Friday, April 22, 2011

abortion: the iceberg's tip

         Icebergs are dangerous because you don't see what's below the waterline.

Juan Ramón Jiménez

!Siento que el barco mío
ha tropezado, allá en el fondo,
con algo grande!
!Y nada
sucede! Nada.. Quietud.. Olas..

-?Nada sucede; o es que ha sucedido todo,
y estamos ya, tanquilos, en lo nuevo?-

I sense that my boat
has foundered, below the waterline, deep,
against a great thing!
And yet nothing
happens! Nothing.. quiet.. the waves..

Nothing happens - or has everything happened
and we are already, unknowing, in the new?

        Recently, Conservative candidate Brad Trost, addressing the Saskatchewan Prolife Association, claimed that the federal tories have "decided to cut funding" to the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Reason: they support abortion programs in third world countries. He went so far as to say that prolifer activism played a role in the decision. PM Harper was forced to scurry to deny his candidate's claims and re-iterated that his government has no plans to re-open the abortion debate. 

        The important point here is not whether the conservatives will or will not "reopen the abortion debate" at some future date. This is the tip of the iceberg, the less dangerous part. It is what lies under the waterline that is really disconcerting..

        In this minor skirmish, we get a glimpse of an attempt by the American Right and their Canadian allies to open another front in the "culture wars".

        Do not forget! Despite the nationalistic / militaristic blustering - "northern sovereignty", for example - Harperites are, in reality, neocon wanabes, "mirror imaged clones joined at the h/lip". Their economic "philosophy" (? sophistry ?) emerges straight from Milton Friedman's "Chicago School" of neo-laissez-faire capitalism.  In other words, another undesirable "cultural transplant"  from across the border. Nothing more, nothing less. If one really wanted to be nationalistic, one could hardly do better than follow in the footsteps of Tommy Douglas, the father of the Canadian "socialized" health care system which flag wavin' Harper and his Chicago School clones assiduously strive to dismember. Once again, the two sides of the mouth speak different languages..

          The real question here is in what image do we want to create Canda (given that we accept that in democracies the populace is the ruler and electoral process the means by which that will is expressed..)? Our thesis is that the Harperite government, by appealing to populist emotionality, is opening the door to the forces of fascist reaction so well documented in Chris Hedges' American Fascists (Free Press, NY, 2006).

           Hedges' book is required reading for anyone interested in Canada's future and worried by the direction the Harperites have take us in. American Fascists is a brave, a magnificent, a frightening book, a trip into the hell of moral chaos, family breakdown, economic insecurity, social atomization and existential vacuity of contemporary American culture. (Since we share much of the same culture and values, we too are prone to the same social forces as indeed Harper's election itself testifies..) These forces of cultural disintegration provide fertile soil for fascism to take root and flourish.

           American Fascists, page 118 (numbers in parentheses refer to footnotes):

"creationist publications..  blame Darwin for spawning most of the evils of modernity including racism, apartheid (1), Stalinism (2), the holocaust (3) and the Rwandan genocide.. Christians must be prepared for battle, for war, against satanic forces that lie incubating within America's secular, evolutionist, materialist society, forces getting ready to begin a new round of mass exterminations, this time of American Christians"

Q: Where does this horrifc crap come from?

R: Keith Graham: Biology: God's living creation (A Beka, Pensacola, Florida, 1986) - a creationist high school "biology" textbook! Talk about the rape of the minds of the young, intellectual pederastry..

Un pouvoir totalitaire a besoin d'entretenir une psychose de guerre permanente en état de paix - Edgar Morin: La Méthode, tome 5

A totalitarian power needs to maintain a permanent state of war psychosis during times of peace.

            Is this the kind of society we want Canada to become? Are these our standards of truth?

            Canadian's on the whole, are half as likely as  Americans to believe that God created man within the last 10,000 years and 70% more likely than Americans to believe in evolution according to an Angus Reid poll. These are significant differences..

            Nor, is all this a "matter of opinion", for if conservative "christians" actually do manage to get their way - in the US or in Canada - issues such as evolution or right to abortion and contraception will not be "matters of opinion" as the tone of the creationist high school "biology" textbook cited above indicates: the goal is to create nothing short of a theocracy (modelled on Iran of the Ayatollahs, ironically enough..). "One nation under God" - did you ever stop to think of what those words really mean?

