Saturday, July 30, 2016

Trudeau is a Scammer, and British Columbians Are His Victims

Rafe Mair has issued a cogent, factual and searing indictment of Justin Trudeau's deceit and hypocrisy. It extends to JMJ (justice minister Jody) and EMC (environment minister Cathy).

I'm not going to try to paraphrase or excerpt it. Read it for yourself, especially if you're a Liberal. Read it, especially if you're a British Columbian for it reveals how quickly this government, emulating the last, has betrayed us.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Jim Jefferies "Gets" Donald Trump

Brace yourself. Jim Jefferies has taken vulgarity to the level of an art form. This is NSFW, perhaps not safe for anywhere you don't want to be seen watching. Still... he does get Donald Trump.

Welcome to the Age of Chaos. No, Sorry, There's No Going Back.

People mention it all the time even if they can't quite put their finger on it. Something's up. Definitely. Stuff is going wrong in every direction. Too much change. Too fast. Can't keep up. Why?

Donald Trump, Brexit, the Nice massacre, ISIS, Recep Erdogan, the steady decline of liberal democracy making way for the era of the oligarchs. Guess what - it's all connected. It is the face of the Age of Chaos and it is well and truly upon us.

I came to this realization from a number of online courses I took these past few years on subjects such as global food security, climate change and warfare in the 21st century. It wasn't quite Road Warrior-grade dystopia. Not quite. Then again.

Last week The Globe's Mark MacKinnon captured the essence of our new reality in an essay, "It's All Connected." It's an important piece and I urge you to read it. A brief sampling:

A “period of instability” is upon us, historian Margaret MacMillan told me this week, one that has parallels to the pre-war periods of the 20th century that she’s written acclaimed books about.

...Those cheering Brexit in the U.K., and welcoming a state of emergency in Turkey, were the ships that were supposed to be lifted by the rising tide of globalization, a promise that proved cruelly incorrect. They are now finding satisfaction in defeating their ruling classes, the people who believed those countries, and the world, were theirs to rule.

It’s the same live wire that connects an Islamic State-inspired attack in Europe to a racially motivated shooting rampage in the U.S. The perpetrators are – almost always – those who felt they have very little left to lose in their lives. The cause they choose is almost a footnote to their act of anarchy.

...Our societies are fracturing into tribes. In the U.K., it’s Leavers versus Remainers. In Turkey, the failed coup has cleaved society into Erdoganites and Gulenists (after the movement accused of supporting the failed putsch). Almost everywhere, lines are being drawn between immigrants and the native-born. Black and white. Us and them.

And the tribes are turning on one another.

...What was most shocking about the recent spate of headline-seizing events – and deeply unsettling when you consider them as a chain – was how no one seemed to have seen any of it coming.

The pollsters and pundits predicted Britain would vote, by a comfortable margin, to remain part of the EU. The attack in Nice succeeded in part because many French police were given the Bastille Day holiday off after being on high alert through the country’s month-long hosting of the European soccer championships. Turkey’s intelligence services only detected something might be amiss a few hours before tanks starting moving towards Istanbul’s bridges and airports.

And six months ago, nobody thought Donald Trump stood a chance of becoming president of the United States.

...Radicals thrive when governments can no longer meet the standard-of-living expectations of their citizens, Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Istanbul-based Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, told me.

“The world seems to have reached a critical point in terms of creating a large enough pool of ‘losers’ – those who lost out on globalization, who lost out on technology, who lost out on free trade – to create the undercurrents of this instability.”

Meanwhile, the U.S., which Mr. Ulgen said lost much of its global authority during the twin disasters of the Iraq invasion and the 2008 financial crisis, is no longer willing or able to play the role of global policeman. From afar – as street violence escalates and Mr. Trump is crowned the Republic Party’s candidate for the White House – American-style capitalism and democracy no longer looks like a model worth pursuing.

In other words, the old world order has come unglued. Globalization led and regulated by the U.S. is now considered a failure. People around the world are seeking the safety of their tribes.

Welcome to the Age of Chaos. It's your new "normal."


Chris Hedges writes on a similar theme today.

...Europe, especially EU countries on the fringes of the union, is devolving into proto-fascism. The Hungarian strongman Prime Minister Viktor Orban has destroyed his country’s democracy. Neofascist groups are gaining strength in France, the United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Greece.

These movements are rabidly xenophobic, racist, Islamophobic and homophobic, and they demonize immigrants and brand internal dissent as treason. When they take control they rely on ruthless internal security and surveillance systems—Poland has established 11 intelligence agencies—to crush dissent. They seek their identity in a terrifying new nationalism, often, as in Poland, coupled with a right-wing Catholicism. They preach hatred of the outsider and glorification of obedient and “true” patriots. This lurch to the right will be augmented in Poland later this year with the establishment of an armed militia of more than 30,000 whose loyalty, it seems certain, will be to the ruling party.

