Sunday, March 30, 2014

We're On The Eve of Destruction

DATELINE: IN A FRONT ROW SEAT FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF DEMOCRACY – By May first – in 32 days, for those of you without a calendar – the Fair Elections Act will pass in Canada. Well, ‘pass’ is a rather inaccurate term, as it will be more a case of it being shoved down our throats, not unlike hemlock in ancient Athens. Of course, the title of the bill is akin to referring to laws regarding rape as the Demand for Love Act. You can put lipstick on a pig, but… well, you know how that one goes. Of course, the Harper Conservatives don’t see it this way. Nooo, they see it as the only way possible for them to win another election – by hook or by crook, as they say. They will steal the House of Commons, because there is NOTHING that is more important to Stephen Harper than being Boss.

Never in the history of Canada has one party changed the rules of election without thorough consultation with the other parties and without agreement from the heads of Election Canada. That is because we are a democracy, and the prime tenet of a democracy is the ability to have fair, honest elections. Without that, democracy is a farce, a cheap façade worn by power mongers who give not one single damn about the people who elected them, and who care even less for those who did not. Of course, there is the valid argument to be made that the current government, the one making these changes, is illegitimate anyways, and God knows this is not their first ‘never in the history of Canada’ achievements.

They were the first government in Canada to be found in Contempt of Parliament. That alone should have been signal enough to the electorate, but what did Harper do? He prorogued parliament in order to avoid scrutiny or asking questions (another first). In fact, he prorogues Parliament whenever the kitchen gets a bit too hot for him. His was the first government to set fixed election dates then was the first government to break that rule as well. His was the first (and second) election in Canada’s history to involve voter fraud – fraud that WAS determined to be committed by the Conservatives. In fact, this government’s record for respecting and working within the bounds of democracy is absolutely abysmal, the rules of democracy and elections discussed by them with derision, offering more than enough proof that they cannot and should not be trusted to unilaterally change the way in which they are elected.

My rage about this, however, is not at the Harper government any longer. That rage is pointless. I have written to the Governor General – a textbook definition of ‘waste of time’ since Rideau Hall is so far up Harper’s anal cavity that they have given up polishing those austere marble floors anymore and have just accepted the brown slime on said floors as a byproduct of Harper’s ravenous appetite. It’s understandable. The man gobbles up people and poops out oil – well, dilbit, to be exact, so undoubtedly they believe the floors of the GG’s mansion to instead be christened with black gold. Certainly the perks and benefits received by the government of the day, including the GG, have that rancid stench of oil clearly attached to them.

I have written to every member of the Senate. When the Fathers of Confederation dreamed up this country, they saw a bi-cameral house, where no one side could run amok with the country they so lovingly created. The Senate was to be non-partisan, a home of the wise, the worn, the well-seasoned, who would provide sober second thought and stop any monkey business should the government of the day attempt some. It’s as if they had a premonition of Stephen Harper taking a chainsaw to their glorious architecture, and wanted to have checks and balances in place to stop it before it could happen. Of course, they didn’t see that corporate greed and obsession for power would override absolutely every other principle involving government, or that their beloved Senate would be completely bastardized, turned into nothing more than a house of government whores working for a pimpish PMO.

My rage is wasted on Harper. It will change nothing. He is what he is – another in a long line of megalomaniacal (misogynist) power mongers, who dreams of more authority every night, and works for more money in his bank account every day… and the people of the country (and the country itself) be damned.

So, what can we do? Do we sit back, raise a glass to the Canada we once knew, and thumb through boutique catalogues from new corporations like Surviving Hitler, or Fascism International, hoping to find something we can use to make our ‘new’ lives more tolerable under this new regime? Our middle class has been decimated, our upper-class has been more empowered, and as we all sink to the depths of the impoverished and enslaved, we find out that this very oppression is what will prevent us from having a right to vote. Harper is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that will crown him king of his own country in time. Is my explanation extreme? Perhaps… for now. Give the man some time.

Instead, I now ask ‘What the hell are the other parties doing about this?’ Well, I do see some of them on television, arguing the bill, but so what? What are they going to do? When it comes to stopping it, they are in the minority. As government representatives, they are completely impotent to stop this train wreck, and it shows. Flapping lips; sinking ships. I am astounded and dismayed at their lack of actually ‘doing’ something. I have waited for over a month now for them to figure it out, but it seems they just can’t. Party alliances – partisanism – runs too thick in their blood, and the need to be ‘in charge’ is too all consuming for them to be able to see beyond the trees. Because of that, all of us, and our country, and our country’s amazing stellar reputation hang in the balance.

Instead of sending out emails every fecking day of the week asking for more campaign money because ‘we have to collect more than the other guy’, how about doing something to educate the people across this country? How about doing something to organize them? Media pundits say that the public is lazy and indifferent. No, assholes, they are not! They do, however, need some guidance to get organized, and the word has to reach people who don’t have computers in their homes (yes, there still are some, and they are the ones who will be disenfranchised the most from these changes). Why are the local arms of the political parties not getting out there and talking about this to everyone? Why are they not in front of the media locally? Why are they not holding town halls, sending out fliers, AND talking it up on the social media and every other place possible? Why are the provincial arms of the political parties doing nothing like this to inform and organize? Why are the federal offices doing nothing? This is not a time to JUST sit in front of Robert Fife, Rosie Barton or Evan Solomon to pitch the same party lines and listen to the same BS spewed by Conservative members who have no intention of answering a question or providing an explanation. Is it up to just the likes of Katy O'Malley and Andrew Coyne to try to explain what is at stake here? Why are the parties doing more? Well, because they can’t go into those election coffers to spend money prematurely on THIS because then what will they campaign with next year.

