America is Fucked: Fuck America

    9 November 2016, mid-afternoon

There was a time when the underlying theme to my site might be best described as, “Fuck America”. Bush was in power and the country was consistently terrible. Obama was elected and things were better, but the country still sends robots to kill people in Pakistan and has 100s of people suffering through Kafkaesque imprisonment in Guantanamo.

When Bush was elected I decided I’d never visit the states again, which I kept up until my trip to New York 11 years later in 2011 to visit my friend Mezan. That was the last time I went back. I had no desire to go back before the election. I have even less so after the election.

There is lots to say about last night, but at the end of the day we learned that if you put full on racism on the ballot Americans will support that whole hog. I really underestimated how far you could get running as a white supremacist in America. Foolishness on my part, really.

If there is one thing in this world
That you can depend on
That you can bet your last dollar on
It’s the ignorance of the American people
The Sign by Nujabes feature Pase Rock

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Canada Votes 2015

   20 October 2015, early morning

What an election. The Liberal’s swept Atlantic Canada early in the night, and that wave never really let up. Toronto is now 100% Red, something it hasn’t been in a very long time. Lots of shitty Conservative MPs got shown the door. Of course, Toronto lost a lot of good MPs. My riding lost our MP Andrew Cash. Parkdale lost Peggy Nash. The NDP are back to the numbers I grew up with. So it goes.

Harper didn’t announce his resignation during his concession speech. His aides let reporters know. I think that about sums up his time in office.

Trudeau’s victory speech was pretty great. I’m expecting decriminalized weed and electoral reform. The later will be the real first test of his party. It’s always easy to talk about electoral reform when you are on the losing side of first past the post.

By my count this is the third election the NDP has fucked up by trying to chase the mushy middle. Horwath lost the party the election in Ontario, giving up most of the seats in Toronto to the Liberals to capture some seats up North via some pretty lame pandering. Chow lost the mayorship trying to chase voters she was never going to get. Finally we arrive at Mulcair, running the election he was clearly put in charge of the party to run. I like Mulcair a lot, but this is a big loss for him.

The end of 10 years of Harper is bittersweet for myself, but I am quite hopeful for the next few years. Let’s see how it goes: the Liberals are great at disappointing. Trudeau is quite charming, though.

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Tory takes TO

   28 October 2014, early morning

Yesterday’s mayoral race was the first election in a while where the polls called things fairly accurately. Tory won by a nice margin, Chow coming in a distant third. A loss for the Fords is a win for Toronto. I’m disappointed that Chow lost, but I’ve been voting for the NDP my whole life and have grown quite accustomed to voting for candidates that lose.

What’s actually far more disappointing is the number of incumbents that were returned to city hall. All the terrible Scarborough councillors? They are all back, including Raymond Cho, the champion of doing nothing. Mammoliti? That asshole is back. Mike Ford—a 20 year old camp councillor who completed a year of college—defeated John Hastings for his school trustee seat. Of course, Hastings is actually qualified for the job. A few ridings may have benefited from ranked ballots to shake things up, but for the most part useless incumbents have a base of support that feels like it’s beyond reason.

There were a few high points from last night. My friend Parthi defeated the shockingly corrupt Elizabeth Moyer. Ausma Malik also became a trustee, despite a pretty racist and Islamophobic campaign against her.

Who knows what the next four years will bring. I’m assuming it can’t be worse than the last four.

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Olivia Chow for Mayor

   26 October 2014, early morning

Toronto goes to the polls tomorrow. The election has been long and terrible, marred by pretty overt racism, sexism, and homophobia. I’ll be glad when its all over. Ford Nation are clearly the #GamerGate of Toronto politics. Electing a new mayor won’t magically make shitty people disappear, but it’s a step in the right direction. If you call someone a fag you should feel like a marginalized piece of shit. Let’s get back to that Toronto at the very least.

