Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Return of the Muldoon.

Lyin' Brian emerges from under his rock to smarmily declare that an underfunded, over-stretched, demoralized armed forces, a draconian Stalinist security bill that will have Canadians reporting on their fellow citizens for not revering Don Cherry enough and the highest federal debt that Canada has ever seen are the advantages Harper carries into the next election.

Well, not in those exact words but that's what it comes down to.

Go somewhere and expire Brian. Preferably alone. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

RMC misogyny continued

It just goes from bad to worse. First we hear about about massively disrespectful and insubordinate jeering that Julie Lalonde got from Officer Cadets (rank given to officer trainees) at RMC. Next we find that her received mistreatment and abuse continued on Twitter in the months after the event, including the belated apology letter from the Commandant. Further still, the 'disciplinary action' taken against some cadets may have amounted to 'remedial instruction', which is an euphemism for 'told them not to do it again' when a charge should have been laid.

I fully agree with Harebell that this is a major discipline failing that should not have happened, and if it did, should have been dealt with much more severely from the level of Commandant on down. A few more thoughts:

1. RMC trains the bulk of the Canadian officer corps, the future leadership of the RCN, Army, and RCAF. The other week, a major report was released detailing the "endemic" levels of sexual misconduct mostly towards women across the military. The scale of the problem means that any officer will very likely have to deal with incidents involving their subordinates, peers, and superiors. Failure to understand the problem, the civilian and military law around it, and the appropriate ways of dealing with it means that officer is likely to poorly address it when it happens. In practice, failing to address the problem effectively could mean anything from exacerbating the harm already caused toward another member, protecting a sexual predator, to bringing scandal and embarrassment to the military. Well, the cadets have done this last one already - RMC and the CF leadership don't seem to get this.

2. RMC and the male cadets in question have now loudly telegraphed to every serving woman that they will not take sexual misconduct issues from them seriously because they are women. This is saying women will not be considered equal members of the military in their eyes and that they will not adhere to the standard of duty and care required of military leaders when it comes to their welfare. It is also likely, given the nature of war, that they shall encounter and have to investigate sexual crimes while deployed.  Their misogynistic lack of discipline on this issue can only foster mistrust and undermine teamwork in any unit they command, and thereby compromise its effectiveness and thus their own leadership.

3. Dave once commmented here that some of the leadership failings in the Canadian military stem from officers being taught about leadership whilst they were at "too young a mental age". This point couldn't be truer as evidenced by recent events.  Perhaps the recuitment, instruction, and discipline at RMC be revised. The attrition rate doesn't seem to be high enough, and the standard is poor.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Harper Chooses To Remain in the Closet

The coward has again repeated that he will not participate in a national English language leader's debate.

It  appears he really, really likes the closet.

Now we get to see if the media consortium or the other national leaders have any courage left.

Sexual problems in the Canadian Forces

So the recent unforunate news this the completely and utterly unsurprising finding by former SCC Justice Marie Deschamps that grossly inappropriate sexual behaviour mostly toward women is "endemic" in the Canadian Forces.

Let's define endemic (OED):
  1. 1
    (of a disease or condition) regularly found among particular people or in a certain area.
    "complacency is endemic in industry today"
  2. 2
    (of a plant or animal) native or restricted to a certain place.
    "a marsupial endemic to north-eastern Australia"
Lord, nothing has apparently in changed in since the last time the military had it's attention drawn to antisocial behaviour in its ranks. There was SHARP (Sexual Harassment and Racial Prejudice) "training" to try to mitigate these kinds of problems following Somalia and other incidents. Nobody openly took it seriously.

Fastforward almost 20 years, and Deschamps' report basically finds that sexual harassment is still normal and routine occurance in the CF. This means that it is safe to say to any woman joining the military that they are highly likely to face harassment and possibly assault of some form in the course of her duties. The report is saying that this behaviour is an integral part of the institution as it now stands.

Deschamps, as per her mandate, has handed the military a list of ten recommendations for remedying the problem.

The CDS Gen. Tom Lawson accepted two of them and eight in principle in a serious sounding presser. He sounded unpassionate to me, suggesting only that the military will "to the greatest extent possible" try for a solution to the problem and mumbled something about how it is possible to change cultures.  OK, then. Not exactly inspiring leadership there. Potentially disgraceful really, if this report is accurate and Lawson decided to ignore the Deschamps recommendations anyway. (That his go-to on this issue MGen Christine Whitecross appeared surprised to learn of Lawson's that was a conversation.)

Why was he tepid?