“If you are a Pole, you should be Catholic,” said Stasinski. “I’m not. So for some, I’m not a Pole.”

...“It’s the same right-wing populist melody as in the United States,” said Stasinski. “Isolationism becomes appealing. Maybe there is something rotten in human nature. Maybe we are selfish people who don’t care about the other. Maybe this story about how we are Christian and altruistic is rubbish.

“There is a fear that grows from ignorance,” he said. “These parties manufacture and strengthen this resentment against those they allege are privileged and the powerful, as well as the European Union. They say these forces can’t tell us what to do. They say the nation-state should organize societal living, not global institutions. They say things are out of control. They say there is no real democracy. This leads to the mental and physical militarization of the society. The demagogues promise security. You are safe with us. We care about you. We care about your family. Chauvinism defines public discourse. We are a proud people. We are a proud nation. We don’t accept that other nations can humiliate us. The government devoted a hundred million zlotys to create a special foundation to defend Poland’s good name.”

“There is no such thing as human nature,” Janicka said to me. “Human nature is culture. It is a product of education. When you construct an educational system and a public discourse where there is an almost total lack of critical, analytical thinking, where you refuse to strengthen individual human beings capable of autonomous judgment, human beings aware of their experiences and feelings, responsible for their deeds and relationship to the other, you destroy what is fundamental to an open society. It becomes exclusively about collective image, meaning collective narcissism. Liberal pluralism from this perspective is viewed as moral relativism or nihilism. There is a clash in Poland between the formal and legal frame of liberal democracy and the majority dominant culture.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Elizabeth May Calls Out Trudeau on Corexit

Maybe Trudeau and McKenna thought no one would notice. They thought wrong. Almost as soon as Environment Canada quietly announced it had approved Corexit for use as an oil dispersant word began to get around.

You see, there are people who know the name. They also know the history of this horrific chemical. There's a massive wealth of experience that goes from the Exxon Valdez disaster in Prince William Sound to the Deepwater Horizon fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico. It's literally the equivalent of thalidomide for any marine ecosystem and the people whose livelihoods depend on it. You can watch the videos here - if you've got a strong stomach.

Now Green Party leader Elizabeth May is taking Trudeau - and his laughable promise that his government will follow the science - to task.

"I am deeply disappointed that our current government is continuing the trend of making decisions based on industry recommendations rather than the evidence-based decision making process we so dearly need," said Dr. Lynne Quarmby, Green Party Science Critic, and Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University.

Last month, Environment Canada quietly released regulations that included a list of approved "treating agents" for oil spills. Corexit EC 9500A, which actually sinks oil, was on that list.

"We know from the disastrous cleanup attempts during BP's Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 that solubilizing oil with Corexit allows the toxins in oil to permeate into bodies of humans and marine animals," Dr. Quarmby said. "In one controlled study, toxicity to planktonic organisms was more than 50 times higher when Corexit was added. As we saw in the BP Gulf spill, Corexit causes oil to sink - out of sight, out of mind seems to be the environmentally disastrous plan."

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, added: "Corexit is a highly controversial chemical that doesn't actually disperse ocean oil spills so much as it makes oil sink to the ocean floor, where it is consumed by ocean life," Ms. May said.

"Environment Canada concluded there would be no expected important environmental effects, either positive or negative, by using this toxic chemical, despite growing scientific evidence that Corexit intensifies the toxicity of oil. This government promised to do better by relying on science and evidence-based decision making. This decision falls short and must be reversed," Ms. May said.

There was plenty of reason to suspect that EnviroCan was seriously compromised during the Harper era. Anything affecting pipelines and bitumen export seemed to be whether it was Fisheries & Oceans, the shuttered Coast Guard, Transport Canada and, most of all, the National Energy Board. Harper's National Energy Board was packed with oil industry shills who reached predictable conclusions through a blatantly rigged process. Today, however, it's Trudeau's National Energy Board and it's the same stacked deck only under a Liberal government. That's as inexcusable as it is telling of this prime minister.

A TV Show Goes to Washington

According to a report in The New York Times, Donald Trump plans to abdicate his role as president just as soon as he redecorates the Oval Office to pimp it out.

Trump envisions a new presidency, one in which the duties typically performed by a president are delegated to his vice president. This includes formulating policy, domestic and foreign. While Mike Pence assumes the responsibilities of governing, Trump will focus on "making America great again" whatever that means.

It sounds eerily like Trump's TV show. He figures out what he wants to make America great again and leaves everything else, including the day to day running of the country, to Pence. Perhaps Mike Pence will just be the first in a lengthy line of Trump vice presidents, each dreading the morning they'll be called into Trump's office to be told, "you're fired."

