Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hell Must Be Freezing Over

First Flaherty introduces legislation which I can actually support.

Then we find Conrad Black pointing out what's horribly wrong with the HarperCon$ approach to crime and punishment:

This Roadmap--which was released in 2007, and which the Harper government began officially responding to in its budget in 2008, setting out a five-year plan -- turns the humane traditions of Canada upside down. It implicitly assumes that all who are convicted are guilty and have no remaining claim to decency from the state, and that treating confinees accordingly is in the interest of the legally unexceptionable majority.

The Roadmap does not mention prisoners' rights, beyond basic food, shelter, clothing and medical care, and assumes that they are probably not recoverable for society and that the longer they are imprisoned, the better it is for society. Almost no distinction is made between violent and non-violent offenders.


I won't profess any great love or respect for His Lordship - frankly I think he's no better than that great fraudster Charles Ponzi, but he is certainly much more articulate than most of Harper's cabinet seems to be.

The Roadmap holds that anything beyond the necessities for physical survival must be "earned." Traditionally, the punishment is supposed to be the imprisonment itself, not the additional oppressions of that regime, and the proverbial debt to society is paid when the sentence has been served; it does not continue as a permanent Sisyphean burden. In the interests of eliminating illegal drugs in prison, the authors of the Roadmap want all visits to be glass-segregated, no physical contact. This is just a pretext to assist in the destruction of families and friendships.

The importation of contraband by prisoners' visitors can be stopped by strip-searching the prisoners before they leave the visitors centre, as happens to us here, unless the prison staff, who have the unfathomable delight of inspecting us au naturel, are on the take, which is, of course, the problem, as correctional officers in many prisons are frequently caught smuggling, and aren't well enough trained to command higher salaries to make them more resistant to temptation. It is a problem, but it will not be solved by targeting unoffending relatives of inmates. The Roadmap also has naively exaggerated confidence in certain types of scanning devices.


No surprise here, really. Harper and his band of reactionaries are completely oblivious to the long term consequences of their actions. If nothing else, this "roadmap" is one more step on Harper's unstated agenda of making Canada into a right wing, totalitarian state. Taking the worst of prison practices around the world and through history will do nothing to improve public safety.

The whole concept of prison should be terminated, except for violent criminals and chronic non-violent recidivists, and replaced by closely supervised pro bono or subsistence-paid work by bonded convicts in the fields of their specialty. Swindlers and embezzlers, hackers and sleazy telemarketers are capable people and they should serve their sentences by contributing honest work to government-insured employers.


Hmmm...interesting. When you've lost one of the godfathers of right wing ideology in Canada, I'd say you're way off the course you should be on.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jason Kenney - Selective Memory or Bad Liar?

Can we ever take anything that comes out from Harper's disciples?



The upshot - "Oh, it's just fine to hide political staffers from committees. We never called on them when _I_ was in the Opposition" contrasted with reality - namely some video of Jason Kenney whining about political staffers who have not yet appeared before a committee.

Here's a little newsflash for the HarperCon$ - if you hire people to work on your behalf on Parliament Hill, then those people ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO PARLIAMENT TOO.

H/T: Canadian Cynic

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

You Said It, Cardinal Ouelett, You Wear It

I see Cardinal Ouelett is trying to (sort of) backpedal on his recent statements about abortion in Canada.

On Wednesday, Ouellet told reporters he was "a bit surprised by the magnitude of the reaction" to his comments, which he said had been "twisted" and taken out of context.

"They took one small phrase and created a weapon … to discredit me," Ouellet said.


Ah ... the classic "I was taken out of context" defense. Coming from another one of Pope Benedict's cassock-wearing celibates, it's lacking credibility. Especially when he says this:

He called abortion a "moral disorder," but said the circumstances must be taken into account.

"I am not making a judgment on the woman ... because the woman has to take her decision in light of her personal circumstance," Ouellet said. "Only God knows all the elements of her final judgment of conscience.


Well ... he's got half of it right - the decision is the woman's. What he's got wrong is that he has any say in that decision.

In Belgium, with only rare exceptions, abortions are not performed later than 12 weeks into a pregnancy, Ouellet said.

As a result, he said, in 2007 there were 18,000 abortions in the country with a population of 10 million people, compared with more than 26,000 in Quebec, which has a population of eight million.


Of course, like most anti-abortionists, Ouellet is ignoring the fact that by far the majority of abortions in Canada (and Quebec in particular) are done in the first trimester.

More fundamentally, these clowns need to pay a little attention to the Morgentaler decision which found the last attempt at a law arbitrarily restricting abortion unconstitutional.

