, apparently plenty of them:

The administration's plan contains "off-ramps," points starting next June at which Obama could decide to continue the flow of troops, halt the deployments and adopt a more limited strategy or "begin looking very quickly at exiting" the country, depending on political and military progress, one defense official said.
"We have to start showing progress within six months on the political side or military side or that's it," the U.S. defense official said.

It's "not just how we get people there, but what's the strategy for getting them out," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.

The approach is driven in part by concerns that Afghan President Hamid Karzai won't keep his promises to root out corruption and support political reforms, and in part by growing domestic opposition to the war, the U.S. officials said.

Obama's plan seems to address all three of his potential threats - the Taliban, Karzai and his own military. Of the three, the Pentagon brass might just be the most troublesome.

You can sort of tell when American generals have figured out they're caught in a losing proposition. That's when their focus shifts from defeating the enemy to setting somebody up to take the fall for their failure. They did it in Vietnam and they're doing it in Afghanistan.

The unmistakeable warning sign when US Army types carefully leaked General McChrystal's report to Obama. That established the set up - give me another 40,000 troops or you can be on the hook for the loss of the AfPak war.

The American public may be fed up with the AfPak war but that doesn't mean they won't be looking for a scapegoat to tag with the failure. Bush/Cheney hopelessly screwed up this war but, when the music stops, it'll be Obama who won't have a chair.

Obama could have taken the easy way out - given in to McChrystal but that would have meant a committment to keep the war going until he, in turn, could dump it off on his successor. Rather than capitulate, Obama seems intent on doing what has rarely happened before - making his generals take responsibility for producing results.

These days it almost seems somehow unfair to tell your generals you expect them to win. It's that thinking that's produced such a mediocre bunch of generals in so many NATO countries, ours included. They fall all over each other to get a chance at command but then they just put in their time, get their ticket punched, and then hand off to the next guy in time for their hasty retirement.

It's no accident that General McChrystal is being hauled back to Washington this week to testify before the Senate. It's "put up or shut up" time for Stan. It should be fun to watch him duck and weave.

I just hope Obama's "off ramps" don't include on that would get his forces out before we can get ours safely home.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Good Thing We've Got a Real "Law & Order" Prime Minister

Prime minister Stephen Harper can't stand crime. He can't stand it when white collar folks do it. He can't stand it when blue collar types do it. He really can't stand it when little kids do it. Makes no difference, Steve is going to see that all scofflaws get exactly what's coming to them.

That must be why Steve is so determined to get to the bottom of this business about Afghan detainee torture, right? What's that you say? Steve doesn't want to get to the bottom of this? He doesn't even want to talk about it? His henchmen have spent years trying to ensure that no one else talks about it either? Sort of like, erase the tapes and all that? Just like Nixon?

But we've got experts now, law professors who specialize in this sort of thing, maintaining that the powers that be in Ottawa may have been party to serious war crimes. War crimes! Oh, oh never mind. I get it. Steve isn't interested in all crime and he's especially not interested in war crime, especially when it seems to involve his office and his underlings.

Don't hold your breath for prime minister Law'n Order, or should that be Lawn Odor, to beat the bushes over this Afghan business. They're all born liars those Afghans, haven't you heard? All of 'em, even the innocent civilians. Trained right from birth to screw with our minds! Why you can't believe a word that comes out of their mouths. And, for that matter, you can't believe a word that comes out of the mouth of the top diplomats Steve had enough confidence in to send to Afghanistan either. Those guys are just crazy, whacky. Goofy loons, every man jack of them.

Move along now. Nothing to see here.

Hillier "Didn't Hear" - Then Why Not?

He was the major domo of Canada's mission to Afghanistan, the Big Cod, the hard-chargin' guy who left no doubt who was in command of this gig.

Now that evidence of the torture of detainees is breaking out, safely retired General Rick Hillier says he never heard a word about it. Hillier says he didn't see so much as one of the dozens of e-mail warnings sent to civilian and military staff in Ottawa by senior Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin. He never even met the guy.

