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The DEEPLY Depressing 2015 Canadian Election

Thomas Mulcair, Stephen Harper, Elizabeth May, Justin Trudeau

Thomas Mulcair, Stephen Harper, Elizabeth May, Stephen Trudeau. NO Credit.

*edit, August 26, 2015 – I tidied up the post a bit, which is commonly what happens when I do a long post. I’m going to miss things. Those things can include something as little as the arrangement of a few words in a sentence or a failure to put enclosing marks around a word, which can actually make a difference to the meaning. Foible doesn’t mean the same thing as ‘foible’. In the first instance, I’m saying that a thing ‘is’ a foible. In the second instance, I’m saying that that’s another’s, or others’, view. I also added a link to a Democracy Now segment in which Noam Chomsky discusses, with Amy Goodman and Aaron Maté, the continuing occupation of Gaza.

There’s so much to say, I don’t know where to start.

Well, I watched the first English language leaders’ debate (August 6, 2015) on YouTube, courtesy of Maclean’s Magazine. (Here’s a transcript of the debate, courtesy of Maclean’s. I cleaned it up a bit to make it easier to follow, applying bolding, reducing empty space, and uploaded it to Box.) Then I jumped into the discussion attached to it. As you can guess, a large part of that discussion is just crap. Still, I can’t resist the urge to have my say. I try my best to follow what’s going on in Canadian politics and in the world. There’s a lot happening. I am single and without dependents, so that helps. Then again, I’m not savvy enough – knowledgeable about tools and how to use them – to get at information the way journalists and researchers can. I compensate by reading, reading, reading, books and online. Fortunately I enjoy it.

This post was not begun immediately following the leaders’ debate. Also, It includes observations I had immediately following the debate and later observations and some thoughts and observations of others on the debate as well as some other information added to fill it out.

Thomas Mulcair, Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May were the leaders in the debate. I thought Elizabeth won the debate. I wouldn’t call her performance stellar – with her losing some points for her perpetuation of the myth of inter-provincial trade barriers – but it ‘was’ stellar in comparison with the other contenders.

Trudeau disgusted me. Mulcair disgusted me. Stephen Harper disgusted me.

Justin Trudeau who rarely says anything about the poor, but never stops yammering about the middle class (like Mulcair), revealed his nasty side when he responded to Mulcair’s reasonable plan to tax corporations a little more with an accusation that he was “pandering to the people who like to hate corporations.” Talk about pandering! (Yves Engler notes that even the IMF – a powerful organization that has played a big role in entrenching neoliberalism globally – has recently put forth better proposals for progressive taxation than Canada’s NDP. – http://bit.ly/1Lqltfv) Maybe Trudeau thinks that corporations are not only persons, but his personal friends. (Perhaps a lot of Senators are too, considering how fast he ran away from talk about getting rid of that rotten institution. He’s all for getting down to business, until it’s time to.) I guess corporations, which sit on about half a trillion dollars of dead money that could do a lot of good if spent properly, are his friends. Tax evading corporations force ‘honest’ taxpayers to pick up the slack. Tax evading, unaccountable, unelected corporations – something like 600 ‘advisors’ representing corporations helped fashioned the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal which the people, and many politicians, aren’t allowed to look at – want so-called free trade deals (and therefore get them) that only transfer political power from the people, through their ‘elected’ representatives (who betray the people), to themselves, making the people into their enemy. After they attack us, ‘we’ are the wrongdoers because we don’t admire them?!!!

“Harper… laid out his version of the program in his 2003 Civitas address. He claimed that the ideas of the economic Conservatives had already been adopted by government. As a result of the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions, Harper argued, both “[s]ocialists and liberals began to stand for balanced budgeting, the superiority of markets, welfare reversal, free trade and privatization.” -page 15 of “Harperism – How Stephen Harper And His Think Tank Colleagues Have Tranformed Canada” by Donald Gutstein

From “Is Decline Of Unions Leading To Decline Of Middle Class?” by Antonia Zerbisias

====================—
The evidence is just about bulletproof: When union membership thrives, so does the middle class.

Over the past 18 months, studies by Harvard University, the non-partisan Center for American Progress (CAP), the union-backed Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington, D.C., and the Pew Research Center, also in Washington, have shown an incontrovertible correlation between the rate of unionization and the percentage of the nation’s total wealth held by the middle class.

As unions picked up members through the first 70 years of the last century, the gap between rich and poor narrowed. As unions were weakened by free-trade agreements, globalization and anti-labour legislation since the 1980s, the gap goes off the charts.

“It’s been documented over and over,” insists EPI president Lawrence Mishel. “There are a lot of people who didn’t used to appreciate the importance of unions who now do.”
—====================

After your rude put down of the majority of Canadians, Justin, Do you expect their votes? Then again, Maybe Justin’s counting on so many of them to not notice. I see virtually no interest in this election by anyone around me, including family, friends and associates. No one is paying attention. No one cares enough to know. And that’s standard. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the election or something else. People don’t care, don’t know therefore, and they either have no opinion or they have opinions that they hold strongly and that have nothing to do with reality. If that’s rude, at least it’s deserved. And I’m not trying to screw people. I just want them to care.

The neoliberal agenda, a phrase that I learned from alt media sources, but which is strangely missing from alt media these days, means free trade deals that transfer political power from the people, represented by their (traitorous) governments, to unelected corporations. It means privatization and deregulation. It means lots of freedom, power, success and life for powerful special interests at the expense of the people. Donald Gutstein notes that Jean Chretien started neoliberalism in Canada. Things have continued in that direction. Things have only gotten worse, or better if you look at it from the standpoint of the children of the Mont Pelerin Society, which Harper is one of.

Donald’s book is titled “Harperism – How Stephen Harper And His Think Tank Colleagues Have Transformed Canada.” The arguably useful angle presented in the book is that Harper is a super neoliberal who’s put his own twist on neoliberalism, with his efforts to bring First Nations into the world of private property (which would see them lose all control of their territories, atomized and ineffective when dealing with a hostile federal government that wants to let mining and oil companies take their land) as one example. Donald calls Harper’s flavor of neoliberalism “Harperism.” I also call it ‘sneakyism’, since that’s what you see. His approach is to make his radical changes incrementally, because, afterall, his case is so convincing that honestly and simply presenting it to Canadians is all that he would need to do. All that Harper and his dishonest think tank buddies do, they do in a sneaky fashion. The way they go about smoothing the way for the privatizers is a good example.

They don’t present, straightforwardly, the facts to the public and let the public decide whether they want privatization or not. They preach ‘at’ people about why it’s better, but that’s not the same thing. Calling those who don’t agree with privatization “socialists” doesn’t make the case. (The viciousness of attacks by rightwingers, including Harper, are tantamount to screaming at people. Who can think clearly when they are being screamed at? But then, What use does Harper have for Canadians who can think clearly?) While they propagandize – a huge ‘make work’ project for busy workers in the Devil’s workshop – the rightwingers are also busy busy forcing deficits on us, mainly via tax cuts (unfair taxation), while telling us how evil deficits are. And that’s also a lot of fun – for the rich (who don’t hesitate to violate both the spirit and letter of the law when it comes to taxation) who are recipients of the tax cuts that cause the deficits that are so evil. Then when governments are looked to to do the social spending that makes society civilized, they now plead poverty and we get austerity, or punishment in other words, for the (supposed, except where gazebos, F-35s, rented Pandas and War of 1812 propaganda are concerned) crime that political leaders, in cahoots with the private sector, themselves committed. When de-funded services and programs fall apart, taxpayers who haven’t paid enough attention to what’s going on will easily believe that they are to blame for it all and that the only solution is the one offered by the private sector and their media and political allies, namely privatization. As Tony Clarke said, in “Silent Coup – The Big Business Takeover Of Canda,” “Perhaps the greatest hoax promoted by the media moguls in recent years has been the notion that Canada’s debt woes were caused by overspending on social programs.” -page 129. On page 64 he notes that “By successfully lobbying for sharp reductions in corporate taxes, big business had effectively engineered a critical shortfall in public revenues for most national governments in the industrial North in the late 1980s. Instead of treating rising government deficits as primarily a revenue problem, the corporate elite defined it exclusively as a spending problem. The only solution, insisted big business, was to slash government spending, especially social spending.” Tony’s book was published in 1997. Nothing’s changed. Deficit terrorism is alive and well.