Only a president can't simply fire a vice president. It turns out the veep can only be ditched with a vote in the House and a 2/3rds vote in the Senate. That said, however, a character like Trump might be able to force a veep to "voluntarily" resign. In that event the 25th Amendment comes into play. The Pres gets to pick a new veep but the nomination has to be approved by a simple majority in both the House and the Senate. If ever there was a political football, that's it. It could get messy.

There has been no shortage of pundits in recent months who speculated that Trump didn't want the job. Seems they were half right. He doesn't want the job. It's the office he wants, not the job that goes with it. Oh dear.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ah, Jesus - Not Corexit!!

When it comes to the pipeline giants, prime minister Slick is their boy. His government had no problem giving the sack to a couple of dozen ambassadors appointed by Harper but Slick has taken a "hands off" approach to the industry shills who have effected and continue the political capture of the National Energy Board.

And now word has come out that Trudeau's EnviroCan has approved Corexit as a dispersant for oil spills. What's wrong with that? Think of Corexit as thalidomide for the marine habitat, including the humans in coastal areas.

I'm now going to post two clips about Corexit. The first is a short teaser in which Vice TV founder, Shane Smith, discusses this vile product.  I hope that will whet your appetite for the full report that follows.

Full report:


The Green Party is demanding that the Trudeau government reverse the EnviroCan edict.

"I am deeply disappointed that our current government is continuing the trend of making decisions based on industry recommendations rather than the evidence-based decision making process we so dearly need," said Dr. Lynne Quarmby, Green Party Science Critic, and Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University.
"We know from the disastrous cleanup attempts during BP's Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 that solubilizing oil with Corexit allows the toxins in oil to permeate into bodies of humans and marine animals," Dr. Quarmby said. "In one controlled study, toxicity to planktonic organisms was more than 50 times higher when Corexit was added. As we saw in the BP Gulf spill, Corexit causes oil to sink - out of sight, out of mind seems to be the environmentally disastrous plan."

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, added: "Corexit is a highly controversial chemical that doesn't actually disperse ocean oil spills so much as it makes oil sink to the ocean floor, where it is consumed by ocean life," Ms. May said.

"Environment Canada concluded there would be no expected important environmental effects, either positive or negative, by using this toxic chemical, despite growing scientific evidence that Corexit intensifies the toxicity of oil. This government promised to do better by relying on science and evidence-based decision making. This decision falls short and must be reversed," Ms. May said.

H/T Toby for the link.

Howard's Farewell to Elayne

Howard Shapray is widely known as a great guy, a fine lawyer and a devoted father and husband. After a lengthy struggle with incurable disease, Howard's wife, Elayne, ended her life with the assistance of a physician. Elayne Shapray was a witness in the Carter case where, in a 9-0 per curiam decision, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the right to physician assisted death.

Howard penned a tribute to Elayne, her good works, her lengthy battles and her death, on her own terms, in her own time. Those who don't understand the Carter decision or who, like the government of the day, can't muster the courage to follow the clear law of our land, need to learn about Elayne and what she and her family went through.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Making Sense of the Republican Fiasco

Like many observers I have watched the Republican presidential race with a combination of astonishment and horror. As Donald Trump won his party's nomination I struggled to make sense of it all. Then it dawned on me. I was watching unfold something I never before imagined could even exist - political incontinence.

The Republican Party truly lost control of its bowels. It crapped its political pants. The worst part is that it's sitting in the corner with a sheepish grin on its face, unsure of what has just happened.

Not all Repugs are happy. Some recoil from the indignity inflicted on their "Party of Lincoln" and wonder how to go ahead in the runup to the November elections. Should they vote for Hillary? Should they stay home, not vote at all? Can they put party ahead of country?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Is Putin Plotting to Scuttle Hillary?

There are various media reports indicating that the Kremlin is preparing a massive leak of Hillary Clinton's unauthorized emails.

The rumour is the Russians intercepted or somehow hacked some 20,000 of Clinton's "other server" emails that the Kremlin may pass along to WikiLeaks. Presumably the Russians don't consider Ms. Clinton's indiscretions as innocuous as she contends.

Putin, Trump? One New York magazine suggests there might be some reason Putin would favour Trump over Clinton.

Donald Trump is not a Russian agent in the sense that Philip and Elizabeth from The Americans are Russian agents. There’s no hidden radio in his laundry room where he transmits secrets to the Kremlin. But his relationship with Russia is disturbing and lends itself to frightening interpretations.

Franklin Foer has detailed the connections between the Republican nominee and the Kremlin. In short, it includes a long series of economic and social ties, which fit the pattern Vladimir Putin has used to infiltrate and undermine governments elsewhere — including in Ukraine, a coup Putin pulled off through Paul Manafort, who is now Trump’s campaign manager. Michael Crowley and Julia Ioffe have both described how the Russian propaganda apparatus has thrown itself behind Trump’s campaign.

