"A Citizen"s Eye View"

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Brief Comment on the Conservative Lie About Welfare Fraud and Bogus Refugee Claimants.

If this picture angers you, it's because it should...

Judging all people who use social services, be they immigrants, refugees or of Canadian birth, by the actions of those few who attempt to defraud the system (approximately .7% of all recipients according to the Guardian UK) is like judging all Canadians, according to the actions of a hand-full of Milhaven's most notorious. We can no more, righteously stand in harsh judgment of the 99.3% of welfare and social assistance recipients who are in need of help, claiming they are nothing but lazy fraudsters than we can fairly judge Canada to be a nation of thieves and murderers.

We just can't paint all social services recipients with the same brush. To do so is blatantly unfair to the vast majority of legitimate claimants and tends to stigmatize them, thus making it even more difficult for them to get back on their feet. And to politicize social services recipients and refugees as a bunch of freeloading bums does nothing but play to our negative emotions and is quite frankly, bigoted. And it makes for bad policy. It makes us an exclusive rather than an inclusive society.   

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Gulf War III. It's All About The Oil...Still!

Burning oil wells in Kuwait. Circa 1990
Well Citizen Stephen has got us involved in yet another war. Canada has been at war now for almost all of Mr. "H"s entire tenure. He came to office waving the bloody flag of nationalism and it appears he intends to go out in very much the same manner. 

Granted, His Harperness didn't get us into Afghanistan. That was Jean Chretien's doing. That was the so-called "righteous" war, the response to the 9-11 attack. But Stephen kept our Men and Women in uniform in Afghanistan long past their best-before date. Our involvement there just ended a mere six months ago. 

Of course, before that, there was Libya and prior to that, Gulf War II. If Herr Harper had been in power then, we would most certainly have been involved in that  disastrous debacle that commenced in 2003 and only just wrapped up (at least from the U.S. standpoint) in 2011.  

And long before that, there was George Bush Senior's Gulf War I which of course, Canada did participate in. Brian Mulroney was responsible for our presence there. 

While the Western coalition involved in the first Iraqi conflict used that country's invasion of Kuwait as an excuse for military action, we all know that war was about the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. It is telling that as his forces withdrew under fire, Saddam Hussein's army chose to torch oil wells, not town's, villages or other strategic locations that might have been of service to his enemy. He wanted to deprive the West of its life's blood. 

It was only once Saddam had been effectively neutered as a threat to the West's supply of oil that the Americans backed off and sent in their "wildcatters" to douse the burning wells. Big Oil's interests in that area were safe for the time being. 

Sometime after that, huge deposits of oil were discovered in the Caspian Sea/Turkmenistan area. This was a huge deposit. An estimated 60 billion barrels of crude. It was SO huge that the two planned pipelines to the west via the Black Sea were not deemed to be sufficient to move all that much needed oil to Western markets. Also, the belligerent nature of bordering Iran at the time made the continuous flow uncertain via those two lines.

So in response to this dilemma, the U.S. attempted to negotiate with the Taliban Government in Afghanistan for a third pipeline that would run north to south through that country, through Pakistan and finally ending at the Indian Ocean. 

Negotiations between the Taliban and an international consortium led by Unocal of California were going swimmingly until the bombing of two American Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, allegedly by Osama Bin Laden who claimed to have had the blessing of the Taliban regime. Negotiations ended at that point.

Three years later came the 9-11 attack in New York, also allegedly perpetrated by Osama and his Al Quaida network who happened to be based in Afghanistan. 

America and the Western world as a whole were terror struck. They
Map of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline.
To be completed in 2017. 
now had the moral excuse to go into Afghanistan in force to hunt for the terrorist general... and to make sure that pipeline got built. Of course, Canada was also there to help fight the good fight against evil and tyranny... and to protect that pipeline. 

It is interesting to note that the puppet president that the U.S. installed to lead the new Afghan government was Hamid Karzai, a former Unocal employee. And as Uri Averny of the Daily Ma'Ariv in Israel pointed out, it was quite telling that the majority of American operational bases in Afghanistan were located along the same route as the proposed Tran-Afghanistan pipeline. 

So while Canada was helping to fight the war on terror by putting "boots on the ground" in Afghanistan, it is coincidental that we were also helping the best interests of Big Oil and the West's insatiable thirst for petroleum. 

Then came Gulf War II. Riding on the coattails of the "Righteous War" farther to the east, George Bush Junior invaded Iraq, supposedly to finish off his father's work. 