Is it me or is it starting to get ugly - Andrew Nikiforuks Tyee article Aug 24 2015

Sneaky, stinky Mr. Harper is not first and foremost a neoliberal. He’s first and foremost a believer in inequality. Neoliberalism is a perfect way to create inequality. And why does he ‘choose’ to believe in inequality? This world compels us to go over to the dark side with a combination of enticements and pressures. Some succumb and some don’t. Harper succumbed and has, accordingly, modified himself into being a believer in inequality and an eager player in the dark, godless game of ‘riches for the strongest’, a game in which there has to be losers. People like Harper worship power, largely because they too want to be powerful. And it’s easier to get away with stealing, when you have the backing of powerful thieves like yourself. These modded people get a kick out of stealing the means of survival (austerity; poverty in a money system in which money means life) from others. It makes them feel strong. It also gets the attention of the victims, obviously, and that attention equals the abusers’ glory. Glory that’s unseen isn’t glory. That explains Stephen Harper and his godless crowd.

“One estimate pegs Harper’s tax cuts at $45 billion a year in foregone revenues. With total revenues at about $250 billion, that’s nearly a 20 per cent cut. Call it privatization by default. If there’s not enough money in the public coffers to finance health care, post-secondary education and old age security needs, they will have to be provided by the private or voluntary sectors or by individuals.

“…Both Liberals and New Democrats have indicated they will not stray far from the economic consensus. The New Democrats’ Tom Mulcair pledged to not raise personal income tax nor the sales tax, and to increase corporate taxes only for large corporations. Justin Trudeau of the Liberals says “we are not going to be raising taxes.” They’ve accepted Harperism, the new reality.” – page 77

“It had been [Preston] Manning’s experience that “Stephen doesn’t think words mean much.” – page 393 of “Party Of One – Stephen Harper And Canada’s Radical Makeover,” by Michael Harris (Watch Michael Harris discuss his book with Steve Paiken on The Agenda.)

One of the reasons cited by critics that Harper wants a long election period is because the Conservatives have more money (and less shame about where it comes from and how it’s spent) than the other parties. Therefore, They can expose more Canadians to their version of reality because they’ll be able to afford more ads over time. (Interestingly, Peter Pomerantsev, in his Foreign Policy article, “Beyond Propaganda,” mentions Hugo Chavez’s interest in having numerous elections because he knew he had more money for them than his opponents and saw in that a way to keep power and keep his opponents out of power. I don’t know. But I do know that I’d rather have the late Hugo Chavez as prime minister than Stephen Harper. Chavez, certainly, would never have been party to anything like the Fair Elections Act. Here’a primer, from Duncan Cameron: “Harper’s Plan To Win The Next Election: Cheat”) And since Harper, and those willing to support him, wouldn’t know honesty if it bit them on the nose, Canadians can therefore expect to be bombarded with propaganda, as in lies. And the problem with that isn’t the dishonesty of Harper et al so much as the gullibility of mentally lazy Canadians. Donald Gutstein explains: “Projects that “provided a tangible empirical focus for the policy concern” are crucial in the media-penetration efforts, as the [Fraser Institute] five-year plan predicted. These are endeavours like Tax Freedom Day, the hospital-waiting-list survey, the Economic Freedom of the World Index, and the school report card. They attract media attention because they can grab headlines and are easy to report. They are also effective, because most people tend to accept statistics as being authoritative.” -pages 66 & 67 of “Harperism – How Stephen Harper And His Think Tank Colleagues Have Transformed Canada”

It’s rather astonishing how little difference there was between the positions of Trudeau, Mulcair and Harper. They are all adherents of rightwing ideology and neoliberalism (which results in austerity, which does ‘not’ grow economies but creates ‘only’ pain for the people, as knowledgeable writers like Paul Krugman, Louis-Philippe Rochon [who gets democracy wrong] and Jim Stanford explain) and it’s tenets of balanced budgets (that don’t mean ‘balance’ in a positive sense) and deficit fighting (which is effectively ‘deficit terrorism’, since they tell us that the the deficits ‘they’ create are the reason we can’t have a civilized society). They are all pro Israel, but in an unbalanced way, contrary to what Mulcair says about it. And, as others note, that’s standard today. They are also all pro tar sands and pro pipelines.

From “”Balance” in UN Gaza report can’t hide massive Israeli war crimes”, by Ali Abunimah, the following:

———–+—+—
“The extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come,” the chair of the investigation commission, Justice Mary McGowan Davis, told media, adding that “there is also ongoing fear in Israel among communities who come under regular threat.”

Despite the “balanced” language that is now the habitual refuge of international officials hoping to avoid false accusations of anti-Israel bias, the evidence shows that the scale and impact of Israeli violence dwarfs anything allegedly done by Palestinians.
—+—+———————————-

Israel needs to answer for it’s war crimes committed during it’s 2014 “Operation Protective Edge” in which 2,194 Palestinians were slaughtered, about 1,523 of whom were civilians. (The reports vary in their tallies only in the slightest.) “Palestinian resistance groups, on the other hand, killed 66 Israeli occupation soldiers and six civilians while firing back rockets. While one Israeli child was killed as a result of Palestinian rockets, Israeli airstrikes and mortar attacks killed at least 519 Palestinian children,” notes Patrick Strickland.

Harper takes advice from scumbags like Arthur Finkelstein, who liked the idea that the riots in Greece would discredit the anti-austerity movement. (Again and again we see this. Being a victim is crminalized. This is a good way to call God to “Bring it!”) Trudeau, Mulcair and Harper are NATO boosters. Elizabeth doesn’t seem to be against NATO. Mulcair’s bragging about participation in Libya and Trudeau’s bragging about his party’s participation in Kosovo and Afghanistan are frames with which Canadians can fool themselves if they wish to. Those were not things to be proud of. As for NATO, NATO means American imperialism. Therefore, Mulcair and Trudeau can posture all they like and berate the PM for not wanting to consult with stakeholders – First Nations, Premiers – but if their idea of multilateralism is to follow uncle Sam on all of his bloody imperial adventures, then they are to be berated along with the PM. And their idea of security? Right now, as I write this, the US is gearing up for war with Russia. Canada is not only not speaking out against such recklessness, but both Harper and Mulcair jump on the Putin-bashing bandwagon. Will Mulcair fit into whatever closet Stephen hides in when nuclear missiles fly?

When Trudeau accused Harper of having never seen a war he didn’t like (and want to get involved in), Harper cooly replied that “Well, I – I don’t think this government’s actually got involved in very many military actions, but we are certainly involved in one now against the – against ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, in Iraq and Syria.” Anyway, If that’s a reasonable assessment, then I think it’s fair to say that Harper makes up for any lack of warring with the enthusiasm he showed for shredding Libya, to the point where his government crossed lines it should not have crossed, as Yves Engler points out in his book, “The Ugly Canadian – Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy.” Engler writes that “While Canada’s foreign policy under Harper has consistently demonstrated contempt for the concerns of ordinary people, on a few occasions it has veered into outright militaristic bullying. One of those occasions was during Canada’s participation in the bombing of a small North African country.” The fallout, and death, from that debacle continues.

Noam Chomsky and NATO flag and Alan MacKinnon

From Noam Chomsky’s “Year 501 – The Conquest Continues,” the following:

——————–+
Again, we see the dual problem: the combination of democratic developments that escape corporate control, and decline of US power. Neither is acceptable; jointly, they pose a grave danger to “security” and “stability.”

By the 1970s, the problems were becoming unmanageable, and a sharply different course was initiated, to which we return in the next section. They persist into the 1990s. An illustration is the controversy over a secret February 1992 Pentagon draft of Defense Planning Guidance, leaked to the press, which describes itself as “definitive guidance from the Secretary of Defense”… The draft develops standard reasoning. The US must hold “global power” and a monopoly of force. It will then “protect” the “new order” while allowing others to pursue “their legitimate interests,” as Washington defines them. The US “must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order,” or even “aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” There must be no independent European security system; rather, US-dominated NATO must remain the “primary instrument of Western defense and security, as well as the channel for U.S. influence and participation in European security affairs.”… As in the past, the Middle East is a particular concern. Here “our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil” while deterring aggression (selectively), maintaining strategic control and “regional stability” (in the technical sense), and protecting “U.S. nationals and property.” In Latin America, the primary threat is Cuban “military provocation against the U.S. or an American ally,” the standard Orwellian reference to the escalating US war against Cuban independence.
+——————–

While I’m at it, have a gander at this article, by Allan MacKinnon. From “Israel and NATO – A Match Made In Hell?”:

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What happens when the world’s most powerful military alliance meets the world’s most militarised state? Well, for a start they find they have a lot in common. Nato is the “defensive” alliance which over two decades has waged war on three continents — none of it in response to any threat to its member states. And Israel — continuously at war with its neighbours since 1948 — has acquired unsurpassed expertise in the dark arts of “counterterrorism.” You bet they have a lot to learn from each other and are keen to give mutual support.