Olivia Chow started off with a lead in the polls she quickly squandered. Of course, who knows what the polls even mean. Tory now commands that lead. He even scored endorsement from the papers. Now, endorsements from papers are worth even less than polls conducted by Forum. Remember when The Globe and Mail and the National Post both endorsed both Hudak and Rob Ford? Yeah, me too. The Toronto papers are next to useless when it comes to covering and commenting on municipal politics.

The only endorsement that matters is the one you have all no doubt been waiting for. funkaoshi.com endorses Oliva Chow for mayor. She’s the only person pushing a progressive forward thinking vision for the city. And, in a surprise twist, she’s apparently the only candidate who decided to figure out how to pay for it all. What?

I always vote for the person I want to win. You should do. Otherwise what’s the god damn point?

Regardless of what happens in the race for a new mayor, i’m hoping to see some of the more useless city councillors get the boot. Scarborough’s council needs to be razed to the ground, at the very least. Andray Domise is running against Rob Ford in Ward 2, and i’m hoping he can sneak in. That’ll be a tough fight, but he’s clearly the better candidate. The Fords have been terrible for that ward.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day.

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Ontario Votes 2014

   13 June 2014, terribly early in the morning

I watch elections like some people watch soccer. Yesterday’s election was an interesting one, if only because the polls were so off in just how big a victory the Liberals would end up achieving. This was an election for the NDP and the Conservatives to lose, and they lost it hard. The Liberals are plagued with scandals and have been ruling for a decade. If there was ever a time for them to be voted out it was last night. Wynne to her credit ran a great campaign and has done a good job of positioning herself and her party as the new and improved Liberals.

I voted for the NDP, despite all my misgivings about the party. I can’t stand Andrea Horwath. I think she’s ruined the Ontario NDP party, and I suspect she’s going to be on her way out. The party is in a much worse position today than it was yesterday, despite a good showing at the polls. They need to get back to what they are actually about: being a progressive alternative to the Liberals and the Conservatives. I like the MPP in my riding, and am disappointed we lost him to someone who lives in Willowdale. I had high hopes for the NDP in 2011, and they basically let me and many of their hardcore supporters down hard. I know lots of supporters who declined their vote or voted for other parties.

That’s the irony of last night for the NDP: they stole some ridings from the PCs, but lost several very important ridings to the Liberals. Wynne’s Liberals are progressive enough right now for a lot of former NDP voters, I suspect. The question now is will they stay that way.

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Rob Ford Imploding—Again

    1 May 2014, early morning

I feel like I can’t last night pass without saying a few words about Rob Ford. A link to the Globe and Mail’s big story about him being caught on video smoking crack again just won’t cut it. Or a link to the Sun’s big story about him getting loaded and saying all sorts of offensive things again just won’t cut it. Or a link to the Star’s big story about him getting belligerent at a club with Justin Bieber just won’t cut it. And this all happened last night! In the middle of the greatest Raptors game ever!

Lots of people are speculating that he’s stepping down so he can come back in 30 days a clean and redeemed man. That’s the game you play the first time you get caught smoking crack. At this point it’s clearly his only move, but I don’t think that narrative is going to earn him any new votes. There are people that will vote for him no mater what: stupid people, homophobes, criminals, etc. They thankfully aren’t a sizeable part of Toronto.

Rob Ford is a drug addict. He acts like a drug addict. Trying to parse his actions as rational is a fools game. He makes poor choices because he’s a crack-head. The situation is just weird because he’s also rich and the mayor of the biggest city in Canada. He’s had a million chances because he is a rich white man and has squandered them all.

To quote Kristyn Wong-Tam:

Ford might rehabilitate his health but 30 days isn’t going to cure his racism, misogyny, homophobia & chronic tendencies to break the law.

Fuck that guy. And his brother.

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How Not to Ask for Money

   25 September 2012, early morning

I’ve been trying to get in touch with you but haven’t heard back.

When I looked at our donor data, I noticed that the last donation you made was during the last election.