This is no longer a situation where political dichotomy can rule the day. WHY ARE THE PARTIES NOT JOINING TOGETHER IN THIS FIGHT? That’s where my anger is. Get the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens together, because the stakes are pretty fecking extreme. Show the people of Canada that you can work together, that you DO care about Canada. Forget raising money for the next election, because if this bill passes, the next election is moot. It’s like saving money for a child’s college fund, then watching that child die because you didn’t want to spend the money saved for college on the medicine he needs now. Canada needs the medicine now! 

There was a time when Canadians were proud of what we did. We were the peace brokers, the calming influence. If there were elections to be held in other countries, where democracy wasn’t as entrenched in their psyches as it was here, WE went to help, to oversee, to teach them about the beauty of casting a ballot, knowing that it was done on a fair, level playing field. Canada, like Rome, wasn’t built in a day, but like Pompei, the Canada we know can be wiped out in one fell blow. For us, it will be Mount Harper that will be our demise, and I have no doubt that he’s up to the task. I only wish our opposition parties were as well.

Canada is under attack… from within. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Perspective and Priority

Washington, Illinois November 18th, 2013
I came to the realization that today is a very sad day. It’s sad for a number of reasons, all of them calamitous, some for many, some for few. Years ago, I recall reading the riot act to a young RCMP constable I worked with, who blew off a young boy who had come in to report that his bike had been stolen. The boy was about 8. A stolen bike is not a career-making case for a police officer but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a tragedy to the child.

I remember being barked at by a nurse in the hospital one day when I was very pregnant for the first time. I reminded the doctor when he chimed in that while he might deliver babies every day, I didn’t, and it would be nice if he could remember that. I also reminded him that I took car accident reports every day, but never once did I minimalize his trauma when he was in a fender bender. That same doctor, several years later, held my hands and cried when he told me that while he had delivered the news to someone about a diagnosis of cancer, he never really understood what those words meant to the patient, until he heard them himself. He thanked me for helping remind him from time to time about perspective.

When I was a telephone operator, we were taught to cut in to a call in case of an emergency, but that we had to confirm it was a real emergency. The problem is, as our supervisor was careful to point out, emergencies are not always what we think they are. Her experience had been that she cut into a call for an emergency call to be put through to that number. As required by the phone company, she stayed on the line to ensure it was, in fact, an emergency. The caller who requested her to interrupt the current call was in tears, but her emergency when she finally got through was to beg for someone to bring her some curlers for her hair. An emergency? Well, maybe not in our everyday worlds, but it was definitely one for the caller. It was her wedding day, she had one hour to get ready, and her steam rollers had died. Her hair was a disaster on the most important day of her life. Even emergencies, I suppose, can be relative.

The point about all of this is that all of these stories are about perspective and priorities. Each story, each situation, has several perspectives and each has to be looked at according to priorities. Why is that so hard for us to remember or respect these two facts? Why is our judgment of what is important so skewed?

Last night, in Washington, Illinois, disaster struck. It blew into town, hell bent on destruction. Homes were ruined, livelihoods were destroyed, some lives were taken. It happened in winter, where night temperatures, even in what I might consider a southern climate, can be brutal, especially when you have absolutely nothing left. Unfortunately, instead of talking about this disaster, the story fell in line after twenty minutes of Rob Ford, the infantile over-indulgent mayor of Toronto in his mid-life Justin Beiber wannabe crisis.

Tacloban, Philippines Nov 18, 2013
Last week, there was a typhoon of epic proportions in the Philippines. Bodies are still being uncovered. Aide is still desperately needed. Entire communities are lost, and the prospects, like in Illinois, are not promising for the families touched by these storms. It will take weeks, years in fact, before life can possibly turn to something sort of resembling normal for these people, who will forever be haunted by what can happen in the fury of a storm in the blink of an eye. Instead of telling us how to help, what organizations actually move the aide forward instead of using it to line their own pockets or to pay for their high corporate first class flights and five star executive offices, we have to hear more about... Rob Ford and his lunatic ravings.

Radioactive sea water from Fukushima Nov 2013
Last year, there was an earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima, Japan, that caused extensive damage to the nuclear reactors there. Ten days ago, they started work to try to get the reactive cores out of the plants, a task that is so fraught with danger, one slip of one fraction of an inch could result in an explosion many times that of the bombing of Hiroshima. While this is going on, though, radioactive contamination is spilling into the pacific at about the same speed as a BP oil leak. The nuclear contamination is spreading hundreds of thousands of square miles into the ocean, already almost on the shores of that ecological gem, Hawaii. It is less than a year away from the shores of North America. There is no contingency plans, no assistance being accepted, no protocol for dealing with what is happening in our water, something that could destroy the majority of ocean life on half of the globe. What is the news covering? Rob Ford, his crack and his wife's bountiful attributes.

