Friday, July 31, 2015

The Juggernaut

Lots of progressives tell me about all of the victories they win. "We got them to stop this or that." "We got 10,000 people in the streets against this bill." "We defended these rights."

But in my mind, what I see is the inexorable juggernaut of self-destructive hegemony rumbling on its way, pretty much indifferent to all the battles being carried out by the tiny figures on its surface.

It's a long time ago (maybe more than a year ago) but remember what economic historian Thomaas Piketty said: What created a genuine degree of social equality and economic stability and decent living standards in the leading industrial powers wasn't liberal democracy, or the Wobblies or the genius of capitalism. No. It was the political upheavals brought about by World War I, the Great Depression and World War II.

Now, obviously, to a great degree, if there had been no labour movement and no feminist movement, the elite response to those cataclysms would have been different from what they were. But let's not pat ourselves on the back too much here. Elites learned lessons too. Elite manipulation of the money supply and deficit financing and austerity and social control (propaganda, militarized police forces, etc.,) have made it so that the criminal scum who caused the world economic crisis are the people who have benefited from the economic crisis.

Excuse me for saying so again, but unless and until more progressives think hard about the causes of things, the core of the problem, the root of the matter, the realities of power in the human world, we will continue to be taken along by the juggernaut on its path to oblivion.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The harper Hangover

Thinking about living in harper's Canada makes me so very tired. my brain is tired from all the harperism. And the Rob Fordism. And the terence corcoranism. And the smelly ezra levant that i got on my shoe this morning.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Anti-harper Coalition or "Fair Play"?

I'd hardly heard of John Ivison before, but I'll give him credit for one thing: He's totally unafraid to write a column that shows he's absolutely clueless and then ask to get paid for the fucking thing.
Predictions are preposterous at the best of times, but I predict Nathan Cullen will come to regret saying the NDP’s No. 1 priority is to topple the Tories.
Bang! Right off the top, Ivison reveals his ignorance about the harpercon abuses of our parliamentary democracy and their fiscal incompetence and their overall immorality and murderous stupidity. A LOT of people, for a LONG time, have believed that getting rid of this thug and his gang of cretins is priority number one.
Cullen, the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley in British Columbia, said Liberal voters are as fed up of Stephen Harper as New Democrats and that, by losing their nerve during the coalition crisis of 2008, they made a “huge mistake” by not ousting Harper’s government.

But the tactical error is Cullen’s. By suggesting a combination of New Democrats and Liberals should bring down a Harper minority government at the first opportunity, he has opened the door to accusations the opposition parties will band together to subvert the will of voters.
Ivison is joined by other idiots who twist themselves into knots trying to explain how two parties which, combined, enjoy the support of 60% of the electorate, are subverting the will of democracy by their combination into a coalition, but their arguments are self-evidently ludicrous. Here's one "handyandy" in the comments section of Ivison's column:
The difficulty is that in that case more voters have voted for a platform proposed by the CP than by either of the other two parties. The other two parties have each campaigned on different platforms. If they form a coalition they will then be governing an a platform that nobody has voted for. So how does that represent the "will of the voters"?
What about the "difficulty" that more voters have voted against the platform proposed by the Conservative Party?  How is it "democratic" in that case, that a majority of Canadians have to sit and endure policies that they viscerally loath, from a party they absolutely despise, because that despised party has the largest single bloc of voters? How has "winner" (by hook or by crook) become an absolute virtue? Coalitions are anti-democratic. By that logic, votes of non-confidence are anti-democratic. Bah! These arguments only expose their proponent's abysmal understanding of the political system they're pretending to explain and defend!
I suspect the Harperites have clipped the Cullen comments and are in the process of producing ads that warn of “reckless coalitions” being formed between the opposition parties, to unleash in the closing days of what promises to be a tight campaign.
Well, I suspect that the harperites are busy coming up with all sorts of stupid, sleazy, intelligence-insulting campaigns against everyone, and, furthermore, when it comes to "reckless" the harpercons take a backseat to no one. If anything, the pro-coalition people should be sharpening their knives and eviscerate whatever garbage the taxpayer-funded PMO comes up with to serve their partisan criminal masters.
The course of events are similar to what transpired in the recent British general election, where the Conservatives and Labour were running neck and neck into the home straight.
In one leaders’ debate, the Scottish National Party’s Nicola Sturgeon promised to help make Labour leader, Ed Miliband, the next prime minister. In its platform, the SNP pledged to work with the other parties to keep the Tories from office.

