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Gender: Male
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Home country: Canada
Current location: Toronto, Ontario
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 03:34 PM
Number of posts: 3,025

Journal Archives

Every once in a while, I feel like I need to post this:

I've brought this up before on my journal, but right now, I feel like it bears repeating. The word "Orwellian" gets tossed around a lot, usually in the context of a surveillance state, or in terms of the thought police. I always feel like that's a simplistic reading of 1984, and that the true core of that novel is O'Brien's speech near the end of the book when Winston is in his office.

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were- cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

We can point to the NSA wiretaps, CoIntelPro, gov't shutdowns, changing the meanings of words, etc... and say that they are Orwellian, but what I fear most is the attempt at ideological purity, mostly seen on the right and far right. The main purpose is to impose that will on the people. Another quotation from 1984:

The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy — everything.

All you need to do is point yourself towards Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck in order to see all of these things. The general attention span of the TV public makes it hard to have a more nuanced discussion, so all they can jam into that time are the simple jingoistic buzzwords of fear, hatred, rage, and triumph.

The emperor hasn't had clothes for a long time now. Things are changing. Unrest is bubbling up from beneath the surface and showing up here and there. Occupy Wall Street. The riots in Greece. The riots in Brazil. The G20 protests. The Arab Spring. But things are going to get worse before they get better. We need to keep the conversation open and make sure that people are informed. Remember that reality has a well-established left-wing bias!

The far right Tea Partiers really are only in the game to win it. Their ideology isn't to win to help people, it's only to win because they have to win. The greatest thing about progressives is that we all tend to be progressive in our own ways. There are so many different ways to go forwards. The opposite is not true, the far right can all be regressive in the same way, and that is why it's easier for them to frame the us vs. them. We need new strategies to educate and inform. It's like the episode from The Newsroom where Will and Mac tried so hard to get the new debate format. Of course it was doomed, because they couldn't use their talking points. We all need to beg for that level of discourse, and people who are willing to hold people to a real answer.

More random ramblings that I just need to get off my chest.

Please stop telling me that corporations can always do it better than government

Here's something I ranted on Twitter about last night (imagine this divided across 10 separate tweets):

Please stop telling me that "private enterprise will do it better than government." How often do you complain about companies Companies with monopolies like Rogers and Bell, or Comcast and Verizon in the US. The tired old argument that the invisible hand will lift companies with better service and better products is baloney. The "invisible hand" lifts companies that have no ethics and are willing to predatorily drop prices to corner a market. Then you vote with your feet because you're saving a few cents, and ignore that the service isn't so good. Guess what? Stuff costs money. So, the company willing to take a short term loss and cut service will eventually BUY the company that isn't, because people will take the service cut to save pennies. I've seen it personally in travel booking. I had someone literally take a flight with two 4-hour stops instead of 1 2-hour stop to save $.24. Yes, twenty-four cents. And now we elect governments the same way? Who's going to save me $.10 at the pump? Who's going to save me 1% in taxes? Hell, we might as well just vote the Koch brothers in directly if that's going to be the case. If you figure they're going to screw you anyway, wouldn't you like the option to possibly vote them out every half-decade or so?

Just something that was weighing on my mind, I suppose. It's the attitude that brought folks like Rob Ford to be the mayor of Toronto, and the same attitude that constantly causes Toronto's transit plans to fall through, because we forget that things cost money. I realize people vote with their feet because every penny counts to far too many people. That's a systemic problem that is only being made worse by corporations holding increasingly huge segments of the market in a dwindling number of hands.

Just my $.02

Police officer shoots man climbing out of wrecked car. No charge.

CAUTION!!! The video attached to this article is extremely graphic:

From the article:

The Paradise police officer who investigators say accidentally shot a suspected DUI driver in the neck last month will not face criminal charges, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced Thursday.

Paradise Police Officer Patrick Feaster, a five year veteran of the department, was parked on the Skyway around midnight Thanksgiving morning, when he saw a Toyota Four-Runner speeding out of the Canteena Bar parking lot without headlights on.