Israel connects with Nato in two ways. It is a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, one of several partnership organisations which extend Nato’s web beyond the continent of Europe — in this case across the Mediterranean Sea to the countries of north Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel are all partners. But perhaps more importantly, since 2008 Nato connects with Israel via an Individual Co-operation Programme (ICP) which elevates Israel to the status of a Major Non-Nato Ally involving close strategic co-operation with the alliance.

It’s easy to see what they have in common. Involvement with Nato brings a veneer of respectability to a country widely seen as a pariah state. Israel is keen to draw Nato into direct conflict with its neighbours — especially Syria and Iran.
—====================

NATO and Ukraine came up in the debate, but the little discussion of it that took place was insufficient, considering the grave nature of the situation and the potential for it to lead to global conflagration. Elizabeth May was able to get in a few pointers about foreign policy and they were right on. Yes, she noted, ISIL is despicable and deserves our attention, but things are tricky over there. She pointed out that the Libyan screw up resulted in weapons going toward destabilization of the whole region (including Mali, which was talked about), as the caches of weapons in Libya got stolen and made their way to all kinds of people, including ISIL. Trudeau spoke up for veterans who he said Harper wasn’t taking care of upon their return from fighting, which is fine, but perhaps those same veterans, having tasted violence first hand, would have also liked to hear Trudeau offer some sober words about the folly of backing Nazi Ukraine and provoking Russia into war with the US. I’m sure that many of those vets have children and grandchildren.

Also, Trudeau’s needling of Harper elicited this response from him:

“this government has – this government has made record investments in veterans. We’re spending 35 percent more on the average veteran today directly than we were when we came to office.

“But let me go back to the central question of the ISIS mission. What we are doing in ISIS is precisely the mission that the inter– our international allies think we should be doing. These are the pro – these are the priorities: hit them in the air, and help to train people, particularly the Kurds, on the ground. Mr. – Mr. Trudeau has provided no rational reason for why he is against that, other than to simply slag the military when asked why they shouldn’t go there. This is a mission supported by Canadians and our allies, and it is in the vital security of – interests of this country. And if you’re Prime Minister, you have to be able to make these kinds of decisions.” – bolding is mine

My jaw dropped when I heard that. NATO member Turkey is bombing the Kurds! And no one, neither the other leaders nor Paul Wells, corrected Harper. Which is why, dear reader, you have to ‘actively’ learn. You can’t rely on special interests, including corporate owned media, to educate you.

“How US Allies Aid Al Qaeda In Syria” by Daniel Lazare

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

=============o
When the U.S. and Turkey announced on July 23 that they were joining forces to establish a “safe zone” in northern Syria, no one could quite figure out what they meant. With the White House denying that the deal required it to send in troops to seal the zone off or warplanes to patrol the skies, Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin wrote that the whole thing was misnomer: “In fact, there is really no ‘zone,’ and there is no plan to keep the area ‘safe.’”

Indeed, Rogin said, three “senior administration officials” had put together a conference call in order to assure reporters that there were no plans “for a safe zone, a no-fly zone, an air-exclusionary zone, a humanitarian buffer zone, or any other protected zone of any kind.” So if that wasn’t the plan, what on earth was it?

Now we know. The purpose of the non-zone zone that Turkey and the U.S. may or may not wish to establish is to give the former a free hand to bomb the Kurds and the latter an opportunity to engage in joint operations with Al Qaeda.
o=============

Justin Trudeau, as others have noted, spoke fast and said a lot. But he spoke fast and said too much. He tended to babble, as Karl Nerenberg noted: ** Trudeau could not sustain his opening thrust, however, and, over the course of the debate, became more and more shrill and disjointed in his remarks. His closing statement was pure cant. “We are who we are and Canada is what Canada is,” Trudeau intoned, “because we’ve always known that better is possible.” Huh? ** Indeed, When I heard Trudeau say that, that was exactly my response. In fact, I was reminded of The Matrix, one of my favorite movies. Unfortunately, the writing was atrocious. The basic idea of the story and the special effects were all that saved it. But I recalled The Oracle saying “We are all here to do what we are all here to do” and thinking how very, very bad the writing on this movie was. I also cringed when Morpheus spoke of one of the first free humans who had powers like Neo, saying that he, or “it was,” “prophesized.” I forget exactly. But yikes!

I do not require any MP aspiring to be PM to have wrinkles or be perfect. But Trudeau’s lack of readiness, and lack of love, are outstanding.

Stephen Harper and Ronald Reagan / photos from Wikipedia

Stephen Harper and Ronald Reagan / photos from Wikipedia

“…they chose geographical names rather than trumpeting their ideological purpose.” – Donald Gutstein

Friedrich Hayek and Margaret Thatcher / photos from Wikipedia

Friedrich Hayek and Margaret Thatcher / photos from Wikipedia

Then there’s Stephen Harper who must really believe he’s the cat’s meow or the coolest thing since sliced bread. He’s so sure that he has no competition, he makes a fool of himself. Without shame. Just about every time he opens his mouth, he arrogantly, imperiously intones “Let me be clear.” Well, When he says “Let me clear,” I just don’t think that there’s any doubt at all that we are all about to be enlightened. How can we not follow this man?

Mulcair would do a few things that would be welcome (daycare + raising the minimum wage of federal workers + opening up Parliament), but as a neoliberal, he would not go in a different direction than Harper, despite what he would have most people think. As for opening up Parliament, Boy is that needed now! Dictator Harper, who pleads innocence when pressed on his turn around on the subject of an unelected Senate (arguing that premiers wouldn’t elect Senators so someone had to), had no hesitation in using it in the most undemocratic fashion. Twice he ordered Conservative Senators to vote a certain way. Once was with Bill C-311, which came up in the leaders’ debate. That was Bruce Hyer’s “Climate Change And Accountability Act.” See Michael Berkowitz’s article about it: “Harper’s Hypocrisy: Conservatives Ambush Canadian Climate Change Bill.” The other time, unless there were more times, was when the government took extreme, undemocratic measures to kill Bill C-377, the “Act to amend the Income Tax Act.”

But when I heard Mulcair talk about small businesses and the need to give them tax cuts, I remembered reading that there are some myths flying around out there about small businesses being huge job creators. And it can be argued that small business owners make a negative contribution to society when they reinforce rightwing think tanks (through their membership in them) that damage society and create inequality. Therefore I had a quick look around and found an old Left Business Observer article on the subject. Doug Henwood is the author of “Busting Myths: Small Biz No Job Machine, Downsizing Not So Magical.” There’s two entries on the Progressive Economics Forum under ‘small business’ and they both pertain to this subject. There’s “Small Businesses are NOT Big Net Job Creators” and “Small Business And The Attack On Unions,” both by Andrew Jackson. And here’s a link to a StatsCan study Andrew refers to: Study: Firm Dynamics: Employment Growth Rates of Small Versus Large Firms in Canada, 1999 to 2008) When educated people and specialists, and just smart non specialists, toss out numbers, I have to go by other cues. That’s where I’m weak. I get certain things, but I can’t add two plus two and I don’t know how the economy works in an academic sense.

But I recall someone observing that Mulcair’s comments about needing to not raise personal income taxes should tell people who are wondering whether he’s moved to the Right. Mulcair asked how New Brunswick was going to attract badly needed doctors if you raise the personal income tax rate from 58.57% to 60%. Why would that be a problem? For those in that bracket, How would that be onerous? That doesn’t have to be the whole tax reform, obviously. But wouldn’t a ‘good’ doctor want a good income ‘and’ a government with the revenue sufficient to carry out social – civilized – spending? Would good doctors perhaps like healthy, happy neighbors? Actually, Listening to Mulcair and Trudeau go back and forth on taxes left me scratching my head. Mulcair’s plan to raise corporate taxes a little is fine, but not if the government doesn’t close off all the loopholes they use to not pay their fair share.

I find Mulcair to be dishonest, but clever. The explanation he gave for sticking with a 50 plus 1 for triggering discussion with Quebec about separation is an example of clever that make me uneasy. He said that their knowing that they could more easily call it quits from Canada forced Quebecers to get serious about it and that his job was to work to ensure that Quebecers would want to stay in Canada. (And it just happens that that position will win over a lot of Quebec separatists who have nothing else to do while they wait to be led out of Canada by someone.) But it’s been clear to me for years that politicians will always use this issue to distract us. For that reason only, I would be happy to see Quebec go. I don’t want to see Quebec separate – unless politicians, like Philippe Couillard, succeed in ruining the province and poisoning Quebecers’ minds. What can you do with a gangrenous limb? On the other hand, What does it matter if the limb and the rest of the body are all gangrenous?