Since then, we've heard a lot of bleating about "fetal rights", which is nothing more than an attempt to invent a status for a being that is entirely dependent upon the woman until birth. Anyone with their brain switched on should be able to see just what a legal can of worms creating a legal status for a fetus would open. (Welcome back to the 'you're not a person' era, ladies - because suddenly your body is subject to the rights not just of your good judgment, but also of someone else's judgment on behalf of that fetus)

Irony ... and Double Standards

At first glance, I actually like the idea of creating a single securities regulator - the patchwork system in Canada is insanely complex and brutally expensive for taxpayers to maintain. It's also out of step with the rest of the developed world.

However, I don't trust the current government to create that system with appropriate checks and balances in place. Not when they've been trying to screw over anything that resembles accountability in Parliament.

Consider this: Instead of sending in the people required to testify before parliamentary committees, they're sending in Ministers - often unrelated to the topic to attack the committee.

“There is a new game being played," Mr. Hill said earlier in the House of Commons. "The tyranny of the opposition majority has turned its attention to the men and women who make up our political staff. Men and women who did not sign up to be tried by a committee – to be humiliated and intimidated by members of Parliament.


This is complete nonsense. If you work on Parliament Hill, either for the government bureaucracy or on behalf of sitting MPs, you are accountable to Parliament for your actions in the conduct of your job. Period. End of Statement. Anything less is a vile combination of dishonesty, cover-up and deceit - of Canada's government no less.

To argue that this is a "tyranny of the opposition" situation is ridiculous. It really boils down to Conservatives being frustrated because Canadians demand accountability, and they keep trying to subvert accountability ... at least when it applies to them.

Do you not see a double standard at play here? On all sorts of matters, the Con$ervatives are the "hang 'em high" party of harsh justice and individual "responsibility" ... until they get called to be accountable and then the tune changes.

So ... do I like the idea of a single regulator? Yes, absolutely - it might even be the first thing the HarperCon$ have come up with that I could consider supporting. However, in their "accountability for thee, not for me" mode of doing things, I can't trust them to come up with a system that will work. I fully expect there to be loopholes in the legislation that will let the Con$ and their corporate buddies to wriggle out from any real accountability.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Theocracy: Bloedow Tries To Mangle The Word

Over at his "Christian Government" blog, we find author Tim Bloedow giving the word Theocracy a rather brutal redefinition.

For some reason, almost everyone who thinks Christian theocracy also thinks stoning of homosexuals as though the two are synonymous. Ms. McDonald pulled this stunt in her book with an unnecessary reference to the late Reconstructionist/theonomic/theocratic leader, Roussas J. Rushdoony. She’s hardly alone in doing so.


Ummm...yes, generally speaking the concept of theocracy is a bad idea in the eyes of those who are traditionally not power holders in society - women, minorities and so on ... we'll come back to this.

And God’s law operates on a foundation of equality before the law, something which today’s humanists claim to do, but really don’t.


Let's talk about that concept of equality for a moment. Last I checked, the Bible - in particular the Old Testament, but the same themes wind their way through the New Testament as well, tends to treat women as chattel rather than as full human beings. Certainly, women are subject to some pretty harsh punishment at the hands of their "husbands" for various infractions - especially adultery, as I recall.

Equality before the law is a much broader concept today than it ever was thought to be in the days that the scripture was being written.

In other words it’s also wrong for politicians to steal. This applies to various forms of taxation as well as confiscation of property, including firearms (let alone without appropriate compensation). But these applications have been pre-determined by the left-wing Establishment as characteristics of the Religious Right, and that trumps the principle of not stealing. You see, messianic state-ism (or humanism/socialism) doesn’t take seriously the principle of equality before the law.


"Messianic state-ism"??? Where the heck did that little gem of idiocy come from? Good grief. Bloedow can't come up with reasoned arguments on anything without inventing terms can he? Since I can't even find a reasonable definition of that term, I'll have to guess that it's an invention of Bloedow's fevered imagination. Perhaps the great irony in that term is the recognition that Bloedow's own professed religion effectively views Christ as its messiah, and he wants to impose his beliefs on the rest of us.

What's really going on here is that Mr. Bloedow doesn't like the fact that there are times when his "freedom of religion" runs up against somebody else's legitimate freedoms. What he wants is to create a hierarchy of freedoms, with his religion at the pinnacle, where he can use it as a club to beat down those that he doesn't like.

