A Giraffe Hunter in a Ditch is Worth Two in the Bush. Or Something.

by matttbastard

Newt teh Perfessor outdoes himself on the future of gender in an excerpt from a mid-90s lecture:

Traditionally, he said, “if combat means living in a ditch, females have biological problems staying in a ditch for thirty days, because they get infections and they don’t have upper body strength.” On the other hand, in the space age, “if combat means being on an Aegis class cruiser managing the computer controls for twelve ships and their rockets,” a female may be better equipped than a restless male, who is “biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.”

One wonders if Newt is biologically driven to blithely amplify the sound of one hand clapping to a deafeningly irrelevant crescendo. Every time teh Perfesser speaks my brain short-circuits and replaces the fatuous, pseudo-intellectual taint-fiddling with an infinite tape-loop of ‘Baby Elephant Walk’. Which, as far as coping mechanisms go, is certainly better than repeatedly slamming one’s head in the passenger door of a rusty Datsun hatchback.

But not by much.

…and Michael Moore is FAT!

Terry Glavin, last True Leftist™ in Canada, finds the late, lamented Kyoto treaty (and environmentalism in general) wanting — and apparently it’s all Al Gore’s fault.

No, really:

Kyoto could have been an instrument to force technological innovation in the world’s advanced economies in such a way as to clear a path for eventual and meaningful global reductions in greenhouse gases. But it didn’t turn out that way, and since nobody’s being especially parsimonious in the apportionment of blame for this, while we’re at it, there’s no good reason to ignore the pathological unseriousness that routinely attends to environmentalism, either.

By condoning Kyoto’s initial exemption of China, it doesn’t take a Nobel Prize in climate science to wonder whether there was any reason to believe that recalcitrant American senators would soon be going vegan. To expect American conservatives to get on board was as moronic as imagining that just one more poster of a polar bear on a shrinking ice floe would cause them all to prostrate themselves and beg forgiveness at the feet of failed Democratic presidential contender Al Gore. The alarming American “skepticism” about climate science did not end with the release of Gore’s global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth. That’s when it began.

Of course, nowhere among Glavin’s incoherent, straw-filled missives against his hippie punching bag du jour (shorter: STOP HITTING YRSELVES) will you actually find any truly serious solutions offered to counter what Glavin himself says will otherwise be “catastrophic” — unless you, for whatever reason, agree with Glavin’s astoundingly credulous assertion that “whatever his shadowy oilpatch connections and whatever his sins, Prime Minister Stephen Harper should be taken at his word and held to his word that Canada is serious about building national and global measures that will deal seriously, not just symbolically, with global warming.”

And ponies? I mean, Glavin has provided us with enough straw in one 600 word op-ed to feed an entire stable of Clydesdales for at least a decade. The simpering, eventehlibrul suck-up routine re: Uncle Steve’s magical powers also makes one wonder if ol’ Terry might be angling for a cushy Senate appointment to help ride out the rest of his Carlsberg years.

But what do I know?

I’m just an “apprentice raging grannie” spitting on ‘Nam vets too busy giving Joe Foodbank the business for not trading in his beat-up Pinto for a Prius to single-handedly administer a viable solution for AGW.

Just remember: True Leftists™  heart big corporations, sustainable [sic] seal hunts, and proto-fascist prime ministers (oh, and piece of shit environment ministers too). All of which will, eventually, save us from a bleak, carbon-based demise at the hands of Al Gore.

And ponies.

Looking Backward in the Year 2011

by matttbastard

Der Spiegel runs down W’s “tragic legacy” in the long, long, looooong decade of U.S. decline that followed 9/11:

America was trapped in Iraq for years, where a victory was a long time coming and was never a real one. It is currently trapped in Afghanistan, where victory no longer even seems possible. And it is trapped in an embrace with his its ally Pakistan, which it does not trust and yet cannot release.

These are costly defeats for America and the rest of the world. According to a conservative estimate of Brown University, there have been almost 140,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq. The massive retaliation cost more than $3 trillion (€2.2 trillion) — dollars that would have been better used in America’s schools or in the wallets of US citizens.

For a short time after the attacks, the country seemed united. Americans embraced each other. Even the cold city of New York suddenly seemed warm. But instead of cultivating public spirit, President Bush sought to find a pretext — any pretext — to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. This is his most tragic legacy, the fact that America can no longer even mourn its victims properly — because Americans have long been not just victims, but also perpetrators.