Is Hillier being honest? Who knows? Maybe that's not really important. Because whether he saw Colvin's warnings, his denial isn't the end of it. Assuming Hillier is telling the truth he needs to explain why he didn't get those warnings, why he didn't read those e-mails, why he wasn't on the phone directly to Colvin. What was going on at DND that kept those warnings from reaching the top brass? Who decided there was no need to tell Hillier? Why was he not told? What did Hillier do or not do to control what news reached him from Afghanistan?

It seems to me if Hillier was running a defence department in which warnings of this magnitude were kept from him, he was doing a lousy job of running the place. We've made a national celebrity out of this guy and for the life of me I can't understand why.

In today's Toronto Star, Chantal Hebert is drawing the same conclusions about Stephen Harper and Peter Mackay.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Parliamentary Rot Called Today's Conservative Party of Canada

Kudos to the CBC's Don Newman for taking off the gloves to denounce the whole Reform/Alliance/Conservative movement as the cancer on effective national government in Canada.

"...Reformers came to Ottawa with the argument that everything in the Nation's Capital was corrupt. In fact, Reform MPs were ordered at one point not to stay in Ottawa over the weekends in case they became corrupted by this latter day Babylon.

If you remember, Manning wasn't going to sit on the front bench but lead from the middle row.

He also said the Official Opposition leader should not live in Stornoway, the government residence provided for the leader of the party with the second largest number of seats in the House.

And Reform MPs were not to take the supposedly fat-cat pensions that all members were entitled to.

...Well, Manning was soon sitting on the front bench and, when he became the Official Opposition leader, he moved into Stornoway instead of turning it into a bingo hall, as he had once threatened.

Today, even those Conservative MPs who were once Reformers are all enrolled in the parliamentary pension plan.

Manning, of course, is long gone. Replaced first by Stockwell Day, then by one of the original Reformers, Stephen Harper, the current prime minister.

But while Harper lives at 24 Sussex and seems to enjoy all the trappings of the prime minister's office, as indeed he should, he seems to maintain the Reformer's deep suspicion of Ottawa and all other political parties.

In the first Conservative minority from 2006 to 2008, rather than looking for ways to make Parliament work, the Harper government prepared a document telling Conservative committee chairman how to make sure their committees didn't function — in order to bolster their plea for a majority mandate in the next campaign."

Overall, Newman's piece is thoughtful, insightful and probative. There is a disease that's choking the arteries of Parliament Hill, infecting the nation and threatening our unity. It's malignant. It's the Harper Conservative movement.

Michael, It's Time To Prove You're a Liberal

Before I'm willing to support the Liberal Party again, I want proof that the party's leader doesn't share Stephen Harper's indifference to torture. I want to know that Michael Ignatieff, the man who endorsed judicially-sanctioned 'coercive' interrogation, has completely purged himself of his past notions that torture is acceptable. Michael Ignatieff needs to convince me (and, I hope, the Canadian public) that he has abandoned his neo-conservative instincts.

It's useful - hell, it's essential - that we all remember precisely what the Michael Ignatieff of just a few years ago really said, what he really advocated. If you're a little fuzzy on that Michael Ignatieff, you really should read this. It's a very thoughtful and meticulous critique of Mr. Ignatieff posted at in July, 2005.

Is it really a coincidence that Bob Rae is leading the Liberal caucus on the revelations of apparent Tory complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees? Please tell me we don't have a Liberal leader who has disqualified himself from fiercely attacking the government on this.

CTV's Lowest Moment?

If you're short of stomach-curdling experiences, visit CTV's website and watch the video of the Bob Fife/Lloyd Robertson banter on the Afghan torture story. You may come away convinced that FauxNews is alive and well in Canada.

The story of course, like all news stories, comprises a few key points:

- Canadian diplomats in Afghanistan knew that Afghan detainees handed over to Afghan security forces by Canadian soldiers were being tortured almost as a matter of course.

- This was reported to both diplomatic and military channels in Canada.

- Our second ranked diplomat in Afghanistan in 2006-7, Richard Colvin, repeatedly warned officials in Ottawa of this.

- Among those notified by Colvin were the "Big Cod", retired General Rick Hillier, and one David Mulroney, Harper's personal advisor on Afghanistan, more formerly known as deputy minister of the Afghanistan Task Force in the Privy Council Office.

