Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The fate of Conservative parties

Heh. It isn't opposition parties or alternative ideas and ideologies that move conservative parties into discombobulation, it's completely succumbing to the the blubbering reactionary encephalitis that most conservatives suffer from, but retain enough cognitive function to survive if not thrive in a complex political playscape.  It happened in Canada when Reform occurred. Now it's happening in the UK thanks to UKIP.




Monday, September 01, 2014

The Voters?

Where to begin.

The Globe is reporting Harper is resisting a NATO-wide call to increase defence spending to two per cent of GDP. He says it's our fault apparently because us voters wouldn't support such an increase in defence spending. Maybe so, but concern about what the voters think has never really stopped him from doing anything before. [Hmm, I wonder if the F-35 is actually now too expensive use?]  If he doesn't want voters to have an opinion on something, he tries to hide what he's thinking and doing.  Still, as a voter, I can't help resent being scapegoated by such a despicable little shit.

If you can't blame Trudeau (I or II) or Chretien, or Martin, blame the voters? Good luck with that.

Further, the same government that's been frothing like a rabid pitbull regarding Putin and Ukraine has shown itself to be nothing but a skittish barking lapdog.

I wonder how the NATO meeting in Cardiff will go?

Update: Or as Terry Milewski/CBC call it, Harper has a big mouth and small, uh, stick.  [wow, that's actually the headline.]



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Con Canuck cold warriorerness

Laurie Hawn must be feeling downright nostalgic these days, what with RCAF CF-18s in Europe squaring off against the Ruskies, again. He was there in the 1970s driving CF-104 Starfighters. In the linked Star piece, Hawn talks about being chased out of East German airspace by their MiGs. I thought this was interesting so I googled around and found a more complete account of Hawn's navigation moment that paints a less macho picture of events. Seems Hawn got lost and accidently found himself somewhere over East Germany where MiGs were scrambled to meet him. He turned around and zoomed back to West Germany only to be intercepted by NATO Phantoms. Read between the lines in the second, and you realise that he was likely nearly shot down by both sides.

However, for all the ridiculous swagger coming out of the Cons about the Russians, they're about as bad as it gets when it comes to defence spending. Take heart though because Canada's views and means matter little.

Where we used to have strength was in mediation and negotiation between adversaries.  At one point, we'd a lot of good thinkers and worldly people in our diplomatic corps. Peace was a national policy objective and something to be proud of, but for a few hillbillies in the hinterlands. Now Canada's got nothing but childish jingoistic hillbillies who will mouth off on Twitter (seriously!) about Putin and the Russians knowing they can scurry behind serious NATO members.

Keep this up, and the Germans, Americans, and British will tell Canada to keep its yap shut whilst they get on with the deadly serious business of avoiding a major war with Russia. Come to think of it, Hawn's experience may have been an uncanny foreshadow.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Triage

Putin's Russia and the Islamic State are short-term distractions from the serious problems of climate change and resource depletion. We simply don't have time to fuck around with some new fangled Cold- luke-warm-War or to humour the Islamic State.

The global policy response should be robust, and aimed at walling off these two entities in every way possible so that we in the rest of the world can get on with the serious business of adapting civilisation to the worst crisis it has ever known.





Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gazonto . . .

Imagine if Stevie hammered the GTA like the Israelis have hammered Gaza? Toronto filmmaker John Greyson's efforts to give us a better and more personalized feel for how the bombing of Gaza would look, feel, and play itself out for all us ordinary citizens if it was happening right here in good old T.O. instead.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fantino lashes out at veterans ... once again.

It's hard to believe Julian Fantino's role is to champion Canadian Forces veterans at the Harper cabinet table. You can imagine how he describes those he represents to the national control-freak.

Deveryn Ross finishes him off. Fantino, whose service as a cop has always come with some questions, should be tossed in the gutter.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

America's Police State . . .

THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC has mutated into something ugly and carnivorous, not just in its policies with the rest of the world, but in the way it has turned on its poor. It's become a ghastly distortion according to Charles Stross*, who commented on his blog that American police have abandoned Sir Robert Peel's Principles of Policing. As you may know, the London Metropolitan Police was the first professional police force, created in 1829.

These principles are in stark contrast to what we have seen from Ferguson:
  1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
  2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
  3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
  4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
  5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
  6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
  7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
  8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
  9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.
If this is not re-introduced to American police, Charles sees danger: "even if you’re not a member of one of the cultures on the receiving end of the jackboot today, the fact that the jackboot exists means that it may be used against you in future. Beware of complacency and apathy; even if you think you are protected by privilege, nobody is immune. See also Martin Niemoller."

Martin Niemoller's famous warning:
  • First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.
  • Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
  • Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
  • Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
*Charlie is one of my favorite SF writers; I recommend his oeuvre "The Atrocity Archives", the first in his delightful "Laundry" series. Set in a parallel universe, an Earth identical to ours, with one difference: in the early 30's, Alan Turing discovers that certain mathematical processes produce "magic". Problem is, this "magic" is brain-eating dangerous.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Harper's ideology now presented with "acceptable casualties" ...

Shorter Lisa Raitt
The deaths of 47 people, the devastation of an entire Canadian community and the subsequent years of horrendous nightmares are acceptable collateral damage in the Harper Conservative war on reality. No amount of losses or devastated lives can prevent us from moving forward with our dangerous and seriously flawed ideology.
This may be just as "sexy" as Raitt's drooling over people dying of cancer because of a radioisotope shortage perpetrated by the Harper government. 

Since Raitt likes sexy issues involving people being killed, she can wear this one.



Sunday, August 17, 2014

A great artist . . .

MEL BLANC: The Man of a Thousand Voices is a delightful look at the man, the times he worked in — and all those wonderful critters. Enjoy. A great antidote for the depression of Harper Hell . . .

Comin' at ya . . .

WHEN THE JOBS DISAPPEAR it's going to be really tough on capitalism. This video is an accurate forecast without the hype of what kind of changes are coming for your children to deal with. The next thirty years are going to be so interesting . . .

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Adios, Mork . . .

EVERYBODY HAS their favorite(s), Moscow on the Hudson is one of mine. With the stress on our society and democracy, this clip is especially cogent. We are so lucky to have been blessed by Robin's genius.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Stop killing people

The talk of two-state solutions, displacement, borders, violent Zionism, violent resistance, bombed schools, shelters, houses, kibbutzim, the opinions of various persons both thoughtful and blinkered is maybe just a little teeny tiny bit ahead of the game.

The current war on Gaza, for that's what it is, highlights the baseline condition for any peace:

Stop killing people.

Stop killing people.

Stop killing people.

Forget the politics for a while. Simply get the sides to agree to not kill each other.

Once they do that, they've will have achieved the single basic condition of peaceful coexistence.

The details can take the next generation to sort out if need be but the preservation of life must be paramount.



Imagine what Palestine-Israel would look like if all parties forswore violence.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dear assorted Ukrainian and Russian machomen,

I hope the loss of MH17 and her passengers puts your pathetic and utterly unjustifiable little war in perspective and causes you to end it.

-----------


Commentary. I think it is likely that either the Russians supplied the rebels with advanced surface to air missile systems (SAM), or the rebels acquired them from actions against the Ukraine military. I think it is possible but unlikely that the missile was fired by the Ukrainians. Some half-trained rebel unit got excited and squeezed off a round. It might even be the case that they had no idea that there was an active international air corridor over the area.