Feaster followed in his patrol car, as the Toyota ran a red light and turned onto Pearson Road where the driver, 26-year-old Andrew Thomas struck the median and flipped, ejecting his 23-year-old wife Darien Ehorn from the vehicle. Ehorn was killed in the crash.

Ramsey said Feaster drew his gun when Thomas “popped” out of the car, believing he would flee. As Officer Feaster moved towards Thomas, the gun discharged and struck Thomas in the neck. The shot hit Thomas in the C7 and T1 vertebrae and could lead to him being paralyzed for life.

According to Ramsey, several factors led investigators to believe the shooting was accidental. “The dash cam video shows Officer Feaster was not prepared for and was surprised by the guns firing. The pistol discharges in mid-stride and the officer both flinches his head to the right and does a stutter step indicative of an officer not prepared for nor intentionally firing his pistol. Additionally, officers normally train to fire a minimum of two shots. There was no second shot and the officer immediately holstered his weapon after the discharge.”

I'm no expert, but it looks like two shots to me. Regardless, the justification for the shooting is spurious in the extreme.

Erick Erickson disliked NYT cover story on guns so much, he shot the paper

Right wing columnist, radio, and TV commentator Erick Erickson (RedState, CNN, Fox News) shot his copy of the NYT and encouraged others to.

From his own Twitter account:


I shot holes in the NY Times editorial - This is what I think of the New York Times edito... http://eepurl.com/bIJb3f

And from the linked blog:

This is what I think of the New York Times editorial today. The United States suffered its worst terrorist attacks since September 11 and the New York Times' response is that all law-abiding citizens need their guns taken away. Screw them. The New York Times wants you to be sitting ducks for a bunch of arms jihadists who the New York Times thinks no doubt got that way because of the United States.

I hope everyone will join me in posting pictures of bulletholes in the New York Times editorial. Send them your response. Put them on Instagram and use the hashtag for my radio show and I may give you a shoutout. #EERS

Doesn't that just sum up the right's reaction to this sort of thing in general? I don't have the wherewithal to actually debate you on this point, so *bangbangbang*

Nothing says "responsible gun owner" like someone who gets SO ANGRY at a newspaper column that he SHOOTS the newspaper!
(edit, to give credit as Tom Tomorrow used the same line: https://twitter.com/tomtomorrow/status/673261376140419073)

Forcillo had many alternatives to shooting but didn’t use them: Crown expert

The Toronto Star talks about the ongoing Forcillo trial over the shooting of Sammy Yatim:

The night Sammy Yatim was shot dead on an empty streetcar by Const. James Forcillo could have gone differently if Forcillo and other officers at the scene had used any of several alternatives to lethal force, including de-escalating the situation, a Crown expert on police use-of-force tactics testified Wednesday.

The jury has seen and heard that a 50-second standoff took place with Forcillo, gun drawn, repeatedly commanding 18-year-old Yatim to drop the four-inch knife he held in his right hand. Forcillo finally said: if you take a step forward you will be shot.

On Wednesday, Robert Warshaw, a U.S.-based former police chief, testified that Forcillo had many alternatives to using lethal force at the time he fired the first three shots.

“Officer Forcillo took a position facing Mr. Yatim and, in my judgment, made no effort to have any interaction with Mr. Yatim for the purposes of creating a dialogue, for the purposes of learning anything that was on this young man’s mind,” said Warshaw, who has been appointed by the federal government to reform several American police departments with problems in excessive use of force.

“All of those opportunities to de-escalate the situation just never materialized. There was no effort.”

“There was no single asset to Officer Forcillo that was more valuable than time,” he said. Yatim was already contained on the streetcar and posed no risk to others, and neither said nor did anything to suggest he would imminently attack, Warshaw said.

The more time that elapsed, the more options Forcillo would have had to choose from — including access to a Taser or the resources of the Emergency Task Force, he said.