David Cameron’s Conservatives leapt on the idea that Labour would be propped up by the separatist SNP and, despite promises by Miliband that he would not co-operate with the nationalists after the election, it produced a late swing to the Tories.
You know John, aside from the fact that the NDP is currently ahead of the Liberals in the polls, and aside from the fact that neither the Liberals nor the NDP is a separatist party (a charge that would be more suitably placed on the Conservative Party of Canada), you have a point there.
Cullen’s comments are no surprise — he has long held this position. In the NDP leadership race, he proposed New Democrats and Liberals should co-operate on joint primary nominations, to determine the best possible local “progressive” candidate and avoid vote-splitting.
Tom Mulcair, the NDP leader, has been something of a weather vane on the issue, shifting his opinion with the prevailing political winds. In less prosperous days, he talked of being “always open to working with others.”
But as the NDP has waxed in popularity, he has ruled out any co-operation with the Liberals. “C’est fini,” he told the Journal de Montreal in May.
There may be some regional politics at play here — in Quebec, the NDP wants voters to think it is the only option to get rid of Harper; in B.C., it soft-pedals the differences between the parties.
Justin Trudeau, the Liberal leader, has been consistent that there can be no deal, on the basis that they disagree on too many issues, from the Clarity Act to abolishing the Senate. He is aware of what happened to the Liberal Democrats in Britain, junior partners in a coalition government that received all of the blame and none of the gain during five years in power. The party was reduced from 56 MPs to eight in the spring election.
(All horse-race talk that doesn't interest me.)
But Mulcair and Trudeau’s protestations are not going to matter. Cullen’s comments are enough for the Conservatives to claim that the will of the voters would be overturned; that the second- and third-placed parties would orchestrate the demise of the winning Conservatives and ask the governor-general for the opportunity to form government.
Wait for it ...
This is quite a legitimate constitutional manoeuvre.
In fact, Harper tried to pull the same stunt in 2004 ...

The only thing that made it a "stunt" when harper did it was the utter hypocrisy with which he utilized it.
...when he signed a letter with Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe that said if the Paul Martin government was defeated, the governor-general should look to the leader of the second-placed party to run the country – i.e., one Stephen J. Harper.
Right. And what made that hypocritical was the way harper screamed blue murder when faced with being ousted by a coalition himself. (Whereupon he shoved a splintery broomstick up the ass of the Westminster System of Parliament by convincing a weak-kneed Governor-General to prorogue Parliament before the majority of the people's representatives could make their will known.)
But it goes against the prevailing sense of fair play felt by many Canadians — that the winner should win, not be brought low by a coalition of the losers.
This sentence is abysmally stupid for two reasons: 1) That Ivison writes that after the harpercon party of Canada used fraud to steal their majority (which I'm sure upsets the sense of fair play felt by many Canadians more than a "legitimate constitutional manoeuvre" such as a coalition government, and 2) That politics is about competitions between ideas and demographics. It's not a fucking running race to a finish line where the first person across is clearly the winner and any attempt to say otherwise is incoherent nonsense. In proportional representation systems, where many parties, representing many different viewpoints compete, smaller parties are not referred to as "losers." They're voices of smaller groups of people.

Representative politics can go from bullshit democracy, where two right-wing business parties compete in a rigged system, such as the USA has (and which Canada would have but for the NDP and Quebec nationalism), all the way to dysfunctional systems with too many extremist small parties always toppling governments and producing chaos. And then there's Canada. Where, for some reason, the idea is that there are "winners" and they get to take everything. Somehow a majority of the people's representatives coalescing against a minority government isn't "fair" or "democratic."

(And all of this drivel is said within the shadow of the most cynical, contemptuous and contemptible, anti-democratic thuggish government in our nation's history!)
This all sounds like typically Machiavellian hard-ball politics by Harper. But I have few doubts that in this case, he would be correct to point out the determination of many progressives to overturn the election result at the first opportunity, if the Conservatives win a minority government.
One of the most senior Liberals in the land told me to ignore Liberal and NDP leaders who dismiss coalition or merger talk. “They will change the day after the election,” he said. “Minority means a change of government.”
This should be the case. harper has renounced any claims to be taken seriously as a legitimate politician. he is an abomination. The sooner that evil mediocrity is thrown from the public stage, the better.
As such, the closing days of the 2015 campaign may look and sound much like the closing days of the race in 2011, when it was only the prospect of a “stable, secure majority Conservative government” that could stave off a “reckless coalition” (is there any other kind?), 
Imbecile ...
bent on ushering in an era of higher taxes, reckless spending and zombies.
Actually, I can't tell if he's trying to channel harper's scare-mongering, or just regurgitating the editorial positions of the National Post. But whatev's.
Never make predictions, especially about the future, they say. But you can take that one to the bank.
And, so, that's what happened.