Today, the Center for Global Development released their statistics, stating that Canada was at the bottom of the barrel – the very bottom of the barrel – in their commitment to providing aide, in various forms, to the poor of the world and in our commitment to protect the environment. Our Environment Minister also stood up today and knowingly, unabashedly lied about Canada’s commitment to the UN Climate Change Conference, stating that we are making progress that even documents from her own department show are false. One has to wonder at the sad irony of these news stories all playing out right now, where climate change and record-breaking weather anomalies, caused by climate change, are destroying lives by the tens of thousands. What did we hear on the news today about this story? Nothing. We were watching Rob Ford knock down fellow city council members and proclaiming his Jesus moment that made him turn over a new leaf (however temporarily that leaf may be turned). 


No Mo Ro Fo -- Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto
I readily acknowledge that the claims made against the mayor of Toronto are news, and do need to be taken seriously. It is abhorrent to think that a public official at such a high level in the largest municipality in Canada has opened the doors, putting his family, his council and his co-workers at what could be immense peril because of his criminal connection and business. He has opened his children up to ridicule, and to danger. He is dealing with a criminal element, by his own admission, on more than once occasion, in a manner that is absolutely not acceptable. He can play his word games, he can thunder around and bully, because that is what we seem to reward in politics and business these days, but it doesn’t change the fact that because of his actions, people could have been killed, kidnapped, extorted, injured, or illegally financially rewarded. Yes, this is news, but it is not 20 minutes at the top of every news show for days on end. We know what he has done, we are aware of the allegations. Let the city council now do their job to mitigate the damage this moron and his brother can do, and relegate them to where they belong in the news cycle – after the serious, new news. The people of Toronto deserve better. The people who live off the ocean, or eat the fish, or swim in the water deserve better. God knows, the people of Washington, Illinois and those in the Philippines definitely deserve better. It’s time for the media to step up to the plate, own their share in this mess, and get back to being reporters of news. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Perhaps the Horse Needs Obamacare?

DATELINE: THE HORSE IS DEAD BUT WE ARE STILL WATCHING THEM FLOG IT – On March 23, 2010, in the United States, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) became a reality. That’s how it works in politics – bills are proposed, presented, voted on and either passed or rejected. Not everyone is happy about it; that’s also how it’s supposed to be. Those who saw problems with the bill should accept that the majority had spoken, and turn their attention to helping make the program as effective and efficient as possible. That’s their job. That’s what they are paid to do – for bills they like and the ones they don’t like. Let’s face it, there is nothing that will be passed through any political body that makes everyone happy; that’s simply not possible. Those opposed have perspective, though, and should then use that to help make it the best possible.

Since March 23rd, 2010, there was a presidential election. Because that election returned Obama to the oval office, his PPACA was, in essence, given majority approval by the population of the United States. Nevertheless, also since March 23rd, the US Congress, led by John Boehner and the GOP, has voted AGAIN on the Affordable Care, not once, not twice... but 42 times. This by itself is inconceivable. No other bill in no other government has gotten 42 do-overs, still losing every one, yet still insisting on one more kick at the cat.

While they are doing this, issues of banks run amok are not addressed (then again, with Mrs. Cruz being a regional director for Goldman Sachs, Teddy certainly doesn't want to see the banks regulated). Issues of unemployment and underpay are not addressed. Issues of national security are not addressed. Issues of paying the military are not addressed. Instead, these petulant children are still stomping their feet, throwing a temper tantrum that they did not get their way. This sort of dedication is not impressive; instead it begs the question ‘what is really motivating these morons?’

Now though, the GOP has attached a rider to their attempt to quash PPACA. They have decided that if they don’t get their way, they will refuse to make available the money necessary to keep the country running. That means that, first and foremost, those people in the military will again take it on the chin. It means that those who depend on their pension checks are out of luck. It means that crime will run amok as prisons are unattended. Think about what your government does... then imagine no one doing any of that. This is a tactic that will not hurt any corporation and it will not hurt anyone sitting in Congress or the Senate because, well, they have already taken care of themselves.

Ted Cruz stood for 22 hours in a very deliberate attempt to stop the wheels of congress, to stop debate and discussion. He talked about the outrage of the people of the country because nothing is being done. HOW THE HELL DARE HE! He said that the people of the country are getting frustrated. HOW THE HELL DARE HE! He is reading Green Eggs and Ham, a book about trying things that you are 100% opposed to, as he throws his tizzy about having to swallow ‘Obamacare’. Wow. Absolutely everything he is doing is blatantly a slap in the face to the working, struggling people of the country, and he knows it.

Ted Cruz’ actions would be less disingenuous if he offered options to the problems he sees with PPACA. He would have much more credibility if, rather than supporting the gouging insurance companies and taking political contributions from big pharmaceutical companies. If he wasn't firmly and comfortably ensconced in the pockets of Corporate America, people might give a shit about what he has to say. His objections have nothing to do with the working people, the sick people, the tired people, the struggling people or the retired people of America.

Conveniently enough, issues like oil pipelines can’t be discussed or debated – they don’t want that because that might mean scientific and statistical information might come out that doesn’t support their position. They can’t discuss GMO’s and fracking, things that can and will kill hundreds of thousands of people, while politicians sit back and plead ignorance about letting the companies doing these things run roughshod through peoples’ lives. There are too many issues that they just don’t want to deal with, so let’s waste time flogging an already long-dead horse.

