Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The length and breadth of it

Illustrating on dimension of the Harper Regime, David Bruser at the Toronto Star does a very good job of illustrating the impact of Afghanistan war on some veterans of that war.

You know, it takes a particularly wicked and sadistic mind to keep someone in a trauma-inducing situation for no reason, and then deny them the care when they afterward. The impact of industrial war on soldiers has been known for almost a century now. The government does not have the option of saying "we didn't know this is what Afghanistan would do." The information is widely available.

Therefore, exposing soldiers to war without good cause, and then reducing or denying their care afterward is an act of abject cruelty. If the Geneva Conventions were applied, this would be torture and therefore forbidden. In yesteryear, this would be an hanging offence if people were shown to have died as a result.

This Harper Regime, which has destroyed the lives of so many young people is now trying to give itself the power to legally rig elections after it got caught stealing the last one. In a just world, attempting such a thing would grounds for a long detention or some kind of banishment.

Fuck them.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Read this now: Kirby Cairo

Excellent commentary.

...Such a treasonous act undertaken by the government itself is something that requires more than rarefied political discourse. People have to be woken up to the dangers of an encroaching fascism, to a government that is attempting to gradually replace our democratic system with an autocracy in which any democratic processes have been rendered exercises in futility, and where, by extension, the government serves a narrow corporate interest and a small percentage of wealthy patrons.

It is difficult to live in a society which is inching gradually toward autocracy as many of the citizens seem to blithely ignore the coming danger. There is a certain nonchalant attitude taken by many to the dangerous and insidious actions of a government that is falling into fascism. They have trouble believing that it "can happen here" or that our traditions can be subverted and perverted by a bunch of men dressed in suits. But not every coup is a violent one and sometimes what is best in a society is lost in a quite war of attrition.
The Liberals won't call what Harper is doing "fascism" for two reasons, both of which have to do with what they see in the mirror. First, they haven't the balls because they still think Canada is a "nice" country and using that word to describe the Harper regime is too uncomfortable and impolite.  Second, they'd have to confront their own ideology which likes trade, markets, and the private sector, albeit with a little more professionalism than the outright malicious thuggery of the assholes currently holding the reigns. They really believe in thuggery.

The NDP won't use it because they haven't the balls either and are moving closer to the centre. A bit of power in a one-off election and they want more. Getting more means drawing votes away from the Liberals. Drawing votes from the Liberals means looking more like the Liberals. Looking more like the Liberals means looking wet.

Meanwhile, the Harper fascists will legislate themselves into perpetuity and we'll be nice enough not protest too much and upset things.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Internet Trolls, "Dark Tetrad"

Abstract to a just published psychology paper on internet troll personalities:
In two online studies (total N = 1215), respondents completed personality inventories and a survey of their Internet commenting styles. Overall, strong positive associations emerged among online commenting frequency, trolling enjoyment, and troll identity, pointing to a common construct underlying the measures. Both studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores. Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior. Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism. Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.
Here's a popular press description

A few comments. We should be careful. I mean something like this confirms what most of us suspect about our rightwing ghouls (including the parliamentary trolls in the Harper gov't) and shows us the best thing to do is not engage. There's really no rational argument to make against psychotic sadist.

Second, this isn't confined to lunatics on right. I dare say there's a few so-called progressives who might fit some of these descriptions, particularly those who abuse discourses that foreground individual identity or identities to the point where they dehumanising and humiliate others.

The lesson? Obviously, do not feed the trolls.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New Model Country, New Model Army

I want to add something to the outstanding series of posts from Dave this week. Harper wants to change Canada into some kind of theocratic fascist petro-state, complete with dead coasts and rivers, impoverished workers, and rigged elections. This much is clear when we look at the indicators and EVERYTHING he and his party do should be viewed through this lens. The man is at war with his own country.