Ramanan, what are you waiting for?

Man, fuck you NDP lady. I’ve given the NDP money in a few times now. They seem to think that gives them license to call me all the damn time, never mind the emails. I’ve actually blogged about this before. I don’t know how you can be so tone death and obnoxious with your fund raising efforts. I’ve been waiting years for the success they’ve been having. Is this is what i’ve been waiting for?

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Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory.

    8 February 2012, early morning

This American Life excerpted part of Mike Daisey one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” to produce a one hour podcast about how are tech-junk gets built. To say it’s a little bit bleak would be an understatement. It’s a full on Dickens novel crossed with some dystopian science fiction. Dasisey’s focus is on Apple, but at this point chances are good that Foxconn has made anything electronic you may own. The podcast is amazing and you should definitely listen to it.

The response to this story has been a bit all over the place. Most Apple blogs I read seem quick to let you know that HP and Dell and all those other shitty PC manufactures also make their junk in China. John Gruber actually linked to a (very old) article by Krugman about how shitty jobs in the 3rd world are better than nothing. I guess?

The New York Times has a great companion piece to this article that touches on why manufacturing has moved to China. It’s not simply a matter of costs. You really can’t produce the sorts of gadgets we enjoy today anywhere else in the world. This seems to be the most pulled quote from the article:

“They could hire 3,000 people overnight,” said Jennifer Rigoni, who was Apple’s worldwide supply demand manager until 2010, but declined to discuss specifics of her work. “What U.S. plant can find 3,000 people overnight and convince them to live in dorms?”

I bought a backpack from Goruck recently. I bought it because they are well reviewed backpacks. They also happen to by made in the USA. Goruck has written about this on their blog a few times. They had a post about how their GR1 is made. They’ve also written about their second factory, complete with goofy pictures of their staff. This side of things didn’t enter my mind at the time. Now that I think about it, my backpack is perhaps the only thing I own which I’m pretty confident was made ethically.

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Ontario Votes 2011

    7 October 2011, mid-morning

I now live in a riding with an NDP MP and an NDP MPP. How did that happen? I never thought the day would come. Like most of Toronto, Davenport was a bright red riding when I moved in. The mostly useless Tony Ruprecht had been my MPP for the past 5 years. He’d been in this riding since 1999. (He’d been an MPP since 1981! That’s some staying power.) His not running in this election may have been in part due to Mario Silva’s loss in the federal election. It’s quite likely that even with an incumbent running the Liberals would have been voted out of Davenport. Ruprecht was far from popular amongst people I know in the area. My hope is that Jonah Schein is more energetic than his predecessor, a low bar to be sure.

McGuinty’s win in Ontario is probably a good thing for the province. I don’t want to imagine just how scorched earth things would be if Hudak had managed to fair better this election. Ontario really doesn’t need another “common sense” revolution. Shima and I don’t have a TV, so I only saw one political ad this whole election. It was for the Liberals, and it wasn’t an attack ad. It featured McGuinty in front of a white background telling you the viewer that, despite his being an unpopular figure, the Liberals were serious bad-asses who had accomplished this and that. It was simple yet slick, and very on point. I suspect in the last few weeks the message resonated with voters. (I feel like the provincial Liberals keep a very low profile most of the year.) McGuinty should be congratulated for coming back from some pretty dismal poll numbers early in the campaign. The Liberals were really on the ball this election.

Of note is that Toronto’s so called Ford Nation looked to have no interest whatsoever in the provincial conservatives. My guess is that two things are at play here. One, Fords many recent fuck-ups may have soured Toronto on his friends. Second, Toronto is a city full of immigrants. Calling these people foreigners is probably going to sour the city on your politics. You can’t win Ontario without winning in Toronto: nicely done, GTA. Well, except for Thornhill. That place is the worst.

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Jack Layton, 1950 – 2011.

   24 August 2011, late morning

Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

Jack Layton, in an open letter to the country.