He used the pretext that Saddam Hussein was supporting the terrorists and was producing weapons of mass destruction. Of course, Saddam had no tolerance whatsoever for the terrorists and wouldn't let them operate in his country. And as we now know, there WERE no weapons of mass destruction. It was all a flimsy excuse for going back into the region. 

Whether it was because the Americans felt that Saddam was growing too unreliable once again or because it feared neighbouring Iran's belligerence, or both, they needed to ensure the  continued flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. And they had their excuse. Thus began an ugly eight year war to protect the flow of crude to the West.

Mercifully, Canada took a pass on that whole affair. Chretien and subsequently, Harper, were content to stick with the "Holy" pipeline war in Afghanistan.

But then came yet another despotic ruler to self righteously topple. Muammar Gaddafi, ruler of Libya which is home to the fifth largest oil reserves in the world. Gaddafi had been a thorn in the West's side for decades and It was rumored that the U.S. had plans to take him out shortly after 9-11. 

But after 9-11, Gaddafi made efforts to mend fences with the West and actually denounced the New York attack. There was then, no mask of righteous indignation for the Americans and its allies to hide behind until the Arab Spring came along  in 2011.  The West finally had an excuse to send in their bombers. 

And Canada was there to help keep the oil spigots open. 

Now we have Gulf War III. ISIS, an Islamic army that was born and funded covertly by the Americans in order to topple the regime in Syria have marched into Northern Iraq and are threatening the oil fields there. 

Map of Exxon holdings in Northern Iraq.
ISIS operations in Iraq are concentrated in the Northern area known as "Kurdistan". Oil reserves there are so large that if that region were ever to declare it's independence, it would be home to the ninth largest reserves in the world. America's first bombing missions in this new war against "terror" where to defend the city of Erbil which is considered to be the nerve centre of the Kurdish oil fields and home to Exxon, Chevron and Mobil's local operations. 

So while the fight against terror is once again the impetus for war - ISIS having circulated videos of various Westerners being beheaded by an operative who curiously, has an English accent - one has to look no further than the interests of Big oil and the West's continued need for vast amounts of petroleum in order to keep their societies running. 

And Canada is there once again, helping to save the day from "Islamic Radicals", much like the Government of Harper is keeping close tabs on "Environmental Radicals" here at home. It's all about serving the best interests of Big Oil and fueling our ongoing lust for crude. 

So don't for a minute buy the nationalistic clap trap and fear mongering that Citizen Stephen and leaders like him are foisting upon us in order to justify our colonial misadventures. The wars of the 21st century are- always have been - and until the world breaks it's addiction to petroleum - always will be, about oil. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Without The Media, Harper Would Have No Message

At the gathering of the Conservative clan in Calgary in 2013, several of the good folks of the mainstream media bemoaned their treatment at the hands of the Harper faithful. 

They were penned into a corner with no water to drink (at first) and no wi-fi access. But even though these professional journalists were rudely shoved to the side and belled like cats with inordinately LARGE press credentials hanging from their necks so as to warn the clan's delegates who NOT to talk to, they were still in plain enough sight for the Cons to laugh and point their bony fingers at as though the press were thieves pilloried in the stocks. 

You see, the Conservatives in general and Stephen in particular don't think very highly of the mainstream media. They consider them to be the enemy in much the same way that His Harperness has declared the Courts to be the enemy of Senate reform. You see, every populist kind of guy needs an enemy that justifies his crusade. Even if that enemy happens to be nothing more than a road-side windmill. 

But the Conservatives disdain for the media was best expressed by
Harper "Lickspittle" Marjory LeBreton.
Better wipe your chin there Margy.
former Tory Leader in the Senate, Marjory LeBreton  when she denounced the Ottawa Press Corps as being nothing more than a bunch of Liberal "lickspittles". Though it was plain to see that the discoloured drool that dripped from Marge's wrinkly chin plainly belonged to Stephen himself. But the Cons have never let a little thing like hypocrisy get in the way of their rhetoric. 

Stephen you see, really hates to be held to account. He and the clan's spin doctors have gone to great lengths to portray Harper as a really smart guy so being stymied by really tough questions - well - makes him look just plain stupid. Hence the incessant spin and regurgitation of vapid talking points from Steve and his bobble heads, most of whom he has little or no faith in to not shoot themselves in the foot. Or worse, accidentally wing Stephen with a misplaced, unscripted comment. 