- Ottawa's response to Colvin's warnings was that Canadian diplomats were ordered not to keep written records of any discussions of torture.

In other words, the detainees handed over (including a lot of innocents) were being tortured as a matter of course, we were notified they were being tortured, we did nothing to stop them being tortured, we took steps to conceal or eliminate evidence of being informed of the torture of our detainees, and then our political and military leaders publicly and repeatedly denied any knowledge of it.

Overall there is a strong suggestion that: A), they knew our force in Afghanistan was (likely unintentionally) complicit in the torture of detainees handed over to Afghan security forces; B) being presented with the imperative of promptly rectifying the situation they instead chose to enable its continuation, thus presumably making themselves complicit in the commission of war crimes; C) as evidence these decision-makers were truly aware of their complicity in war crimes, they ordered their subordinates to keep no written accounts of torture; and D) when the issue became public and despite prior knowledge they saw the problem as sufficiently troublesome as to publicly and persistently disavow any knowledge of it.

Those facts, if substantiated, raise a strong suggestion of very serious criminal conduct going straight up to the top echelons of the Department of National Defence and even the Prime Minister's Office. The allegations are that the powers that be condoned the torture of Afghan detainees, thereby rendering themselves complicit in the commission of very serious war crimes.

When I watched the Fife/Robertson dog and pony show it was another lesson in how much CTV has been transformed into the Conservative Television Network in the best traditions of FoxNews. They couldn't ignore the story so they handled it the very same way FoxNews would handle it - they carefully shaved the facts, added a full measure of Tory spin and kneaded the mixture into a putty of blandness.

Case in point. The role played in this saga by David Mulroney is critical to this story. Fife gave him but passing mention as a "senior bureaucrat" avoiding the direct link between Mulroney and Harper. Mulroney's relevance to this whole story is his role as Harper's personal advisor on Afghanistan.

Robertson added his dismissive footnote, pointing out that, after all, this is Afghanistan. Now I suppose you could take that more than one way but, to me, it came across as Robertson dismissing the gravity of the torture aspect by noting these people are barely better than animals anyway. In fairness, he didn't say that, but that's certainly the impression I was left with from what he did say.

The Tories, meanwhile, are acting predictably. MinDef parliamentary secretary, Laurie Hawn, dismissed the reports pointing out that the Afghan people are "trained to lie." These people are a disgrace to Canada.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Afghanistan Cracks Down on Corruption. Really?

In a lightning stroke, the Afghan government has cracked down on corruption. Effective this morning, president Hamid Karzai, both his vice presidents, the Karzai cabinet, all but two members of the national legislature, the entire cast and crew of the Afghan National Police and roughly half of the Afghan National Army (the half that actually exists), all low-level, medium-level and high-level bureaucrats, the Afghan judiciary and all provincial governors placed each other under arrest for various high crimes and misdemeanours.

Pending imminent acquittal, the accused all returned to their employment following a brief adjournment for sweet tea and hashish.

Trials were convened shortly after a delightful lunch but the Afghan prosecutors, being defendants themselves, were unable to call any evidence thus leading to the dismissal of all charges. President Karzai hailed the proceedings as proof that, in his homeland, the Rule of Law shall always prevail.

Not a Government, a Round Table

British foreign minister David Miliband foresees a future Afghan government, one in which senior Taliban commanders have a place at the table.

What's wrong with this picture?

It's pretty obvious that what the British minister is describing isn't a government of any form that we would recognize but a council of warlords, a round table if you will, that's almost guaranteed to condemn the Afghan people to fundamentalist Islamic feudalism forever.

But that's what we're up against. We never made any effort to rid the country of the warlords on our side. That leaves the default option of having to invite in the warlords of the other side, the Taliban. Brilliant. Now, can we leave?

Mr. Chalk River Wants Nuclear Trade With India?

Sneaky Steve is in New Delhi hoping to persuade Indian officials to buy Canadian nuclear technology.

The guy who sat by as our own Chalk River reactor fell into ruin seems to think that India, not Canada, urgently needs nuclear technology. No matter how you look at it, the man is a sphincter.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Matter of Trust - Betrayed

Stephen Harper intends to do whatever he can to scuttle any meaningful agreement to fight global warming.