To do this, to reform Canada, Harper must destroy everything Canada is and this includes best of what Canadians do and think about themselves. He has broken the back of parliamentary accountability, public science, now Elections Canada, environmental assessment, the census. Destroying elements of responsible government allows his party total political control over the practice of government. This is a systematic and strategic strangling so that no public entity may say or do anything that goes against the wishes or potential wishes of the Conservative Party.

This includes veterans and the serving Canadian Forces. Anyone who has served will understand the selflessness and professionalism that the finest of Canadian service members have to offer. Ours is not a military that will readily serve a corporatist god-bothering oil fiefdom, at least once this reality grows undeniable.

Harper and his ilk must break the Canadian Forces and its veterans and reform it into something more subservient and to their liking. How would he do this? Destroy their security and well-being, break their morale, divide them, the same way he's attacked every other public service he needs to control and the public itself. Show them their years of service and sacrifice count for nought. The smart ones will understand this and Harper might hope they will protest to no avail or be bought off, and then fade away like so many silent government scientists. The smart ones understand that the professions of soldiering, sailoring, or flying aren't dependent on the aesthetics of a particular uniform or badge, but on tradecraft. That's why the military continued to function and perform after unification and throughout more recent dark periods. When push comes to shove, the craft is what counts and it this pride that drives protests against Harper and his little Fantino. Harper needs to break this. 

At the same time, lest this protest movement from the veterans spread, he needs to something to produce the kind of soldiers suitable for teh Harper Army. The return to preunification ranks fit with this. Playing on an ancient sore scores points with with certain elements. The return to preunification nomenclature and symbolism divides the military and veterans between those who are easily distracted by nostalgia and baubles and those who understand that warriors are defined by their cohesive fighting ability and would fight in pink leotard if that's what was issued. The latter type of person doesn't have an home in the Forces that Harper needs. It wouldn't be surprising to learn that Fantino was deliberately late to that meeting with veterans to ensure they knew who was boss - not that it ultimately went that way.

If Harper manages to buy off the angry veterans or they fade away, he stands gain a split between the public and the military which would only serve his interests when it comes to using the armed forces against the public when we protest. He's already enlisted the spies.

Fail to address PTSD and suicides, buy basic things like military pattern trucks, split the military and veterans, destroy morale and cohesion, and something like a conscript army will emerge. Wreck Canadian labour and living standards and there's a ready source of recruits. Conscript forces full of people who either don't want to be there or see little option for themselves led by budding war criminals are the only kind that serve fascist thugs. These sorts of militaries spend lots of time marching past reviewing stands...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Stephen Harper would not approve

THIS is what Canadians do.

When someone needs help, real Canadians go out of their way to provide it.

Then we have the Harper party approach to helping others:
First up, James Moore. Your neighbour's kid can starve for all he cares.
Next, the man who prostituted the Progressive Conservative party, Peter "Airshow" MacKay. If you have nothing, he'll take that away from you too.

Can you imagine any one of these self-absorbed, evil, swine considering Anton Gafarov anything but a mortal enemy?

Justin Wadsworth, however, renews your faith in the spirit of Canadian fair play and the belief that a hand up always brings more than the back of the hand.

Well done, Mr. Wadsworth. You do Canadians proud.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Veterans are outraged. Now they need to do what they once did best. Lead. Part 3.

Unification, led by Paul Helleyer in 1968 and permitted by Lester Pearson, was a wound most veterans still bear. Initially intended as a modernization to bring three separate services under one joint operational roof, it steam-rolled well beyond the original plan to create a single service which was purportecly able to share resources and personnel across the the three combat elements. It was to become a dumb idea championed by a self-aggrandizing fool who today sees aliens in his cereal bowl. But the damage to morale, traditions and the ethos of the services was extensive. So extensive, in fact, that when veterans look back at the past several decades they are unable to connect the last major re-equipping of the armed forces with the prime minister that actually did it: Pierre Trudeau. And they are just as blinded to the fact that Brian Mulroney, despite all the typical conservative rhetoric, sold off critical combat capability during his tenure.