My guesses? The report points out the chain of command with its heirarchy of power is precisely what is preventing junior members from speaking up when they are harrassed or assaulted. In fact, as again the report mentions, it can be the case that the harasser or rapist is senior in the chain of command. The chain of command is sacrosanct how the military effectively conducts its business. The Pavlovian response from the chain to anyone violating the chain of command either by skipping a step or going outside is to threaten or punish. Which is likely why Lawson appears keen to ignore study Deschamps recommendations. Except that Deschamps is pointing out that the chain is unable to deal with culturally endemic sexual harassment because well, it's the tool used by the creeps to be creeps. From my read of reports, Lawson does not appear to have a response to that particular catch-22. I mean, if sexual impropriety is really endemic, it means god-knows-what for people in the chain who enable it by omission or commission.

Speaking of sins of commission
, the disgustingly vulgar, childish, and embarrassing response (identical to the response to the SHARP video 20 fucking years ago) of the future "leadership" of the Navy, Army and Airforce at Royal Military College to a civilian expert shows precisely why (1) sexual problems are endemic; and (2) the leadership in the CF might actually be incapable of addressing it in any meaningful sense. Perhaps, as part of the corrective measures, the smarmy little shits can have their sexual assault prevention lectures prefaced by accounts and photos of the rape-murder scenes many former-Yugoslavia vets encountered. And then have the link between their attitude and its ultimate expression in war and peace steamhammered into their infantile minds.

What then for the victims? Well, I suppose "tolerate" it, embrace it, exit the military and try to recover in civilian life, kill yourself, whatever. The green machine is really doing its best to show that it really does not give a fuck. As I've said before,  I haven't met a women who has left or is leaving the military who hasn't cited this kind of thing as a major factor in her decision to leave, and I've witnessed some pretty awful stuff myself. I mean, there's nothing you can do if, even as an officer , your superiors won't support you in disciplining harrassers (or could be themselves, thank you kindly RMC). God help those women without the rank or position to effectively insulate or defend themselves, especially if this Con "promise" is just for show.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

So Long, Dave. Thanks For The Laughter. Watch Your Step.

I confess that I will miss David Letterman even though I have not been anything close to a faithful watcher for many years.

However, there was a stretch of time in the 80's when I was away from home quite a bit. On tour or working in another city and after the show was over and a late night meal was found getting back to the hotel to watch Letterman and wind down the night was what was done.

Laughter before sleep. Better than drugs.

Last night, his penultimate night, I had to watch. I needed to see what Bill Murray would conjure of course but really it was to see Dylan. Bob Dylan. Not that other one.

I wondered what he might do. Would he do "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" perhaps, with a wink and a nod  to the desk? 

Maybe an updated version of License to Kill, which he sang the first time he appeared on the show back in '84.

Nope. He sang a song not even his own, The Night We Called It a Day, off his new album of American jazz and pop standards. He's always been Bob Dylan, of course, and last night he seemed even more so what with the flock of ducks that seemed to inhabit his body when he didn't have a good grip on the mike stand.


I think I'll choose to remember him for other things.

Like this.

I'll watch Letterman's last show tonight too. It will be bittersweet as so much of life so often is. We're the same age now, he and I.

I will miss knowing that I can always tune in to a Letterman show for a laugh. The new guys are just so reverential amid the giggling and fawning.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Canada's National Newspaper

Elizabeth Renzetti of The Globe and Mail asks "Why are we trading liberty for security?"

In return I ask her:

Why are you still working for the corporate shill Phillip Crawley? 

As far as I'm concerned, Ms. Renzetti, you don't have the right to ask the question let alone attempt any of the facile answers that would be acceptable to the man who signs your paycheque.  

No one who works for the Globe and Mail, in my opinion, has the moral right to ask a question such as that. All of you have sold that right. Your integrity and credibility have a dollar sign attached to them.  None of you own a high ground upon which to ask that question. You are all compromised. 

You're an active participant in Canada's ongoing trading of liberty for security by virtue of being in the pay of one of Harper's most ardent cheer leaders. You are helping to enable the incremental and accelerating deconstruction of what once was one of the most admired and respected nations on earth. You are assisting in the creation of a new proto-fascist state where elections are suspect, citizens rights are not respected and science and learning are devalued in order to accommodate unmoderated corporate avarice. 

One must assume you all enjoy life on your knees . 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ethics and Principles

Lying awake in the night can be fertile ground.

Last night, for instance, lying awake, I found myself reflecting on the accelerating disappearance of ethics and principles in politics.

I realized that, in this age of the market, ethics and principles too are merely commodities to be bought, sold and traded.

Thus the ease with which Layton could sell decades of CCF and NDP principle as the cost of more seats in Parliament.

The squinty eyed comfort of MacKay selling out the Progressive Conservative Party and caucus in exchange for the soul destroying illusion of power.