I also think that the Ukraine government, airlines and air regulators owe explanations as to why they allowed an air corridor to be maintained over a war zone where sophisticated weapons capable of downing fast jets are regularly used to effect. My bet is that it has something to do with the fuel costs associated with rerouting and finding the answer they liked regarding air defence capabilities in the region that allowed them to maintain air corridors.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Defence of Canada under Harper

Canada's political, social and physical geography define its defence priorities. Unless there is a massive shift in US politics, it has no land connection to any existing or potential military adversary. Our small population density and massive geography compared to the US means that even if that were a hostile relationship, the 49th parallel is too long to manually defend anyway.

Even without NORAD and NATO, Canada still sits between the major strategic military opponents: Russia and the United States. This means that confrontations between these two major military powers could occur near Canada's coasts and skies, not on the ground.

This fact makes the RCAF and RCN the key services of the Canadian Forces required for the strategic defence of Canada. We are surrounded by a lot of sea and airspace.  Like it or not, the Army's major territorial role tends to only involve aid-to-the-civil power actions, usually around emergencies like fire and flood, or tactical security for high profile international events and meetings and extremely rare armed stand-offs.

Under Harper's watch, both the RCAF and RCN are suffering rust-out and mismanaged procurement.

The RCAF is due to replace its CF-18 fighters and Sea King helicopters in the next few years. The replacement for the CF-18 is still likely to be the insanely expensive and problem plagued F-35, which may yet be cancelled leaving Canada without a combat air force. The smart scandal-rumour is that the RCAF even now does not have enough serviceable fighters to intercept Russian patrols near Canada, and the USAF has to do it instead. The Sea King replacement is the expensive, beta-standard Cyclone helicopter likely to suffer significant teething problems when it does become operational.

The RCN just lost an ancient destroyer to rust, with other ships and subs in repair after damage. The ability of the Navy to fully crew its vessels is also in doubt.  Earlier this year, HMCS Protecteur suffered a major fire and had to be pulled from another exercises and towed back to Canada. Last year, that same ship was damaged in a collision with the Algonquin, which suffered severe damage. And before that, HMCS Corner Brook sailed into the seabed and was nearly lost. At this loss rate, there won't be any ships in the water in another year or two.

Today we learn that HMCS Whitehorse, a smaller coastal warship got pulled from an exercise because of discipline problems with its sailors.

What is happening to the Navy? Is this a result of political neglect impacting morale and training, leading to slip-ups? Will the RCAF follow?

Under Harper's watch, Canada is losing the key armed services necessary for its defence. Keep in mind also that Harper's labour policies are eroding the capacity of Canadians to find employment in Canada. Harper's economic policy also privileges highly risky resource extraction at the expense of the environment, destroying the climate and landbase.

The Cons are clearly hell-bent on weakening Canada from within.

Under different circumstances, you'd start to think they were agents of some enemy power because they are passively and actively crippling the economic and military security of the state.

John Baird, international man of something or other


Why?

Canada is adding a further 14 individuals to the list of those sanctioned over Russia's ongoing involvement in the situation in Ukraine...
"Peace will only be achieved if Russia and the gunmen it continues to support start showing good faith in talks with Kyiv," he said, calling on Russia to stop arming insurgents and draw down its forces on the Ukrainian border.
Baird called news Friday of the deaths of 30 Ukrainian soldiers "shocking" and pointed to "Russian-sponsored subversion and violence."
Right now Russia is more or less letting the insurgency it supports die on the vine. Putin has likely worked out that would be some kind of colossal error that would end up costing Russia quite a lot in its relationship with the world. Otherwise, the Ukraine army wouldn't have been able to push it back to Donetsk so easily or at all. There could even be Russian troops pouring into Ukraine. That could possibly still happen, but for now it's probably best to let things evolve as they are.

There is NO need to bring in new sanctions against Russians, least of all from Canada. US, European, and NATO responses will draw Russia's attention because they can actually hurt Russia. The impact of Canadian sanctions would be neglible to the Russians and could actually be of greater harm to Canada, because - if Russia even bothers to respond - it will direct its response at Canada in some way. Alas, it made the Cons feel all tingly and tough.