Monday, July 20, 2015

John Oliver on Food Waste

Saw this this morning:
For more information, see here:
There are nearly one billion malnourished people in the world, but the approximately 40 million tonnes of food wasted by US households, retailers and food services each year would be enough to satisfy the hunger of every one of them.
The irrigation water used globally to grow food that is wasted would be enough for the domestic needs (at 200 litres per person per day) of 9 billion people - the number expected on the planet by 2050.
If we planted trees on land currently used to grow unnecessary surplus and wasted food, this would offset a theoretical maximum of 100% of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion.
That is all.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Median Incomes and Inequality

Median incomes have risen (slightly) under stephen harper. This can happen regardless (and, obviously, in spite of) harper's policies. It might also be the case that they haven't really risen. That it's a bit of statistical jiggery-pokery. Inequality has risen under harper. It also rose under the Liberals. This is the intended consequence of capitalist-driven, neo-liberal "reforms." To give more to the rich with the lie that they will invest it in job-creating enterprises.

The lie at the beginning of this era of neo-liberal counter-attack was called "trickle-down." At the start (1980) it was argued that excessive government regulation was hampering the ability of capitalism to produce growth. The crises of inflation and economic stagnation in the 1970s was the product of the dead hand of "big government." Government wasn't the solution. It was the problem. It had to get out of the way and let the wealth creators get to work.

The problems (little mentioned by hack writers like the Globe & Mail's Jeffrey Simpson) is that the results of the "reforms" have been economic numbers far worse, overall, than what we saw in the 1970s.

All that aside though, what are some of the ways that you can have rising median incomes and rising inequality at the same time? (Greater inequality will produce skewed higher "average incomes" that the median income indicator is supposed to overcome.)

1. You can have more people outside of the labour market. Unemployed, they don't count. But then they'd have income from government transfers, so they would count.

2. You can have more people with higher incomes but that income is temporary and contract income. It's uncertain.

3. You can have more jobs open-up in higher-paying sectors, plus a few people making huge incomes as a result of deregulation and etc.,  but lots more people in moderate-income sectors, and have some of the latter making less money than they did before (say in manufacturing or the public service) which, after the dust settles, shows a slightly rising median income.

4. You can "adjust for inflation" wrong. Which is probably one of the simpler ways to do it.

Sorry for such a weak post but I really need the money.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Indebted Canadians

So, according to CBC, we're up to 163% debt-to-income in Canada. And the worry from the experts is that interest rate cuts to aid the sputtering Canadian economy will entice us stupid Canadians to splurge on more debt.
According to Statistics Canada, the ratio of household debt to disposable income was near record levels at 163.3 per cent for the first three months of the year. That means for every dollar of disposable income in a typical year, Canadians carry about $1.63 of debt.
The Bank of Canada lowered its key lending rate to stimulate spending and investing in a sluggish economy. But even central bank governor Stephen Poloz acknowledged that the move could put some Canadians at risk because of mounting debt.
"Of particular note are the vulnerabilities associated with household debt and rising housing prices. And we must acknowledge that today's action could exacerbate these vulnerabilities," he said on Wednesday.
However, Poloz warned the risks could be even greater if the economy went unchecked and spiralled out of control thanks to triggers "such as a widespread and sharp decline in economic activity and employment." (Emphasis added.)
They spend a lot of time talking to one Murad Ali:
Murad Ali sees the rate cut as a gift because it gives him justification for taking out another loan.
"It's Christmas in summer," he says.
When CBC News first interviewed Ali for a debt story last month, he already owed about $400,000 in lines of credit — money that he used to fund everything from renovations to trips to designer goods. The big spender wanted to get another loan but was hesitant to add to his bills.
But now that chartered banks are lowering their lending rates, Ali tells CBC News he's decided to switch to a cheaper variable mortgage and finally get that longed for additional line of credit. He estimates he'll borrow about $50,000 to buy more furniture for his new Richmond Hill, Ont., home.
"[I'm] very excited. Everything's a risk but it's a much more managed risk," he says, because of lower rates.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I'm pretty sure you could go back to the 1930s in Canada and find anecdotes about people who lived beyond their means.
Hat-tip to the Financial Post
 But the chart above is measuring the country as a whole. So, either Canadians in 1996 were a LOT more sensible and frugal and responsible and mature and thrifty and smart and etc., than Canadians today, or (more likely) external factors to Canadians' decision-making has led to this increased indebtedness.