Jack Layton passed away this week. My co-worker sent me a message while I was away in New York to let me know. During his press conference he looked to be in pretty bad shape, but I didn’t think things would move so quickly. Cancer is like that, I suppose. Jack Layton was an amazing politician. The NDP are now the official opposition party of Canada, I suspect largely due to his charisma. His death is a real loss for this country. We have so few truly engaging political leaders.

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Election 2011

    2 May 2011, late afternoon

The 2011 federal election is taking place today. For the first time in my entire life the NDP might actually do well. Our riding, Davenport, is one of CBC’s ridings to watch. The Liberals have been coasting here for ages. If Andrew Cash wins our riding I will lose my shit. This is Mythilli’s first election. We are both in our NDP orange. Things should start getting exciting in a few hours.

Mythilli and I in NDP Orange

Update 10:38 PM: There are some tight races. Ours doesn’t seem to be one of them. With 20 polls reporting Andrew Cash has 50+% of the vote. What! I hope the numbers stay the same. Even more miraculous, my parents riding looks like it is going to go to the NDP as well, though that race is a much closer so far.

Update 11:04 PM: The CBC has declared my riding and my parents ridings for the NDP. Oh hells yes.

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Vote for Kevin Beaulieu

   21 October 2010, terribly early in the morning

Ward 18 has only gotten better since I moved here. I would like to think that some of that is due to me, but I suspect a fair amount of the credit should go to Adam Giambrone and his staff. Kevin Beaulieu is the first of Adam’s staff that I met when I moved here. He would attend DIG IN meetings when Adam could not make them, or in addition to Adam. He’s always been easy to get a hold of and very quick to respond to inquiries. He’s also very knowledgeable about the area and its issues. I was glad to see that he was running to take Adam’s place in our riding. There are lots of good candidates running in Ward 18, but I think Kevin is by far the best. At the public debates I’ve attended, he’s the only candidate who can ever offer up very specific solutions to the problems in our ward. Most other candidates speak in very broad terms. (“We need more community meetings!” Perhaps, but that isn’t a solution for every single problem ever.) I hope he makes it on to city council. It will be to our collective benefit.

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Vote for Joe

   20 October 2010, terribly early in the morning

I’m voting for Joe Pantalone. (You may already know this, since it’s plastered on the top of this web site in a big orange box.) At this point it’s not looking very likely that he will win. I hope I’m wrong about that. If he loses I think it will be a real shame. Toronto under Mayor Miller has been great; Pantalone is in many ways the man who would continue the progressive programs that Miller started. Of the three candidates left running, he is the only one who doesn’t seem to hate Toronto. That should count for something.

Statisticians ask people who they are going to vote for and the newspapers publish these results. I’d argue that polling is a detriment to the political process. It might make sense for candidates to know how they are doing, but does it really matter to the voting public? If you are voting for someone because X percent of a sampled population is voting for that person you are doing it wrong.

People should vote for what they believe in. Otherwise, what’s the point? If you think our first-past-the-post system is broken the way to fix it is certainly is not through strategic voting. If Smitherman does end up winning because a bunch of people couldn’t stomach Ford as mayor, he will essentially have been given a false mandate. That Smitherman can’t beat Ford without banging his, “I’m not Ford,” drum is a testament to just how ineffectual his campaign has been. He has no vision for the city. He seems to think he is entitled to the job. You shouldn’t get to be mayor just because your opponent is a drunk and a moron.

Vote for Joe Pantalone.

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Unionize

   19 March 2009, early morning

I find the way people react to stories about unions humourous. People doing clerical work for the city do what most people would consider simple work anyone could do. And yet they get paid a good amount of money for what they do. Similarly, autoworkers, people driving TTC buses, etc, all get paid very good wages for doing what people consider menial jobs. When there are labour disputes the publics reactions is generally, “suck it up, you already get paid too much.” If you went to university for 4 years only to graduate and make less than someone who has been working in a unionized factory since grade 11 it would probably make you bitter. People lash out at the worker because he’s demanding too much. The real question people need to ask themselves is, “who says how much is too much?” People never react to stories about TTC drivers making X amount of dollars by saying, “That’s amazing, I need to unionize where I work too!” The almost universal reaction is, “Fucking TTC drivers make more than me!” And this reaction is pretty stupid, because clearly that TTC driver is doing something right.

