Monday, May 30, 2011

From the "Incredible but True!" file: Shameful!

             Vic Toews, federal public safety minister apparently feels that the private sector profits trump the welfare, the health or the safety of citizens:

At a time when distressed flood victims in Quebec’s Richelieu Valley were urging the federal government for more troops to help deal with the crisis, Ottawa refused to send in additional soldiers, saying it would put them “in competition with the private sector.”

             It appears that the bottom line - despite patriotric machismo - is, well, the bottom line.. What a travesty of the word "citizen" we have here! In a State shrunk to the point it "could be drowned in a bathtub", the citizen is finally reduced to the status of a mere "client", a "consumer" of State services. A purely mercantile relation. At the limit, the poor "citizen" (client), who does not have the wherewithall to purchase services, does without. Witness the progressive - sureptitious - privitization of the health services.. death by a thousand cuts.. Yet another example of the mercantile psychology behind neoconservative ideology at work, transparently, in the open.. "From the mouths of babes".. Toews you are an innocent..

"I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Transparency and Murphy's Laws

                    Murphy's Laws

1- anything that can go wrong will go wrong
2- anything that can't go wrong will go wrong
3- any attempt to correct for failures of type 1 or type 2 will, by increasing the complexity of the system, increase the sources of failures of type 1 and type 2

          As the "failsafe" nuclear power plant security failures in Japan have demonstrated clearly since 11 March, "failsafe" security measures don't work. We live in a universe ruled by Murphy's Laws!

          Take the case of poor Mubin Shaikh.

           This fellow, well intentioned and / or hopelessly naive, offered Canadian security agencies (CSIS, RCMP) his services as a mole within the radical Islamic community in Canada. His goal, he says, was to be a better-than-average citizen and personally run the risk of ferretting out terrorists plots. Weird. Pollyanish, maybe, but brave, at least (I mean, these dudes are willing to kill innocent people: what might they do to a mole if they found out? Would you do it..) At any rate, Shaikh's services led to the conviction of theToronto 18 plot members.

             Normally, the guy should get a medal, right? He volunteered to put himself at risk to serve his country, etc. So how was Mubin Shaikh rewarded for his time, effort, courage? 

              According to a wiki-leaks document, Shaikh was amply "rewarded" for his services by being place on one or more American terrorist suspect lists. Note: I don't make this stuff up! - I simply don't have enough imagination.. However, I imagine this type of incredible cockup must have led engineer Murphy to formulate his famous Laws: engineers apply scientific theories to practical situations and thus are forced to deal with all the vicissitudes and perversities of the material world.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Transparency: neocon "Voter Suppression" tactics imported from U.S.

         Harper and company promised "law 'n order, responsible government and transparency", right?

          How's this for "transparency"?  Anne Lagacé Dowson:

"The Conservatives’ latest voter suppression tactic is what is called "robo-calling" – fake phone calls directing voters to the wrong polling stations. These calls are standard operating procedure for Republican right-wingers in the U.S. Now they are apparently part of the Tory playbook.
The calls went out to ridings where the races were close, and where the difference between winning and losing is a couple of hundred votes. People were told to go to the wrong place to vote in B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and the Atlantic region. The phone messages told voters that their polling place had been changed because of high turnout. Elections Canada never calls people like that, but most people trust such a call when it comes."

           To my way of thinking - which apparently is not that of the Harper crew - being "transparent" means being open, honest, above board in dealing with others. It means probity, frankness - yes, at times it's needed, "telling it like it is". Above all, transparency is the opposite of dissimulation, "dirty tricks". And these are U.S. Republican style dirty tricks: not a good sign. One talks the moral "high road" and walks quite a different way..

            At this early date, Elections Canada has been informed of the dirty tricks played the last few weeks of the campaign but has made no judgement. Rogue Conservative supporters may, of course, be responsible but this remains to be proven.. See, for example, CBC radio's The Current, May 11, 2011 for a discussion with an American author who wrote a book about his work as a Republic hatchet man (he spent time in prison for it):


Thursday, May 5, 2011

A STRANGE PUZZLING ELECTION - More questions than answers

         As we expected, the Conservatives won with a big majority.

         Division of the vote on the Left between Liberals and the NDP let Conservatives walk up the middle.

          The election left Big Losers and Big Winners.

The Big Losers

The Liberals: their lowest percentage of the popular vote in history. Leader Ignatieff, defeated in his own riding, fell on his sword and quit politics. What will now become of the beleaguered, once mighty, Liberal Party? It leaves the impression of a wounded animal crawling off to die..

            Some pundits suggest a fusion of the Liberal Party and the NDP to create a unified party of the Left (as the Right did years ago with fusion / hostile takeover of the "Red Tory" Progressive Conservatives by the neoconservative Reform - Alliance). Other, more pragmatic voices claim that a fusion would destroy the former: the Liberal right wing - business - would rush to the Conservatives, fleeing the socialist hordes. The future of the traditional party of the center is, at best, uncertain..

The Bloc Québécois: A truly monumental defeat, giving new meaning to the saying "going down in flames". No one saw leader Gilles Duceppes' loss of his home riding: he, like Ignatieff, bows out, leaving the political scene in defeat. What will happen to the separatist movement in Québec? Will it die? No one can say..

The Big Winners:

Finally! Elizabeth May, head of the Green Party, wins a sole seat. Will she be able to leverage her win into a national paradigm shift on environmental issues? Good luck, Elizabeth!

Jack Layton's Orange Wave: Why did the NDP spike so quickly the last two weeks of the campaign? Why did the wave begin and crest so high in Québec, formerly closed to NDP wooing because of the Province's "made-in-Québec" brand of social democracy? Why did the Orange Wave spread to other parts of the country? Was the wave just another example of "social mimicry", the recent democracy movements in the Middle East serving as role-models? If so, this would suggest there is an underground current of fear, frustration, rage and desire for change waiting to be tapped by emerging social / political movements..

           The election raises more questions than it answered, revealing fracture lines of fear and distrust, revealing also an alien political landscape for which we possess no maps..

            For the first time in history the Reds have been denied the role of Official Opposition by Jack's neophyte Orange team. A first! - but what does it really mean for the long run? Does the Liberal rout indicate a fundamental shift in our political perspective: a potentially creative polarization of Canadian politics between a neoconservative Right and a "Social Democratic", possibly green, Left? Or did people vote for Jack merely in protest? Only time will tell if the Orange Wave was a fluke created by circumstances or a real paradigm shift..

            Just as puzzling is the role Québec now finds itself in: undefined! Not only did the Orange Wave begin there but more than half of Layton's team hail from la belle province - no one, but no one, saw this coming. To be effective the Orange team will need to reach across the linguistic divide and develop a common political vision and strategy. This alone could - potentially - usher in a new era of Canadian federal politics. Decades ago, in their heyday, the centrist Liberals played this bridging role. Now the role of bridge builder falls to a party of the Left. How will this reconfigured political map play out in the decades of environmental / ecological turmoil ahead? One can only speculate!

            One thing seems certain though: the Bloquistes, the Liberals and the NDP itself will have a long stretch ahead to discover their new roles, formulate new goals and try out new strategies in this political Wonderland we have suddenly fallen into. They will all have their work cut out for them too: with their strong majority, the Harperites will feel their hand free to do pretty much as they see fit..

            One thing I think we can count on: the unexpected.

Attendre l'inattendu! / expect the unexpected!

Politics is the art of the possible

Politics is the realm where Murphy's Laws have their fullest, most complete and most diversified expression