Hey, at least Chimpy managed to pull things together after 2006, making his “one of the more successful [presidencies] in U.S. history” [sic].

[Insert pregnant pause/needle scratch here.]

Ahem, yes, well, as they say, read the whole damn thing — and pray that abumuqawama only temporarily took leave of his senses (wait — he’s one of those CNAS Pollyanas who still think COIN  is somehow going to Underpants Gnome a NATO victory in Afghanistan; all hope = lost.)

(Image: smiteme, Flickr)

Gary Don’t. Please, Just Don’t.

by matttbastard

I have no clue who I’m going to endorse for the NDP leadership — but I sure as shit know which potential candidate will never, ever receive a vote from yours truly: sellout 3rd way posterchild Gary Doer, who has apparently sold his soul to rock & roll Ethical Oil, that filthiest of filthy lucre.

The G&M:

Since becoming Canada’s ambassador to the United States in late 2009, the former Manitoba premier has travelled from the Carolinas to California, and to most points in between, to make the case for the oil sands.

[…]

Calgary-based TransCanada’s $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline fits into Mr. Doer’s economic pitch as a major infrastructure project that would create 20,000 unionized construction jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax and other revenues in the six states through which it would pass.

The pipeline would almost double the capacity of Alberta crude that TransCanada can ship south, to 1.1 million barrels a day, and provide a direct line to Gulf of Mexico refineries on the Texas coast.

The U.S. State Department must approve the project since the pipeline crosses an international boundary and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has promised a decision by year-end.

[…]

Mr. Doer, who was a highly-popular New Democratic premier and whose name has been raised as a future federal party leader, is hardly taking the pipeline’s approval for granted.

To everyone he meets these days, he insists the 2,700-kilometre Keystone XL would adhere to far tougher safety standards than any of the 235,000 kilometres of oil pipelines already built in the United States.

And he counters the reputation of oil sands crude as “dirty” owing to the greater amounts of freshwater depletion, greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation it causes compared with conventional oil production.

“We believe that when somebody claims something that’s 10 years old about water utilization or [carbon] emissions, we have to put the facts on the table,” he said, noting that it now takes far less water to produce a barrel of oil sands oil than it does to produce the same amount of ethanol.

“There have been major improvements made. We’re not saying to anyone that they’re complete. We’ve got to keep using innovations to improve water utilization and emissions per barrel.”

Yeah, no offense to those who get giddy imagining Doer at the NDP helm going into 2015, but come the fuck on. Handing the party over to the Harper Government’s hand-picked agent of environmental destruction would be the ultimate desecration of Layton’s pragmatic, progressive legacy. And that is attendant reality Dippers will also have to face.

Really.

Full Disclosure: Biased. Socialist. Bastard.

by matttbastard

Yeah, so, once again I’m officially a member of the New Democratic Party of Canada.

(If you’re not part of the solution, etc etc.)

In my defence, this blog does not in any way represent or align with our dread State Broadcaster (eek!!1) — so don’t fret about your PRECIOUS TAX DOLLARS!!11 subsidizing this 7-Up* Socialist endeavour, Sun Meida [sic] sycophants. Also, my undies have always been stained pink, so rejoining Canada’s resident pinko party makes sense. Anyway, don’t expect me to go easy on the Dippers out of reflexive partisan loyalty.

Expectations increase exponentially when one has a personal investment at stake.

On that note, join. One member, one vote means you have a voice. If we want to steer this progressive ship into the future we have to have a visonary, dedicated crew to help with the navigation.

* Champagne gives me a headache

(Orange Crush image:  tmp | photography, Flickr)

How Dare Jack Layton Make Canadians Feel Hopeful Again!

by matttbastard

David J. Climenhaga, responding to National Post columnist Christie Blatchford’s now-infamous cranky, contrarian reaction to Canada’s outpouring of love and admiration for Socialist cur Taliban Jack Layton (HISSSSSSS!):

[T]he offending column is far from the worst piece Blatchford has written, and it makes a good point that many of us who loved and respected Layton can surely agree with, or at least concede contains some truth. Its other arguments would better be dismissed with a shrug than with obscenity and imprecation.

I bothered to read this piece only because I came across some of the angry reaction on social media sites. I turned to it with a sick feeling, because I expected from the lead-up to read something truly disgusting, like the odious efforts of Calgary Sun city editor Dave Naylor. I finished it and concluded we should all take a deep breath.