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Stop Calling Me, Lady

   22 February 2009, mid-afternoon

Andrea Horwath won’t stop spamming me. She’s running for leadership of the Ontario NDP. I’ve also got more robocalls from her than any other candidate. Annoying the electorate isn’t a good way to run a campaign: If you’re going to call me at least have a real live person do on the other end of the phone line. I would think this is obvious, but apparently not. Signing up for the NDP has been a bit disappointing. I haven’t been the recipient of this much junk mail in ages. This is lame.

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Ignatieff? For Real?

    8 December 2008, terribly early in the morning

Ignatieff is apparently going to take over as head of the Liberal party some time this week, if not today. I can tell you that picking Ignatieff as leader isn’t going to steal any votes from the Left, though it may pull some old school Progressive Conservatives from the Right. Ignatieff creeps me out, which is why I think the Right may like him — they seem to enjoy creepy-ass leaders. If he does get the leadership nod, I think this highlights a big problem with the Liberal party: it’s run with back room deals by the party old-school. At least, it certainly seems that way, and has since Paul Martin and Chretien started fighting. Dion won the last race fair and square, but it was clear to most everyone that he wasn’t the person the party actually wanted to lead: and they have provided him with little to no support. I dislike the Liberal party for a lot of reasons, and that would be one of them.

If Ignatieff does end up leader, I suspect the coalition between the NDP and the Liberals isn’t going to last. The Liberals, with a leader firmly in place, will be in a much better position to handle an election. They may feel confident they can reclaim leadership of the House of Commons. The Conservatives have burnt plenty of bridges these past couple weeks and have also probably pissed off some chunk of their core supporters. I think they will be hard pressed to keep any seats they have won in Quebec; you can’t win an election in Canada without winning a good chunk of Quebec. The Conservatives are still the best funded party right now, but for all their money, they just don’t appeal to enough people. Canada isn’t America: trying to copy the Republicans is a doomed strategy. This country is very much a Liberal country. For the past few years the Liberals have been on a timeout while people wait to see if they can get it together.

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3 years of Mahinda Rajapaksa

   10 November 2008, terribly early in the morning

During the last election the LTTE asked — is that the right word? — the residents of Jaffna to boycott the election. And, in doing so cemented a win for Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was quite clear about his intentions when it came to dealing with the LTTE within Sri Lanka. The day before the election I had agreed with the LTTE boycott, because the political system in Sri Lanka has clearly failed its Tamil people. My thinking here was one of abstract politics: people shouldn’t take part in a broken system. For the LTTE, I suspect it had more to do with their belief that a solution for the Tamil people’s problems lay solely with them. And now 3 years later, the Sri Lankan government rejected a ceasefire with the LTTE. On any given day TamilNet reports on various murders and kidnappings in Jaffna and the East, on bombings, disappearances, etc. Sri Lanka sounds like it is the worse it has been in years.

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Canada Votes 2008

   15 October 2008, terribly early in the morning

Some will say yesterday night was a big waste of an election. They are probably right, but it wasn’t all bad. Yes, our government is basically the same as how it was the night before, but there is now a tiny little orange dot in a sea of blue in Alberta: the NDP took a piece of Alberta back from the Tories. That’s got to count for something. The NDP actually made some big gains, and they are probably the only party that can be happy with the election results. (Sadly Peggy Nash lost her seat.) Another plus is that minority government number three for Harper may mean he gets the boot. (The Anyone but Harper Liberal, NDP, and Bloc coalition I was hoping for never materialized.) The Tories can’t be happy with this result at all, regardless of how Harper tries to spin things. They had a huge lead in the polls going into the election, which they managed to lose completely through horrible campaigning. If you can’t beat Dion — whose party barely supports him — who can you beat? In two more years maybe we’ll be doing this again. Go Canada!