The toothsome credulity of mini-Trudeau as he accedes to the proto-fascism of Bill C51 in exchange for what he and his silent henchmen perceive to be an electoral defence strategy.

All examples of ethics and principles being consumed as commodities.

I offer no examples of Harper because Harper has neither ethics nor principles of his own to trade or sell. All he is capable of is stealing the principles of others and then debasing them as though they were his own.

Eventually I slept again.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Omar Khadr

Omar Khadr.

I hope he can remain out of confinement. I hope the US justice system has returned sufficiently to it's senses that he doesn't have to be returned to a cell. I hope he can be free.

He's not free now of course, irrespective of the bigoted bleating of various Harperian asshats. Even irrespective of his own misapprehension of his state. One day but not yet.

What concerns me most about his immediate  future, and by extension, yours and mine, is that  Harper will simply instruct his state police to charge into his lawyers home in full military gear under cover of night and re-take or kill him and possibly anyone who witnesses their action. They may even have enough confidence in their invulnerability to do it in broad daylight. Paulson has given me no reason to think he wouldn't simply 'follow orders' mindlessly.

Between Harper's mindless idiot followers, the apathetic cud chewing majority of the Canadian herd  and the Harperian corporate press there probably wouldn't be much more than a 5 day wonder of a stink raised. The deeper shame would be that in certain circles of the Canadian elite and press the action would be praised.

Cynical? You bet I am.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Prime Minister Bigot

 “Mr. Harper is a bigot. Mr. Harper doesn't like Muslims. He wants to prove he’s tough on crime so who does he pick on? A 15-year-old boy.”

Omar Khadr's lawyer spoke these words outside an Edmonton courthouse shortly after Mr. Khadr was released on bail. 

Say it loud and say it often. 

Canada has a bigot for a Prime Minister, with a bigoted cabinet, supported by bigoted voters. 

Don't it make you, proud. 

Meanwhile, in Ottawa

Geez, I disappear for a few days, Alberta elects a Dipper majority and Dana returns to blogging at the Beaver. I need to go away more often.

Meanwhile, in the Iraq bunker where dearest leader hid while Alberta painted itself orange...

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Let the Whining Begin

"Left turn in Canada's oil-rich Alberta leaves investors reeling"

This is an actual Reuters headline this morning

And what does this "reeling" look like. 

Less than 1.5 percentage points. 

Normal fluctuation in other words. 

There will be lots of this kind of fear mongering in the coming days. Get used to it. 

The corporate media will do it's level best to have you believe that the NDP government is a worse business partner than the government of China and their petroleum arm Petro-China which already owns majority control of the province's oil fields. 

Every time some corporate toadie whinges at you about this disaster in Alberta ask them if they think Petro-China is afraid of Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP? Cause that's who owns the oil fields.

It's OK with them that non-Canadians own a majority of the oil sands production and that the lion's share of the profits go overseas but it's not OK with them that Canadians who live in Alberta have elected a government other than their preference. 

They can go fuck themselves. 

Alberta Liberation

Congratulations must be offered to Alberta's new Premier Designate Rachel Notley and her NDP colleagues for their astonishing landslide victory in my birth province.

For the first time in over 4 decades someone other than an Alberta Progressive Conservative politician is going to be able to see the books. Hhhhmmmmmmm....

Call me cynical but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if there aren't more than a few politicians, former as well as current, along with some technocrats and bureaucrats who are thoughtfully fingering their passports this morning and wondering...wondering...wondering...

It will be fascinating to observe the coming months as we learn more about her and her caucus.

It will be equally fascinating to watch the corporate backlash begin. It will probably be very subtle, at least to begin with, because the mandate is so overwhelmingly clear. I expect the discussions about what the backlash would be and how it would be rolled out began several weeks ago and continued late into last night while the scotch flowed and the flop sweat stank.

Former Premier and Harper cabinet minister Jim Prentice resigned his leadership and his just won seat before the night was even over. His days in the public eye are now over for ever.

It isn't likely that this surge presages a similar phenomenon come the next federal election. Provincial results and federal results are almost never reflections of one another - they're mirror images more often.

But then again a month ago no one would have believed the NDP would be elected to an overwhelming majority in Alberta while reducing the party of Lougheed and Klein to a third place rump.

All bets may be off. We'll just have to wait and see.

On a related note - I'm sure the pollsters are relieved they're not throwing up in the bathroom again.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Canada's Terrorist Government

Justice Myra Bielby of the Alberta Court of Appeal has postponed her decision till Thursday on whether to release Omar Khadr . 

She needs to weigh the threats made against her family. 

By the Harper government. 

Monday, May 04, 2015

The Academe Enigma

OK, now that the pleasantries are out of the way...