Instead of honestly reporting that Harper’s claim about the pipelines being a great job creator is nonsense, Mulcair said: “Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau both agree with Keystone XL, which represents the export of 40,000 jobs. I want to create those 40,000 jobs here in Canada.” (But just so that his friends in the oil patch don’t misunderstand him, he elsewhere says that it’s vital that Canada gets it’s natural resources to market, full stop.) Which would be fine if the hundreds of thousands of jobs that TransCanada (in a 2010 report. no bias there) suggested it’s pipeline (now rejected by Obama) would produce were real, but the estimates (by experts and the State Deparment) are that the number of full time, permanent jobs that the pipeline, if approved, is projected to create stand at around 50, after a few years of construction is over. See “Keystone Pipeline Wouldn’t Provide Many Permanent Jobs” by Alistair Bell. It’s not only Justin who has number problems. Mulcair, strangely, noted that the 40,000 figure was Jim Flaherty’s and Stephen Harper’s own, which was not illuminating to say the least. And that’s the guy who promises to shine light into Parliament and government if he’s elected.

As I’ve noted, Mulcair’s talk about balanced budgets and deficit fighting reveal his neoliberal credentials.

As for Harper, My gosh the guy’s shameless! You catch him a lie, he just keeps right on telling it. Throw facts at him and he doesn’t flinch. He shows no awareness of them. Michael Harris talks about that in his book “Party Of One,” in connection with Duffygate. When Harper stood up in the House of Commons and said that he had personally reviewed Pamella Wallins’s “numbers” and signed off on them, he was, of course, later called on it. “…Andrew MacDougall, told reporters in an email that the PM had never intended to suggest he had personally reviewed and approved Wallins’s expenses. It would be one of many times in the Senate scandal that the PM would “clarify” what he had said.” -page 325. Are we clear about what Harper is all about? The amazing, thorough report put together by Jim Stanford and Jordan Brennen gave Mulcair, and all of Harper’s opponents and critics, good ammunition. (If Mulcair used the report and didn’t use information that the party could have easily found doing their own research, then he didn’t indicate it in the debate. I doubt if he would want to direct people’s attention to the hard working people working ‘for’ the people, through a union, namely Unifor, and a leftwing think tank, namely the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.) The report lists all of the sources it’s authors used, which included Statistics Canada of course. Here’s the report’s summation:

+=-+=-+=-o
Summary

It is commonly asserted that federal Conservatives have the strongest “economic credentials” among the major political parties. And the Harper government will likely emphasize economic issues in its quest for re-elction this fall.

There is a growing gap, however, between these claims of good economic management, and the statistical reality of Canada’s economy: which has turned in a disappointing performance for several years, and which by early 2015 may have slipped back ino outright recession. To further investigate the Conservatives’ economic claims, this paper conducts a detailed empirical examination of the record of each major government in Canada’s postwar history. The performance of the economy under each Prime Minister is compared on the basis of 16 conventional and commonly-used indicators of economic progress and well-being. These 16 indicators fall into three broad categories, summarized as follows:

* Work: Job-creation, employment rate, unemployment rate, labour force participation, youth employment, and job quality.

* Production: Real GDP growth (absolute and per capita), business investment, exports, and productivity growth.

* Distribution and Debt: Real personal incomes, inequality, federal public services, personal debt, and government debt.

These indicators are all measured using annual data from 1946 through 2014, obtained from Statistics Canada and other public sources; a full statistical appendix lists all statistical sources and details. Together these 16 indicators provide a composite portrait of overall economic performance and stability under each postwar government.

For 7 of the 16 indicators, the Harper government ranks last (or tied for last) among the nine postwar Prime Ministers. In 6 more cases, it ranks (or is tied) second-last. Among the remaining 3 indicators, the Harper government never ranks higher than sixth out of nine. Considering the overall ranking of each Prime Minister (across all 16 indicators), the Harper government ranks last among the nine postwar governments, and by a wide margin – falling well behind the second-worst government, which was the Mulroney Conservative regime of 1984-93.

The very poor economic record of the Harper government cannot be blamed on the fact that Canada experienced a recession in 2008-09. In fact, Canada experienced a total of ten recessions during the 1946-2014 period. Most governments had to grapple with recession at some point during their tenures – and some Prime Ministers had to deal with more than one. Instead, statistical evidence shows that the recovery from the 2008-09 recession has been the weakest (by far) of any Canadian recovery since the Depression. A uniquely weak recovery, not the fact that Canada experienced a recession at all, helps explains (sic) the Harper government’s poor economic rating.

Further data confirms that according to appropriate population-adjusted indicators, Canada’s economy has ranked well within half of all OECD countries under the Harper government. Moreover, given the negative growth data recorded so far for 2015, Canada’s standing among industrial countries will slip further this year. Prime Minister Harper’s claim that Canada’s economy is “the envy of the entire world” is sharply at odds with the international data.

In summary, there is no empirical support for the claim that Conservative governments in general – and the Harper government in particular – are the “best economic managers.” To the contrary, Canada’s economy has never performed worse, since the end of World War II, than under the present Conservative government. Alternative policies (emphasizing job creation, real growth, rising incomes, and equality) will be required to put Canada’s economy onto a more optimistic path.
o-=+-=+-=+

Gaza Post 2014 and Chomsky's discussion of the US support for the Israeli occupation of Gaza

Gaza Post 2014 and Chomsky’s discussion of the US support for the Israeli occupation

I’ve been following politics, and the election campaign, in America. Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a socialist – which he’s not, even if others who report on his campaign don’t delve into that – is surging while his rival for the Democratic Party nomination, Hillary Clinton, is plummeting. That would be great news – since many of Bernie’s positions are pro people – if it wasn’t for the fact that Bernie fails on some pretty big counts. His pro Israel stance is no more forgiveable than Thomas Mulcair’s pro Israel stance. Bernie’s drawing crazy big crowds and the bigger and crazier they get, the less likely, I suspect, they will want to hear about Bernie’s few ‘foibles’. Are those their values? Palestinians are being slaughtered, regularly, by Israelis who joke that it’s just mowing the lawn, and all these supposedly leftwing politicians can do is talk about a balanced approach to Israel, when they bother to say anything at all?!

Chris Hedges was on Ralph Nader’s radio show recently and Ralph proceeded to list some of Bernie’s positive planks and then asked Chris what’s not to like. From “Chris Hedges On Bernie Sanders And The Corporate Democrats” by Russell Mokhiber, the following:

================+
“Because he did it within the Democratic establishment,” Hedges said. “He’s lending credibility to a party that is completely corporatized. He has agreed that he will endorse the candidate, which, unless there is some miracle, will probably be Hillary Clinton.”

“So what he does is he takes all of that energy, he raises all of these legitimate issues and he funnels it back into a dead political system so that by April it’s over.”…

“Bernie has also not confronted the military industrial complex at all,” Hedges said. “On a personal level, having spent seven years in the Middle East, I’m just not willing to forgive him for abandoning the Palestinians and giving carte blanche to Israel. He was one of 100 Senators who stood up like AIPAC wind up dolls and approved Israel’s 51-day slaughter last summer of Palestinians in Gaza — the Palestinians who have no army, no navy, artillery, mechanized units, command and control.”
+================

From “Bernie Sanders Should Stop Ducking Foreign Policy,” by Norman Solomon, the following:

=========——-========—
I’m among millions of supporters who are enthusiastic about the clarity of his positions in taking on Wall Street, corporate power and economic inequality. But we also need Sanders to be clear about what he would do as commander in chief of the world’s leading military power.

A snapshot of avoidance can be found on the Sanders campaign’s official website. Under the headline “On the Issues,” Sanders makes no mention of foreign policy, war or any other military topic. The same omissions were on display at an Iowa Democratic Party annual dinner on July 17, when Sanders gave a compelling speech but made no reference to foreign affairs. Hearing him talk, you wouldn’t have a clue that the United States is in its 14th year of continuous warfare. Nor would you have the foggiest inkling that a vast military budget is badly limiting options for the expanded public investment in college education, infrastructure, clean energy and jobs that Sanders is advocating.
—=========——–=======

Bernie Sanders (http://bit.ly/1KJ00bS) and Thomas Mulcair (http://bit.ly/1hDw2PU)

Bernie Sanders (http://bit.ly/1KJ00bS) and Thomas Mulcair (http://bit.ly/1hDw2PU)

Which tells us What? Sometimes you have to back up in order to get the whole, and true, picture. Some of Bernie’s, and Mulcair’s, main planks turn out to be illusions once we look at their foreign policy positions, which is probably why they, and their fanatical followers, would rather we didn’t. If foreign policy hadn’t been on the debate at all, Mulcair would not have revealed himself the way he did, which may not matter to some. But his position on Israel is immoral. Canadians who support Mulcair’s NDP effectively support abandoning the trapped, defenseless Palestinians who can’t escape being regularly slaughtered by Nazi Israelis, enabled by the US which sends $3 billion in aid to Israel each year. The mass murderers get aid and their victims are treated like criminals! (See the Democracy Now show [which includes an attached transcript] in which Chomsky discusses with Aaron Maté and Amy Goodman Iran, Israel and the US: “Despite Iran Spat, U.S. Support For Israeli Occupation Continues Without Pause”)