He gives Parliament the same treatment, not that he cares a whit about Parliament. It is merely window dressing behind which he maintains his autocratic rule. But there are actual CAMERAS and real live reporters in the press gallery. And the fear of looking foolish or being caught with his pants down in front of the media simply terrifies Citizen Steve. 
"Get thee back most foul and odious
seekers of truth"!

So Harper, as he does with all his detractors, bashes the media and attempts to discredit them as being "Liberal Elites", the enemies of the common man. But the fact is, when reporters such as Terry Milewski press Stephen for answers to tough question, he is simply doing his job. He has done nothing less with any previous Prime Minister. And sometimes, he made them look foolish too. 

But credibility has always been a concern for Harper ever since the days 
The Gospel according to
Fred Flintstone. 
of the Reform Party when members routinely made themselves look ridiculous in front of the national media ("man walked with dinosaurs" comes to mind). No credibility translates into no votes and Harper has gone to great lengths to paint what currently passes for a Conservative party as credible. At least enough to con as many as 38% of voters.  And many of those 38% voted for Steve himself because of the "smart-guy" persona that he has portrayed. 

So there are no more Prime Ministerial press-scrums for fear the Liberal intelligentsia posing as reporter's might cause Stephen to look foolish or worse - Negligent or dare I say, crooked. 
As long as the media keeps giving face-
time to the Harpernaughts, Canadians

will be giving face-time to their palms. 

But it is a sick and twisted relationship Citizen Stephen has with the press. You see, as much as he claims to loathe the media in general (with the possible exception of his incestuous relationship with Sun News), he needs them. Without the boys and girls in the Press Corps, The P.M. and his underlings would have no vehicle with which to convey their tightly controlled, highly scripted and mind boggelingly banal messages. Yet he abuses them at every opportunity. And like a beaten dog, the whipped media follows Herr Harper around looking for fallen crumbs and the remote possibility of a pat on the head.

I've asked media types why they continue to allow Stephen and the Harper Youth to abuse and humiliate them the way they do. But I'm conscious of the fact that I'm questioning people who are stuck in a cycle of abuse and I need to be careful not to blame the victims here. 

I've pointed out to them that if they just stay away, stop covering Harper's Follies, the shabby treatment would stop. The only people covering the Gestapo in the PMO would be Ezra Levant and his crew and nobody watches them anyway. 

But The Boys and Girls of the Press Corp - to a man and woman - have babbled about their professional duty and that they've taken oaths and all that. So they wear their "whipping boy" persona's like badges of honour and continue to allow Harper to use them like he would a cheap whore. 

But there was one day in 2013 when the Cons were holding a caucus meeting, Stephen would only allow cameras and TV into the soiree on the condition that no questions would be asked. In essence, this was to be nothing but a photo-op. From out of nowhere, the Press Corps, seeming to have had enough of being kicked around, decided to boycott the event. The only coverage was from - you guessed it - Sun News. 

Of course, Harpers Spinners turned the brave stand by the media types into a fundraising opportunity. It may or may not have been a successful cash grab. But that's neither here nor there. The important things is that the MSM stood up for themselves that day and said in unison and in a loud and clear voice: "ENOUGH". And for an excruciating moment in time, Harper's world shook uncontrollably.    

We've since gone back to the old relationship in which the press are throttled into being Harper's reluctant messengers. But with the next federal election just around the corner, lets hope the Media remember the day they stood up to the Emperor and embrace the notion that without them, Harper is nothing more than a sparrow-fart in a wind storm. No one will hear him. 

If Harper gave a press conference and nobody 
bothered to cover it, will he still have made 
a noise?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Is Thomas Mulcair's $15/hour Minimum Wage Empty Politicking?

The "Bearded Wonder" certainly
has folks abuzz this weekend.
Well good old Tommy certainly has folks all abuzz this weekend with his talk of introducing a federal minimum wage hike to $15 per hour. 

After a rather tepid summer for the NDP in which their only newsworthy announcement was their parroting of the Reform-a-Cons indecent position on the willful destruction of  Gaza, this comes as some good news. 

Yes, they've definitely scooped the Cons and the Libs with a truly positive suggestion for reducing wage inequality (at least a little), reducing poverty (somewhat) and giving consumers more ability to consume (which in the end, is good for the economy...right?) They even have a catchy phrase to go along with it: "People who work full time shouldn't have to live in poverty". 