What's the deal with 20th century post-secondary educational institutions?

How likely is it the masters of the universe who brought us the 2008 global financial crisis were all uneducated? Or that they were ignorant of the possible consequences of their deceitful machinations? Or that they had been required to attend and pass courses on ethics while they gathered the credits they needed to be granted a licence to lie, cheat and steal?

Even more problematically, how probable might it be that entire cohorts of science and engineering graduates were never once exposed to the science of anthropogenic climate change? It would appear that thousands upon thousands of them were not. They're plugging away for the petroleum industry. Do you think they're not aware that they're ushering in a global catastrophe? Or perhaps the engineering school they went to taught them that the results of their work should not be included in their considerations.

There certainly seems to be something amiss when the biosphere of earth is facing near term devastation, perhaps total, while the most highly educated human population the world has ever seen are in charge.

Perhaps it's specialization and compartmentalization that's the problem. Perhaps humanity is simply devolving into a species of sociopaths or perhaps advanced educational institutions are by their nature themselves sociopathic and thus their progeny are as well.

I don't know. I'm just throwing stuff at the wall.

But it does seem contradictory that we're racing toward the cliff's edge at the urging of the most highly educated people the world has ever produced. Sure there are also those who are urging us to slow down, step back, stop the self destructive cycle - and they're effectively drowned out by the others. We're actually gaining momentum in our rush to oblivion.

Does anyone know if higher academia is trying to address this conundrum. I think they ought to be. It's their graduates who are leading us to our doom.

A pleasant thought for a sunny Monday on a hot planet.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

So here it is, all these years later, and I'm blogging on The Beav again.

How many years you say?

Seven years, I respond.

It felt like a waste of time then. Harper was the new saviour, the wise men and women of the right were seemingly everywhere ascendant.

The country was going to be the great bastion of neo-conservatism and be a beacon unto the world.

Canada was going to be, as before, the war fighting world power we once were and this time with the added oomph and zowieness of being a world leader in petroleum production too.

The future was nothing but roses.

Except for the part that was shit. Which was the greater part and completely overwhelmed the scent of the roses, which weren't really there at all.

So now where are we?

We're fucked is where we are. The Mulcair Party and the Trudeau Party are both led by narcissistic demagogues more alike than different than the demagogue leading the Harperian Party. The leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May, makes too much sense so there will have to be a concerted effort to exclude her from all events involving the other three - disregard the toothsome bleating of the haircut candidate, it's just that he opens his mouth and stuff comes out. As hard as his handlers work to try and fix it or ameliorate it it remains a feature of the boy who would be king. Mulcair at least has the capacity to think and plan and execute. Somewhat like Tony Blair, in that way, although Tony's been able to do a lot more executin' than has our Tom o' Bedlam.

And Harper? Well...that diet of raw kitten Laureen has the family on has really worked out for him.

Back on September 25, 2008 this was one of my last posts on The Beav. I'm just going to copy and paste. I don't feel any different today than I did then, when I stopped blogging regularly.

But now I'm back and I'm still mad as hell.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

How many of you will be pissed off at me if I remind you what I said back onSeptember 9 ?

All of you?

OK. Fine with me. I didn't set out ten years ago to make anybody like me.

I want you to imagine what Canada is going to look like in four years.

If imagination is a faculty you still have and if four years isn't too long a time period for your attention span.

That's right, good for you, that's contempt speaking.

It's difficult for me to accept that so many Canadians I've been reading and listening to over the last five or six years have so little appreciation of what's at stake that they're willing to cocoon themselves within their habitual, comfortable partisan zones and completely ignore the larger stakes.

Try as I might I can't tune out the contempt I've come to feel for you hard and fast partisans of the Liberals, NDP or Green. You know who you are. Oh, yes you do.

I want you to know, I mean I really, really want you to get it in the acid of your disintegrating gut, that I hold you in just as much contempt as I hold Conservatives. I will be blaming you just as much as I will be blaming Harper and his gang for what is going to happen to this country over the next four to eight years.

Don't bother to try and defend yourselves, to explain your reasons, yourcommitments, your histories.

I don't care.

I only care about Canada.

You don't.

I repeat, you don't care about Canada.

You care about your partisan affiliation and you identify that partisanship as being the same as caring about Canada.

But it's not the same thing. I think deep down you know that too.

I believe you don't have effective boundary definitions any more. You simply don't know that Canada is a larger phenomenon that your party of choice.

It's a derangement syndrome.

You're in need of assistance.

But you won't be getting it from me.

From me you'll only be getting contempt.

So shut up and revel in what you've wrought.

I trust each ox Harper gores will be your special pet and your guts will twist in the wind with each thrust.

I hope I've pissed you off.