Harper made that clear in his dissembling pronouncements on the need for a climate change pact at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-Operation summit underway in Singapore. Here is Harper's thinly coded message from Canadian Press:

While acknowledging there are "significant differences" among the APEC members over how to tackle climate change, Harper said all leaders recognize it's an issue that must be addressed.

Emerging economies, including China and Indonesia at the APEC summit, already contribute close to half of all global emissions, Harper said at a media availability, and that proportion will rise to two thirds in the future.

"If we don't control those, whatever we do in the developed world will have no impact on climate change."

Harper's other argument for full global participation is purely economic.

"If everyone is not included, you set up the possible risk that certain countries will gain economic advantage from being included or not included," he said.

"If some contribute, or some contribute disproportionately, then the economic risks for others become enormous."

So, what's wrong with Harper's message? Lots. He's setting up a position that's inherently inequitable and sufficiently unacceptable to the Second and Third World to ensure there'll be no meaningful, mandatory and enforceable pact.

Harper wants a "one size fits all" deal. Everybody should cut their emissions by this percentage or that by this date or that. What's wrong with that? From our economic perspective, nothing, especially as our continued support for the expansion of the Tar Sands shows we're not genuine about even that anyway. But, from the rest of the world's perspective, everything is wrong with Harper's pitch - and Steve knows it.

Steve's con game totally ignores population and income disparities. He sure as hell won't accept equality on a per capita basis. No way Jose. In fact, he wants to preserve the West's priority to the remaining carbon carrying capacity of our atmosphere. He wants that frozen right now - entirely in our favour.

What this is all about is which nations are going to have the right to use up the remaining carbon emission carrying capacity of the atmosphere. It's finite, we know that and we now have reasonably accurate data on how much remains. Bonus points if you guessed "not enough." If you need help grasping the nuances of this core problem, I dealt with it at length the other day in the post "Whose Atmosphere Is It Anyway?". That's just two posts down. Check it out.

Most of the world wants what Steve dreads most. They want the atmosphere to be recognized as a common resource. You, me and every other human being has an equal entitlement to it - sort of the way Steve's God meant it to be. Now, in a world of 6.7-billion (or six thousand, seven hundred million) human beings, Canada's share, based on our roughly 36-million people is miniscule. That means we would have to almost entirely decarbonize our economy in less than a generation. Despite how Steve's God might smile favourably on that idea, Steve won't be having any of that. No, this is the guy who wants to set "intensity based" emission reduction targets on the Tar Sands. He's looking for emissions to go up, way up, not down.

The prime minister of Canada is a lying, duplicitous, manipulative scoundrel and the only people who don't know that are right here in Canada - right where, for Steve anyway, it matters.

The people of Canada through their government made the commitment, and it needs to honoured somehow or other, or it needs to be dealt with," the Australian climate-change expert told The Canadian Press.

The UN negotiations in Copenhagen put Canada in "a really difficult position," he said.
"Canada is by far the biggest defaulter on its Kyoto obligations on a tonnage basis. And as a result of that there is a lack of trust."

Flannery had just participated in an APEC media forum on climate change and the economy, where he joined several experts in warning that investment and co-operation, rather than "punitive" trade and tax measures, are the most efficient way to reduce emissions.

Canada's oilsands are in particular danger of becoming a target for tariff censure, Flannery said in an interview, and the government needs to be acting aggressively now to reduce the carbon intensity of their development.

"As we go into Copenhagen and beyond I think there is a real danger that unless we achieve enough as countries we could potentially face border tariffs on carbon, for example."

He said such policies would be a "catastrophe."

What's really disappointing is that Canada's failure on this most important problem can't be laid at the Tory's feet entirely. The Liberals have nothing to boast about on this issue. When he speaks of it at all, Iggy makes hollow, contradictory pronouncements on what to do about Canada's carbon emissions revealing that he, like his predecessor, doesn't have what it takes to take a stand on this issue.l

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Uncommon Sense on Afghanistan

America's ambassador to Afghanistan is standing up to the Pentagon's demands for more troops to fight the AfPak war.