So the "Bearded Wonder's" plan is to introduce this bill in Parliament within the next few weeks and folks from coast to coast to coast are all enthusiastic that something good might finally be coming their way from Ottawa. 

But hold on a moment! The Reform-a-Cons have a majority in the House, which they tend to wield like a sledge hammer. Everyone knows they are pro big business, free markets, privatization, small government and definitely against anything remotely Socialistic. Mulcair's bill, even if it has full Liberal support (which it won't, most of them will probably have someplace better to be when it comes time to vote) doesn't have a western journalist in Syria's chance of survival. So what the hell is he thinking?
Stephen Harper's collection of
festering Bridge Trolls!

Well, that's the beauty of being the opposition party in a majority government. You can introduce any kind of bill, no matter how outlandish - a free pony to every child born in the month of May for example - knowing full well it will be voted down and you'll never be held responsible for it. The purpose is to make the Government look like a nasty bunch of festering bridge trolls...which they are of course. 

So is this little ray of hope and sunshine from the NDP nothing but an empty gesture aimed at playing politics at the expense of the Evil Empire? Well of course it is. But it's a little more than that too.

Since the Cons have introduced the notion of the perpetual campaign to the Canadian political scene, all three main party's have been jostling for the limelight. Thus far, the charismatic and photogenic Prince Justin seems to have done the better job of this with his perpetual message of "hope, hope and more hope". He's not really saying what exactly we're hoping for as yet, but hey, anything is better than four more years of Harper and his merry band of bobble-heads. 

All the while, Mulcair has been plodding along, being perhaps, the best Opposition leader in recent memory. But being good at roasting the government in Question Period doesn't really score a lot of points with the GP (general public). NO one watches CPAC (except for journalists and political junkies) so most folks don't really "get" just how good Tommy is at his job.

So with 2015 just around the corner, this $15 minimum wage bill is certainly a good way of getting the GP talking about the NDP again and you can bet that it will be a central plank in their 2015 election platform. And by forcing the Cons to unanimously vote the bill down, you can also bet Mulcair will be reminding us at every turn how Citizen Stephen and the Harpercondriacs don't want Canadians to make a decent living wage. Because they're evil and all.

So then, what are the chances of this bill ever receiving any serious discussion? Well, none in the current Parliament. But there is a very good chance that the next Government will be a minority, so if the Dippers can hold on to the momentum they gained in 2011, they could well be in a position to wield some significant clout. If they're not the outright governing party, they could be the ones holding the votes that sustain whom ever is in the driver's seat. And with the skillful use of "give and take politics", that's a pretty good place to be sitting.

So in the short term, Tom's minimum wage bill might seem like some empty politicking, but in the long term, there might actually be a glimmer of hope of him actually pulling this off. But to do this, he has to keep his momentum going and keep people talking about the NDP. This weekend, he's done just that. 

An idea who's time is long overdue?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Do No Harm: The 10 Commandments, Redux or 10 Simple Guidelines for a Peaceful Co-existence.

Being that I don't subscribe to any one religion in any kind of traditional way,I guess it could be said that I'm somewhat of an atheist. It's not that I don't believe in god. It's just that I don't believe in him/her in the "biblical" sense. 

That being said though, I do like the concept of the Ten Commandments. A simple, codified set of rules to suggest how we can all live together in peace and harmony. Whether you believe they are the actual word of God or that Moses was just significantly pissed with the behaviour of his people and went off into the mountains to devise a way of dealing with them, they aren't a bad set of guidelines for civilized co-existence

The problem is, I feel, that "the ten rules for civilized behaviour" were etched in stone thousands of years ago when - let's face it - the world was a different place. We and our civilization have evolved since then, in some ways for the good and in others, not so much. Events in the world today - the horrendous way we are treating each other, including in the so-called "Holy Land" itself, indicates that we have very much strayed from our rules of civilized behaviour. So having a universal set of guidelines for governing our co-existence is still a good thing, but the ones we have might seem redundant because of their archaic nature. 

With this in mind then, I have attempted to update our universal guidelines to make them a little more relevant to our modern world. They can be applied to EVERYONE, even atheists. So readers can ponder them, share them, or disregard them as they see fit. But remember, they aren't so much "commandments" anymore because anti authoritarian types like myself hate to be commanded to do ANYTHING. They are merely ten simple guidelines for civilized co-existence


1) The old: Do not worship any other god than the one true God.