The Art of the Deal

Donald Trump likes to mention his book, The Art of the Deal. Only it's not really his book. It was ghost-written by Tony Schwartz who says, if he had a chance to change the title, he'd call it The Sociopath.

In this, the Week of Our Donald, Schwartz has given a tell-all interview to The New Yorker about his experiences with Trump in the preparation of the book. It's kind of chilling. Here are a few teasers:

“I put lipstick on a pig,” [Schwartz] said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

Schwartz had written about Trump before. In 1985, he’d published a piece in New York called “A Different Kind of Donald Trump Story,” which portrayed him not as a brilliant mogul but as a ham-fisted thug who had unsuccessfully tried to evict rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants from a building that he had bought on Central Park South. Trump’s efforts—which included a plan to house homeless people in the building in order to harass the tenants—became what Schwartz described as a “fugue of failure, a farce of fumbling and bumbling.” An accompanying cover portrait depicted Trump as unshaven, unpleasant-looking, and shiny with sweat. Yet, to Schwartz’s amazement, Trump loved the article. He hung the cover on a wall of his office, and sent a fan note to Schwartz, on his gold-embossed personal stationery. “Everybody seems to have read it,” Trump enthused in the note, which Schwartz has kept.

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

...Schwartz believes that Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” He said, “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” He added, “I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.” During the eighteen months that he observed Trump, Schwartz said, he never saw a book on Trump’s desk, or elsewhere in his office, or in his apartment.

...This year, Schwartz has heard some argue that there must be a more thoughtful and nuanced version of Donald Trump that he is keeping in reserve for after the campaign. “There isn’t,” Schwartz insists. “There is no private Trump.” This is not a matter of hindsight. While working on “The Art of the Deal,” Schwartz kept a journal in which he expressed his amazement at Trump’s personality, writing that Trump seemed driven entirely by a need for public attention. “All he is is ‘stomp, stomp, stomp’—recognition from outside, bigger, more, a whole series of things that go nowhere in particular,” he observed, on October 21, 1986. But, as he noted in the journal a few days later, “the book will be far more successful if Trump is a sympathetic character—even weirdly sympathetic—than if he is just hateful or, worse yet, a one-dimensional blowhard.”

Lying is second nature to him,” Schwartz said. “More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.” Often, Schwartz said, the lies that Trump told him were about money—“how much he had paid for something, or what a building he owned was worth, or how much one of his casinos was earning when it was actually on its way to bankruptcy.” Trump bragged that he paid only eight million dollars for Mar-a-Lago, but omitted that he bought a nearby strip of beach for a record sum.

The New Yorker piece is an important glimpse inside the dangerously hollow man who would be president of the United States. That so many Americans would even consider voting for a man so apparently unhinged should concern us all.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Another Screw-Up for the Big Orange Bloat

Okay, Donald Trump has chosen his running mate, Koch Bros. shill, Mike Pence.

Every campaign team needs a logo and Trump, naturally, has his. It raised a few eyebrows, including a few of my own, when it was unveiled this morning and it didn't take long for the hilarity to ensue.

Here's one animated version:

And, of course, TP conjures references to Toilet Paper and that gives rise to giggles over ass wiping and ass wipes which, to many, seems to aptly describe Donald Trump and his trained monkey, Pence. Let the hilarity ensue. The conference is just two days away.

Turkey, Coup. Army Tosses Erdogan.

At long last the Turkish generals have turned on strongman Recep Erdogan.

Traffic has been stopped from crossing both the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges in Istanbul.

There are reports of gunshots in the capital Ankara.

Other reports said soldiers were inside buildings of the Turkish state broadcaster in Ankara.

Gunfire was also heard outside Istanbul police HQ and tanks are said to be stationed outside Istanbul airport. All flights are cancelled, reports say.

CNN Turk reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was "safe" but did not elaborate.

A statement from the military group read out on NTV television said: "The power in the country has been seized in its entirety." Who represents the group remains uncertain.

All coups can be wild and wooly affairs for the first 24 to 48 hours and this one is a big unknown. It's possible for officers loyal to Erdogan to state a counter-coup but this would be the fourth time the military, which sees itself as the "guardian of [secular] democracy" in that country has overthrown a civilian government.

Erdogan, in a move befitting a dictator, treated himself to a lovely $350-million, 1000-room presidential palace complex built in the midst of a nature preserve.

Those 28 Pages Are Finally Out.

Congress has released the 28 pages redacted from the 9/11 Commission Report.