Karl W. Eikenberry is urging his president to hold off on sending more troops until the wobbly government of Hamid Karzai demonstrates there's something worth salvaging in that country. Eikenberry's logic is that the corruption and mismanagement of the hapless government we've spent the past eight years propping up is undercutting our efforts, fueling the Taliban resurgence. In other words we're losing the fight with the Taliban while Karzai and his cabal of crooked warlords are busy stabbing us in the back. Ya think?

A statement released by the White House this afternoon suggests Obama is hearing Eikenberry's message:

"The President believes that we need to make clear to the Afghan government that our commitment is not open-ended. After years of substantial investments by the American people, governance in Afghanistan must improve in a reasonable period of time."

Eikenberry is a retired four-star general who commanded forces in Afghanistan in 2006-7.

It's hard to imagine how Karzai is going to rid his government of corruption given that his government is built on corruption. He owes his very presidency to the warlords who rigged the last election in his favour.

Sorry Mr. Obama but Mr. Karzai is already bought and paid for and there's nothing that General Stanley McChrystal or even bigger General David Petraeus can or will do to set that straight. Going after Karzai & Company atop the Taliban and other rebel factions would put us at war with about 80% of the country.

Whose Atmosphere Is It Anyway?

That's the question, the issue, the argument that's going to bedevil and quite likely scuttle any meaningful pact to fight global warming.

Whose atmosphere is it anyway? Well, if you look at those nations that have been dumping massive greenhouse gas emissions there for the past two centuries, you might think that the earth's atmosphere is the preserve of the industrialized and industrializing nations. First and foremost, think Europe and North America. Then add in countries like India, China, Russia and Brazil now vying for their dumping place at our atmospheric Love Canal.

Why is this question so important? Because the way it's answered will largely decide whether we have any hope of reaching the consensus without which we have no hope of preventing catastrophic climate change.

We used to talk about cutting greenhouse gas emissions by this percentage or that based on this year's or that year's threshold through emission reductions and carbon-trading. Nonsense, all of it utter nonsense. It's nonsense because it has endless wiggle room. The fine print alone renders it dysfunctional.

But there is another approach. Science has quantified both the amount of carbon dioxide emissions currently in the atmosphere and the amount of additional emissions the atmosphere can hold before we reach the 2 degree Celsius global heating point that's expected to trigger catastrophic climate change.

So, if we have an accurate idea of how many more billions of tonnes of CO2 emissions can be dumped into the atmosphere - for centuries, possibly millenia - the question becomes just who gets how much of that limited quota? This is where it gets tricky. You see there are some, an awful lot of "somes" in fact, who think that we in the West have already had our fair share of the atmosphere's carbon carrying capacity. It's hard to argue with that but their next argument is a real bitch.

What they're saying is that, "We'll spot you all the carbon emissions you've dumped into the atmosphere over the past two centuries in making yourself so fat and sassy but, from here on in, we should all share the remaining capacity equally." Gee, doesn't that sound fair and equitable? We treat the atmosphere as though it belongs to everyone and to no one so that we share it equally. Count the legs and divide by two sort of thing.

What's the alternative? Who has the right to say, "I claim that atmosphere as my own carbon emissions dumping ground because my economy relies on that so you can't have it"? Can you imagine? Going around to the people of sub-Saharan Africa or Central and South America and telling them we have priority rights to their atmosphere and we can use it to visit upon them the very worst scourges of global warming? Maybe we can torture logic enough to come up with a basis for atmospheric lebensraum.

To accept that the atmosphere belongs to everyone equally is to pass capital judgment on our carbon-based economy. It is to virtually outlaw fossil-fuels and commit us all to alternative-fuel rehab. There is no other way. If you can't understand that, read this.

But you say, won't that hurt the Canadian economy? Won't that affect our standard of living? Perhaps but even so the arguments are compelling. Do you think the climate change we've already triggered isn't already having a crushing impact on the economy and the standard of living of others, typically the least fortunate in the most vulnerable corners of the world? Isn't it grand that we can protest so vehemently about tweaks to our standard of living when others don't have the luxury of fretting about 'standards' because they're fully engaged with the struggle of merely living at all? It would be one thing if they caused their misfortune but they didn't, we did.