Let's end the history lesson there and get to the point of this whole discussion. Veterans are now the recipients of some of the shabbiest treatment ever at the hands of the federal government and the fault lays, not just with Julian Fantino, but with Harper himself.

Harper, always prepared to pump Canadian military history for the lazy patriotic vote it garners, is a tribalist, self-centered, sociopath. Fantino was his perfect hatchet-man. But make no mistake about it, what is being done to veterans now is very much calculated by Harper and the elitists who surround him.

Of the roughly 1.1 million Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served in the 2nd World War, less than 90,000 are alive today. At an average age of 90, those veterans are dying in the hundreds per month. Korea veterans, a much smaller group, have all but vanished. No veteran of the 1914 - 1918 Great War survives. In short, the corps of veterans from the declared wars and Korea is shrinking rapidly.Veterans from the Cold War era, Gulf War 1, peacekeeping and Afghanistan do not constitute the same numbers as the large group that returned from the world wars and, (get ready for this), the Harperites don't really consider them veterans in the same light anyway. Those veterans do not meet the Conservative fetish of military glory associated with the big total wars. If you don't believe me, replay some of Fatino's interviews where he tries to minimize the standing of today's veterans by elevating the risk and contribution of municipal police, himself included. He's trying, along with Harper, to make national service, with a full combat liability, no more than police work.

And we all know, for a multitude of reasons, it is not, and never will be, the same thing. Julian Fantino never once deployed for the better part of a year to any one of the world's shit-holes. Ever. We did it with all too familiar regularity.

So, here's the thing, (and you need to absorb this one fully). What Harper is doing to veterans is NOT singularly unique. What he is doing to you, he is doing to everyone. He has shattered the Canadian public service. He is destroying labour law in this country. His myopic focus on creating a petro-state (in Alberta) has promoted accelerated rust-out in the Canadian manufacturing sector. Essential middle-income jobs are being destroyed in the most populated areas of the country in favour of corporate wealth generation from wanton resource extraction. You are just another domino to fall in a long line of tiles. Complaining loudly will do one thing: he'll do what he can to silence you faster.

It's not that Harper doesn't care about you. Harper doesn't care about anybody. He consults nobody outside his elitist circle; he accepts no advice; he answers no questions. When cornered, he runs for cover and hides.

Veterans are in a decidedly exceptional position, should they (we) choose to exploit it. We have always been there for Canadians and we have nothing to hide. And Canadians in general appreciate that we have honestly done our duty on behalf of this country in the best interest of our country.

Do what you have always done best. Lead, and accept nothing short of a fully completed mission.

A majority of Canadians sympathize with veterans. They do not accept the mistreatment and the abuse at the hands of a sociopath. They are watching you. They want to see what you are going to do.

There is a strong belief that if your loud protestations garner some kind of pay off, that you'll take it and resume your seat at the camp table. That would leave the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have had their lives and dreams crushed by Harper's policies sorely disappointed. And you will have lost them forever.

Do the right thing. Get out front. If you never want another Fantino, you have to gather your forces, muster your strength, fight off the fear and get rid of the whole force from which the Fatinos originate.

You need to suck it up and realize that you are only one segment of the population which has been kicked in the genitals. You need to organize and slam Harper hard. So hard that he is totally and completely de-stooled.

If you do not do this, Harper will be back, even if he pays you off this time, and he will do untold amounts of damage. Your meager pension will not withstand the financial assault he will carry out on you if he is returned to government. Do you like your health care plan? He'll kill it. Do you expect to get Old Age Security? It will be gone. Don't believe me? Ask a 55 year old when they get to access their Canada Pension Plan? No one figured on that one but Harper ripped it away from them.