The 28-page document is a wide-ranging catalog of alleged links between Saudi officials and Qaeda operatives, from contacts that Saudi operatives in Southern California had with the hijackers to a telephone number found on the first Qaeda prisoner in C.I.A. custody that the F.B.I. traced to a corporation managing a Colorado home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

The document, a section of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks, has been kept secret out of concern that it might fray diplomatic relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Its release marks the end of a yearslong fight by lawmakers and families of the Sept. 11 victims to make public any evidence that the kingdom might have played a role in the attacks.

Former Sen. Bob Graham, who chaired the committee that carried out the investigation and has been pushing the White House to release the pages, said Thursday he was “very pleased” that the documents would be released.

“It is going to increase the questioning of the Saudis’ role supporting the hijackers,” Graham told CNN. “I think of this almost as the 28 pages are sort of the cork in the wine bottle. And once it’s out, hopefully the rest of the wine itself will start to pour out.”

Graham added, “Would the U.S. government have kept information that was just speculation away from American people for 14 years if somebody didn’t think it was going to make a difference?”

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things - Like Survival of Our Species

Climate change gonna getcha. Climate change gonna getcha.

The Republican presidential nominee, the Orange Behemoth, Donald Trump, dismisses climate change as a hoax. He doesn't mean it, right? Wrong. He's even chosen far right nutjob, Mike Pence, as his vice presidential running mate. Former attorney/open mouth radio host Pence is also a climate change denier.

Not to be outdone, on the other side of the pond, Britain's freshly minted prime minister, Theresa May, made it her second order of business (the first was appointing Boris Johnson her foreign minister) was to abolish the UK's climate change department.

May’s priorities could not be more clear. The clues are in the titles.

Britain now has a Secretary for Exiting the European Union – a very sensible move if Brexit is inevitable – a Secretary for International Trade and a Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. You wouldn't know it, but the latter will be responsible for dealing with climate change.

The worst thing about developments such as these is that they prove we haven't reached the threshold yet where conditions are so terrible that our leadership will be stampeded into action. However, when they do get about to it, there's a good and steadily worsening chance it will be much too late.

When You Seem to Have Tried Everything

They want us out of their backyards. Maybe that's a good idea. Why should we continue on with a murderous pissing contest that we cannot end?

Sometimes it's best to stop howling and just walk away.

I'm talking to you, Europe. It's time to write this one off. There'll be no good coming your way from the Middle East or even North Africa much longer. Time for what they call a legal separation.

How do you go about that? You could start by breaking your dependency on folks you just can't get along with. Why do you need them anyway? Oh yeah, energy. Oil. Well then how about you stop buying their oil? What better time could there be than to engineer a switch to clean alternative energy? Harness the wind and the sun. You've already shown you know how to do that very successfully. Finish the job.

And both parties will need a restraining order. They'll direct both of you to stay out of each other's territories. That begins with you getting your tanks and your warplanes and your ships out of their world. Then, and only then, can you put your mind to The Wall.

The Chinese understood the need for it. So too did Roman Emperor Hadrian.

Here's the thing. You know you're going to have to mount some perimeter defence sooner or later. Climate change alone will drive mass migrations out of Africa and the Middle East. You don't have enough food in your pantry or chairs at your table to handle that. You're already in "overloaded lifeboat" mode. It's a horrible thought having to repel boarders knowing the fate that awaits them but you can't take them all. You can't even take most.

Back in the closing years of the last century - hey, anybody remember those good old days? - the British magazine, The Economist, had a cover story about Europe's future dealings with the Middle East and Africa. I think the caption was "barbarians at the gate." It envisioned a future in which foreign traders were allowed up to the portcullis, just not inside the castle walls. Trading would be done outside at places of exchange. Goods would flow freely but people would not.

From this bastion of small town Vancouver Island this all sounds surreal. What seemed like a bizarre notion when I read that issue of The Economist now confronts Europe as reality.

The Muslim world is going to have to settle its own hash. Sunni versus Shiite, Arab versus non-Arab, all the little squabbles and long-term resentments, sectarian, ethnic and tribal - we cannot fix that. When we get involved we never come away with the outcomes we sought going in. Then again most of our involvement has been more about securing our perceived interests than fixing theirs. Meanwhile NATO remains in the corner vainly trying to get a winning score on the Whack-a-Mole machine.

So, my Euro friends, get building those wind generators and solar farms. Get busy switching your infrastructure to electricity from fossil fuels. Figure out how much of the E.U. is defensible and establish your frontiers along those borders. Place a moratorium, hopefully temporary, on travel to and from the Middle East and North Africa. Meanwhile at home you've still got a lot of work to do to restore public confidence in liberal democracy. That's going to take some doing.