“The more officers that arrived, the greater the opportunity for police to come up with a de-escalation plan or a tactical plan,” Warshaw said. “There was no action plan, there was no tactical thinking, no co-ordinated effort as far as I could see,” he said.

Read the full article here: http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2015/11/18/officer-forcillo-had-many-alternatives-to-shooting-sammy-yatim-but-didnt-use-them-crown-expert-testifies.html

My white neighbor thought I was breaking into my own apartment. Nineteen cops showed up.

From the Washington Post, columnist Fay Wells tells a story:

The place I call home no longer feels safe.

On Sept. 6, I locked myself out of my apartment in Santa Monica, Calif. I was in a rush to get to my weekly soccer game, so I decided to go enjoy the game and deal with the lock afterward.

A few hours and a visit from a locksmith later, I was inside my apartment and slipping off my shoes when I heard a man’s voice and what sounded like a small dog whimpering outside, near my front window. I imagined a loiterer and opened the door to move him along. I was surprised to see a large dog halfway up the staircase to my door. I stepped back inside, closed the door and locked it.

I heard barking. I approached my front window and loudly asked what was going on. Peering through my blinds, I saw a gun. A man stood at the bottom of the stairs, pointing it at me. I stepped back and heard: “Come outside with your hands up.” I thought: This man has a gun and will kill me if I don’t come outside. At the same time, I thought: I’ve heard this line from policemen in movies. Although he didn’t identify himself, perhaps he’s an officer.

I left my apartment in my socks, shorts and a light jacket, my hands in the air. “What’s going on?” I asked again. Two police officers had guns trained on me. They shouted: “Who’s in there with you? How many of you are there?”

After the officers and dog exited my “cleared” apartment, I was allowed back inside to speak with some of them. They asked me why I hadn’t come outside shouting, “I live here.” I told them it didn’t make sense to walk out of my own apartment proclaiming my residence when I didn’t even know what was going on. I also reminded them that they had guns pointed at me. Shouting at anyone with a gun doesn’t seem like a wise decision.

I had so many questions. Why hadn’t they announced themselves? Why had they pointed guns at me? Why had they refused to answer when I asked repeatedly what was going on? Was it protocol to send more than a dozen cops to a suspected burglary? Why hadn’t anyone asked for my ID or accepted it, especially after I’d offered it? If I hadn’t heard the dog, would I have opened the door to a gun in my face? “Maybe,” they answered.

Read the whole article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/11/18/my-white-neighbor-thought-i-was-breaking-into-my-own-apartment-nineteen-cops-showed-up/

And please, for the love of all that is good in this world, do -not- read the comments. I accidentally skimmed a few, and now I hate everything.

Voter given used ballot at Fredericton polling station

Source: CBC

When Fredericton's Stephanie Merrill went to her neighbourhood polling station this morning, she was in for a surprise. The ballot she was handed was already marked — by another voter.

Merrill declined to comment on her tweet, though she did say she asked for, and received, a fresh ballot.

Elections Canada spokesperson Francoise Enguehard would not comment on a specific case, but did say there is a protocol in place for spoiled ballots.

She says all spoiled ballots are to be put in a separate box and, at the end of the day, they are counted.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pre-marked-ballots-dirty-vancouver-1.3267769

This is not the only report of this. There's a Reddit thread here:
collecting further reports and stories of voters receiving pre-marked or used ballots.

Please, if you have not yet cast your vote in Canada, double check the ballot you receive!

Check your ballot! Reports of pre-marked ballots!

If you have not yet voted, please double check your ballot before casting your vote. There have been reports of ballots being handed out with marks already beside candidates, usually Conservative.



Please make sure you're checking! Don't let the Harpercons game another election.

John Oliver risks jail to tell Canada to Heave Steve!

Hopefully this video will make it out to a few undecided Canadian voters today before we hit the polls. Let's all work together to get rid of Stephen Harper, and make sure that John Oliver's (possible) sacrifice in fines and jail time is not in vain!