So, neglecting their duties for two years, while pulling in huge paychecks and donations from their corporate sponsors, while people continue to suffer in ways that they should not be suffering, wasn't enough. Playing silly-bugger with the government finances, imposing even more hardships on retired people and the military while they carry on with this charade of legislating FOR the people was not enough. That wasn't enough of a threat. It didn't work, so now they threaten to shut down the entire country. I guess you don’t have to look very far to find those new-fangled American home-grown terrorists, because they ARE playing with peoples’ lives, they are threatening livelihoods and ways of life and they are using fear and trying to force capitulation. Beware the enemy within.


The GOP has more than proven themselves to be nothing more than self-serving thugs. In essence, all thugs are self-serving; the only way to stop them, though, is to have someone with the balls to stand up and be counted, to say ‘Enough!’ Washington is, apparently, infested with thugs – corporate and political. Sadly, I have no idea who the hero will be in this scenario, who will stand up for the people, who will actually do what he/she took an oath to do. All evidence so far, though, shows that it will not be Obama. He was a man who talked the talk, but he sure as hell doesn't walk the walk. More’s the pity, and good hardworking Americans continue to foot the bill. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Another Stellar Political Performance



Scandal! Caught playing iPhone game at
3+ hour Senate hearing - worst of all I lost!
DATELINE: KNOWING WHEN TO FOLD EM - I sat for three and a half hours yesterday, watching the US Senate hearings regarding a response to the crisis in Syria. I did this because, as a Canadian with many attachments to people on the southern side of the 49th, I believe this is a very critical point in history. I did this because I recognize that the results of this decision WILL impact me – it could result in more threats to security to all of us, it could require that friends and their loved ones will be required to serve in Syria, it definitely could set a precedent for future diplomacy around the world and it very much will have an impact on the global economy, especially if the wrong decision is made. I felt it was important because trillions of dollars and tens of thousands of more lives, Syrian and American, could be at stake. I watched because I wanted to know if there was more information, more learned opinions who are familiar with the situation offering possible alternatives or different insights as to whether or not someone should interfere. I watched this because it could change how regimes are dealt with, how civil wars are dealt with in the future. I needed to know more because I am concerned about the credibility and efficacy of the United Nations, and in particular the UN Security Council, that appears farcically impotent at best. There were many reasons to watch, or to at least keep tabs on the discussions and questions.

I was not paid to be there, as every one of those people in that senate chamber were. In fact, they are paid damned handsomely for sitting in there. As I listened, though, I thought about family members who had fought in wars, who had been injured in wars... I have interviewed many over the years in the course of doing research, and I thought about every one of them, and how they talked about war. I thought about their perspective of war – the perspective of men and women who agreed to defend the country, who are paid peanuts to do so, but who nonetheless do as they are ordered, despite their own personal concerns or disapproval of the action. There was none who didn’t have a story about an asinine order issued from a commander. Now, commanders are human, and they make mistakes. Some of them do what they think is best for the right reasons. Overall, they accept that the person one rank higher than them always had their backs, that someone would be watching out and making sure the stupidity was cut off at the knees. It is imperative for those in uniform to know, to be able to trust, that those making decisions are doing so in a dedicated, informed, responsible manner.

So, enter Senator John McCain. This is a man who wore a uniform, who spent time as a POW, who has tried to become President of the United States, and probably, sadly, will try again. Not only does he disrespect... blatantly disrespect... the people of the United States, the people in the countries around the United States and around Syria, the people of Syria, the men and women wearing uniforms but he also disrespects... blatantly disrespects... the other people in that senate chamber, by playing god damned games on his cell phone instead of paying attention. It was three and a half hours. He can’t sit and pay attention for that long? Well, then, Mister McCain, it’s time for you to check into the senior’s home and see if you can handle a whole game of scrabble in one sitting. God knows the troops who could end up involved because of a misstep by the US government would be committed to something a hell of a lot longer than three hours.

So, while I was incensed by McCain’s indifference and disrespect, his tweeted response and all his subsequent responses today should have him standing in a dock facing treason charges. He blows off the concerns by flippantly complaining that he lost pretend money? We’re talking lives and potentially trillions of dollars, and a global economy, and this moron is seriously making comments about his poker money? He is implying that people have no right to be mad or question him. He is implying that a three hour meeting is more to expect from any human being... what with their crystal water glasses, plush chairs, and minions waiting on you. If I was paid to sit in a meeting for three hours and I pulled out my phone to play a game on it, my ass would be out the door so fast, my head would be spinning, so how the hell dare you, Mister McCain, how the hell dare you criticise people for expecting that you at least pay attention.

It is to be hoped that the next time John McCain next appears on a ballot, that those who support him are too damned busy playing on their cell phones to be able to find their way to the voting booth. It’s hard to believe, though, that they would not just laugh him out of the state.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

I HAVE A DREAM; IT SURE AS HELL ISN'T ABOUT WAR


DATELINE: SITTING ON THE AIRRAFT CARRIER, WAITING FOR THE 'MISSION ACCOMPLISHED' SIGN TO UNFURL... AGAIN -- This, on the week where we watched, celebrated and remembered the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr, is unbelievable. You simply can't make this shit up. Those who know me, know that I am not heartless. Seeing an image of a child sick or hungry will bring me to tears. When researching history, I am sickened by the horrid things man has done to man, for the sake of power, for the sake of some asinine religious ideal, for money and fame. I have made no secret of the fact that I believed that there was a need to diplomatically intervene in the situation in Syria, to work towards stopping the brutal regime of Bashar al Assad. That said, it sickens me that there is any sort of discussion regarding any other country using military force. It astounds me that, again, we haven’t learned.