The chief knock against Blatchford’s effort seems to be that she called Layton a thoroughly political creature, and assailed his moving deathbed letter to Canadians with such uncharacteristically big words as “sophistry” and “vainglorious.”

Well, OK, the latter part of this opinion is graceless, even cheesy — exactly as we have come to expect of almost any Postmedia columnist. But really, so what? It does not seem appropriate to me to respond to this kind of drivel by calling its author a “heartless cow,” or worse, or wishing on her the same horrible fate that befell Layton.

Moreover, I think most of us can agree that Blatchford’s silly allegation of sophistry and vainglory is merely a typical response, and possibly a heartfelt one, by a Tory sympathizer who must have fretted deeply about the implications of Layton’s successful appeal to the better angels of our Canadian nature. Even our dour prime minister seems to have been improved by Layton’s sunny vision, which in some circles might be seen as evidence of miraculous powers!

While making some valid points regarding Tory anxiety over Layton’s significant posthumous power, Climenhaga misses the mark: it isn’t Blatch’s petty attack on Layton that most rankles, at least to me. Rather, it’s her arrogant, contemptuous attempt to police the natural reactions of ordinary Canadians to the passing of someone they loved and respected. As far as Blatch is concerned, the massive, spontaneous public display of emotion and affection from coast to coast (including QC — thanks Jack!) is unseemly and worthy of ridicule, another pop-cult spectacle of collective (HISSSSS!) hysteria a la Princess Di.

Now, people tend to get rather prickly when told they are grieving in an inappropriate fashion — hence the vast, vocal outcry. However, I highly doubt anyone at PostMedia is crying. One could argue that all the attention afforded to Blatch, overwhelmingly negative though it may be,  = mission accomplished.

Trolling is, after all, an art.

Regardless, I’m sure le bon Jack could not care less if his final words caused Canada’s fav crotchety wingnut Agony Aunt to throw a public shit-fit. As Climenhaga rightly notes, in this Layton too could claim the mission accomplished mantle with as much, if not more, legitimacy as she (and if the stale mother-son YYZ vaudeville act of Babs and Johnny Kay doesn’t provoke a hearty chortle of righteous satisfaction from beyond this mortal coil, well, I guess I just don’t know Jack).

Don’t get me wrong — yours truly frequently disagreed with Jack Layton over the years. A lot. But, like a vast multitude of my fellow Canuckistanians (including apostate NDP icon Judy Rebick, another longtime Layton foe on the left), I ultimately found myself overcome with a sense that we had lost a statesman, truly a Great Canadian (caps and all).

Ottawa must have been reading the same tea leaves, hence the state funeral offer.

Still, the next time a Champagne Socialist from Danforth dares to die an insanely popular, highly revered public figure, everyone first make sure to check in with Christie Blatchford and co. for instructions on proper grieving etiquette.

Oh, and none of that peace and love hippie-dippy sidewalk chalk bullshit — politics is for cynics and sociopaths goddammit.

Image: Jackman Chiu, Flickr

RIP Jack Layton: His Death Is Only The Beginning

by matttbastard

In the end, we should have known it was fanciful, even selfish, to expect Jack Layton to make it back to Parliament in the Fall.

The man who, weeks ago, stood before a stunned nation to announce he was stepping aside (temporarily, it was insisted)  to once again battle cancer, gaunt and wholly drained of the vigour that defined his upbeat, energetic campaign style, was not the same one who, just one short month prior, had almost single-handedly carried the NDP to its best electoral finish in party history.

This was someone who, if not at Death’s door, was certainly on its footpath.

But before Jack the Fighter became Jack the Martyr, he was Le Bon Jack, the man who, in the words of CP’s John Ward, “slew the Bloc Quebecois and saw the long-dominant Liberal party reduced to a battered hulk” while simultaneously bringing his once-terminal, perpetually-marginalized democratic socialist party into the national mainstream (and, in the process, welcomed Quebec back to the Federal scene after nearly two full decades in the political wilderness). As  James Laxer rightly notes, “When [Layton became NDP leader, he took a party that had seen better days and led it to become a force that can win the next election. His breakthrough in Quebec is historic, a transformative event in Canada’s political history. ”

Over the next several days we’re going to be buffeted by many heartfelt tributes to Layton and his legacy. Conversely, we’ll no doubt witness insincere remembrances from those who, quite frankly, despised the man and his pragmatically progressive politics, but cynically know it bodes well to avoid speaking ill of the revered dead. We’re also going to see an increasingly histrionic debate over what to do about iterim leader Nycole Turmel, the party’s newly-minted Quebec rump, and its overall future.