Thanks to John Oliver, Mike Meyers, that poor moose, and that questionably musical beaver.

Globe and Mail uses torturous logic to endorse CPC, but not Harper:

The Globe and Mail has endorsed the CPC as deserving of another mandate in the upcoming election, but says that Stephen Harper does not.

Link to the article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/editorials/the-tories-deserve-another-mandate-stephen-harper-doesnt/article26842506/?click=sf_globe

Some samples of the pretzel logic they use:

The election of 2015 has been powered by a well-founded desire for change. But it has also been an election where the opposition has recognized the electorate’s desire for stability and continuity on all things economic. That’s why the Liberals and the New Democrats, while running on the rhetoric of change, put forward economic platforms built largely on acceptance of the Conservative status quo.

The key issue of the election should have been the economy and the financial health of Canadians. On that score, the Conservative Party has a solid record. Hardly perfect but, relatively speaking, better than most. However, the election turned into a contest over something else: a referendum on the government’s meanness, its secretiveness, its centralization of power in the most centralized Prime Minister’s Office in history, its endless quest for ever more obscure wedge issues, and its proclivity for starting culture wars rather than sticking to the knitting of sound economic and fiscal stewardship. It turned this election into a referendum on the one-man show that has become the Harper government.

The thing is, the other two major parties have so much respect for the Conservatives’ record on economic, fiscal and tax policy that they propose to change almost none of it. Did Tom Mulcair’s NDP run on a promise to raise income taxes? To massively increase spending? To run deficits? No, no and no. The NDP tax platform was, essentially, the Conservative Party’s, plus a small increase in business taxes. The slogan may have been about “Change,” but the platform was about trying to reassure voters that an Orange Wave would leave the Conservative economic status quo largely in place.

The Liberals have in one respect been slightly different from the NDP in offering change – their call for the federal government to spend more on infrastructure, financed by two years of small deficits, deviates from the Harper government brand (though not its record) of balanced budgets.

Canada needs a change. It also needs the maintenance of many aspects of the economic status quo. What Canada needs, then, is a Conservative government that is no longer the Harper government.

The Conservatives have been a big tent party in the past, and they must be once again. Fiscally prudent, economically liberal and socially progressive – the party could be all of those things, and it once was. But it won’t be, as long as Mr. Harper is at its head. His party deserves to be re-elected. But after Oct. 19, he should quickly resign. The Conservative Party, in government or out, has to reclaim itself from Stephen Harper.

So, their logic is the Liberals and the NDP have moved to the centre/right, but they haven't moved far enough to the right. They're indistinguishable from the CPC, but they're too far to the left of the CPC. We need change, but not -that- much change. So, vote change, vote CPC! And then just clap your hands and hope really loud that Mr. Harper just really nicely steps aside after he's elected.

It's just crazy. And what's all that talk about "If it's about the economy, the CPC could win, and deserve to..." What? Last I checked they've spent the last decade flushing the economy down the drain.

The Ottawa Citizen has also made the case for the Tories: http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/editorial-the-case-for-returning-the-conservatives-to-power

And once again, the logic here is that the NDP has moved to the centre/right, but not enough, and Trudeau just isn't ready (where have we heard that over and over and over?) and what we really need is change, so vote CPC. Straight out of the CPC talking points.

This para from the Ottawa Citizen article makes me want to yank my hair out by the roots:

Nevertheless, there are two serious issues facing Canada right now: Ongoing economic uncertainty, and an increasingly unstable situation in the Middle East. In the face of the worst economic downturn in a generation, Harper has made sure that Canada remains on secure economic footing, something both his opponents’ plans put at risk. When it comes to confronting ISIL and the threat of global terror more generally, only the Conservatives are prepared to treat the matter with the strength of conviction it deserves.

Ugh, Monday can't come fast enough.

Remember to get out there and vote, folks. And Heave Steve!
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