(By the way, sure, Murad Ali owes something like $400,000 on trips and luxury goods, but it appears they own two investment condos and he's employed as a software engineer. The original story with Murad Ali doesn't even give his debt-to-income ratio!)

The Stephen Poloz quote bolded above mentions rising housing prices. In an answer to an email question from me, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives told me that, yes indeedy, the vast majority of the rise in Canadian household debt levels is due to the rising cost of housing. 

Affordable housing is a rarity these days. Thanks to the glorious Liberal hero Paul Martin, who abolished the federal housing ministry, and who then imposed savage cuts on transfer payments to the provinces, affordable housing in places like Toronto has twenty year waiting lists and the housing stock that they have is falling apart due to years of neglected maintenance.

Rents have skyrocketed. Incomes have stagnated. Those who can afford it see more sense in putting a down-payment on a house when the cost of rent is equal to the cost of a mortgage.

By the way; According to this Maclean's article, residential housing went from 17% of GDP to 19% in 2012. (I'd guess it's higher still.) We'd be in deep shit if and when stupid Canadians stopped racking-up their debt levels, wouldn't we? 
Rising housing prices. Rising tuition debt levels. Stagnant, uncertain incomes. That's capitalism for you. Depriving people of the means of existence; manipulating them with advertising to want to consume more and more. Covering the difference with debt. And, all the while, driving the eco-system to the point of collapse. (Amazing that I care about that last bit while not voting for the Green Party of Canada 'eh?)

Tomorrow, I'll try to see if it's possible to have rising median incomes and rising inequality at the same time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Mound of Sound Loses It

It's tragic really. But all his idle hours in retirement, studying up the grave dangers of anthropogenic global warming has unhinged "The Mound of Sound" aka "the Disaffected Lib" aka "Johnny - 'six gun' DiCosmo" aka "Juan Pacifico Ramirez" 's brain.

(Actually, it's in poor taste to say he's become unhinged. Just as it's in poor taste for MoS to say that I've become an unhinged NDP-Thomas Mulcair groupee/partisan hack/deluded follower. Which he did. Which was in poor taste.)

The MoS has gotten it into his pretty white head that the ONLY moral vote is a vote for the Green Party of Canada. In this, the MoS has elevated himself to stephen harper's number one ally for the next election. Thanks to "unhinged" Green Party hacks like the MoS, the progressive vote, instead of the customary two-way split, betwixt Liberal and NDP, looks set to be divided by a hard slog between the NDP, the Liberals, the Greens and, in Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois.

Congratulations MoS on your efforts to finally plunge the stake into the heart of what passed for democracy in this country. Perhaps you'll be rewarded by the harpercon beneficiaries of your stupidity. But don't count on it. The "idiot" in the term "useful idiot" is not exactly a term of endearment.

(Actually, that's not fair of me, to condemn MoS for the likely outcome of his voting choices and his electoral advice. Just as it's unfair [and stupid] of MoS to engage in the Liberal Party canard that Jack Layton and the NDP are responsible for getting stephen harper his first electoral victory. But I assume that "Disaffected Lib" means "former, now disaffected Liberal Party supporter." And you can take the boy out of the Liberal Party, but you can't take the Liberal Party out of the boy. Jack Layton was right to pull the plug on the government of the vile Paul Martin. And Martin and the Liberals did not fight that election chained up inside a wooden crate by Jack Layton. They campaigned and they lost, due to their corruption and, more importantly, their dismal record of austerity and neo-liberal cruelty. Fuck them.)

The fact of the matter is, though, that I don't begrudge MoS for wanting to vote Green. And I don't begrudge him advising other people to vote Green. Evidently they have the best party platform on the environment, and, especially, on meeting the challenge of global warming. (Although, as a former Liberal, I'm surprised that MoS has such a touching faith in a party's platform!)

No, what I object to, what I find (at best) as tiresomely pompous or (at worst) outright offensive, is MoS's frenzied belief that anyone who doesn't vote Green isn't progressive, but is, rather, the moral equivalent of a 19th-Century supporter of slavery. Anyone who doesn't vote Green is willfully condemning future generations (including their own children, and including MoS's precious grandchildren) to lives of misery and upheaval and the doom of civilization.