And Now a Word From Our German Friends

They're called the WGBU which, translates into English as the German Advisory Council on Climate Change. They work for that stalwart conservative Angela Merkel and they're pooping panzers in amazement that the rightwing on this side of the Atlantic is so profoundly retarded when it comes to global warming.

The WBGU, or WISSENSCHAFTLICHER BEIRAT GLOBALE UMWELTVERÄNDERUNGEN WBGU as I like to call them, has just issued a global warming fact sheet in which it explains the magic of 2 degrees Celsius and the four essential bases of the problem:

It is scientifically proven that rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere cause global warming.

The consequences include rising sea levels, an increase in extreme weather events, accelerated loss of species and ecosystems, and acidification of the oceans. Tipping events in the climate system, such as the abrupt cessation of ocean currents, may have catastrophic and irreversible ecological results.

Climate change can jeopardize the water supply and food production; it poses health risks, may accelerate migration and can lead to security problems. It thus has the potential to trigger major social and economic crises.

Global warming of more than 2°C would pose unprecedented challenges for our civilization and therefore represents ‘dangerous interference with the climate system’. To prevent this, cumulative CO2 emissions to 2050 need to be capped at 750 Gt.

Chancellor Merkel and her WBGU aren't pulling any punches on global warming. These people have the courage totally absent from the North American political scene to sound the alarms now, while there's still time. They know that time is not on our side in this, possibly the greatest threat our species and our world have faced in the entirety of mankind's existence.

You can download the latest WBGU fact sheets here and here or you can order free copies of any of its publications directly from their website:

Stephen Harper is doing a magnificent job of keeping a lid on this sort of information and he has the NDP and Liberal leadership to thank for their complicity in letting him get away with that.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Africa's Line In the Sand or Calling Harper Out

African nations are demanding that the West show that it's serious about fighting climate change. At negotiations underway in Spain, the African representatives want a show of good faith from the developed countries at the climate change summit in Copenhagen next month.

What they want is a binding committment to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels.

Harper's target, posted on an EnviroCan website is a 20% cut from 2006 levels by 2020. That is a small fraction of what the African states will recognize as "good faith."

Climate Change Is the Issue of the Far-Right - Just Not Quite Yet

Despite the remarkable success of the denialist hucksters as George Monbiot laments, the science of anthropogenic global warmings is plainly "in" and the evidence of man-made global warming is now on a par with the evidence for Darwinian evolution or the link between smoking and lung cancer.

The denialist community has been wildly successful at sowing doubt to undermine public acceptance of the urgent need to do what must be done to adapt to the change that's already coming and to slash carbon emissions to curb even greater, more lethal change in the future.

The denialists may have lost the fight when they shilled for Big Tobacco but that merely allowed them to hone their skills and bring their A Game to the climate change battle. But wait, if climate change is real then the denialists will clearly lose eventually, right? Yes, but not before they've accomplished their objective, not before they've won.

Won what exactly? The obvious answer to that is they will have won what they can, the most benefit possible for those on whose behalf they toil. They can't wish climate change away but they can control the political aspects of it.

Whichever side owns the climate change issue is bound to have an enormous political advantage for decades to come. This one issue is set to reverberate through just about every facet of our economic, political, even military structures in the short and mid-range future.

If there was one thing we learned from Cheney-Bush it was that just about anything, even war-fighting could be transformed into a political wedge issue out of which those in power were able to channel vast wealth to select companies and individuals. If you don't grasp that, try to say "black-wa-ter" or "hall-i-burt-on" until you can say them really fast.

If there was that much wealth to be mined out of something as ridiculous as their "War on Terror," what vast treasures and nearly unlimited power can lie in store for the side that gets to control the climate change issue? Take a minute and let that really sink in.

Remember when Harper rebuked the climate change issue, calling it a socialist plot to effect an enormous transfer of wealth? Well which side has a proven, clearly demonstrated skill at enormous transfers of wealth? Which side has engineered the demise of the middle class, the multi-decadal stagnation in real wages and the vast expansion of the gap between rich and poor? If you're looking for an "enormous transfer of wealth" it already lies at your feet. Hiding behind a smokescreen of cheap money, the "shiny thing," these hucksters have been furiously transferring wealth while patting our heads and telling us fairy tales about "trickle down" economics. They have pillaged our governments, emptied our national treasuries and left in their wake mountains of debt behind which to make good their escape.

