Ukraine: what would you do?

Wikipedia is a joke, but here is a bit found thereon that I suspect has been accessed many times in the past few days:

“When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the newly independent Ukraine had on its territory what was the third largest strategic nuclear weapons arsenal in the world. It was larger than those of Britain, France, and China combined. On June 1, 1996 Ukraine became a non-nuclear nation when it sent the last of its 1,900 strategic nuclear warheads to Russia for dismantling. The first shipment of nuclear weapons from Ukraine to Russia (by train) was in March 1994. In return for giving up its nuclear weapons, Ukraine, the United States of America, Russia, and the United Kingdom signed the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, pledging to respect Ukraine territorial integrity, a pledge that was arguably broken by Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea.”

So, the good news – if there is any – is that they don’t have nuclear weapons. But Russia has now clearly broken the treaty that led to Ukraine’s disarmament.

What to do? As you all know – and as I have written in the Pussy Riot and Sochi cases – I have long believed Putin is a loathesome despot, and a clear threat to the world. Now that his Olympics are over, he’s proving that in a dramatic and unambiguous way.

So what would you do, dear reader, if you were running things? None of the leaders we’ve got seem to know. So, over to you.


In Sunday’s Sun: The one time Conservatives like Statistics Canada

Following the great global recession of 2008-2009, the game plan of the Right was clear: repair the tattered flag of capitalism, fight any modest regulation of the banking system, and restore six-figure bonuses to all those 25-year-old millionaire hedge fund managers.

Oh, and vilify the Occupy kids.

The Occupy movement – much like the Tea Party movement, ironically – was anti-banker, anti-bailout and anti-bonuses. Its rallying cry, the 99 per cent versus the one per cent, attracted the support of the majority in every democratic nation.

Occupy was, most agree, the most successful populist progressive movement of the past Century. (In fact, it was probably the only populist progressive movement of the past Century.)

At the time, Frank Luntz, the conservative manipulator of words, confessed to a group of Republican legislators: “I am scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. They’re having an impact on what people think of capitalism!”

So, it therefore became necessary to destroy Occupy. Conservative governments used every means at their disposal to physically drive out the Occupiers – and conservative polemicists literally accused them of everything from rape to murder. It recalled what the Romans did to the Christians, except it was televised on FOX.

While the Occupiers may have faded away, the Occupy message did not. To many of us, Occupy was actually Christ-like: it argued that those who deserved Heavenly reward were those who had nothing (or next to nothing) while here on Earth. Not the aforementioned 25-year-olds driving pimped-out Hummers to private clubs to expense magnums of Cristal.

This week, the Canadian Occupy-haters found a statistical basis for their greed. Statistics Canada issued a report, and it seemingly suggested that the middle class is doing just fine. Income disparity, crowed the capitalist-fetishists, had been proven a myth! Stats Can is useful after all! Who knew?

Except the report didn’t say that. Sure, Statistics Canada dryly noted that the median worth of Canadian families had jumped some 44 per cent over the past seven years or so – from $168,700 to $243,800. And, yes, the mythical middle class increased its share of the country’s $8.07 trillion personal net worth by slightly less than two percentage points.

But, there’s this: had Stats Can asked Canadians if they felt life was getting in any way more affordable, they would have been laughed at. Most of us citizens, the citizens would say, are always about two paycheques away from the street. To average folks, the standard of living is getting worse, not better.

And, for those who examined the Statistics Canada report carefully, the rise of the putative middle class is a mirage. Or, at best, built on desert sand.

The report explicitly acknowledged two things, and passingly referenced another. One, much of the higher net worth of Canadians has been fueled by sky-high home prices. Two, pension fund gains have helped a lot, too. Three, we have among the highest per-capita household debt in the civilized world.

And that, as no less than Comrade Jim Flaherty and the Finance Department proletariat continually remind us, suggests that there is still plenty to worry about. Indeed, an overheated housing market, undercapitalized pension funds, and too much personal debt all suggest that much of the middle class “gain” could be swept away in the Biblical blink of an eye.