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Some Thoughts on Sarah Palin

    5 September 2008, early morning

I met Mahi for a drink yesterday, and the conversation turned to Sarah Palin. He’s convinced that if the Republicans win it will be because of her. Having listened to her speech finally, I can see where he is coming from.

Palin appeals to the far-right — your Christian nut jobs, your gun-totting NRA members, etc — with her crazy-ass views on everything. She is nuts. And the far-right is certainly a strong and active voting block. That group probably wouldn’t have voted for Obama, but they may have sat the election out if McCain hadn’t added someone who appeals to them to his ticket.

There is more to Palin than her appeal to the right. Palin clearly is playing up the fact she’s just a regular small town girl. This comes up again and again in her speech. In most countries, I don’t think that would play well. Chrétien always portrayed himself as the little guy from Shawinigan, but it was also clear he was a bright and capable politician. The fact he was from Shawinigan was cute, but ultimately inconsequential. Most people don’t want the dude that teaches their kids hockey on Saturday mornings running their country. They want the lady with policy experience, or the fellow with diplomatic experience, or — well really, someone who isn’t a dumb ass. In America there seem to be a large enough group of people who aren’t interested in that at all. They want the reluctant politician: “I’m just a hockey mom, but these dudes in Washington are messing up, so I’m going to go out there to clean things up.” Never mind that the job of running a country is complicated. Never mind that the last two moron-presidents of note, Regan and Bush, were probably the most corrupt, evil, and crony-loving politicians in American history. People seem to wilfully look past that. Palin is going to sell herself as the Washington-outsider every-woman, and many people will gravitate to that.

If the Republicans do win again, it will be because just enough American’s are morons, and the democrats don’t seem to appeal to that group at all.

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Obama On His Way

    6 June 2008, terribly early in the morning

I suppose I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Obama is going to be the Democrat nominee during the upcoming US elections this November. This is good. I have no real issues with Clinton, save for the fact she scares the shit out of me. It’s a bit disappointing that because she’s a women she has to act ten times as crazy as her competitors to be taken seriously. And her ass has been straight up crazy this election season. I’m not convinced it’s anything but an act: she never struck me before as being so far to the right. (Maybe I just don’t pay enough attention.) Enough on her. Obama is awesome. I think many people—myself included—see him as a modern day JFK. He has far more charisma than McCain, and there is really no comparison when we take a look at Bush. I want him to win just so I can hear him give kick ass speeches with some frequency. Of course, it now remains to be seen if Americans will still vote for the scary old White dude. I kind of think they will.

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Oh My God! The Future Belongs to Islam!

   29 November 2007, early morning

If some Muslims have their way, it will soon be illegal to say Muslim immigration is bad for the West. 9-11 be damned.

Michael apparently still holds onto the notion that too much immigration into the US is what caused 9/11. If you are ever so unlucky as to read through an articles on Vdare you will find that a lot of people think immigration policy is the root cause of all the ills in the West. If you suffer with high taxes you can blame immigration. Unemployed? Blame immigration. High blood pressure? You’re worrying about immigration too much. Can’t get all the stars in Super Mario DS? That sounds like an immigration issue to me. No date to the prom? Damn those sexy immigrant boys and girls. And 9/11? Well that is obviously an immigration issue: if the attackers weren’t here how could they fly planes into the Twin Towers? (You know, because planes from abroad never ever enter the US.) You may also recall that for similar reasons immigration was the root cause of the Virginia Tech massacre.

