Monday, November 15, 2010

More Links, Less Narrative, Lots of Crazy

These news story links are about the crazy that has descended upon our American cousins. As Canadians we should never laugh too hard or get too smug. We are every bit as susceptible to political propaganda and lying narratives as they are. We are fortunate enough to have the public broadcaster on our side for now but take note, the culture over at the CBC has been changing markedly since Harper became Prime Minister. Just wait until they toss Fox News North into that mix and our discourse will soon become just as toxic if we let it. If you disagree may I direct you over to any chat board underneath a news story at the Globe and Mail or the CBC.

 Starting with the 16 dumbest things Americans believe and the right wing lies behind them. My favourite was this one: Americans genuinely believe President Obama has raised their taxes -- even though the reality is that the president actually lowered them for most. So they don't even believe their own lying paychecks!

One of the most disgraced men in recent history is on a promotional book-selling tour, lying about what he did and even admitting to war crimes. You'd think at least one so-called professional journalist would work up some gumption and ask him to answer a tough question or two -- you'd be wrong. There's was a case to be made for impeaching him when he was in office, sadly no one had the nerve.

The fact that Americans seem to have voted once again for the bush/cheney agenda has Europeans perplexed. I'm guessing that the divisiveness the two sociopaths helped to foster and create a familiar (to Europeans) recipe for fascism is what concerns them most. Follow this link and go read how members of the Neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement gathered in front of the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Court Building in Phoenix, AZ to protest a federal judge’s decision to block several provisions of the state’s controversial immigration law, SB-1070.

The contents of the Iraq war WikiLeaks documents still flying under the radar. Nothing to see here according to the media.

Tennessee state Rep. Curry Todd (R) asked a health official if a state health program that helps pregnant women checks the immigration status of its patients before offering benefits. After he was informed that the federal government doesn’t allow citizenship tests for prenatal care because all children born in the U.S. are automatically American citizens, he warned that without status checks, immigrants will “go out there like rats and multiply.” Not crazy enough for ya'? The new Arkansas state representative - elect, Republican Loy Mauch believes that the confederate flag is a symbol of Jesus Christ because Jesus thought slavery was so cool I guess.

The guy who helped destroy ACORN doing what he can to destroy a hero's life. Truly abominable -- the American right is inhabited strictly by sociopaths.

To end this post on a literary note, an analysis of William Blake's poem, 'London,' by Mark Edmundson and the many ways the society he spoke of 200 years ago is mirrored today in 21st century America.
London



I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.


In every cry of every Man.
In every Infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every black'ning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.


But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's curse
Blasts the new born Infant's tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

Monday Links

I'm back after taking the weekend off from blogging here at NMPCanada. There's a bit of burnout from a week's worth of radio, research and blogging but mostly there's the repetitiveness of the narratives: Harper's an ideologue, Iggy stands up for nothing and our rights as citizens are being slowly but steadily eroded. Perhaps these narratives explain why the polls have essentially been stuck in place for the past two years. There's not that much difference between recent NANOS and the EKOS polls although the former has Harper ahead by 5 points and the latter has them in a statistical tie. Give or take 5 points for the two leading Canadian political parties, this is how it has been with neither party being able to generate any real momentum since 2008.

 Harper, as most already know, has decided to extend the Afghan mission by 3 years without taking this decision to Parliament for discussion or for a vote in spite of the fact that there has been little if any real progress in all these years of the NATO occupation of Afghanistan. U.S. intelligence services are reportedly saying off the record that no one expects Afghanistan to ever become a fully functioning state. And yet the Tories argument is that if Canada leaves now all our efforts will have all been for nought?

In doing this unilaterally, PM Harper is strangely providing cover for the Liberals who are onside with the extension of the Afghanistan mission. Unsurprisingly, the NDP would like it put to a vote so that Canadians can see for themselves that there is not much difference in policy between Canada's two most prominent political parties. It's a way of showing voters that they are the choice for Canadian who count themselves as progressives. There is also a practical matter at stake in having the debate in Parliament as the NDP supports the option of supporting transitional justice, aid, development and governance in Afghanistan as an exit strategy, which Paul Dewar (NDP foreign affairs critic) says would cost about $500-million over three years. As opposed to the Harper plan which calls for 1,000 troops stay in Afghanistan it could cost Canada $3-billion over four years, according to estimates by the Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page.

There's evidence aplenty that for Harper ideology is far more important than any issue. Gerald Caplan does a terrific job of shining a light on this governments handling of veterans issues and the people who stand up for them -- but he's the exception as far as media coverage is concerned. The treatment of Pat Stogran and Sean Bruyea should provide fodder for a national scandals but between the poor job the press does of covering these issues and our collective complacency, there is no outcry. So Stogran gets dumped for doing his job as Veteran's Ombudsman capably and Bruyea has a slew of bureaucrats rifle through his personal files searching for something to discredit him because he had the temerity to call the Harper government on its' bullshit.

 There's no outcry from the Liberals on this or any other issue that Liberal leaders in the past have stood up and fought for, which to me explains why Mr. Ignatieff can garner no momentum in the weekly polls in spite of having an unpopular Tory PM to run against.

For example he could rail against erosion of our rights' under this Conservative government. Go read this speech given by Naomi Klein at the telethon held to raise funds and cover the legal costs of G20 protesters in Toronto. In many ways what took place in late June is emblematic of the contempt our government now holds anyone who protests their policies in. It also is illustrative of how far our governments will go to silence dissent. Make no mistake, that's what those mass arrests in Toronto were all about. They were not about keeping the peace.

 For those who either don't know or don't recall, Naomi recounts,
...large parts of Toronto were engulfed in a sprawling security zone as an atmosphere of hysteria gripped our city. Residents were subject to arbitrary searches as they went to and from work, discovering that they were in a bizarre rights-free zone. Peaceful protesters were attacked with rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray. At Queen's Park Riot police plowed into groups of people sitting on the grass flailing their batons and kicking protesters to the ground.

In all, over 1,100 people were arrested -- the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. Roughly 800 of them were jailed.

From them we have heard many reports of beatings (including beatings of people in handcuffs). Of racist, sexist, and homophobic slurs and threats, of people being screamed at for speaking in languages other than English. Of strip searches of women by male officers, of groping by police, sexual solicitation, rape threats. We also heard about the shocking detention conditions: people crammed into cells, unable to lie down. Medicines were denied, as was the right to counsel.
All of this should be shocking to read but sadly it barely breaks through cacophony of the MSM 24/7 news cycles that treats all stories equally whether they be about drunken celebrities or public policy. We need to demand more from both our politicians and the media. That axiom about nations getting the governments they deserve is likely to hold just as true about the media. If we do not hold them accountable it is not likely that they will change what they do any time soon.