Moral relativism is the ethical framework of Humanism. The rule of law historically and logically finds its best expression in the moral absolutism of Christianity. It reflects the spirit of Christian theocracy because it’s fundamental to the Biblical concept of law – God’s law. And, guess what… it’s part of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


Uh huh. I don't recall seeing anything in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that recognizes any particular religion as having significance under Canada's laws. Nor, as Mr. Bloedow seems to be implying, does the Charter speak in the language of absolutes. A reasoned review of the Charter shows that it has in fact created a network of rights and freedoms, none of which is held above the others in any kind of hierarchy.

Yes, the Bible also exposes the fraud of today’s most cherished myth, that sexual sin is victimless behaviour and, yes, the Bible bans many sexual behaviours, declaring some offences to be criminal in nature. (You shall not commit adultery!) Canada only abandoned this vestige of Christian theocracy a few decades ago. And as a result, 10s of thousands of innocent unborn babies are being murdered, hundreds and thousands of our youth are being emotionally scarred and diseased, including with infertility, by STDs because today’s influential adults insist on teaching amoral sex ed. And we have a huge portion of broken homes because no fault divorce laws don’t encourage troubled couples to show some character and work at their relationship a little harder. It’s shocking to see the fear among Christians of confronting the sex cult mentality that drives so much of our public ethics as well as our child-related public policy. But that would be Christian theocracy, and we can’t have that!


Now we come to the crux of Mr. Bloedow's position - and it's the very area that I would have suspected from the start. Mr. Bloedow's idea of theocracy, as well as his cries about how the "secularists are limiting freedom of speech" are rooted in his overweening desire to legislate his moral code and force it upon all.

This is in fact the underlying problem with the Christianist political movements, whether it is the anti-abortion types, the anti-gay zealots or the anti-feminists. They want to use their religion to limit the lives of others. Whether you are a woman, a part of the GLBT sphere or just someone who wants all members of society to contribute to the best of their ability and judgment, you are the people that Bloedow and his allies would limit, imprison or worse - regardless of whether you subscribe to that particular flavour of Christianity.

Yes Mr. Bloedow, women do have the right to control their fertility - and that includes the right to access safe abortion. GLBT people have a right to live their lives in peace so that they might contribute to society as full members of that society, rather than marginalized pariahs as you would them be.

At the end of the day, Mr. Bloedow, your notion of Theocracy is not about improving Canada, it is about imposing your morality upon others - regardless of whether we subscribe to your system of beliefs.

The Federal Con$ Create Ministry of Truthiness

So, the HarperCon$ want to control the message online as well ... and they want to use Canada's taxpayer money to do it:

The next time you post an opinion in an online forum or a Facebook group message board, don't be surprised if you get a rebuttal from a federal employee.

The government is looking for ways to monitor online chatter about political issues and correct what it perceives as misinformation.


If that doesn't have enough shades of George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984, it gets richer yet.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has paid the firm $75,000 "to monitor social activity and help identify ... areas where misinformation is being presented and repeated as fact," Simone MacAndrew, a department spokesperson, said in an email.

The firm alerts the government to questionable online comments and then employees in Foreign Affairs or the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who have recently been trained in online posting, point the authors to information the government considers more accurate.


Really? Considering the track record of the HarperCon$ for lying to the Canadian public on a host of issues, and taking every step they can to cover things up and reduce both transparency and accountability to the Canadians, this whole endeavor stinks of the government creating its own propaganda ministry - one which will inevitably step beyond dealing in facts.

Heck they might as well just call it "Pravda" ... it will be about as credible.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More From Canada's Most Unaccountable Government

Would anyone care to explain how a government that ran on a platform of greater accountability and transparency can justify the measures embedded in the budget implementation Bill C-9:

Bill C-9 contains sweeping measures that would affect Canada’s nuclear policies, pension rules, environmental assessments and mail service. Critics say it amounts to an abuse of traditional budget practices because it is crammed with legal changes that have faced little, if any, debate.

Mr. Murray, who specializes in reviewing government spending reports, said his analysis shows that at least half of the bill’s 24 main sections should be pulled out and studied as stand-alone legislation.

“It’s time to call a halt,” said Mr. Murray, who will review the bill as a member of the Senate finance committee. “No self-respecting or Parliament-respecting MP or senator should allow C-9 to go through as is.”


When Canada's government is passing legislation to take powers for itself and removes any kind of accountability for itself, it's time to remove that government from power.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Inherent Misogyny of the Anti Abortion Protestors

One of the biggest problems that women have faced over the centuries has been getting beyond being treated as mere objects ... or even outright property.