It is time that you considered all of those Canadians you never saw when you were in Bosnia, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, the Golan Heights, Cyprus, Haiti, Cambodia, Viet Nam and any number of places where bullets flew until we took the lead and realized that they want you to get out front, look them in the eyes and say, follow me.

You don't have a lot of time. If you think Harper is going to wait until the fall of 2015 to go to the electorate, you're not paying attention. He is under so much pressure that he could trigger an election at any moment. Never mind the "fixed election date". He's already broken that law once before. All the signs are there and if you're not ready, he'll trample you.

You need to look at the door to your front and realize that it could open at any moment and expose you to a hail of hostile fire. So, get organized and lead. Make your issue big and make it a part of the bigger issue. Harper is not and never will be your friend. He lives in a world where hatred and ignorance are political weapons. You can defeat him and deny him his weapons. Quit worrying about who replaces him. We've all been in situations in far flung places where victory meant we got rid of the nasty prick in the chair without knowing what came afterwards.

You've done it before.

Do it now. Lead.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Veterans are outraged. Now they need to do what they once did best. Lead. Part 2.

There is a commonly held misconception that all members of Canada's armed services and, by extension, discharged veterans are Conservative supporters. That, of course, is simply not true on more than one plane.

What is true, is that many voted for Harper and his uber-right-wing thugs based on a load of false propaganda, seriously limited information, and for purely selfish reasons, (which is why we all vote in a specific direction). It would not be a stretch to say that most members of the armed services had little use for Chretien and his Liberals long before the general electorate swung away from them. Chretien was viewed, (with good reason), as being anti-armed forces and if you're in the service you're going to fight back with the only tool allowed armed service personnel in a democracy: your big X against the name of someone who isn't going to return a Liberal government. That meant Paul Martin, despite making some immediate and needed course corrections when it came to the Canadian Forces, didn't stand a chance amongst CF voters. But that's more history than an explanation.

The truth is most members of the armed services are pretty apolitical, especially in their early years of service. When a kid joins the service he/she is not politically engaged and definitely doesn't possess a political ideology. Young (put any political party name here) ideologues don't, as a rule, join the armed services, particularly during peacetime. It would interfere with their ability to get inside the political machine. And, although this is likely to create a poo-flinging session, my long association with armed services has taught me that among those few young service members who do have a political view, none of them are conservative of the Harper ilk. That kind of young person avoids military service like a plague, although there is an exception I'll identify later.

Service in the navy, army or air-force is very insular. Long deployments, active service and isolated bases mean limited interaction with the civilian community. A very different lifestyle leads many service personnel to further isolate themselves (and their families) from too much civilian contact. Politics becomes dirty, invasive and unwanted. Politicians are viewed as dirty, invasive and unwanted. A majority of service personnel therefore distrust all politicians. Political interest only arises when it directly affects serving individuals or the organization to which they belong. Thus, political motivation depends on how they view the treatment offered by the gang in place at the time. Disband an airborne regiment, lose the votes of the entire army and likely chase them into the arms of the first party who says we'd never have done that. Cut the defence budget so deeply that there are not enough crews to man ships, lose the votes of the entire navy with the same end result.

Veterans are odd creatures. They have a tendency to take those particular political views and emotions with them on the final walk out the main gate and there is a good chance they'll hang on to them for decades. They maintain an emotional affinity with their former service that most civilians do not fully comprehend. It is born out of the fact that while serving they were a part of more than just an organization. The people they served with were and are a part of a very close-knit family with intentional barriers preventing those who did not serve from ever entering the deep centre of the military psyche. You didn't serve? You don't ever get to be a part of the ethos and no one is ever going to explain it to you.

So, it will likely come as something of a shock when I tell you that in the 1960s prior to Paul Helleyer committing the heinous crime that was Unification, most service personnel found themselves voting Liberal.