What is to be accomplished by a military response in any fashion? Only strategic military targets will be attacked? Well, that’s nice, but Assad is not a fool. He has moved his targets, left nothing but empty shells of buildings for anyone else to aim at. Munitions will be in hospitals, schools, residential areas where he can use his people, the people who were demanding change from him two years ago, as his shields. He has moved some supplies out of the country, with the help and under the protection of whatever bat-shit crazy despot of the day is calling the shots in Iran, and with the support and assistance of Putin. There is no reason to believe that other countries are not also supporting Assad, whether or not they agree with what he does but because they have to on principle – they cannot afford to have other countries interfering in what they do, and they will want to stop that before it happens again. Iraq is still fresh in their momories.

So there is no effective target to take out. It requires an escalation, so more missiles are fired, more bombs dropped, more guns fired. Why is going to be hurt by that? Well, the people who are living there, just wanting this to end. Yes, technology makes aiming a weapon more exact, but even with that, please look at the number of people who have perished in Iraq and Afghanistan. Adding more weapons, and more soldiers, puts more people at risk. How, then, does all this end? Well, if it’s Afghanistan or Iraq, it doesn’t. Every other war has ended with diplomatic negotiations. Why can’t we skip the middle-man, avoid the extra deaths and thousands of maimed people, and cut right to the chase?

Wait! Let me answer that. We can’t because our politicians are in the pockets of the people who are sitting back with shit-eating grins on their faces, applauding the President of the United States for taking the bait – and yes I really do believe it’s bait; Obama, through his own self-righteous stupidity in drawing ‘a red line’ that was unenforceable, backed by a lot of bullying in the media, is walking into a trap from which there is no escape. Think about how much one plane, one missile, all the technology, the bullets, the guns cost. It shouldn’t be hard. The last two wars have cost billions of dollars each year, and countless lives that should not have been on the bargaining table in the first place. The people who own those companies, who also support their political party of choice (which tends to be whichever one is in power, because they like to hedge their bets) are over the moon about this. Ka-ching, Ka-ching, they can hear those new cars rolling up and those new mansions being built, with no regard for the hard work of taxpayers who foot the bill, or for the blood that will be spilt. Missiles are their blood diamonds.

But there is another equally as pertinent reason for not going into Syria. It’s not anyone’s business. Harsh? Hell yes, but this is not a time to be pussy-assed about it. The Syrians are using chemical weapons on their own people. Well, the US government used Agent Orange in Vietnam, exposing civilians and their own soldiers to an incredibly cruel, heinous death. They didn’t know it would do that? Bullshit. They knew it would do that, because it did that to the people exposed to it ten years earlier in Korea. They then buried the crap in landfills, near water supplies, still knowing what it would do, hoping that by forbidding anyone from talking about it, things would be perfectly fine. Weapons of mass destruction? Does that include Napalm? Where the hell does the US or any other country, get off in condemning anyone for doing what they have already done with impunity.

Don’t get me started on the allowing of the contamination of water, which is no different than throwing Poison in the town well, and their back-pocket association with companies who daily add poisons to our food, genetically modifying it so that it has no nutritional value but does keep the coin rolling in for Monsanto.

The other reason it is no one’s business is because this is a civil war. The people of Syria wanted change, and they stood up, impassioned, determined, wanting to own their freedom and their future. It is no different than what black people did in order to get to sit on any bus seat or eat in any damned restaurant they wanted to in the US. It was no different than the American North going to war against the South over a principle. What would have happened if France had lobbed bombs and put soldiers on the ground in America during that war? What if Germany had said ‘we are opposed to that, so we are going to come in and pick sides’? Would there be an African American US President if the country had not been allowed to deal with the issue the way they had to?

Yes, war is ugly. It’s ugly on the battlefields and in the homes of the people caught in the middle. It is even uglier, yet better disguised, in the back rooms, the marble halls where decisions are made over cognac and caviar, while businessmen dream of counting the cash they will have in their vaults. It’s time people wake up. War IS hell and it should always, and forever, be a last resort when a sovereign nation is threatened by another. The people of Syria have the right and the need to deal with this, to cause the changes they need and demand in their lives, and it is no place for anyone else to try to pick sides.
 
One again, we hear that this is necessary for international security and safety. Sorry, that ship sailed. The argument has no credibility. The last time, we found out the argument was nothing but a string of lies. The argument is stronger that for the sake of international security and safety, military involvement must be avoided. Declaring war on Iraq because of their WMDs did nothing to make the world a safer place. Now Mr. Obama is referring this issue to Congress, that austere body of politicians who cannot even agree on the purchasing of a damned stapler, and talk of reinstituting the draft raises its ugly head.

So, do I want to sit here every night and look at the torture Al-Assad unleashes on children and families? No, absolutely not, but what I want in this regard is not germane to the discussion. The answer, though, is in diplomacy and in legal avenues, not war. If Al-Assad is guilty of crimes against humanity, charge him, lock him up, try him and deal with it, while letting his country heal and rebuild. Provide him a place to meet with HIS enemy, broker the deals, do the backroom diplomacy that proves the worth of a real leader. A real leader works to keep his people OUT of harm’s way, works to make the world better, and he does that by example, through dialogue, through empathy, through patience, and through tolerance, exampling all these things along the way. We have created international laws and international courts; why can’t we give them the opportunity to work?