One more thing. If the terrorism troubles continue, you tell every king, prince, emir and sheikh in the Persian Gulf states that you'll hold them personally responsible. This is their monster. They are our Dr. Frankenstein. Every time you're attacked, send a few cruise missiles to one of those magnificent palaces. Obliterate a few. See if these troubles don't mysteriously stop.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

AK's and Rain Ponchos

The Republican convention in Cleveland is less than a week away. In choosing an Ohio venue, the GOP is taking their pow wow into an "open carry" state. That means it's legal to carry an arsenal slung over your shoulder or tucked in your belt just so you can always prevent a takeover by a tyrannical government.

So, guess who's coming to dinner when the Repugs gather at Payday Loans Coliseum? One group will be the New Black Panthers and, yes, they'll be showing up loaded for bear.

The New Black Panther Party, a "black power" movement, will carry firearms for self-defense during rallies in Cleveland ahead of next week's Republican convention, if allowed under Ohio law, the group's chairman said.

The plan by the group this weekend comes as police in Cleveland brace for an influx of groups that plan demonstrations before and during the presidential nominating convention.

During the attack last week in Dallas that killed five police officers, law enforcement officials said demonstrators carrying rifles led them to initially believe they were under attack by multiple shooters.

Several other groups, including some supporters of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, have said they will carry weapons in Cleveland.

"If it is an open state to carry, we will exercise our second amendment rights because there are other groups threatening to be there that are threatening to do harm to us," Hashim Nzinga, chairman of the New Black Panther Party, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

...Officials in Ohio have said it will be legal for protesters to carry weapons at demonstrations outside the convention under that state’s "open carry" law, which allows civilians to carry guns in public.

...The Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate group watchdog, describes the New Black Panther Party as “a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers."

The Home Team?

Sounds like the Republicans have all the makings to stage a "shoot-out at the Payday Loans Corral." Black Panthers armed to the teeth squaring off against members of Trump's loyal White Trash Tea Party movement. Throw in a hot day, a few cases of cheap beer, and there's no telling what could happen.


As the nutjobs descend on Cleveland, The New Republic reports that the city and its police force, now under federal oversight, are bracing for disaster.

Many have noted that Cleveland will be the first city to host a national political convention while its police force is under federal oversight for past bad acts. But that observation alone undersells how radically your world has been pulled inside-out if you wear a blue uniform. The [12-year old Tamir]Rice shooting and consent decree triggered a complete rewiring of a police department that’s operated with little oversight and few consequences for more than 50 years. Under the federal decree, the Cleveland PD is gradually changing its policies and practices after generations of engaging in racist behavior, producing sloppy internal investigations, and escalating routine police work into matters of life and death. It’s slow, painful surgery that will continue into the 2020s. And now, with its hoped-for transformation far from complete, the Cleveland PD is about to come under the hot lights of intense national media scrutiny.

The stakes and pressure couldn’t be cranked higher for the city’s troubled cops as they face the ultimate daunting task—refereeing a roughhouse political melee featuring a polarizing candidate, potential convention floor drama, guerilla clown protestors, Brexit anti-heroes, gun-toting white supremacists, gun-toting black militants, “patriotic” bikers, and an estimated 50,000 more. And we don’t know which Cleveland Police Department we’ll be getting if the 2016 RNC becomes a black-eye ideological thunderdome a la Chicago in 1968—the old, or the new?

As I said, what could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Sportscaster Gets the Final Word on the Dallas Tragedy

I've got my take on it. You've got yours. Chris Hedges has his. Sarah Palin, Ditto. But maybe it takes a TV jock to get it right, Dale Hansen.

Sanctions Time

This time it matters. The issue is the deadly business that could lurk behind China's refusal to accept the judgment of the international tribunal of The Hague over claims to territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea.

None of the fiercely disputed Spratly Islands, the UN body found, were “capable of generating extended maritime zones … [and] having found that none of the features claimed by China was capable of generating an exclusive economic zone, the tribunal found that it could — without delimiting a boundary — declare that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, because those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.”

The tribunal found that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, constructing artificial islands and failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone. At Scarborough Shoal, where it said fishermen from the Philippines and China had traditional fishing rights, it said China had restricted these rights. It added that China had created a serious risk of collision when its patrol boats had physically obstructed Philippine fishing vessels.

The tribunal also condemned China’s land reclamation projects and its construction of artificial islands at seven features in the Spratly Islands, concluding that it had caused “severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems and the habitat of depleted, threatened, or endangered species”.

Why sanctions? Well, it's a lot better than inching ever closer to war in the South China Sea. The military buildup there - Chinese, American as well as most of the nation states of the Asia-Pacific region is massive. Even the city state of Singapore is acquiring a fleet of modern attack subs. The region has already witnessed many incidents of provocation including China's construction of artificial islands on reefs complete with air strips and missile defence batteries. In Japan, Abe's recent victory in both houses has observers suspecting Japan will soon restore its full military capability, constitutionally muzzled since Japan's surrender in WWII. 