And though Dippers and progressives deserve time to grieve (and Layton is indeed worthy of memorializing) we mustn’t shy away from these contentious issues, lest the momentum that propelled the NDP to historic gains is further halted as the party tries to reorient itself in anticipation of the post-Layton era.

Just to help kick off the frenzy of posthumous speculation re: What Happens Next, here’s a brief excerpt from Warren Kinsella’s latest Sun Maida [sic] column:

For [Jack Layton’s] NDP – because it was his NDP – sad and bad times lay ahead. There is no possibility, none, that they can ever expect to maintain what they achieved with Jack Layton Nor can the party’s blasé dismissal of a union with the Liberals be allowed to remain unchallenged. Our democracy will suffer if the Harper government is not facing an effective Opposition. All of us – Stephen Harper included – need the NDP and the Liberals to consider the gravity of the moment, and abandon their pride and hubris. Now, more than ever, progressives need to come together for the good of Canadian democracy.

Whatever your feelings on uniting the Canadian left (and let it be clear, I lean towards Kinsella’s position that only a strong, united centre-left opposition can ever hope to topple the Harpercons), one thing is undeniable: Jack Layton quite literally died to get the NDP — and the Canadian progressive centre-left — to this point; now it’s up to progressive activists, regardless of party affiliation, to continue the fight that ultimately took his life.

Update: And as if anticipating renewed calls to reopen the unification debate following his passing, here’s Layton, from his already-legendary final letter:

 There will be those who will try to persuade [NDP members] to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

So, at least we know what Jack wanted (which doesn’t necessarily make it right, but…).

Something kinda like this:

So, let’s do it.

Layton photo: mattjiggins, flickr

Sidewalk photo: Paul Dewar, Yfrog

“The Frankenstein monster you created/Has turned against you, now you’re hated.”

by matttbastard


Mary Riddell:

London’s riots are not the Tupperware troubles of Greece or Spain, where the middle classes lash out against their day of reckoning. They are the proof that a section of young Britain – the stabbers, shooters, looters, chancers and their frightened acolytes – has fallen off the cliff-edge of a crumbling nation.

The failure of the markets goes hand in hand with human blight. Meanwhile, the view is gaining ground that social democracy, with its safety nets, its costly education and health care for all, is unsustainable in the bleak times ahead. The reality is that it is the only solution. After the Great Crash, Britain recalibrated, for a time. Income differentials fell, the welfare state was born and skills and growth increased.

That exact model is not replicable, but nor, as Adam Smith recognised, can a well-ordered society ever develop when a sizeable number of its members are miserable and, as a consequence, dangerous. This is not a gospel of determinism, for poverty does not ordain lawlessness. Nor, however, is it sufficient to heap contempt on the rioters as if they are a pariah caste.

Peter Oborne:

A great deal has been made over the past few days of the greed of the rioters for consumer goods, not least by Rotherham MP Denis MacShane who accurately remarked, “What the looters wanted was for a few minutes to enter the world of Sloane Street consumption.” This from a man who notoriously claimed £5,900 for eight laptops. Of course, as an MP he obtained these laptops legally through his expenses.

Yesterday, the veteran Labour MP Gerald Kaufman asked the Prime Minister to consider how these rioters can be “reclaimed” by society. Yes, this is indeed the same Gerald Kaufman who submitted a claim for three months’ expenses totalling £14,301.60, which included £8,865 for a Bang & Olufsen television.

Or take the Salford MP Hazel Blears, who has been loudly calling for draconian action against the looters. I find it very hard to make any kind of ethical distinction between Blears’s expense cheating and tax avoidance, and the straight robbery carried out by the looters.

The Prime Minister showed no sign that he understood that something stank about yesterday’s Commons debate. He spoke of morality, but only as something which applies to the very poor: “We will restore a stronger sense of morality and responsibility – in every town, in every street and in every estate.” He appeared not to grasp that this should apply to the rich and powerful as well.

Russell Brand:

Politicians don’t represent the interests of people who don’t vote. They barely care about the people who do vote. They look after the corporations who get them elected. Cameron only spoke out against News International when it became evident to us, US, the people, not to him (like Rose West, “He must’ve known”) that the newspapers Murdoch controlled were happy to desecrate the dead in the pursuit of another exploitative, distracting story.