Put another way; the Green Party of Canada stands at around 5% in the polls. It is MoS's contention that anyone who doesn't believe that support for the Greens will increase its support ten times by October and votes for someone else to defeat the harpercon candidate in their riding, is a monster. A criminal. An inhuman, selfish, immoral, blind, stupid, evil person. You must close your eyes, click your ruby slippers together and BELIEVE that the Greens will increase their support by enough to obliterate the Liberals and the NDP (and the BQ) everywhere, so that there's no contest except that between the Green candidate and the harpercon candidate, with the Green candidate coming out victorious.

You can try to reason with the man that this seems highly unlikely. You can try to explain how the harpercons (as he should remember) are shameless, complete tools of the oil industry who don't even make a pretence of listening to other views, including the results of sound science. You can attempt to argue that there is a danger of vote-splitting giving harper another majority and thereby allowing him to stomp on the corpse of Canadian parliamentary democracy for another five years. Thereby allowing him to continue to go hog-wild on tar sands development for another five years.

(This last point has been dismissed by MoS by the fact that all the other parties except for the Greens are comprised of "petro-politicians" who will continue investing in the Tar Sands. MoS has no time for "lesser evilism." Except for the fact that both the Liberals and the NDP actually admit there's such a thing as global warming; and that one or the other of them has advocated for carbon taxes or a cap-and-trade regime, and conservation and whatever. That might be "lesser-evil" stuff, but that's also secondary to the fact that both of those parties can be guaranteed to at least LISTEN to reason. Even the Liberals have more respect for pubic opinion and the rules of the parliamentary system than do the harpercons. Considering the reality of harpercon delusion, intransigence and anti-democratic thuggery, I don't think those are negligible points.)

But what am I doing? Here I am, talking about weighing the benefits of voting one's conscience, advocating a certain political party, and the risks of unintentionally benefiting the harpercons, ("blathering" about vote-splitting and strategic voting as MoS puts it) as if MoS is a reasonable chap with whom I have a friendly disagreement. But MoS isn't reasonable, and, by his decision, this is not friendly. I am an enemy of humanity because I plan to support the NDP in Toronto while voting Liberal (a nice, progressive United Church minister candidate) in my riding. To get rid of harpercons and to elect politicians from parties that might actually (at least) pretend to listen and which will (definitely) do at least something to mitigate global warming.

I've said again and again that I respect the choice to vote one's conscience. Lindsay Stewart (aka "Pretty Shaved Ape" at Canadian Cynic's blog) always argued passionately that strategic voting was defeatist and demoralizing. Personally, I always thought it was simple reality. If you have a decision between monstrous and scuzzy, vote scuzzy. I was always privileged to live in ridings where the NDP was viable and so I voted NDP. If I lived in some part of the country that was only a two-way race between the Liberals and the Conservatives, I'd vote Liberal. Like I plan to do in October. In other words, I RESPECTFULLY disagree.

And it's simple fucking math. If a sane Liberal candidate lost against a harpercon monster by 500 votes last time, and 3,000 votes went to the Greens and the NDP, and at least half of those people would, if given the stark choice, have settled for the Liberal as opposed to the sexist, racist, war-monger, homophobic harpercon, then strategic voting would have defeated the harpercon. Just as if the NDP lost a riding by 500 votes last time and 2,000 votes went to some corporate Liberal shill, ... vote NDP next time, you anti-harpercons in that riding.

And it's simple fucking reality. A party that stands at 5% in the polls in July is most likely not going to rise to 50% in the polls by October. But you know what? You can believe such asinine fantasies if you want. I won't call you a selfish, deluded, anti-democratic thug, enemy of humanity scumbag.

That's just how I roll.

I'll miss taking MoS seriously. Perhaps I'll visit his blog now and again. He writes well on other topics. But with his Green Party fanaticism, he's like "Scotian." I see the words "I was condemned as a Cassandra when I predicted ... blah, blah, blah, ... the danger of the IMF becoming .... blah, blah, blah, ...." atop of three long paragraphs with the word "dipper" scattered about. I don't read those screeds anymore.

In MoS''s eyes, this is obviously because I've developed a fetish for the salt and pepper beard of Angry Tom. My years of complaining about Mulcair's support for Zionist imperialism and his depressing transformation of the NDP to occupy the space  of the doomed Liberal Party don't matter. (btw MoS? "Angry Tom has a beard" is a really stupid argument, one that I normally wouldn't associate with a person of your intellect.)