Bashar Al-Assad is evil. There is no debate about that. There are a lot of evil men in the world, and the way to deal with them is through the courts. He should have been reined in two years ago, being held accountable to international courts. Instead of adding more lives to the cost ledger in this civil war, fix the United Nations, which is nothing more than a pathetic, sick joke. There is much that needs to be done, and much that can be done. More military involvement is not one of them.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dear Mr. Harper

I am sharing my letter to the Prime Minister of Canada with you. Please feel free to copy it, use it, share it, whatever you like with it. I sent this to Mr. Harper, his entire cabinet, the leaders of the opposition, their deputies, and the media. Unfortunately, it is already out of date, because of the conservative scandal du jour.
 
Dear Mr. Harper:
I am writing to you to request that when you speak in the house and to the public, that you no longer use the phrase ‘what the Canadian people want’ or any variation thereof. I can attest to the fact that you do not speak for me, nor for any member of my household, and therefore, you are not speaking with knowledge of what ‘the Canadian people want’. What THIS Canadian wants is for you to explain to me where the transparency and accountability lies in the following issues:
Archives ‘cleansing’ – The Harper government is working through the Canadian Archives, destroying things that don’t quite agree with their position, effectively politically rewriting our history.
-          Consultation Fees -- $2.4Billion was spent on unspecified, undefined, unaccounted for ‘consultation’.
-          Lost money -- $3.1Billion was ‘lost’ dollars designated for National Security.
-          Illegal contributions – this time from those receiving patronage appointments (ie IE directors) who are legally forbidden from making political contributions, but who made $37,000 of them anyway.
-          Duffy Affair – Senator Duffy charged excessively on his expense accounts, was found to be dishonest in his claims yet he faced no consequence. The repayment does not negate the offence.
-          Nigel Wright payment – where did the $90,000 come from, who ordered it, who knew about it, why was it allowed, why was a senate report doctored to hide the fact that Duffy had been fraudulently charging taxpayers and why has no one been fired over this situation? (Not some $30,000 a year PMO worker; someone with authority and substance)
-          Legal counsel for Nigel Wright – who drew up any documents used with regard to the loan/gift/payment to Michael Duffy, and was any PMO counsel resource used for this purpose.
-          CBC Control – The Harper government announced that they will be taking over the appointing of staff to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, effectively taking control over the news and the way it is presented to the public, providing them with more political spin at public expense.
-          Temporary Foreign Workers Scandal with Royal Bank and other large corporations for the importing of foreign workers to replace Canadian workers with Canadian government oversight approval.
-          Bail-In Provision snuck through to allow government access to personal savings accounts to settle government debts (2013)
-          Long Gun Registry – stopped then reinstated (April 2013) with increased registration fees for restricted weapons and the yearly renewing of license for long guns
-          Robocalls (2012) – issuing fake, misleading calls to actively interfere with voting public
-          Canada Action Plan ad campaign Part 1 -- $26M taxpayer dollars over 3 months for programs already ended in order to promote conservative party interests.
-          Canada Action Plan ad campaign Part 2 – while unemployment, particularly student unemployment, rises steadily, Harper continues his Canada Action Plan ads at high-cost events, for no purpose other than pre-campaigning.
-          ETS Scandal – An IT contract was unfairly awarded to CGI, a known association of Michael Fortier, the then PWGSC Minister in a clear conflict of interest. No fairness monitor was appointed to oversee the process, reported scores by evaluators did not coincide with what they had issued, the evaluation team was advised to destroy all records relating to the evaluation, the government refused to debrief companies that had lost the award, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal ruled against the government, and the government’s response was angry denial and to appoint a new federal crown prosecutor (a former Conservative candidate) to charge the unsuccessful companies involved in the bid process with big-rigging – a charge still unproven but the case continues four years after the fact.
-          CFIA (2012) – food inspection services cut, listeriosis outbreak, Minister Gerry Ritz’s tasteless jokes about deaths from outbreak.
-          Prorogation – Part 1 (to avoid Contempt of Parliament fallout)
-          Prorogation – Part 2 (to avoid NDP/Liberal coalition government)
-          Shoe Store Project (2007) – plans for a $2M government controlled media center, run by the PMO to replace the National Press Gallery, run by the national press.
-          Julie Couillard Scandal (2007) – Maxime Bernier leaves sensitive NATO documents at ex-girlfriend’s house, a woman with known ties to the Hells Angels
-          In and Out (2007) – Circumnavigation of election finance rules in 2006 election. $230,000 in fines issued for violating spending laws
-          Plagiarizing – Part 1 (2007) you plagiarized Australia’s John Howard’s speech about Iraq
-          Plagiarizing – Part 2 (2008) from Ontario Mike Harris’ speech
-          Repatriation scandal – issued orders that military personnel killed in combat would not receive repatriation attention or coverage and no flags would be at half-mast
-          Scrums – all media scrums in Parliament were forbidden. Press statements would be issued when the government feels they are necessary, effectively stifling the press.
-          Chuck Cadman scandal – offered a bribe for the vote in parliament, then lied under oath about it and the tape evidence of the bribe
-          Senior Federal Scientists Gagged – they are not allowed to speak to media without government permission... still in effect
-          Long-form Census stopped, cutting access to valuable statistics
-          Unfair labor conditions for government workers -- Suspended Federal civil servants’ right to strike
-          Abuse of RCMP during election -- Limiting access of press to PM during election by misusing RCMP to restrict access at private events
-          Omnibus bill to pass non-financial bills with budget, making it impossible to reject pieces of the overall bill, thereby circumventing parliamentary process in the passing on individual bills. (Ironically something Stephen Harper as leader of the opposition was adamantly opposed to as being undemocratic)
-          Afghan Detainees Scandal
-          Military planes scandal -- Withheld financial information from parliament and parliamentary committees about costs of military planes
-          Improper procedure for fighter plane procurement -- Neglected the bid process in awarding of a contract on fighter plane procurement.
-          Whistleblower scandal – Christiane Ouimet, integrity commissioner, turned down investigations into 227 whistleblower allegations. She was quietly dismissed with a $500,000 exit payment and gag order.
-          Rebranding Canadian Government as Harper Government on communications documents
-          Interference in the 2008 US Presidential election
-          $54,000 taxpayer money spent on 2-day oil lobby retreat in UK (2011)
-          Withdrawal from Kyoto
-          G8/G20 Fake Lake Scandals
-          Interfering with collective bargaining -- Ordering striking unions back to work: Canada Post, Air Canada,
-          Breaking your own new set election date law
-          Over 1700 patronage appointments
-          Pulling Canada out of UN anti-drought initiative