Why am I surprised that these young people behave destructively, “mindlessly”, motivated only by self-interest? How should we describe the actions of the city bankers who brought our economy to its knees in 2010? Altruistic? Mindful? Kind? But then again, they do wear suits, so they deserve to be bailed out, perhaps that’s why not one of them has been imprisoned. And they got away with a lot more than a few fucking pairs of trainers.

These young people have no sense of community because they haven’t been given one. They have no stake in society because Cameron’s mentor Margaret Thatcher told us there’s no such thing.

If we don’t want our young people to tear apart our communities then don’t let people in power tear apart the values that hold our communities together.

Matthias Matthijs:

The 1980s were marked by a more traditional struggle between the state and organized labor. The present moment, however, is defined by a more disorganized class politics of reaction, propelled by huge inequalities and a perceived injustice and indifference by the state to the fate of those involved. This time it is also not about race. The looting youngsters in London are a mixture of both immigrants and English natives, and they have quickly and deliberately made their way into the fancier neighborhoods of the city. An incident from the much-gentrified Notting Hill neighborhood in London is particularly telling. Hooded rioters armed with bats invaded the Ledbury, a two-star Michelin restaurant, demanding that diners hand over their wallets and wedding rings. As two female rioters told the BBC, “We’re just showing the rich people we can do what we want.”

[…]

So class politics are back in what many political scientists see as their most traditional home: the United Kingdom. Most of the country perceives Cameron’s policies as the poor paying for the mistakes of the rich. Thatcher’s neoliberal medicine was equally unpopular in 1981, but she was under no illusions as to what was required to enforce austerity and remains famous to this day for having argued in a 1987 interview that “there [was] no such thing as society.” Cameron’s assumptions have been challenged by these riots, and it is not at all clear that he has an alternative to offer. The rest of the world should take notice: After all, the perverse experiment of high inequality, low growth, and now fiscal austerity is hardly a uniquely British phenomenon.

Um, To Be Brainwashed, I Believe One First Has To Have A BRAIN.

by matttbastard

If Toronto City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti wasn’t real, some enterprising young sketch comedian would have to invent him (and subsequently cash in on the character with a marginally enjoyable initial feature length smash, followed by a lackluster sequel):

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti has launched a Facebook site designed, he says, to give voice to the silent majority of working-class Torontonians who don’t have time to speak out at all-night City Hall meetings alongside layabouts and “communists.

[…]

“I don’t want to hear from communists,” he said. “I won’t be calling them communists on the site, but I will be using the word ‘whatever’ to reply to them. If you see that word you can be pretty sure they’re a communist and I’ll be cutting them off of the site.”

In the 1980s, Mr. Mammoliti served as a leader for the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Later, he served as an MPP for the NDP, where he became something of a pariah for opposing same-sex benefits.

“That’s where I learned how communists smell,” he said. “They are the ones who tried to brainwash me then at a younger age. It was 25 years ago. I know how they think and feel and speak. I just don’t have the time for them. Their attempt to brainwash me back then didn’t work then and won’t work now.”

He maintains a broad definition of the term “communist” as “anyone who is able to work, doesn’t want to work and wants everything for free,” he said.

Now, it’s been a while since I’ve thumbed through my dogeared paperback copy of the Communist Manifesto, but I don’t seem to recall that passage in Marx & Engels’ historical dialectic. Also, exactly what DOES a communist smell like —  stale clove cigarette smoke and cappuccino infused with the distinctly musky odor of desperate proletarian zeal? Regardless, it seems painfully clear that poor wittle Giorgio has been utterly traumatized by the unfortunate time he spent captive in the Ontario NDP’s Pinot Grigio Gulag.

So, fellow Canuckistanian Progressicommie comrades, how about we pry our lazy duffs from the leather sofa and chip in a few loonies to help poor wittle Giorgio thoroughly insulate his precious cranium from further Marxist mind-control attempts:

It takes a brave, bold, forward-thinking individual to stand firm with the ever-ignorant Silent Majority against Toronto’s Red Menace of worthless layabouts and freeloaders angling to topple the tinpot regime of Rob Ford; seems only fair that this faithful champion is properly dressed for battle.

Mammoliti image: alienbeatpoet, flickr