On this topic, MoS fluctuates between being a figure of fun, to an object of pity, then an object of scorn.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Sickness of harpercon Support for Austerity in Greece

You know, it's not surprising that right-wingers would support destroying the lives of millions of Greeks in order to force them to pay back the IMF (who paid back the banksters who loaned money to their corrupt elites).

The right-wing is always on the side of the powerful against the weak. They tend to support trigger-happy racist cops over their innocent, unarmed, non-white victims. They tend to support capitalists against unions. Patriarchs against feminists. They're bullies and cowards.

But just think about it: Jason - "fuckwad" - Kenney supports austerity for Greece. Jason - "fuckwad" - Kenney, who is a member of a government that lied to Parliament, repeatedly, about the cost of the F-35 fighter-jets, and tried to cover-up TENS OF BILLIONS in excess costs; which presents forged documents to Parliament, which steals elections, which puts up budget-busting multi-billion dollar tax-cuts to the rich, ... in short, a government with no mandate wasting billions without oversight; ... believes that the people of Greece should be made to suffer for the depredations of their corrupt elites and their bankster overlords.

The harpercons would saddle us with billions in debt and then expect us to walk over hot coals to pay for it. It was the Wall Street criminals who created the last economic crisis that has required over $100 billion in stimulus spending to counteract it. But it is WE who they expect should have to pay.

And all their mouth-breathing, Toronto Sun reading, political base of racists, war mongers and closet-cases and religious freaks will expect to drag us down with them as complete chumps. They'll blame immigrants for it all. Thus we'd see a Canadians version of the fascist Greek "Golden Dawn" party.

Cowards. Incapable, or unwilling to do the real work of exposing and confronting the real enemy.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Niki Ashton vs. harpercon fuckheads on Greece

Niki Ashton is one of the NDP MP's who I like. Recently she was on Twitter cheering the Greek people's rejection of the austerity conditions attached to the latest bail-out package (a bail-out for Greece's creditors really, not for Greece). She wrote:
"NO to austerity! YES to democracy!"
It's long been a problem for me that since I don't watch mainstream news at all and read very little of mainstream print news, I have no way of understanding the world-views of the ignorant deluded fools who imagine that the neo-liberal, 1%, bankster financial crisis is the fault of the last vestiges of the welfare state.  Which is not to say that I was surprised when the harpercons attacked Ashton's sensible response to this good news. It's just that I can't really fathom how they can take issue with it and still be capable of pointing their asses in the right direction when they sit on the toilet to take a shit.

(Perhaps they don't?)
The political sparring began when the Prime Minister's Office reached back three years ago to highlight comments NDP Leader Tom Mulcair made about his belief that the Canadian government should have given money to a global fund to prop up faltering European banks.
First of all; what the fuck is the PMO doing with our tax-dollars by attacking the opposition? The job of the PMO used to be coordinating with other federal departments to organize policies and policy delivery, not to engage in pissing contests with other political parties.

Second of all, while I don't think I agree that Europe's banks should have been protected from their bad decisions, short-sightedness and probable criminality, it's not as if the harpercons stood fast against bailing-out banks. Also, now, the banks have their money. It's the IMF that wants it now. Also, the Greek government has been very clear that they're prepared to pay back whatever they can, just not at the cost of pensioners, national assets and the unemployed. Complete stupid idiots like Joe Oliver, Jason Kenney, and Captain Closet himself, stephen harper, have no clue about the nature of the Greece-Troika negotiations. Nor will they admit the ruinous impact of the austerity policies that have been foisted upon Europeans and which they'd dearly love to bring here. 
Foreign Affairs Minister Jason Kenney later tweeted a response to Ashton, quoting former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher: "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money to spend."
Again, if Jason Kenney wasn't the drooling half-wit that he is, he'd be aware that Margaret Thatcher's impact on public spending was negligible. She spent other people's money on weapons and tax-cuts for the wealthy (when she wasn't squandering the windfall from North Sea oil).