Michael is upset with the Canadian Islamic Congress who are upset with Mark Steyn. Steyn wrote an article MacLeans, The Future Belongs to Islam, they have issues with. A part of me likes reading articles like The Future Belongs to Islam just to sit in awe of the ignorance and arrogance it takes to write something like that. Some people really need to read A Discourse on Colonialism.

Steyn and his ilk look at the Middle East and see a place where people hate the West because they apparently have nothing better to hate on. For people like him there is no history or context to anything. Steyn mentions, “in the same three decades as Ulster’s ‘Troubles,’ the hitherto moderate Muslim populations of south Asia were radicalized by a politicized form of Islam,” but doesn’t stop to consider why that may be. When did the US decide that propping up a regime in Saudi Arabia was a good idea? When did they decide that maybe Eygpt wasn’t so bad after all? (Wait: who was flying those planes again?) And was it really Islam that radicalized them? I imagine if you are young and your life is shit it won’t take an Imam to make you angry. So yeah, I don’t think Steyn’s article is exceptional or interesting or even well thought out. It rehashes arguments bandied about all the time: it’s all demographics and “oh-no what will White people do?”.

Now I can see why Muslims would find the article offensive, as apparently Muslims are the future architects of the destruction of civilization as we know it. At the very least Steyn acknowledges half-assedly that not all Muslims are terrorists. I’m sure the Human Rights commission will give him points for that.

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Disaster Capitalism

   13 November 2007, terribly early in the morning

I’m barely a third of the way through Naomi Klein’s last essay for Harper’s, Disaster Capitalism, and I’m already seething with rage. I suspect the last two-thirds will be equally as good and as frustrating to read. I love Harper’s.

After each new disaster, it’s tempting to imagine that the loss of life and productivity will finally serve as a wake-up call, provoking the political class to launch some kind of “new New Deal.” In fact, the opposite is taking place: disasters have become the preferred moments for advancing a vision of a ruthlessly divided world, one in which the very idea of a public sphere has no place at all. Call it disaster capitalism. Every time a new crisis hits — even when the crisis itself is the direct by-product of free-market ideology — the fear and disorientation that follow are harnessed for radical social and economic re-engineering. Each new shock is midwife to a new course of economic shock therapy. The end result is the same kind of unapologetic partition between the included and the excluded, the protected and the damned, that is on display in Baghdad.

Consider the instant reactions to last summer’s various infrastructure disasters. Four days after the Minneapolis bridge collapsed, a Wall Street Journal editorial had the solution: “tapping private investors to build and operate public roads and bridges,” with the cost made up from ever-escalating tolls. After heavy rain caused the shutdown of New York City’s subway lines, the New Yark Sun ran an editorial under the headline “Sell the Subways.” It called for individual train lines to compete against one another, luring customers with the safest, driest service — and “charging higher fares when the competing lines, stingier on their investments, were shut down with tracks under water.”[It’s not hard to imagine what this free market in subways would look like: high-speed lines ferrying commuters from the Upper West Side to Wall Street, while the trains serving the South Bronx wouldn’t just continue their long decay-they would simply drown.

It’s a very good read so far. I imagine her book The Shock Doctrine on the same topic will be an interesting read. (It inspired Alfonso Cuarón to create a short film of the same name.) The October Harper’s is particularly good; this months not so much, though I did enjoy the Mitt Romney article very much.

(Also, Harper’s new web site continues to amaze me. I’m so impressed with what they’ve done.)

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Ontario Election 2007

   10 October 2007, early evening

Tony Ruprecht holds the lead at the moment with 50% of the vote — with 10 polls reporting. My man, Peter Ferreira, is in second place with 27%. It’s not looking good, but it is still early. 64% of Ontario are in favour of the current electoral system, first past the post. What the fuck people? Seriously?

Update: Every time a new poll reports in, Ferreira has a few more seats. He has 34% of the vote now, with 42.65% going to Ruprecht. Hopefully this trend continues, but Ferreira needs a few polls going to him for things to really flip.

Update: The Green Party is doing better than the Tories in this riding. Does that make them a proper party? I’d say so.