-          Contempt of Parliament – refused to turn over documents on Afghan detainee affair and later refused to submit to a parliamentary request regarding costing of his programs
-          Issuing a 200-page handbook to committee heads advising them on how to disrupt their committees.
-          Reneging on promise to allow parliamentary committees to select their own chairs.
-          Dictating an order that staffers to cabinet ministers do not have to testify before committees
-          Ordering all government communications to be vetted by his office or the Privy Council Office
-          Putting Conservative party logos on stimulus funding cheques that were paid out of the public purse.
-          Had party affiliates write on-line posts, using false names, to attack journalists.
-          In Charlottetown in 2007, he had the police remove reporters from a hotel lobby where a party caucus meeting was being held
-          Attempted to tar the reputation of diplomat Richard Colvin for contradicting their position on the afghan detainees situation.
-          Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor mislead the House regarding the afghan detainees situation, had to apologize and later resigned
-          Terminated Peter Tinsley, the Military Police Complaints Commissioner, when he started to investigate the afghan detainee situation.
-          Mudslinging -- Before his leadership, personal attack ads were used, relatively sparingly, only during election season instead of every day regardless of election cycle.
-          Fossil of the Day awards (x3) were awards to John Baird, as minister of the environment, at the UN Cancun climate conference (Dec 2010) awarded by more than 400 leading organizations, to the countries that do the most to disrupt or undermine UN climate talks, citing that Baird and the Canadian government were ‘working against progressive legislation to address climate change” by “cancelling support for clean energy and for failing to have any plan to meet its very weak target for reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
-          Bev Oda – misleading Parliament, mishandled CIDA requests for KAIROS group, overspending (has paid back $4,025.26 to taxpayers)
-          Maxime Bernier – 2 ethics investigations for conflict of interest
-          Peter Penashue – election overspending, ineligible donations
-          John Duncan – improperly lobbied a tax judge
-          Bruce Carson – violating lobbying regulations/influence peddling
-          Dimitri Soudas – Communications Director for PM questioned over kickback scandal involving Montreal Port Authority
-          Jim Flaherty – Finance Minister improperly interfered with CRTC regarding the issuing of a broadcast licence
-          Dean Del Mastro – Elections Canada investigation of overspending, etc.
-          Arthur Porter – Harper appointee as Canada spy agency watchdog wanted for $1.3B fraud
-          Lisa Raitt – left sensitive documents in public AND made the‘cancer is sexy’ comment
-          Jason Kenney – used MP stationery for party fundraising
-          Rahim Jaffer and Helene Guergis – aids writing letters to papers pretending to be citizens, influence peddling (him), letting her husband use her office, mortgage transgressions, and the Charlottetown Airport meltdown
-          Peter MacKay – using military transportation for personal use
-          Vic Towes – abusive language and ‘you’re either with us or against us with child pornography’ statement
-          Sebastien Togneri, Agop Evereklian, Giulio Maturi, Dale Saip and Kasra Nejatian all involved in ethics transgressions
-          Rona Ambrose – told a parliamentary committee that Canada had paid its debt under the Kyoto Protocol but it was later pointed out that it was still unpaid. She refused to add spotted owls, of which there were only 17, needed no special protection. As Minister responsible for the Status of Women, voted for a motion to revisit the Canadian Criminal Code regarding abortion.
-          John Baird – Used his cabinet post to interfere with the 2006 Ottawa city mayoral election and the light rail transit system in that city.
-          Tony Clement -- $50M originally intended for the G8 meeting and border issues was used instead in his riding, with no supporting paperwork
-          Mike Duffy – improperly collecting housing allowances
-          Patrick Brazeau – improperly collecting housing allowances and facing assault and sexual assault charges
-          Pamela Wallin – travel and other expenses being audited for irregularities
-          58 senate appointments, 100% from the conservative party despite election promises of not appointing any senators or other patronage appointments.
-          In a variety of punitive ways, Harper moved against NGOs, independent agencies, watchdog groups, and tribunals who showed signs of differing with his intent. In some cases he fired their directors or stacked their boards with partisans. In others, he sued them or cut their funding. The targets of such tactics included the Rights and Democracy group, Elections Canada, Veterans’ Ombudsman Pat Stogran, Budget Officer Kevin Page and many more. His party’s smear tactics included labelling the Liberal party anti-Israel, calling Dalton McGuinty the small man of Confederation, trying to link Liberal MP Navdeep Bains to terrorism, and calling for reprisals against academics such as the University Ottawa’s Michael Behiels for questioning their policies.
-          Two months after the federal election, Stephen Harper privately met with Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe and New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton in a Montreal hotel. On September 9, 2004, the three signed a letter addressed to then-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, stating, “We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.” – you can never raise the issue of coalitions again with derision. You used that ticket yourself, so any mention of it is entirely disingenuous.
-          "When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it's rapidly losing its moral authority to govern." -- Stephen Harper. You, Sir, need to apply this to your own leadership.
-          “We don't think as a party that patronage has any place in the Parliament of Canada." Stephen Harper, Calgary Herald, March 22, 1995  -- see the above noted 1700+ patronage appointments you have made.
-          "We don't support any Senate appointments." Stephen Harper, Winnipeg Free Press, January 29, 1996  -- Singing a different song now, Mr. Prime Minister?
-          "Stephen Harper will cease patronage appointments to the Senate. Only candidates elected by the people will be named to the Upper House." Stephen Harper Leadership Website, January 15, 2004 – patently a lie told in order to win votes.
-          "… the Upper House remains a dumping ground for the favoured cronies of the Prime Minister." Stephen Harper Leadership Website, January 15, 2004 – You wrote the book on this one, sir.
-          "I don't plan to appoint senators; that's not my intention." Stephen Harper, Cornwall Standard-Freeholder, January 14, 2006 -- I won’t flog this dead horse any longer.
-          I, too, am one of these angry westerners ... We may love Canada but Canada does not love us ... Let's make (Alberta) strong enough that the rest of the country is afraid to threaten us.” Report Newsmagazine, December 2000. – you do love this east vs west scenario. It’s growing tired. The only discourse between east and west is the one you are creating in your spin room.
-          “You've got to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society.” Report Newsmagazine, January 2001 – this explains a lot.
-          “Let's face it, the average backbench MP is little more than a bench warmer for his/her political party.” Letter to The National Post, February 1998. – just the way you like it, Sir? It seems you still want your backbenchers to only follow the party line and who cares what their constituents might want or need.
         