The NewIt's all good! You can worship any god you want, or no god at all. Just remember, everyone is entitled to live their life their own way so long as they don't harm anyone else because of it. And no one has the right to inflict their way of life or system of beliefs on others, or to stand in judgement of anyone else because of their beliefs. So live and let live and do no harm. 


2) The OldDo not make idols or images in the form of God.

The NewWho gives a fuck about Kim Kardashian! We tend to idolize people in our world simply because they are famous and pretty, be they pop singers, actors or athletes. Most of these people contribute nothing whatsoever to our society except avoidance, distraction and a devalued sense of self worth and are about as deserving of our adoration as common garden slugs. Remember, when you are trying to decide  whether to buy food this week or pay your rent, they are sipping champagne at an exclusive night club somewhere. And YOU paid for their life style with your worship.  


3) The OldDo not treat God's name lightly or with disrespect.

The NewRespect all people's concept of God. It just isn't cool to disrespect other people's concept of God or lack thereof.

4) The OldDedicate or set aside a regular day each week for sabbath rest  and worship. 

The NewWork to live, don't live to work. It's great if you have a career that you love. Most of us don't. We have jobs that pay the bills and put food on the table - period! For many, we work more than one of these jobs. It's called survival. But whether you have a satisfying career or simply a means of paying the bills, take time to be grateful for whatever it is you have and to smell the roses. Take time for your family  and friends. Jobs don't enrich our lives. People do. 


5) The OldGive honor to your father and mother.

The New: Acknowledge your roots. Your parents might have been nothing but drunken, abusive fucks. But they gave you life, even if they didn't intend to. And life is the greatest gift in the universe, even if it doesn't always seem like it. So Even if your parents didn't do shit for you in any other way and you can't stand them otherwise, be thankful that because of  them, you exist. And appreciate where you came from, be it a country, a culture, a religion or just the old neighbourhood. It's part of who you  are. So never be ashamed of your roots or where you come from. Embrace it. By doing so, you are better able to love yourself. 


6) The OldDo not deliberately kill a fellow human being.

The NewEveryone has a right to exist. Taking another human life is a crime against nature and the universal order of things. So murder is murder, whether it be a street crime, state sanctioned execution or war. No one has the right to deprive another person of their inalienable right to exist. 


7) The Old: Do not have sexual relations with anyone other than your  spouse.

The NewResponsible sex. Originally, people had sex strictly for the purpose of procreation. Which is cool. But sex in itself is also a pretty cool thing. What ever the reason for two people being intimate, the bonding of two consenting humans is a beautiful thing. But it is something that should not be taken lightly. Respect your partner. Treat them with decency, courtesy and tenderness. Protect yourselves whether it's from disease or unwanted pregnancy. And No means No. Nobody has the right to force themselves on another. Remember Do No Harm. Also, there are many different definitions as to who or what a spouse is now. But if you've entered into a trust relationship with someone else, the         quickest way to kill that trust is to fuck around on them. 


8) The OldDo not steal or take anything that doesn't belong to you.

The New: Jail sucks! So if you don't want to go to jail, don't take shit from people who measure their own self worth by the amount of stuff they have. Anyone who values their shit more than people, will see you in jail quicker than you can blink your eyes. In some less than civilized places, they might also shoot you though this is clearly not in keeping with the spirit of Do No Harm


9) The OldDo not tell a lie about someone or bring a false accusation against another.

The NewDon't talk shit! This is definitely a lesson our politicians should learn. A lie is a lie, but so is a half truth or a misrepresentation thereof. And gossip kills so don't talk shit about someone behind their back. If you hear someone else doing it, stay out of it, walk away. Just think about what they might have to say about you behind your back. Always remember, Karma is a bitch so do no harm


10) The OldDo not desire anything or anyone that does not belong to you.

The NewNever place anybody or anything they might have above you or your own personal happiness. The measure of  your own self worth has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else. By being envious of someone else's possessions, status or station in life, you are simply diminishing your own personal value and creating  spiritual inequality. Remember, no one is any better than anyone else, no matter what they tell you or how they act or what kind of car they drive. In fact, people who collect a lot of expensive shit probably have a pretty poor sense of self worth so pity them. 


Please bear in mind fellow space travellers, that these amended guidelines are simply my own opinion. They've probably been expressed by countless others in many different and vastly more coherent ways. So take what you want from my humble offering, or take nothing at all. But if there is one message I do sincerely hope that readers embrace from the above regarding their coexistence with others, it is this: Do no Harm!