After reading some of Cardinal Marc Ouellet's comments at the "Fetus Festivus" event recently held on Parliament Hill. (and if that name doesn't creep you out, I don't know what will - the implications of it with respect to women's autonomy over their own bodies are staggering)

Cardinal Ouellet thanked the attendees at the march for defending the unborn and called on all to speak out also “in defense of life until the end.”

“I thank you for standing up in defense of the unborn – those who cannot come to life, those who cannot develop and enrich our country because their right to be born is negated,” he said. “The battle for life, the right for life, is a spiritual battle, so we pray. It is also a cultural battle, and it is a juridical battle, so that’s why we come together and we ask for justice.”


Uh huh ... no - it's a battle to control women's bodies. Let's call it what it is - anything else - whether you use the language of 'fetal rights', or 'right to life' is window dressing.

The fundamental issue underlying the anti-abortion movement is misogyny - and it is the misogyny that has been used against women for centuries - rooted in a masculinized worldview, and a long-held misunderstanding of female fertility and sexuality.

Referring to Dictionary.com, the term Misogyny is defined as follows:


mi·sog·y·ny
   /mɪˈsɒdʒəni, maɪ-/ Show Spelled[mi-soj-uh-nee, mahy-] Show IPA
–noun
hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women.


This isn't outright hatred at play here, it's more like mistrust. Fundamentally, the fetus fetishists don't trust women to make sensible, intelligent decisions about their own bodies - and in particular the biological process commonly called pregnancy.

The anti-abortion arguments reduce the pregnant woman to an object - a mere vessel whose role it is to produce a baby at the end of gestation.

Consider Cardinal Ouellet's comments the other day:

Asked by a reporter about the Church’s teaching on abortion in cases of rape, the cardinal said: “the child is not responsible for how he was conceived, it is the aggressor who is responsible. We can see him (the child) as another victim.”

"I understand very well that a woman who's been raped is dealing with trauma and that she needs to be helped,” he added later. “But she needs to do so with respect for the being that is in her womb. It is not responsible for what happened. It's the rapist who is responsible. But there's already a victim. Do we need to have another one?"


There are some key observations that I want to raise here - and it is the assumptions in the Cardinal's statements:

1) Note that the Cardinal is talking about a rape victim as "needing help", but he is unwilling to allow that same rape victim the freedom to decide for themselves whether they should bear the child that some violent asshole has spawned in them.

2) The fetus as supreme over her needs as a human being. The Cardinal talks about "respect for the being that is in her womb", implying that the fetus has a status that overrides the woman's right to control over her own body.

3) The Cardinal's language treats the fetus as distinct from the woman, and in doing so disregards entirely the enormous biological - and emotional - price that pregnancy exacts for the woman.

Not only has the Cardinal repeated the oft-heard lines of the so-called "pro-life" movement, but he has shown us a window into the blatant and utter misogyny of this line of reasoning.

In the Cardinal's world, the woman is reduced to a mere biological vessel the moment she becomes pregnant. The reason she became pregnant doesn't matter, nor does her circumstances or desire to be a parent. In fact, her decision making with respect to the pregnancy ends at that point. In essence, a pregnant woman is seen as unable to make rational decisions about the progress of her pregnancy. In short, the woman is not trustworthy once she's pregnant. This shows a clear, and unmistakable mistrust of women - simply based on whether they are pregnant or not.

The "pro-life" types go a step or two beyond this and argue that even when the woman's life is at risk, that abortion is unacceptable:

The Bishop of Phoenix has announced that a Catholic nun and administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix has automatically excommunicated herself by approving an abortion on a woman who was 11-weeks pregnant, and whose life hospital officials allege they were trying to save.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said the excommunications apply to all involved, and lambasted the hospital’s defense of their decision by comparing the ill woman’s unborn child to a disease that needed to be removed.

The Arizona Republic reports that in late 2009, Sister Margaret McBride, then vice president of mission integration at St. Joseph’s, joined the hospital’s ethics committee in determining that doctors and the hospital would be morally justified in performing a direct abortion in the first trimester, because they felt that the mother’s life was at risk.

The woman, whose identity is anonymous, was reportedly seriously ill with pulmonary hypertension.


Just consider the moral and ethical stance that this represents. The woman's life was endangered by being pregnant, and the Bishop (who has how much medical training?) dares to condemn the decision providing her with an abortion.

To me, this just reinforces the rather offensive idea that women exist solely as vessels to produce babies. Everything else a woman may do or accomplish is secondary - the moment she is known to be pregnant, these people want to take away her right to make her own decisions about her body.

To reduce women to non-sentient vessels for bearing children the moment that they become pregnant is not just misogyny - it is the worst kind of misogyny because it perpetuates myths about women that have been used to hold them down to second class citizen status for centuries.