         Hot button issues, like abortion ("murder of the unborn") are deftly exploited by the American Right - and their clones in Canada - as the "thin entering wedge" of reactionary socio-political change agendas. Obviously, it would be absurd to import such attitudes or motives to all - or even to most - Harperites. Many, for example, are openly at the opposite end of the moral spectrum: upper middle class hedonistic libertarian narcissists possessing no social conscience whatsoever and who want to gut government simply to serve their own selfish ends. However, caution must warn us to see in these "thin entering wedge" issues a great danger for our democracy: the puppet masters who pull these strings are no democrats..

          For less astute readers or those too naively liberal to grasp the full import and true nature of the "culture wars", Hedges, page 140, citing a speach given at a recent annual convention of American National Religious Broadcasters:

         "'Ages of faith are not marked by dialogue but by proclamation (4).. truth.. does not rest in the wisdom of man but in the power of God'. And in a lisping imitation of liberals he mocks, admist laughter and applause, those who want to 'share' and be 'sensitive to the needs of others'." Could the true nature of the "culture wars" be made any clearer? "Liberals" -  and others who promote social justice-  "lisp" effetely because they are like "fags", not "real men" like Christian warriors for God's Revealed Truth..

Is this what we really want to become as a society?

Hedges, American Fascists, page 140:

            "His antics delight most of the crowd but not all. Luis Palau, a close protégé of Billy Graham, is one of the few present at the convention who is uncomfortable with the naked and repeated calls for power... [Palau] represents a traditional evangelicanism that has been shunted aside, often ruthlessly, by this new class [of evangelizers] . [Palau's] focus is on personal salvation, he says, not seizing of political power... he bristles at the coarseness, the naked calls for a Christian state, and the anti-intellectualism. He, like Graham, shuns the movement's caustic biting humor that belittles homosexuals, those deemed effete intellectuals and those condemned as "secular humanists". The emphasis on abortion and gay marriage to the exclusion of other issues worries him. [As indeed it should! Such hot button 'moral' issues are smoke 'n mirrors which function to divert the public's attention from the many urgent problems we face: overpopulation, peak oil, climate change, development of alternative energy sources, the environment, biodiversity, endangered species, social justice, spreading inequalities in wealth and opportunity and their political consequences..] "

           The shift from religious commitment and personal salvation to the acquistion of "faith based" political power represents the true "thin entering wedge" of the culture wars, the slippery slope we tread at our peril. Once again, Hedges, American Fascists, page 142:

            "The emphasis on personal renewal and commitment to Christ - the staple message of evangelists such as Billy Graham and Luis Palau - is an anachronism to the new class [of conservative "christian" activists] . While speakers demand that followers give their lives to Christ, and while the born-again experience is considered the dividing line between believers and nonbelievers, the conversion experience is no longer the dominant theme pounded home from the pulpit or across the airwaves. It has been replaced by the rhetoric of war, the demands of a warrior God who promises blood and vengeance, and by the rhetoric of persecution, by the belief that there are sinister forces that seek the destruction of believers [collective paranoia: compare with Hitler's terror of the "Jewish threat", now replaced by the "threat of Islam"]. [The conversion experience] has also been replaced by a conspicuous and unapologetic infatuation with wealth, power and fame. As the movement has shifted away from the focus on personal salvation to a focus on power, it has incorporated into its theology the values, or lack of them, of a flagrant consumer society. [fascinating! - given that Jesus, their Teacher, taught that 'it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven' and that 'a man cannot serve two masters and not love the one and hate the other'

          In essense, Judeo-christian symbology, tradition, values, and myth have been cynically / hypocritically "deconstructed" - stripped of original meaning and signification - and ideologically "recycled" to justify / rationalize social injustice and inequality.

         A single example suffices: ecological crises - caused by human activity - are radically re-interpreted / re-framed as signs of the "End Times" (5). Greens, by trying to improve things, are opposing God's will and thus are Satan's agents on earth. Thus the responsibility for human greed and stupidity is conveniently shifted onto God's broad shoulders. And - more importantly! - the pollutors, the "developers", the oil compagnies and their media cronies.. are given carte blanche to continue their pillage and despoliation of our world and the destruction of our children's future..


(1) racism is, however, more regularly cited as a trait of the political Right than the Left and apartheid was a program initiated by the Dutch Reformed Church, a christian sect

(2) Stalin was actually a supporter of the anti-Darwinist crackpot biology of T Lysenko

(3) centuries of Christian bigotry played no role in preparing the holocaust??!!

(4) so are monarchies and totalitarian governments!

(5) the rather specific dating of the End Times in the New Testament is, of course, conveniently ignored:

Mark 13:24 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till these things take place

Mark 9:1 Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste of death till they see the Kingdom of God present with power

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Can you talk from both sides of your mouth at the same time?