The past few days, I've been thinking about what the shit-head, uninformed, deluded people are saying about the Greek crisis. So I managed to find this link from the Toronto Sun. Let's check it out! (Ezra Levant took a hand at debating this topic, but I'm not about to link to that repulsive ignoramus.)
It's a sad day in Canadian politics when a possible future cabinet minister applauds the latest news in the current Greek tragedy.
Um, unless the news is good, right idiot?
Niki Ashton, the MP for Manitoba, and a prominent voice in the NDP caucus tweeted "NO to austerity! YES to democracy!" in celebration of Greek voters' rejecting the latest bailout terms offered by the European troika on Sunday.
Ashton also retweeted more severe and more popular comments made by author and far-left celeb Naomi Klein: "Nobody should be forced to sign their own death warrant. So many Greeks voting no to blackmail and terror. Powerful day."
Sounds about right. What's your problem Furey?
It's a powerful day indeed when we can kid ourselves that going above and beyond the call of duty to offer a loan to a neighbour in need is blackmail and even terror.
Well, Furey has just revealed the most contemptible ignorance of over THIRTY YEARS of IMF austerity demands on indebted nations. I'm too busy to do his homework for him. The troika are not neighbours, trying to go above and beyond being neighbourly to help Greece out of a tight spot. For him to characterize things as such is just inexcusable. For fuck's sake! There are libraries of literature and academic studies, many from the fucking IMF and the World Bank themselves about the deleterious impact of their policies on the receiver countries. I'm seriously pissed-off that a doofus like Furey gets to make a living from his ignorant stupid ravings.
Greece ran deficits for years. Then, when it came time to join the European Union, they fudged the books to make their financial situation appear rosier.
First of all; read this, and see if you can say that Europe's banks were innocent of self-deception. We won't even get into the concept that Greece's wealthy do not pay their taxes and force the Greek government to subsidize them and their vanity projects and the military. Just read that link and see if you can tell yourself that it was the evil Greek politicians who covered up everything and thereby deceived the innocent bankers who tried to do due diligence but were thwarted by massive fraud and cover-ups.

The point is that you can't. Greece's lenders knew what they were getting into. They've been bailed-out by the IMF, now the IMF wants its pound of flesh.
Then they failed to clean up their books before the recession, so the latter hit them harder than it otherwise would have.
Their debt-to-GDP ratio jumped every year until it got to the point where their ability to repay debts was considered so shaky that traditional lenders wouldn't help them. Greece was downgraded to junkbond status.
AFTER they joined the Euro, they were helped by the criminals at Goldman Sachs to further disguise their precarious financial situation. (Goldman Sachs being well compensated for their chicanery. Goldman Sachs has also been the beneficiary of over $10 billion in US taxpayers' largesse, which it has paid back, largely through "investing" the TRILLIONS of dollars of "Quantitative Easing" it's received from the US Federal Reserve in the financial markets.

ALL the banks that stupidly loaned money to finance the tax flight and fancies of the Greek 1% have been bailed out. There's nothing coherent from the ignorant SUN writers like Anthony Furey about the significance of THAT fact.
That's when the IMF and others jumped in. Simply put, that's other nations' taxpayers' money. It's redistribution. So you can understand why the lenders wanted Greece to agree to clean up their act. They didn't want them coming back for more.
What this shit-head hasn't learned yet, is the nature of the negotiations with Syriza and the Troika:
The Troika’s demand was for austerity to be deepened solely by taxing labor and reducing pensions. Its policy makers had vetoed Syriza’s proposed taxes on the wealthy and steps to stop their tax avoidance. The IMF for its part vetoed cutbacks in Greek military spending (far above the 2% of GDP demanded by NATO), despite even the European Central Bank (ECB) and German Chancellor Merkel agreeing to this.
Furey continues:
But they did. The first bailout was in 2010, then there was another finalized in 2012. During this time private credit holders agreed to take a 53.5% loss on what Greece owed them. Thus anyone calling out for debt forgiveness needs to understand that it already happened.
And Furey needs to understand that the banks were already repaid for the loans they so recklessly made. Furey needs to understand that Canadian taxpayers have been on the hook for over $100 billion in economic stimulus necessary to counter the economic damage caused by the total corruption of the world's financial sector.  Oh yeah, also:
As long ago as 2010, when Greece was first bailed out, many knowledgeable observers, including some members of the I.M.F.’s board of directors, worried that Greece would never be able to pay back all of its debts—its total debt burden is about a hundred and seventy five per cent of the country’s G.D.P.—and advocated imposing a haircut on its creditors. Rather than doing this, the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the I.M.F. loaned the Greek government money to pay its creditors, which were mostly European banks, at a hundred cents on the dollar. In the now-famous words of Karl Otto Pöhl, a former head of the Bundesbank, the bailout “was about protecting German banks, but especially the French banks, from debt write-offs.”
The funny thing is the situation actually improved for Greece towards the end of 2014. The economy was looking rosier. But voters got impatient with the slow pace of improvements and did something really naive.
They voted for a party, Syriza, that's an acronym for "coalition of the radical left". And by radical, they meant radical. In North America, someone on the centre-left gets called a Marxist as a hyperbolic slur. But over there, many of them really are Marxists.
Gasp! As opposed to WHAT Furey? A blood-soaked US Republican or Democrat? A super-corrupt bankster scum-bag? A "Conservative" openly contemptuous of parliamentary democracy, free and fair elections and the most basic of human rights?