Mulcair’s wholehearted support for NATO is wrong and it also undermines his claim to want to deal with global warming. It also undermines his claim to be a team player (multilateralism), since following what the US does is not being a team player in any positive sense, especially since it puts us at odds with what pretty much the rest of the world. NATO means the US and it means US imperialism, not a good thing. And then you have to factor in the impact that a vibrant, ultra kinetic, US military has on efforts to deal with global warming. The US military is a huge consumer of oil. It’s military is far and away the biggest on the planet and it’s thirst for oil is incredible, as Michael Klare explains. And since it’s military is the core of it’s national security policy, so is oil. Set aside the crazy, and dangerous, chaos that the Americans cause in their mad scramble to find and/or control oil reserves. Iraq was, indeed, about the crude, dude. Mulcair’s devotion to NATO puts him on the wrong side of those realities. And his rosy words of support for the UN have no substance, simply because the US, which Mulcair, like other Canadian continentalist leaders, jumps for when uncle Sam says jump, may or may not be in harmony with the United Nations’s plans. The US doesn’t respect the UN.
So, It turns out that whether people think foreign policy is interesting or not, it’s important and in fact, a good examination of leaders’ positions on foreign policy can reveal what was until then hidden.

While fracking in the US has changed some calculations, I don’t think fundamentals have changed. I doubt that planners in the US have completely thrown out their national security-related plans and strategies because they now have lots of oil through fracking (contributing to a glut in the market, for now). If we were them, Would we do that? Oil companies may have quit flocking to Alberta, but they will eventually be drawn back and for the same reasons. Therefore, What Tony Clarke tells us about US national security should be taken to heart:

“George W. Bush was certainly not the first president to declare US oil and energy supplies a matter of national security. Indeed, it was Franklin D. Roosevelt who first proclaimed this during the closing years of World War II. Despite the fact that the US was then the world’s number one producer of oil, the Roosevelt administration realized that the accelerated demands of wartime industry was putting downward pressure on US oil reserves, which could lead to increased imports, thereby posing a threat to US security in the long run. Following World War II, Presidents Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy continued the Roosevelt policy of securing foreign oil supply chains through military operations, especially in the Persian Gulf. During this period, succeeding administrations understood increasing dependence on foreign oil to be a threat to US national security, even though petroleum imports were then supplying no more than 20 percent of US consumption.

The prime focus of this national security strategy has been Saudi Arabia…

Meanwhile, the US has been rebuilding its military-based economy to fight the war on terror and to secure control over global oil supply chains…

Nevertheless, the war on terrorism has spawned a vast new, revitalized military-industrial complex that now spans the globe, securing control over foreign oil supplies and policing a massive network of pipelines, refineries, storage depots and shipping lanes. Under the Bush Doctrine of 2002, Washington claims to have the political authority to engage in pre-emptive strikes if it feels that they are necessary to protect access to foreign oil supplies that now fuel the US on a daily basis…

The US Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains at least two provisions that reaffirm Canada’s status as an energy satellite of the US. First, in a section called “Use of Fuel to Meet Department of Defense Needs,” the law specifically designates tar sands production to serve the fuel needs of the US military. At the discretion of the US Secretary of Defense, the law states that as much crude oil as possible from the tar sands will be processed in refineries south of the border for purposes of fuelling the American military. Second, in a section labelled “Partnerships,” the Energy Policy Act calls for a special relationship or partnership to be developed with the province of Alberta, Canada, “for purposes of sharing information relating to the development and production of oil from tar sands.” Note, this would be a direct, bilateral partnership between Washington and the Alberta government, excluding the Government of Canada.” – pages 125, 126, 129, 133, 140 & 141 of “Tar Sands Showdown – Canada And The New Politics Of Oil In An Age Of Climate Change.”

I wonder whether the fracking boom in the US has delayed a looming US invasion (probably by invitation) of Canada.

From “‘Heightened Scrutiny’ Of Mulcair Should Include Foreign Policy” by Andrew Mitrovica, the following:

——————-o-
The irony is that if Ibbitson and Maclean’s had been paying even fleeting attention, they would have noticed that many New Democrats concluded long ago that Muclair is a lassiez-faire social democrat with a cosmetic allegiance to core NDP values, particularly on foreign policy issues.

For real evidence of the former provincial Liberal cabinet minister’s faux conversion on the road to Jerusalem, New Democrats point to Tepid Tom’s muted response – to put it mildly – to Israel’s invasion of Gaza last summer and the shockingly disproportionate number of Palestinian children, women and men who were killed and injured during the all-out assault.

Indeed, Mulcair was lauded in neocon circles for his “mature” reaction to the invasion of Gaza and the breathtaking scope of the human carnage it caused…more than 2,000 civilians killed, including hundreds of children, while countless other Palestinians were injured, traumatized, and left homeless or orphaned.

Through it all, the usually loquacious Mulcair kept his snappy trap shut and as far away as possible from a microphone, choosing instead to issue boilerplate press releases urging both sides to “de-escalate.”

Even the NDP’s patron saint and much heralded human rights champion, Ed Broadbent, remained noticeably and uncharacteristically silent about the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. (At the time, I requested interviews with Mulcair and Broadbent to discuss Gaza, but their “people” insisted they were either too busy or unavailable for comment.)
-o——————-

From “Canadian Political Leaders’ Non-Debate Over Ukraine,” by The New Cold War, the following:

——————=====-
Foreign affairs occupied only a small part of the debate. Viewers might have expected some attention to NATO’s military buildup in eastern Europe and NATO’s and Canada’s support to the war launched in eastern Ukraine last year by the governing regime in Kyiv. This was not to be. According to the terms of the debate and according to the comments by the four party leaders, Ukraine is a subject best left unspoken.

Moderator Paul Wells of Maclean’s put one question only about Ukraine to only one of the leaders–Tom Mulcair of the New Democratic Party.

The moderator’s one question was odd because he seemed unaware that Ukraine is not a member of the NATO military alliance…

Mulcair began his reply by clarifying that Ukraine is not a NATO member. He then went on, “We [Canada] are proud members of NATO.” Mulcair said support to NATO military actions will be a “cornerstone” of the foreign policy of the NDP if elected.

Mulcair then voiced a tired, anti-Russia refrain. “With regard to Ukraine, yes, Putin is a danger. We stand firmly with Ukraine against the aggression by Russia.”

Reading from a prepared note, Mulcair went on to argue for an even harsher stand against the Russian government and people than that of the avowed, Russia-hating Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Mulcair named two Russian businessmen whom he says Canada should add to its list of Russian businessmen and political leaders targeted for sanctions against travel and financial transactions.

Mulcair returned to his petty point of the two individuals a second time after Harper brushed aside the question.
-====——————-

Stephen Harper: “Ms. May, I think the fact that we are able to bring in immigrants and see immigrants join our economy, that is part of our Economic Action Plan — investments in infrastructure, in innovation and in immigration to help drive – to drive our economy.”

Here’s your problem Stephen. You don’t really care (in a positive sense) about the economy, which goes a long way toward explaining why, under your watch, it has been ‘uniquely’ ruined. But you do care about capitalists and those with power, mainly because you want them to care about you. You’d prefer that that narrative be aborted (and are assisted by most of the Left in that), even though you can’t help showing off your power. Why have it otherwise? You worship power and crave it. The ideology that you and your rightwing think tanks and the corporate owned media (“second hand dealers in ideas,” according to the lunatic who people like Harper have been influenced by, namely Friedrich Hayek) embrace is tailor-made for those who have chosen to embrace darkness (mainly in the form of a willingness to break rules), the godless game of ‘riches for the strongest’ and inequality. What kind of economy are people like you going to create?

Donald Gutstein (above) says it fairly well:

“…Harper has fundamentally modified the relationship between state and society. The theme is simple: we must remove obstacles to the attainment of a state governed not by duly elected officials but by market transactions, because economic freedom is more fundamental than political freedom.” -page 16

And that in turn tells us why the man can’t possibly care, in a responsible, accountable sort of fashion, about the torrents of refugees that corporatocracy governments like his are creating all over the planet as capitalist expansion, hand in glove with military adventurism, ramps up. The immigrants Harper wants will be those who are already okay, with skills that capitalists here in Canada can use. But they will be entering a disintegrating Canada, because that’s what you get when fascists like Harper are in charge. They won’t be getting a great bargain in absolute terms. They may be getting a better bargain than they’re getting elsewhere. But why? As for the refugees that neoliberalism and US-directed violence are responsible for, That’s a perfect example of how our ‘leaders’ excel at causing chaos, robbing others of life so that they can fee strong, but have no time for answering for that criminal behavior. Fascist leaders don’t care about citizens, immigrants or refugees. They don’t even care about their progeny, something that makes Chomsky marvel.