-          Then… there was this:  The time for accountability has arrived. Canadians will soon be able to finally hold the Liberals accountable. After 12 years in power, the Liberals must be held accountable for the stolen money; accountable for the broken trust, and accountable for all that they failed to accomplish because of this government’s total preoccupation with scandal and damage control.
For those Canadians seeking accountability the question is clear: which party can deliver the change of government that’s needed to ensure political accountability in Ottawa?
We need a change of government to replace old style politics with a new vision. We need to replace a culture of entitlement and corruption with a culture of accountability. We need to replace benefits for a privileged few with government for all.
Everyday Canadians – the hardworking people who pay their taxes and play by the rules – want and deserve a new government that will put the people’s interest ahead of self-interest. And this election provides them with a chance to tell Liberal Ottawa that they’ve had enough; that they’re tired of being forgotten; that it’s finally their turn.
It’s time for a new government that will get things done – for all of us. Our priorities are clear. We will clean up government, cut the GST, offer parents help with child care, cut patient wait times for medical procedures, and crack down on crime.
Our plan will help individuals, families, seniors, and small business. A new Conservative government will strengthen national unity and advance our interests on the world stage.
This platform presents a clear choice for Canadians. A clear choice between old and new; entitlement and accountability; benefits for a few and leadership for all. Only one party can deliver the change of government that’s needed to bring political accountability to Ottawa.
Join me and stand up for Canada.
Stephen Harper, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (election 2006) The sad irony is that THIS Stephen Harper had it right. I wonder what happened to him. The Stephen Harper we have now is EVERYTHING this one campaigned against.
 
These scandals, situations and questions have gone completely unaccounted for by this government. In fact, other than for an almost non-existent percentage, no one has been fired, reprimanded, replaced or investigated criminally. The only action taken to account for these situations is to obfuscate the truth by cutting off access of media and police -- a truly fascist and arguably treasonous move. Sadly, I have debated this letter for some time, out of fear for my family and myself, because it seems to be a pattern for this government to steamroll over problems and issues rather than to acknowledge them. I realize that I am throwing myself under the steamroller. What a sad sad commentary about what this country, the envy of every other country in the world because of its moral and ethical values, has become.
Mr. Harper, in light of your complete and total lack of transparency and accountability, indeed you absolute disdain for those two qualities that you clearly, repeatedly campaigned on, I had no choice but to write to you. The only purpose you have is your own megalomaniacal lust of power and authority at ANY cost. There is no transparency and there is no regard or respect for the laws of our Parliament or of our country when applied to you and your government. Based on the fact that your party did participate in election fraud, and did obstruct investigation into said election fraud, along with the rest of this very long list (and whatever else will be coming out today and in the days to come of your questionable, at best, practices) I would respectfully request that you attend the Governor General’s residence either to ask for this illegitimate government to be dissolved, or to file your resignation as Prime Minister of Canada... or both.