You see, Diefenbaker was a tough pill to swallow. He had done little to foster the armed services. Pay was poor and conditions were not improving. Cancellation of the AVRO Arrow iced Dief in the eyes of many service personnel. That and a long held belief that the Liberals were a better option for significant pay raises and an improvement in conditions put them ahead in the minds of people who had endured enough of Diefenbaker's draconian austerity measures, most of which had to do with keeping service personnel impoverished.

There was something else. The Liberals under Louis St. Laurent had engaged in a purpose-bent re-equipment program. Diefenbaker inherited a modernized or modernizing armed forces as a result of the government which preceded his. That fact was not lost on the long service veterans who were starting to leave the service in the 1960s and taking their political affinity for the Liberals with them.

Here, I'll end part 2. Part 3 will be a little longer in coming. 

Veterans are outraged. Now they need to do what they once did best. Lead. Part 1.

There is no doubt Canadian veterans have been treated in the most vile way possible by one of the most ignorant people in the Harper government. Julian Fantino has demonstrated, quite clearly, that he feels a greater duty to his benefactor, Harper, than he does to the armed services veterans his department is mandated to assist. In fact, his recent behaviour demonstrates a total disdain for veterans. He believed he could appear at a time of his choosing and start issuing orders. This to a group who, now no longer in uniform, would loudly tell a serving general where to go if they didn't like what was being said. Fantino forgot, (or perhaps has never understood) who it is he actually works for. Not surprising, actually. Fantino has a long and documented history of being a dangerously stupid person with too much power which he felt was his to abuse and then to attack anyone who shone a light on his activities.

Some people are giving Fantino credit for "sincerely apologizing" to veterans for the spectacle he created. Except that it wasn't a sincere apology and accepting any part of it would be a huge mistake. Professor Stephen Kimber explains why.
Sincerely? In the next breath, Fantino was bitching to his stenographers at the Toronto Sun that the multi-medalled, wheel-chaired vets had been “duped… jacked up” by the union representing public servants who will lose their jobs and who had paid the veterans’ airfare to Ottawa.
When those mindless-dupe vets failed to show Fantino the due deference he required, he told the Sun, “I wasn’t just going to play dead.”
Keeping in mind, of course, that on one of Fantino's previous yap-sessions with those same stenographers he tried to paint himself into the same frame as a combat veteran. That should have told the veterans who attempted to meet with him that such endeavours were likely to fail. Fantino, who does not know how to control his authoritarian impulses, views himself as a hero. A self-styled hero who brooks no protest without his explicit permission.

Fantino clearly does not understand veterans. Worse though, is that he expects veterans to kneel before him and then be grateful for his very existence. His style is to issue orders; not to listen. And he further insults veterans by telling them they have been "duped" by the public service union, PSAC.

Really? Duped by the very union veterans watched like hawks when they were serving? The same union whose collective wage and benefit package formed the basis for the Canadian Forces compensation and benefit negotiations with the Treasury Board? Ya think?!!

If there's been any "duping" going on it's been by Harper and company, Fantino included. They have made a point of positioning themselves as "friends of the forces" and the "protectors of veterans", all without having done much except make loud noises about it. While the Harperites have been diligent in making certain they applied a nice shiny surface paint job, they have been hacking away at personnel, cutting pay and benefits, cancelling equipment acquisition and fighting against veterans attempting to hang on to disability benefits.

Not to mention the biggest duping of all. Harper, on Sunday, 1 March 2009, on CNN in the U.S., (he never says this kind of thing where a Canadian can get at him), told Fareed Zakaria that the war in Afghanistan was futile. And rather than call the Chief of Defence Staff and require that all Canadian troops be withdrawn to a safe area, he continued to knowingly send Canadian kids to their death. That made them cannon fodder and it highlighted Harper as a dangerous sociopath. Fantino too, is a sociopath but with perhaps a more lingering aroma of corruption.

And here ends part 1. 

140 characters of chickenshit

Industry Canada (and by extension the Conservative government) is apparently so afraid of public opinion (and the internet) that they have a 12-step program process for issuing Tweets.