As for Furey's ramblings about Greece's economic turnaround in 2014, it was mostly cosmetic. The usual drivel that we hear here: Profits are up. The stock-market is up. Deficits are down. Stupid, useless, empty-headed blathering from people who either don't know or don't care about the factors that affect the majority of a country's people.
Syriza campaigned on ignoring previous bailout terms - this next part is key - that they'd already agreed to. This naturally made their lenders nervous and caused the crisis that resulted in Sunday's referendum.
It's unclear what the Ashtons and Kleins of the world want. Endless free money? Loans, no questions asked?
You fucking idiot.
Greece behaved badly and is paying the consequences. After you've proven you're fiscally reckless, you can't expect to get multi-billion-dollar loans from your neighbours without them placing a few conditions on you.
It's no surprise that in Greece the young, students and public sector workers were most likely to indulge in this magical thinking.
Greek pollster Public Issue broke voting intention down by demographic and found 85% of 18- to 24-year-old voters wanted to reject the package.
Canadians got a glimpse of this in the 2012 Quebec protests when students took to the streets angry over modest increases to tuition frees, while Quebec benefited from equalization transfers. It's the height of entitlement culture.
We don't need more antics like this. We certainly don't need our own Canadian political figures calling for them.
And there it is. Austerity for Greece's youth. Austerity for Canada's youth. Meanwhile, Bay Street and the oil sector get lavished with subsidies, despite their corruption and violence. $100 billion in deficit spending to counter the recession caused by their criminality. Billions in stupid and evil wars. Fuck you Furey. Fuck you SUN newspapers. Wrong about everything as usual.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

More Movies I Like

Of the two sprawling Scorcese epics, I think I prefer "Casino" to "Goodfellas." But just by a bit.

"Casino" really shows some mobster shlubs and how they blow everything through their own hubris and flaws.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Some of my favourite movies

For no reason and in no particular order:


and with no explanations ...
"La Dolca Vita"
"American Splendor"
"Blue Velvet"
"Lust, Caution" (which is a horrible translation of the title, I'd say)

... and one more for today ...

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fingers Crossed For Greece

I'm hoping the people of Greece voted resoundingly to kick the "Troika" in the nads.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Tom Mulcair Tells Me There Will Be Investigations

My big C-51 project is on indefinite hold because it has developed that I'm a single parent with a part-time job. From roughly 7 am to 9 pm I am responsible for entertaining an 8-year old, walking a dog, and doing my part-time job. (And this week I'm travelling across town to check in on my friend's cat.) So I really just have time to compose nothing posts of personal opinion until September, when things change again.

So I went to the Canada Day bbq hosted by Davenport NDP MP Andrew Cash. (A friend asked me to go.) I went to give a cash donation to the party, and to try to convey to Tom Mulcair (who was going to be there) how important it was for me that should the harpercons lose power, that the NDP lead inquiries into the serial criminality of that pack of rogues.

So, Mulcair was doing this bit where he walked down a line of people and shook hands and exchanged a few words, so I got in it. We shook hands, and knowing all the cameras and microphones around, I didn't say "if" but "when" he won, that he make sure that while they were "looking forward," implementing progressivie policies, that they also "look backwards" at what the Conservatives did. "I want to see investigations into these guys."

Mulcair's eyebrows arched, and he got this look of determination, and he said that he guaranteed that would be a priority for him.

I've been around successful politicians before. Decades ago, a local MP was walking by himself through Hamilton's downtown library, looking completely unremarkable, but when a constituent hailed him, he instantly transformed, he was "on" and he greeted the person with a booming voice and his eyes registered as if that person was someone he'd wanted to see for quite a while. So, maybe Mulcair was acting. Giving this potential supporter what he wanted to see and hear. But maybe not. Maybe there will be investigations (and consequences) for the harpercons.