It was amusing to see the Right-wingers waving around a Stats Can report, like Moses descending from Mt. Sinai. But, like Moses, the Right-wingers aren’t going to see the promised land.

We’re not out of the desert, yet, folks. What Stats Can giveth, the bankers can (and will) take away.


Why the National Post is so often loathsome

Check this out.  It’s only been a few hours, and the National Post have run an attack piece masquerading as a news story on…the Trudeau baby. I shit you not.


It’s unclear why Trudeau chose the name Hadrian, however the Liberal leader is obviously no fan of history, since the Roman emperor most commonly associated with the name is surrounded by controversy.

Hadrian, who reigned from 117 to 138 A.D., is commonly called one of the five good emperors because of his economic stewardship of the empire and his lack of belligerence in launching wars on his neighbours.

A ruthless military leader, Hadrian realigned borders and quashed revolt, stabilizing a territory critically overstretched by his predecessor, Trajan.

But he is reviled among the Jewish community. During the Third Jewish War, Hadrian launched an almost genocidal war against the Jews, killing upwards of 500,000 and destroying almost 1,000 villages. The Talmud follows his name with the curse “Crush his bones.”

Arguably Rome’s most enigmatic emperor, he also built a legendary wall separating England and Scotland to keep the warlike Scots at bay.

Ruling an empire that comprised much of Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East, Hadrian was also one of the first emperors to openly display his homosexuality. His gay lover, Antinous, accompanied him on his trips round the empire and when he died young in a swimming accident, Hadrian named a city after him in Egypt.

Got that? We don’t like the Liberals, so we think it’s fair game to insinuate that a baby is a homicidal anti-Semite. Oh, and he’s gay.

We’re the National Post, after all, and we’re fucking jerks.



When politicians and cops trample on people’s rights

This appearance by the OPP’s commissioner before a committee of the Legislature this morning was extraordinary.  It will also ensure no one is ever charged over this deleted emails horseshit.

1.  The constitutional rights of whomever was facing scrutiny have been trampled.  The top cop and the Opposition speculating, in public, about jail time and charges? This thing is over. In the unlikely event anyone is ever charged, they’ll argue section 7, 11 and have the thing tossed in about five minutes.

2.  There is no offence, here.  Mischief? Seriously? The only reason the publicity-hound heading the OPP would mention that section of the Criminal Code is because he knows it is not a crime in Ontario to delete emails.  And mischief?  To meet the requirements of the relevant section of the Code, there has to be destruction of data, arguably done here.  But it also has to have been “willful.”  And that requires a high degree of mens rea – that is, a malicious intent. Here, there was no law.  And I wouldn’t consider this practice – the widespread, routine and regularized deletion of emails – to be in any way malicious. To wit, got a paper shredder in your executive offices, Commish? Of course you do.  Gonna charge yourself with mischief? I’d like to.

3. The OPP has been acting like Gomery Redux.  For months, the OPP has been leaking like a sieve about this “investigation” to a cop reporter at the Ottawa Citizen, who has been dutifully writing reports that equate the routine deletion of emails with, say, murder.  In the (again) unlikely event this crap ever goes before a judge, the accused’s lawyers will have a dozen examples of how the OPP – like Gomery – showed a reasonable apprehension of bias in their dealings with the press.  It’ll get tossed.

Again, this entire thing is a frigging joke.  No one will ever be charged, because nothing wrong was ever done.

I have half a mind to make a complaint to the OIPRD.  I think I just might, too.


Canada’s bad week in the Ukraine

I see.

You know, Trudeau (rightly) apologized for making a bad joke about a situation in which Ukrainian citizens have been killed.

But will Harper and his cabal (promptly) apologize for trying to take political advantage of a situation in which Ukrainian citizens have been killed?

Don’t hold your breath.


In Belleville for Three Oaks shelter

Lala and me are in Belleville, where I speechified and we raised $1,000 for the Three Oaks shelter for abused women and their children. Sold some books, preached the progressive gospel, and – most of all – raised money for Three Oak’s second stage housing project. Ribbon-cutting later this year, and we will be there.

In other news, is Spring ever going to come?