“You’d think, for example, that he might open Canada’s doors to more than 10,000 Syrian refugees and 3,000 Iraqi refugees over the next three years. Like our ISIS contribution, the numbers are derisory compared to the need, though taking more refugees would be infinitely more productive than sending more troops. Worse, the government itself will support only 4,000 of those Syrians (if they’re permitted to come at all); the other 6,000 must be supported by private sponsors like refugee advocacy groups or religious organizations. But because many of then have lost all or most of their government funding, few now have the resources to take care of new refugees from Syria. It’s Stephen Harper’s own sweet little Catch-22.” – Gerald Caplan, “Canada Should Offer Homes To Syrian Refugees, Not Troops For Endless War”

See also “The Harper government v. refugees, 2006-2015” by Suha Diab

From “The Refugee Crisis In Context” by Matt Reichel, the following:

“A report issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) this week provided a jarring statistical glimpse at the unprecedented crisis facing 59.5 million people who are currently displaced. With ongoing wars and sectarian conflicts raging in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, South Sudan and Somalia, and record numbers moving in search of economic betterment, an additional 8.1 million people were uprooted in 2014. If all of the world’s refugees were to form one independent country, it would be the 24th largest, just behind Italy and ahead of South Africa. This country would contain .8% of the global population, which means that if it were instead composed of the world’s richest people, it would possess nearly half of the planet’s wealth.

“What’s more, these two hypothetical countries would represent opposite sides of the same coin. It is no accident that the concentration of global wealth is accelerating alongside the numbers of the dispossessed. It is the very predictable result of a US-led system of economic and military hegemony that values the mobility of labor and capital, but not of people, and that reflexively destabilizes any regime it views as being inadequately obsequious. Meanwhile, the market fundamentalism it espouses effectively turns farms into agribusinesses and cities into slums. It displaces as a matter of course. This is the part that the UNHCR report missed: the refugee is neoliberalism’s refuse.”

Macedonia Syrian refugees

I’m going to leave it there. Who knows? There may be another interesting/depressing English language leaders’ debate. So I’ll wait and see and if there is, then I’ll say more once I’ve taken that debate in.

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Ex Human

Robert Epstein and Eli Pariser

Robert Epstein and Eli Pariser

*Well, I just caught this article a couple days after writing this post: “Subverting Illusions: Julian Assange and the Value of WikiLeaks” by Norman Solomon. Julian said what I said but so much better because he knows so much better. I’ll toss in an excerpt from Normon’s article at the bottom of this post.

Search engine bias could sway elections, new research suggests | Toronto Star.

An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Ben Spurr follows:

{S}
In a tight election campaign there’s no telling what will separate the winners from the losers on voting day. A key policy announcement, an embarrassing gaffe or an impressive debate performance can end up making all the difference.

But according to a new U.S. study, there’s an untapped force that has the potential to be just as decisive as any of those: Internet search rankings…

It determined that if search rankings were manipulated to allow a preferred candidate to dominate the top results, it could shift voting preferences of undecided voters by at least 20 per cent…

Epstein, who in previous writings has criticized Google’s reach in other areas of society, warned that unless steps are taken to reduce search engines’ potential influence, elections risk being manipulated and becoming “meaningless.”
{F}

The Star quotes another expert, Conrad Winn, who says that the study is valid but to not panic since there’s “countless sources of information” out there, suggesting that Google is merely one of many. I wonder whether that makes sense. I find myself Googling information from “countless sources of information.” You can’t get around Google. I have tried other search engines, but they just don’t pan out. I hate Google, the way I hate Microsoft and the way I hate, now, WordPress. But these are behemoths. Try avoiding them. And it’s interesting to note that Hollywood/Pentagon/CIA gave a nod to the power of the search engine in a recently well-received movie, “Ex Machina.” (It was a great flick by the way, but it was meager.) Not just any source can double as a brain, Can it? It might be sci-fi, but the basic idea, which is powerful enough to serve as a plausible story-line about a search engine becoming self-aware, is correct that a powerful search engine is… powerful.

Winn said that “the likelihood is very low” of a search engine swaying an election, but he didn’t factor into his assessment (for our consumption) that a lot of other sources won’t be good. The likelihood of the average person getting distorted reality from the internet, in my view, is very high. Most people – excluding those involved in specialized fields in which, for the most part, information they find is defined as good or bad according to the parameters of the knowledge represented in the field they are in – don’t ‘actively’ learn. That includes professionals. Part of the problem is habit. Part of the problem is that work culture mitigates against focussing on things. Barbaric work culture drains us, which impacts our ability to focus and persist. And Western propaganda is highly sophisticated. It includes, as one would expect, the notion that capitalism is the true religion. One shows one’s devotion by working for enough money to spend enough to have all the things that advertizers say we want. And, People have to choose to care. Caring means knowing. If people just don’t care, tired and distracted or not, they won’t bother paying close attention. They won’t bother engaging in active learning. And they won’t know, although you’ll rarely get them to admit that. Those are the plugged in ones, a la The Matrix, that those who resist brainwashing can’t help. They view ‘us’ as the enemy.

“It would be one thing if all this customization was just about targeted advertizing. But personalization isn’t just shaping what we buy. For a quickly rising percentage of us, personalized news feeds like Facebook are becoming a primary news source – 36 percent of Americans under thirty get their news through social networking sites. And Facebook’s popularity is skyrocketing worldwide, with nearly a million more people joining each day. As founder Mark Zuckerberg likes to brag, Facebook may be the biggest source of news in the world (at least for some definitions of “news”). -page 8 of “The Filter Bubble – How The New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read And How We Think” by Eli Pariser

Indeed. But if mentally lazy people want to learn about the world around them from Facebook, that doesn’t mean that they won’t, when stumped about something they find there, turn to Google. And these tax evading companies, I might add, are coming from the same neoliberal place. Run from the bear and bump into the lion and you still end up in darkness.

My online response to the above linked-to article follows:

{S}
Why not? It fits right in with other tactics that the 1% and it’s tools, including fake leftwing assets, use. You have dark money and money equals free speech legislation, voter suppression tactics that brazenly stand on the lie that voting fraud is rampant when in fact it’s almost non existent. The fraud is being perpetrated by the state in the service of the 1%. Then you have the phenomenon of gatekeeping. You find gatekeepers everywhere, including organizations that wouldn’t tolerate their presence if they were aware of it. Gatekeepers are those with the ‘right’ political views, which, in a gangster corporatocracy, boil down to agreeing with whatever the powerful say and do, regardless. Gatekeepers (appointed and self-appointed, found in every stratum of society) will hinder, in big and small ways, those who they decide (usually in isolation) possess the ‘wrong’ political views. Your barista can be cold to you if he (or…) thinks you’re too commie. That’s a small, but real, hindrance. It drains you of energy.

Take discussions attached to articles in your daily or some news and information website. Just by limiting discussion, the site’s management and/or gatekeepers can manipulate opinion. I just now wanted to revisit a discussion (Consortium News, a great resource whose operator is fixated on ‘neocons’ [as opposed to rightwingers], probably because the narrative he wishes to push is that the Democrats are more chaste than the Republicans). The site carries articles by one Graham E. Fuller (http://bit.ly/1MwMSMQ) who another poster warned us about. I followed his link to the Corbett Report (http://bit.ly/1hHlP4v), which was challenged by someone else, who I could ‘not’ respond to because this relatively fresh discussion had been stopped.

We’ve all been there.
{F}

Julian Assange

Julian Assange

From “Subverting Illusions: Julian Assange And The Value Of Wikileaks,” by Normon Solomon, the following:

=====================[-
The extent of their relentless commitments to anti-democratic greed has been brilliantly deconstructed in Assange’s 2014 book “When Google Met WikiLeaks.”

“Google’s geopolitical aspirations are firmly enmeshed within the foreign-policy agenda of the world’s largest superpower,” Assange wrote. “As Google’s search and internet service monopoly grows, and as it enlarges its industrial surveillance cone to cover the majority of the world’s population, rapidly dominating the mobile phone market and racing to extend internet access in the global south, Google is steadily becoming the internet for many people. Its influence on the choices and behavior of the totality of individual human beings translates to real power to influence the course of history.”
-]=====================

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Everyone Ignores the TPP Elephant

Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau

Trudeau says Harper should fire staff who knew about Duffy payment | Toronto Star.