Canada has a direct interest in this. China has already said that it is entitled to Arctic Ocean seabed resources and says that the rules of the law of the sea are of no application to Arctic waters. China has also declared that it intends to maintain a permanent and substantial military presence in the Arctic. There's something that needs to be nipped in the bud.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Amerika's Untermensch

Today they're loosely gathered as the Tea Party. A decade or two before that they were called White Trash. To America's founding fathers they were were called "manure" or "offscourings" a term for human faeces. They're as American as apple pie.

I've just ordered Louisiana State University professor Nancy Isenberg's new book, "White Trash, the 400 year untold history of class in America." For now we'll have to be content with Crawford Kilian's review in today's Tyee.

Isenberg ...makes a persuasive case that 16th century England saw North America not as a source of wealth like Mexico and Peru, but as a dump. Colonization advocates like Richard Hakluyt proposed exporting petty criminals, prostitutes and those who were simply poor, just to get them out of the way.

Hakluyt and his colleagues saw them as "manure," better exploited overseas than costing money in British jails. Their function would be to clear land and push the Aboriginals back. The survivors would breed new generations that could be impressed into the army and navy as cannon fodder.

...They were "squatters" and "crackers" (derived from the expression "crack a fart"). They were human waste, trash -- at best, compost to support worthier people.

Poor whites had formed a kind of slave class in the early years of the colonies, before Africans largely displaced them. They weren't even considered much use. Their children were malnourished and sick. Today we would call them stunted, kept from full physical and intellectual growth by lack of food.

...The Founding Fathers believed in class and race divisions as sincerely as anyone. Equally sincerely, they believed their own class had been bred to rule; "democracy" was a dirty word. Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the American colonies' Declaration of Independence, supported a vague ideal of "yeomen" farmers, free whites who would support their families on their own land, fight the wars of the ruling class, but never challenge their rulers.

The reality, of course, was a handful of great landowners employing a landless class of poor whites, and not a yeoman in sight. (The great 18th century criticism of slavery was that it undercut poor whites' willingness to do the same work done by slaves.)

...As Isenberg notes, poor whites were able "to refashion the redneck and embrace white trash as an authentic heritage." By the end of the 20th century, Bill Clinton (a white trash Rhodes Scholar) was both president and "Slick Willie," attracting voters by entertaining them with his sax playing and his sexual adventures. Then came Sarah Palin, and now Donald Trump.

But these were all exceptions. Most poor whites settled for regular blue-collar jobs. When the economy became stagnant in the 1980s, they saw their real incomes stagnate also -- assuming their jobs didn't move to Mexico or China. They found themselves competing for jobs with black people.

As Lyndon B. Johnson once observed, "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

...Some working-class whites who go into police work bring such an attitude with them and find it often intensified by police culture itself. Hence the tendency of white American police officers to shoot black American civilians in disproportionate numbers: 102 unarmed blacks in 2015, five times the rate of killing unarmed whites. Black hostility to police is therefore predictable.

The current spate of police killings, and the killing of five Dallas police officers by a black army reservist with mental health problems, are also predictable. Isenberg's book, a chronicle of deaths foretold, shows how such violence became not only predictable but a way of life.

What is impossible to predict is a way out of this four-century nightmare.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Black Day in July

It's kind of like deja vu all over again. 1967, 49-years ago. I was just waiting to be admitted into officer school en route to flight school and, I prayed, fast jets. This happened. My buddies and I went down to the Detroit River waterfront and watched and listened. Patton main battle tanks patrolled Jefferson. You could hear the odd rifle shot, often answered by automatic weapon fire. It was overcast enough that the angry red glare of the burning blocks below were reflected in the clouds. From our safe perch on the Canadian side of the river we watched a society succumb to madness, fear and loathing. John R, Brush, Jefferson - street names that became indelibly etched into one's consciousness.

Now it's Dallas. Two, too many black men gunned down by white cops. Two too many. Two atop a pile of dead black men, grieving families and cops who seem to slaughter with impunity.

Two snipers. Eleven cops down. Five dead. More close to death. Black day in July. Half a century and we're still trapped in this shit. That's the lion's share of my lifetime. We've not moved on. Not really.

What in hell is wrong with us?

Chilcot's Freebie Lesson to Canada

As I've pored over press reports and analysis of the Chilcot report into Britain's bungled invasion of Iraq, I can't get Stephen Harper out of my mind. Had he been prime minister at the time, Harper would have eagerly deployed Canadian forces to the campaign. He was all about "standing shoulder to shoulder" with our traditional (i.e. white, English-speaking) allies - the UK, the US, Australia.