Update: Ruprecht has been sitting at 40% of the vote for a while now, Ferreira at 37%. I can’t believe it’s this close.

Update: Well it looks like Ruprecht has it, unless the last 36 polls decide to do things very differently. He’s up by 1000 votes. The split remains more or less the same; now it’s 41% vs. 36%.

Update: I just realized that if everyone who voted for the NDP voted for the Green Party (of vice versa) Tony wouldn’t be winning this riding. (Of course, if you add the Liberal and PC numbers up they’d come out on top.)

Update: Well, at least the season premier of Intelligence was really good.

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Some thoughs on Mixed-Member Proportional

    1 October 2007, lunch time

[ed. This is an edited version of a message I originally posted in response to a comment on the DigIn mailing list. If you haven’t been following the MMP debate on the news, it probably won’t make much sense.]

I’d like to say there has been a lot of discussion on the voting referendum taking place during the upcoming election, but really, there hasn’t been.

We’ve had how many governments in a row now where a 40% popular vote returns a huge number of seats in parliament? In 2003 the Liberals had 46.4% of the vote, which earned them 70% of the seats. We’d be moving to a system that would temper this sort of thing.

People opposed to MMP seem upset by the party lists. We (the people) currently don’t get to pick which politician chooses to run in our ridings. The party lists represent a new group of people we also don’t get to pick. That said, if you want a say in who is running for the NDP, you do have an option: join the NDP party. More so, to pretend we don’t get to vote for this new set of people is misleading. You see the party lists before the election. You know who your “party vote” is going towards. All this talk about “non-elected” members making it to parliament is straight up scare mongering. If these people do a bad job of things, the party will need to think hard about including them on their party list for the next election, lest voters decide to give their party vote to someone else.

More so, from voteformmp.ca we learn:

“Conservative Party leader John Tory, NDP leader Howard Hampton, and Green Party leader Frank de Jong have already stated their parties would used democratic processes to nominate their at-large candidates should the MMP system be adopted in the referendum.”

The 3% popular vote barrier to get the party seats does shut out fringe parties for the most part, but this really is no worse than the current system, which gives fringe parties absolutely no venue to address this. Chances are the Green Party will break the 3% barrier this coming election. In the current system, that doesn’t matter, because they’ll probably never win a riding with those numbers; under the new system, this would get them a seat.

Also keep in mind that straight-up proportional representation is not without its issues, and would generally not be considered a democratic system of government. We don’t have referendums on gay rights for a reason.

I don’t think MMP is perfect, but it is certainly a step forward.

Comment [5] |  

Bush's Brand New Viet Nam

   23 August 2007, terribly early in the morning

Bush has started going on about how Iraq is the new Viet Nam. Wait, I know what you’re thinking, why would you compare the new war to America’s most shining example of defeat? Well, Bush has been trying to argue that America shouldn’t have given up in Viet Nam when it did — I shit you not. This from the man who didn’t actually fight in Viet Nam. I’m sure if the US continued to bomb the shit out of Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia for a few more years they would have “won” the war, whatever that even means.

Bush also thinks the Khmer Rouge would have cooled it with all the killing had the US won the war in Viet Nam. There are a few things to keep in mind here:

  1. Many historians believe that the US bombing campaigns in Cambodia are what pushed the Cambodian peasantry to support the Khmer Rouge. They certainly destabilized the country.
  2. This bombing campaign killed hundreds of thousands of Cambodians. The bombings were stopped in 1973, at which time the US had dropped 540,000 tons of bombs on the country. If you are going to talk about genocide and mass killing, you can’t leave the US out of things.
  3. It was the Communists in Viet Nam who actually invaded and stopped the Khmer Rouge.
  4. The US itself has supported the Khmer Rouge. After Pol Pot was ousted from power, the US supported him and his insurgents for much of the 80s.

So yeah, fuck Bush.

Comment [6] |  

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