An excerpt from the above linked-to CP article follows:

===============—
Trudeau said Saturday in Toronto that Harper’s closest advisers “conspired to mislead the Canadian people and instructed ministers of the Crown to mislead Parliament.”

“Stephen Harper picked these people, he hired them, he promoted them, he protected them, and he’s keeping them on the public payroll while they run his election campaign even though he knows full well everything that they did,” Trudeau said while attending a union event at a Toronto park.

“If Stephen Harper had any respect left for the office he is privileged to hold, he would fire these people immediately.”
—===============

My online response to the above linked-to article follows:

————-+-
Thomas Walkom pointed out the radio silence of stumping politicians on the subject of the TPP, which will have a huge, negative impact on all Canadians (http://on.thestar.com/1NyCJMS). I’m guessing that their dodging will be heartily aided and abetted by the corporate-owned media, including the Star. Thomas is with the Star – for now.

While Trudeau, who called taxpaying Canadians who would like some fairness in the tax system “haters of corporations” (Read it for yourself in the transcript Macleans supplied – http://bit.ly/1JbanbV), yammers about the staff Harper should fire, in connection with Duffygate, you can bet that he will assiduously ignore the elephant in the room, namely the credentials of Nigel Wright, who came from high places in corporate Canada, namely Onex. Wright is personal friends with Peter Munk, who bragged that owning government protects businesses like his. Why will Trudeau keep mum? Because these are the kind of politicians who craft ‘free trade’ agreements – like CETA, which Wright had a hand in crafting – that continually transfer political power from the people (through governments) to unaccountable corporations. Mentioning that might prompt a few journos and observers to say “But…”

Michael Harris notes “how little space there is between business and government in Canada today,” but he didn’t single out any party. Indeed, Why would he? (http://on.thestar.com/1ApT44A)
-+————-

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Attacking The People’s Champions Means Attacking The People

Noam Chomsky and Malalai Joya and Julian Assange

Noam Chomsky and Malalai Joya and Julian Assange

*edit, August 3, 2015 – I just finished the post a few hours ago and thought I’d go over it again. I don’t know how it happened that something I wrote, that I know I wrote, didn’t make it into the final version. Maybe I screwed up somehow. I explained the role of gatekeeping more fully, but I don’t see that here. What’s missing is the simple idea that gatekeeping keeps the people off balance, frustrated, angry and frightened. What the 1% wishes to not see is a united, focussed public that can more forcefully demand accountability, justice and democracy. It’s like being Greenpeace members in a dingy in the ocean, trying to stop destructive companies like Shell from doing the evil they like to do and finding themselves surrounded by much bigger boats, circling them and tossing their dingy around and threatening their lives, like the police boat that ran over a protester the other day in just such a situation. The exploiters and their instruments of force and repression have the people everywhere in a similar situation.

Kafka-like Persecution of Julian Assange | Consortiumnews

An excerpt from the above linked-to article by John Pilger follows:

=============================—
Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape wrote: “The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction. …

“The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will. [Assange] has made it clear he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype. Why are they refusing this essential step in their investigation? What are they afraid of?”…

The injustice meted out to Assange is one of the reasons Parliament reformed the Extradition Act to prevent the misuse of the EAW. The draconian catch-all used against him could not happen now; charges would have to be brought and “questioning” would be insufficient grounds for extradition.

“His case has been won lock, stock and barrel,” Gareth Peirce told me, “these changes in the law mean that the UK now recognizes as correct everything that was argued in his case. Yet he does not benefit.” In other words, the change in the UK law in 2014 mean that Assange would have won his case and he would not have been forced to take refuge.
—=============================

My online response to the above linked-to article follows:

========——–========—
This article by John Pilger is very important. It sums up nicely the whole persecution of Julian Assange conducted by the US and it’s tools. Clearly, The people are the enemy – when you see the 1% and it’s tools ferociously attack the people’s champions. If Wikileaks was a union, they would just corrupt the union leadership. But Wikileaks is a bona fide people’s champion and those who work for that org are principled and brave. I won’t say perfect. But no one is perfect.

The opposite of a ‘whistleblower’, like Wikileaks, is a ‘gatekeeper’ (http://bit.ly/1AyUpV0) like Marianne Ny or her once liberal, now neoliberal (fascist) government or her boss Claes Borgstrom or Anders Perklev or the terrorists in robes (including Barbara J. Rosthstein) that we see everywhere or Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd or Ken Pascoe or Luke Harding or David Leigh or David Cameron or William Hague or SAPO. Gatekeepers are those who get between the abused people and the abusive 1% and it’s tools, who don’t mind abusing the people but really don’t want to take responsibility for any of the trouble they cause. Any member of the 1% or any member of any corporatocracy organization (governments, militaries, media) can be a gatekeeper, even though the basic idea of gatekeeping is that the 1% uses others to keep the rabble from disturbing their peace. Sometimes the boss pitches in.

You have appointed (and therefore ‘paid’) and self-appointed gatekeepers, who can be absolutely anyone at all. Appointed gatekeepers will include those who are fully aware of their gatekeeping role, although that isn’t absolutely necessary. How can you tell when appointed gatekeepers know that their role is to speak soothing words to the powerful and otherwise keep the powerful from being too bothered by the rabble? Just a bit of common sense will suffice. When you see politicians and lawyers say and do the most outrageous things, including lawless and cruel things, then you know that those ones see themselves the same way that the conventional mafia’s ‘made’ men view themselves. They are ‘with’ the big guy, so watch it! Take the crap or else.

They may be regarded by uncaring colleagues and others who themselves are willing cogs in the monstrous machinery of corporatocracy as ‘professionals’, but they are in fact professional scam artists. The Australian Consul-General, Ken Pascoe, in a position to help move Julian Assange’s situation in one direction or another, casually claims that all that he knows about Julian’s situation comes from the media! He’s telling us that he’s a gangster. He’s telling us that he’s just another professional scam artist, a gatekeeper. And if we want to prove to him that we are just dumb cattle, we can buy it. Or we can discomfit him by labelling him properly. He probably doesn’t care one way or another. Afterall, He’s with the powerful 1%.

There’s some striking [conjunctions] here. Pilger writes: “Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape wrote: “The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction.”” Indeed. One need only read Malalai Joya’s account of the ‘liberation’ of Afghanistan to see the horrible truth of Katrin’s and Lisa’s statement about wars and occupations unleashing the hell of rape on women in occupied lands. Which is why our Canadian prime minister, who never misses a chance to flex Canadian military muscle – jumping for uncle Sam as high as he can before he’s even asked to – has studiously ignored Malalai. He doesn’t care so much about being caught in a lie, namely that the Canadian military is in Afghanistan for the women, since anyone who had such a concern wouldn’t lie every time he spoke. He just doesn’t want to bother taking questions about it and having to explain it.

“On May 21, 2007, Malalai Joya – the young MP dubbed “the bravest woman in Afghanistan” by the BBC – was unjustly suspended from the Afghan National Assembly. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Afghanistan on that day and, two years later, has still yet to make any statement about Joya’s mistreatment,” writes Derrick O’Keefe in his Rabble article titled “Harper’s hypocrisy: Two years of silence on Malalai Joya from Conservatives.” (http://bit.ly/1OYE0O8)

“The sad fact is that in Afghanistan, killing a woman is like killing a bird. The United States has tried to justify its occupation with rhetoric about “liberating” Afghan women, but we remain caged in our country, without access to justice and still ruled by women-hating criminals. Fundamentalists still preach that “a woman should be in her house or in the grave.” In most places it is still not safe for a woman to appear in public uncovered, or to walk on the street without a male relative. Girls are stills sold into marriage. Rape goes unpunished every day.” -pages 2 & 3 of “A Woman Among Warlords” by Malalai Joya (with help from Derrick O’Keefe)

I made the point on my own blog that, considering the frequency with which Malalai’s Afghan enemies call her a whore and a commie (suggesting to me that the males in Afghanistan too easily excuse their acts of rape by calling their victims whores, an occupation which does exist in Afghanistan because some women have absolutely no other way to survive), perhaps we can conclude that not only is Afghanistan not liberated, but it is not sexually liberated, to say the least. But Afghanistan, in my view, could use sexual liberation. That’s because sexual liberation includes the empowerment of women and the education of men, so that a woman’s ‘no’ means ‘no’ and the men who they say it to accept that. When Afghan rapists call their female targets whores ‘and’ commies, Well, that’s a really GREEN green light, since that’s what their Western supporters like to hear. Clients can’t ever engage in too much commie-bashing.