If the Right runs true to form, it already knows it has everything to gain and almost nothing to lose by sabotaging the efforts of centrists and the centre-left to tackle the climate change threat. Think Naomi Klein, think "Disaster Capitalism."

Writing in today's Guardian, Peter Preston ponders the climate change end game as it may play out if we're lulled into complacency by the denialists; is, indeed, desperately late already to begin wondering openly whether democracy, in its rhetorical aspirations and covert calculations, in its consensual stumblings and murmured frailties, can cope with the upheaval that science tells us is necessary.

...We're used to the awful prophesies of cities submerged, continents parched, millions left to perish. But we're not used to thinking through what these things will mean for the systems we live by, the norms we embrace. Take the sum of all fears, when it's (almost) too late. Take the realisation, at last, that something has to be done. Take the sudden, alarmed perception that bickering politicians have been the problem all these years, not the solution. Then take the greatest care.
See what a relatively few terrorist strikes have wrought by way of corners cut, liberties eroded. Imagine how a savage mix of floods and droughts will devastate old assumptions. Enter a strong man, or a series of strong men, promising extraordinary action. Exit a generation of failed leaders without, it is said, the strength to lead.

If our climate changes, then much else must change with it. If Copenhagen sets a time scale for action, then every second counts. If public fear cries at last for sacrifice rather than temporising, then there will be no time for those we chose to lead us in an environment where debate and delay never ceases. That's democracy, of course. Our way, our belief. But, put to the test on current performance, it doesn't sound much like survival – unless the political classes know it's their survival at stake, too.

I think the seismic social upheaval envisioned by Preston is less a certainty than he suggests. What he overlooks is the inherent, almost unimaginable value in catastrophic climate change to be mined by the unscrupulous. It is a matter of political and economic treasures previously unknown, waiting to be plucked by the shrewd opportunist.

We, you and me, will wind up the worse off for it but, since the political malignancy of Ronald Reagan metastasized, we've become accustomed to that.

Monday, November 02, 2009

September 12, 2001

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble,
along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time,
in the United States or any other country.

Make no mistake about it: We are at War now -
with somebody - and we will stay At War with that mysterious
Enemy for the rest of our lives.

It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad,
fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics
on both sides.

It will be guerrilla warfare on a
global cale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy.

We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who
or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say.
Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan, or Iraq, or possibly all three
at once. Who knows?

This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory
is not guaranteed - for anyone, and certainly not for anyone
as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that
his father started the war a long time ago, and that he,
the goofy child-President, has been chosen by
Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now.

He will declare a National Security Emergency
and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter
where they live or why. If the guilty won't hold up their hands
and confess, he and the Generals will ferret themn out by force.

The lid is on. Loose Lips Sink Ships. Don't say anything
that might give aid to The Enemy.

Hunter S. Thompson - 9/12/01

Even Republicans Are Sick of Republicans

Dede Scozzafava was the Republican candidate for a US House seat from New York to be decided Tuesday but she is candidate Scozzafava no more.

The moderate Republican, her party's nominee, was squeezed out by an uber-right Republican running as a Conservative Party candidate. Creatures of the ilk of Sarah Palin were instrumental in the coup, blasting Scozzafava as a "RINO" - Republican in name only.

Seeing the writing on the wall and angry that her supporters were being pressured to abandon her by the neocon camp, Scozzafava withdrew from the election but not before throwing her support to her Democratic opponent.

Radical politics, radical religion - just what the world, and especially America, needs most today.

Who Owns America?

Let's put it this way, it isn't Americans.

The United States government has about $3.5-trillion in IOUs issued by the Treasury in the form of bonds and notes.

Of this China, of course, holds just under $800-billion. Japan is a close second at $731-billion. The Brits are a distant third at a measly $225-billion. Canada? Well, we're way down the list. At $22.4 billion, we rank just behind Norway but still comfortably ahead of Egypt.

Now 3.5-trillion dollars in markers is a lot. Fortunately the American economy still runs at just over 12-trillion annually. Still, when that nation's overall debt obligations are factored in, it's a struggle to carry it. America does seem to be burning this candle at both ends.