Chilcot has exposed the Blair and Bush regimes as a gaggle of incompetents. Their Iraq War was FUBAR before the first tank crossed into Mesopotamia. There's been no peace in that country, or that region, ever since. If anything, the Crusaders have provided the petri dish in which have flourished al Qaeda, ISIL, al Nusra and the larger Sunni v. Shiite conflict waiting to break out.

The message, to me, seems clear. When America, or American-led coalitions (including NATO) come knocking, ask questions first. Don't just say, "okay, I'm in." These people are bunglers.

If the massively violent history of this new century has proven anything - persistently, repeatedly, conclusively - it's that All the King's Horses and All the King's Men are not enough to win militarily and politically significant victories. Look around. The bombing campaign to liberate Kosovo (NATO). Check out Kosovo today and you can call that a failure. Libya (NATO)? Failure. Afghanistan (NATO Plus)? That was more than a failure. It was a defeat. We lost. Canadian forces were defeated. For what? Iraq, now Iraq/Syria? We claim victories, that ISIS is getting pushed back, driven out. Remember when we had the Taliban run out of Afghanistan? How long did that last?

Fighting wars is easy. Winning is the tricky part and, these days, there are plenty of supposed leaders keen on waging wars without a clue how to win them.

So, what's the lesson for Canada from Chilcot? How about this? The next time the phone rings and it's the White House or NATO looking for warplanes or troops for this place or that, assume you've got Tony Blair on the other end of the line after he's spent an afternoon with a bottle of Bristol cream sherry. Don't ask them about the fighting. Ask them what they've got in mind to win it. How? When? What is the exit strategy? If they haven't got convincing answers to those questions, tell them - politely - you'll have to get back to them.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

He Knew. Tony Blair Knew.

It's going to take days to digest the 2-million word Chilcot Report into the British government's decision to partner up with the Bush-Cheney regime to invade Iraq.

For years Tony Blair has been going on about how the conquest of Iraq was absolutely the right thing to do. The end, sending Saddam Hussein to the gallows, justified the means, the invasion, and the endless aftermath - the various wars without end that are the hallmark of today's Middle East.

Blair is actually playing two cards: the justification card and the sympathy card. Perhaps finally realizing that Chilcot would skewer the justification ploy, Blair has now been baring his profound anguish and suffering over how it all went wrong.


The Bush-Blair Bandwagon ultimately relied on a UN Security Council resolution, 1441, as authorizing their devastating attack on and occupation of Iraq. 1441, however, did no such thing. To wrangle it through the UNSC where both France and Russia stood to veto it, the Anglo-Americans assured the doubters that the resolution did not constitute authority for war and there would be no war on Iraq without a further, express resolution. That, of course, never happened.

Tony Blair knew the Security Council had not authorized the attack he and Washington were planning. That's why the Brits tabled a further resolution, the one they had promised to bring to seek the Security Council go ahead. Only it quickly became apparent that resolution would be defeated. That led Blair to withdraw the resolution before any vote. Blair knew he needed authority. He sought approval. Then he backed off and he's been trying to cover  his tracks ever since. It was a monumental blunder.

Chilcot, according to reports, concludes that Blair knew war on Iraq was not authorized by the UN Security Council. He knew it was an illegal war and he, a war criminal, for ordering it. The rest of the report, as far as I can tell at this early stage, is window dressing. As for the post invasion aftermath, Chilcot does dispose of Blair's persistent dismissal of critics as resorting to hindsight. Given that an occupying power has a number of clear obligations to the occupied people, including providing for their security, Blair might be on the hook on this score as well.

What comes of this now is unclear. Will Blair be prosecuted? He ought to be but that doesn't mean he will.


Blair, of course, has written a book, A Journey: My Political Life. I'll leave the review to Foreign Policy's Thomas Ricks.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Best Explanation Ever

Out here on Vancouver Island, July and August bring us incredibly clear night skies. I cherish the season, trying to set aside a half hour or more to sky gazing before bed. It's amazing what there is to see - stars, meteors, satellites, even the International Space Station (there's an ISS app telling you when it will be overhead in your location).

Once you're used to it you may find a connection to all you see in that night sky. Some of the light you will see with the naked eye is several thousand years old. The oldest event man has seen with sophisticated instruments clocked in at 168,000 light years old. Creationists go ape shit trying to explain that away.

I enjoy gazing into the clear night sky, communing with what's out there. I've always felt somehow connected although in a most infinitesimal scale. We're here for what, 60 maybe 80 years? In galactic terms that's not even the flaring of a match. Still it's a wonderous thing that I somehow find comforting. It adds a perspective in which our individual irrelevance is somehow welcoming.

With that in mind, I'd like to share this from Neil deGrasse Tyson. His point - when you look into the universe, you're seeing yourself.