The theme of this comment, immanent in John Pilger’s article, is liberty. Liberty, clearly, belongs to those who have the ‘right’ political views. Gatekeepers, appointed and self-appointed, have the right political views when they serve those with more power than they possess. (They serve power by hindering, in any way, serious and not so serious, those who have the ‘wrong’ political views. Those who speak truth to power – notably whistleblowers and those, including journalists and writers – who defend them have the ‘wrong’ political views. That hindrance serves to create a buffer between the abusive 1% and it’s tools and the abused people who might like their abusers to explain themselves and take responsibility for the trouble they cause. Can’t have that.) That’s how it works in the gangster corporatocracy. That’s why Noam Chomsky refers to American foreign policy as, simply, policy that follows mafia principles (http://bit.ly/1ISYsRu). There’s no positive professionalism in the gangster corporatocracy and the mafia (neoliberal or fascist) capitalism it embraces. It’s not about what you know and the talent you bring to the table, where everyone with power figures out ways to make the world safe and prosperous for everyone. Instead, It’s about who you know and what you can do for those who you know who happen to have more power than you do, who can prosper and protect you, possibly, if you please them. This is what one former member of Stephen Harper’s government (Helena Guergis) said about the way politics works in Canada. “”Everyone tried to please him… I admit it, for a time I was one of them. There is so much jealousy amongst caucus – so pathetic – all hoping for some small recognition – recognition meaning favour with the Leader. He is the one who gives things out.”” -pages 187 & 188 of “Party Of One – Stephen Harper And Canada’s Radical Makeover” by Michael Harris. You want to rape little boys? No problem, as long as you serve power. “Some soldiers have told military chaplains and medical personnel that they were instructed to disregard the sodomy because of a “cultural difference” between Canada and Afghanistan.” – Rick Westhead, “Chaplain says senior officer aware of rapes by Afghans,” Toronto Star, December 4, 2008

But if you speak truth to power, if you expose the crimes of the powerful, you might actually be accused of rape that you haven’t committed. You might find yourself joining the multitude of victims who are viewed as criminals ‘because’ they are victims. That’s how it is in this upside down, godless, dark world.
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John Pilger blog

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Spectacle

One of Hollywood/Pentagon/CIA's hitmen for the 1% versus my keyboard

One of Hollywood/Pentagon/CIA’s hitmen for the 1% versus my keyboard

We Are In Battle, Patriots | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Abby Zimet follows:

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Nobody knows yet what prompted Kuwait-born Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez to shoot and kill five people last week at a Chattanooga, Tenn. Navy support center last week; investigators have found no formal ties to overseas terrorist groups, and his family has said he was troubled and possibly suffering from mental illness. Still, the owner of Florida Gun Supply – “Best Guns! Best Service!” – has the perfect, zealous response anyway: Declare his store a “Muslim-free zone.”…

Still, Hallinan is following a fine American tradition: Fear and ban those seen as “others,” and when in doubt, use violence against them. Notes Charles Pierce, “Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez was every bit an American… He had a problem he could not solve and, being an American, he reached for that most American of solutions. He reached for a gun.”
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My online response to posters talking about violence in video games, attached to the above linked-to article by Abby Zimet follows:

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I don’t want to be a hypocrite. In this matter, I am one, a little. I like movies and often those are movies with lots of violence in them. At the same time, I respond when I feel disturbed – which I’m capable of feeling – by a message that is being sent by people who want me to think and feel differently about important things, like violence, especially that committed by police and other instruments of repression wielded by our ‘leaders’. And so I’ve quit shows on tv (although I don’t see them via a television set, because tv is garbage) for that reason. I was loving Dexter. I stopped watching completely when one scene just took the show into a dark place I had no desire to play in. I quit Arrow and Flash when the theme was blatantly, ‘Good guys torture’. When M gave her speech about shadowy threats ‘out there’ in the last Bond movie, I decided that, as much as I loved this Daniel Craig version of Bond, that was it for me. He always was a hit man for the 1% of course. But I could ignore it before. Now, I felt like I was being enlisted, for real, into the darkness and I responded. I haven’t watched the trailer for Spectre and don’t need to, since I won’t be seeing the movie. Never mind Spectre. Spectre isn’t hidden. Law and order governments are utterly lawless and evil, which presents quite a Spectacle. There’s nothing hidden here, because people who have modified themselves into believers in inequality, who get a kick out of surviving by taking the means of life from others (Shell in the Arctic for example), don’t get that kick if we don’t notice. That kick is their glory, part of the reason they do the evil they do. Glory that’s unseen doesn’t deliver such a kick. If we were immune to deprivation (austerity and ill health from fracking and dpu and starvation), and didn’t care about the causes, that could actually slow down the exploiters. Or maybe encourage them. Who knows? But I know that they like their glory. You see it all the time.

Prove to me that all the young folks murdering for fun actually care about those who murder for real – for fun and power and money. Would those same young people play video games if they involved child porn? (If such games were available, those who might want to play them would probably feel safe enough about it, since the authorities have approved and there aren’t going to be legal repercussions.) I think some would. But I think a lot wouldn’t.

I had a conversation with my sister yesterday about people taking the easy way too often. Even good people do it. It’s just too easy, especially when it’s a habit, to not bother following through with your promises when they don’t carry the risk of consequences. You tell people ‘Yes, I’ll check out your blog’ but you never bother. You tell someone ‘Yes, I’ll check that book out’ and then immediately forget about it because you had no intention and it was just easier than saying ‘It doesn’t interest me’. You tell someone you’ll get back to them and might think that you will, but later, because it’s not high on your priority list, and you just don’t feel like it, you skip it. You wouldn’t, again, if you felt there might be some negative consequence to you for that. People lie, automatically (habit). And just because they ‘also’ tell the truth, that doesn’t mean that they can’t lie. People have convinced themselves that as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, lying is okay, when it’s ‘small’. It’s just a way to make dealing with life easier, they think. I learned long ago that it’s easier to tell the truth, often, than to lie. But you develop the habit of either lying or being honest. The difference is principles. Some of us, who are good people and consider ourselves good people, don’t hold fast to principles. They ‘can’ lie, easily, if they think it makes life for them easier and they think that no one gets hurt. Then there’s those who lie with malice. I don’t need to explain that.

I think that there should be boundaries in life. What’s hard to understand about it? I’ll play video games, but not games that involve killing living things. There’s other things I don’t like doing and wouldn’t want to do in a video game, but killing people (human or alien) is absolutely something I wouldn’t do. I think that you have to have principles in order to have boundaries.

I understand the message Jesus Christ gave his followers when he told them to take the cramped and narrow road leading to life, rather than the wide and spacious road to destruction. Those who take the wide and spacious road of no rules don’t say to themselves “I’m taking the road to destruction.” We all want life. But some of us aren’t willing to make a sacrifice and to ‘actively’ seek life and to care about ‘how’ we get life. We feel that we can take the easy way and get there. The road to life, for real, is only cramped in that sense. There are rules and boundaries. The rules make us better people and if they don’t prescribe the boundaries, which, afterall, can only be seen when a situation develops that calls for them, that’s because they don’t have to. The principled person has the idea and runs with it, naturally finding the boundaries that a decent person would find once they come into being.
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"In which a gunman kills four Marines at a Tennessee military center and proves that violence is a part of the foundation of American culture, but we continue to pretend it's not."

“In which a gunman kills four Marines at a Tennessee military center and proves that violence is a part of the foundation of American culture, but we continue to pretend it’s not.”

“Chattanooga Shooting: American Violence Never Ends” by Charles Pierce

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

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Americans are killing each other again. That is the fundamental — if politically less useful — lesson of what happened in Tennessee yesterday. An American citizen got his gun and he went to a strip mall and he killed four of his fellow citizens, killed them as dead as Michael Brown or Eric Garner, as dead as the people who were killed by Dylann Roof, who’s awaiting trial, or as dead as the people who were killed by James Holmes, who was convicted of killing them just yesterday. By all the criteria of which we boast of our exceptionalism to the world, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez was as much of an American as the four people he allegedly murdered. His motivation doesn’t matter. He was a citizen. His victims were citizens. Americans killing other Americans. It’s an old story being rehearsed again with unfortunate frequency.
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Dear people: Your ‘leaders’ are happy and willing, and very able (depending), to ruin your minds spiritually and mentally. They aren’t doing it for you. They don’t tell you that they’re doing it. And you won’t end up with a great country, whichever country we are looking at, when it’s done. People who can’t think clearly will only end up being used by powerful special interests and their political partners and they will only end up adding to the chaos, which elites feel they benefit from. Elites and their partners are a macho bunch. That chaos, as in Ukraine right now, can turn around and bite them on their asses. But they’re having too much fun, and getting so much glory, to care. Which is possible now that they’ve modified themselves into vicious believers in inequality. Think – actively, not passively – about it.

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