... and make no mistake about it - the so-called "pro-lifers" in Canada would happily legislate away a woman's right to decide her own destiny.

Monday, May 17, 2010

More Signs That Harper's Planning An Election

The Con$ Start Sliming The Liberals in an attempt to deflect public attention from the seething cesspool of Conservative corruption.

In the midst of the Afghan Detainee documents scandal, the Geurgis/Jaffer affair, growing suspicion over the activities of MP Shory, a "Maternal Health" initiative that's so blatantly a dog whistle to the extremist base and the squirming of the secretive "pro-Life Caucus" headed up by Harper's ideological bed-mate Rod Bruinooge, we find the latest HarperCon lies are aimed at discrediting Michael Ignatieff as some kind of evil conspirator seeking to form an "illegitimate" coalition with the other opposition parties:

“Today, Ignatieff is once again out talking about coalitions with the Bloc Québécois and the New Democrats,” according to Conservative Party talking points circulated today to MPs and supporters.

To bolster their conspiracy/coalition theory the strategists compiled several recent statements from prominent Liberals: “Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said he’s always been prepared to work with other parties to form a coalition … (Hill Times, May 17, 2010.)”


This has been representative of the Conservative party's tactics since day one - when the situation gets too hot, they try to deflect attention elsewhere ... and you have to admit, it's gotten pretty warm in Ottawa in recent weeks.

Of course, the Con$ like to argue that any coalition would be "illegitimate", or even outright illegal. They're lying. Canada's parliamentary system is fundamentally identical to Britain's - and they've got a coalition government now. Open your eyes, Canada - the HarperCon$ are lying to you about how Parliament works - what else are they lying to you about?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

That's A Start ...

It's probably as close to "Mea Culpa" as we'll ever hear Pope Benedict XVI utter.

Unfortunately for the Pope, it will take a lot more than a few words to convince the world that the Catholic Church has cleaned up its act where the issue of molesting priests are taken care of.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Dear Steve:

Do you actually do background checks on your candidates?

First we have had Rahim Jaffer's little gong show, which has shown Canadians the sense of entitlement that runs through your party - along with a streak of intellectual dishonesty that harkens back to Mulroney's tenure.

Today, we have another of your MPs accused in an enormous fraud scam. These aren't criminal complaints, yet - but I have to imagine that the RCMP has to be awfully interested in what BOM has uncovered.

I must admit that finding a press release entitled Conservatives Stand Up for Victims of White-Collar Crime on the CPoC website left me wondering - just how do you cope with the cognitive dissonance? It must be positively crippling.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

This Happens Far Too Often

The old saying is "methinks he doth protest too much" ...

Such is the case with George Rekers, a prominent anti-gay activist who writes extensively for NARTH.

It seems that he was caught taking a vacation with a rentboy - allegedly to "carry his luggage".

It seems to me that there is a disproportionately high percentage of closet cases lurking amongst the most vocal opponents of GLBT people. It's way past time for society to quit teaching GLBT people to be ashamed of themselves, isn't it?

You Just Figured This Out, Opposition Parties?

As much as I despise Harper's government, I won't exactly give kudos to the opposition for calling his reign one of intimidation.

Opposition MPs say Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth's advice to women's groups to "shut the f--k up" about the government's maternal health initiative shows the "culture of intimidation" created by the prime minister.


It's about time that the opposition parties started saying what's been painfully obvious since 2006.

Now, let's see them start acting like they aren't cowed by this bully of a Prime Minister.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Ah ... So Intimidation Is The Next Step

More on the HarperCon$ "Maternal Health" non-initiative:

“We’ve got five weeks or whatever left until G-8 starts. Shut the f--- up on this issue,” Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth told a group of international-development advocates who gathered on Parliament Hill on Monday to sound the alarm about Canada’s hard-right stand against abortion in foreign aid.


I see ... so, when the HarperCon$ get challenged for be a bunch of hard-rightwing extremists, the next thing they do is start threatening their critics with "something worse"?

Wow - this bunch keeps on getting worse every time I turn around. The language of policy is replaced with the language of intimidation and threats now. What's next? Criminalizing opposition to Dear Leader's policies?

“If you push it, there will be more backlash,” said Ruth, who fears that outrage will push her boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to take further measures against abortion and family planning – abroad, or maybe even in Canada. “This is now a political football. This is not about women’s health in this country.”


More dogwhistle politics, there. Harper might go after abortion in Canada - I see - not like he isn't already doing that via a series of private members bills that keep getting put forward from his "non-cabinet" social conservative benches.