            Can you talk from both sides of your mouth at once? The Harper (neo-)cons can!

            Now that the election is underway, they - like the other parties - are positively bending over backwards to gain the "ethnic" vote. And, be it admitted, they seem to be doing a better job at it than the aenemic Liberals. In these troubled and troubling times, the Harperites populist / reactionary rhetoric finds traction in immigrant communities still rooted in traditional value systems..

              Yet what one fails to observe is that these same Harperites were, not so long ago, vigorously slashing funding to immigrant groups, particularly in hated Toronto (read: appeal to redneck sentiment across the country..) 

              What we find galling: the programs being cut were functioning, even functioning  well by all acounts. By assisting immigrants to integrate, their subsidies were, most likely, more than "paying for themselves" in increased taxes (from better integrated / higher salaried new Canadians), and reduced Welfare, Social Services, Health Care and prison costs. Thus, once again, our "good governement", "responsible government", "law and order" Harperites have sacrificed good and responsible governance to short term political expedience. Shame on you all!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Transparency: the veteran issue

       Hairy chested individualist gun-totin' conservatives love war 'n fightin' 'n all that manly stuff. But funny, when it comes to dealing with the physical and psychological aftereffects of combat, our vets get stiffed. So says former Veteran Affairs ombudsman, Pat Stogran, himself a retired officer.

      This is what comes with an obsessional fixation on "budget cuting" and "small government" so the boomers can ride around in their big gas guzzling SUV toys: the little guys - and gals - from the working classes who actually lay their lives on the lines get sucker punched when they are down and need help..

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Transparency: a prophecy

        The political noise machines are really being cranked up to full steam as election day approaches!

         But what is being said of real importance?

         Perhaps more importantly from the perspective of political transparency, what is NOT being said? What issues that should be on the front burner aren't even on the stove yet?

         We believe that the two issues of greatest importance are not even being discussed (or, at best, are given pious lip service):

(1) Peak Oil: the exhaustion of cheap, easy to extract and refine oil reservoirs. This is the most immediate challenge our society faces today.

(2) The "Environmental Issue": everything from climate change to habitat destruction, species extinction and the destabilization of vital planetary ecosystem services (clean water, air and soil; the capacity for natural soil regeneration..)


         We predict that these two issues, completely off the political agendas of the major parties, will become major social, economic and (geo-)political issues over the next, say, 2 to 10 years (and probably no more than 5).

         Now, these predictions are not really rocket science. The first, Peak Oil, is in fact already here. More and more economists, of late, are conceding that peak oil price hikes in spring / summer 2008 and not the subprime mortgage scam (autumn 2008) were the immediate, effective cause of the current world recession. Now, it does not take a rocket scientist  to figure out that, as economies "recover" from the recession and 3rd world economies grow, demand will once again push "tight supply" oil prices through the ceiling again. The only question is when: summer 2011? fall?..  spring 2012, winter equinox 2012?.. (were the Mayans right after all..)

         As for the "environmental thing", we wager that this cluster of crises will be the wild card for the first half of the 21st century. One salient point to consider while assessing future climate change possibilities: the experts and their computer models inevitably err on the side of conservatism (as indeed they should - if they are doing good science and not, say, astrology..) They consistently underestimate the velocity of the ongoing changes: ice cap or glacial meltdown for example.

         At present, the rising tide of political instability in the Mideast is due, in part, to food price hikes caused by extreme weather crop damage over the last growing season (Russia, prairie Canada, Pakistan..) If global warming / climate change are, in fact, real - as we posit they are - then the tide of geopolitical instability can only be expected to rise in the years to come..

        Yet, paradoxically, none of these "clear and present dangers" is front and center on the political stage (not to date, anyway..) Why this curious silence? And does this lack of contact with reality have anything to do with apathy of young voters who instinctively recognize, perhaps, that the system is not addressing the problems they will soon have to deal with? One can only speculate..

Friday, April 1, 2011

PM Steven Harper goes green

         Steven Harper seems to have caught the green bug. Electioneering makes for strange - really strange - bedfellows, it seems.

"Speaking at an event in Halifax on Thursday, Harper said developing hydroelectric power generation in Newfoundland and Labrador would help promote green energy across the East Coast.
"This has the potential to be a very important part of our efforts to fight climate change in Canada," Harper told supporters."

          But Thursday, March 31, that was April Fool's eve..

          He had us! Il nous a eu!