wibiya widget

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jon Stewart at the Rally for Sanity

(h/t Dammit Janet)

Man, it's just one extreme to the oth ...

No. No, I can't complete that thought, because to finish that sentence would be to betray a complete misapprehension of what Stewart seems to be aiming for: namely, a swing away from extremes.

Sun readers: prepare for wet dream

Thugs, violence, kidnapping and threats. Just another midterm election in Rupert Murdoch's Amerika.

(h/t Dr. Dawg)

Update: Let's add sexual assault to the mix, just in case it's not noxious enough. H/t Jymn, Cliff and Uzza.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What happens when sane people stay home

Straying a little bit from this week's Fordapalooza – you know, the one where they demand loyalty oaths at the door – to cast an eye toward our friends to the south.

Via @Shoq, this special comment from Keith Olbermann on the teabaggers and their electoral prospects next Tuesday.


This scares the shit out of me.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cops get away with murder, local paper finds

Well. No shit.

In other news, the sun rose in the east this morning. Sources say it's likely to set in the west, too.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

And when I say "everyone," I mean "everyone except Alex Hundert ... "

... and anyone else who's being harassed by the cops and the courts, persecuted for political beliefs, and coerced into signing outrageously restrictive bail conditions.

Really, Premier.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Putz likes Ford. Who knew?

Really. Who could have foreseen such a thing?

As sure as a turnin' of the earth, as John Wayne might have said. Honestly, did anyone seriously expect anything else?

It's not especially surprising to see the Putz endorsing Ford. What's instructive, though, is the rationale – which, like most far-right tropes, doesn't really stand up to close examinations.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Let's hear from another Sun reader ...

People like this are allowed to walk the streets unsupervised.

They're allowed out after dark.

They're allowed to vote.

Comforting, isn't it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More on police abuses

Bookmark this site: the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition.

An invaluable resource, maintained by the best mayor Toronto's had in the last half-century. The most recent bulletin is a concise and comprehensive update on much of the fallout from the G20 clusterfuck: the competing and overlapping inquiries and reviews, the class-action lawsuit, and the persecution of Alex Hundert, for example.

Really, George? That's the best you can do?

Terrific post from Cityslikr over at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke, defiantly taking George Smitherman to task for his arrogant and cynical strategy of wooing progressive voters by arguing that a vote for Joe Pantalone will put Rob Ford in the mayor's chair. I was disgusted enough by the sleazy sense of entitlement he was displaying on Metro Morning today, but this is, as they say, the cherry on the sundae.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some insight into the cops' worldview

Ran across this post on a website called Connected Cops a short time ago.

While it's not especially surprising to see cops using the intertoobz and taking advantage of the power of things like FB and the Tweeter, what's instructive is the tone of this particular piece. It purports to be about lessons in the use of social media for law-enforcement professionals in the wake of the G20, which is innocuous enough, but note the underlying assumption implicit in the title: "When cops are attacked with social media."

Friday, October 15, 2010

The day they turned the Charter of Rights into toilet paper

Well, I guess it's official now. Out of bathroom tissue? Just make a few photocopies of The Charter. The highest law of the land carries about as much weight as a couple of rolls. Single-ply scratchy.

By now, everyone's aware of the latest shameful episode in the Alex Hundert saga; ridiculously onerous bail conditions which can't possibly hold up when submitted to even the most elementary constitutional challenge, obviously designed to set him up for further arrests and harassment. Excuse me? No attending meetings? No talking to your friends? No expressing political opinions? (I'd suggest that Justice of the Peace Inderpaul Chandhoke might want to reacquaint himself with the Charter of Rights, but given what people have been using it for, perhaps we can't blame him for not wanting to review it too closely.)

And of course, the coercion to which Alex was subjected at the Metro East detention centre: no phone call, no lawyer, sign these conditions or you'll be kept in solitary confinement till God knows when.

So not only have we reduced the Charter to something to be used for distasteful personal hygiene – we've reduced ourselves to the stereotypical banana republic.

Smarter and better observers than I have gone through this already. It's hard to single out any one post in particular, but Travis Fast has nailed it here:

From the time of initial arrest the idea is not to get a criminal conviction but to use the administration of justice to systematically harass political activists depriving them of their liberty, time and money (on defence lawyers). What the police, Crowns and Courts are doing is abusing the the justice system in order to police political dissent.

It used to be that when Toronto cops misbehaved, Julian Fantino could be counted on to spin it as isolated and confined, or just the work of a few bad apples. Anyone who believes that now, I've got some land to sell you. This is obviously part of a coordinated and systemic effort by the cops and the Crown to criminalize dissent and intimidate other citizens.

But again, I'm not really pointing out anything new here. What I would suggest, though, is that it's all part of a nauseatingly established pattern evident from both police and prosecutors. They engage in this repulsive authoritarian bullshit, abusing us and our fellow citizens, for the same reason that dogs lick their own genitals: Because They Can.

And why is that? Well, there's a sorry history behind it, but what it boils down to is this: there is NO accountability for these bastards. There is absolutely no meaningful institutional way of holding these people responsible for the abuses they visit upon us. That's why I keep going on (and yes, I know, I do go on ... ) about the futility of expecting an institutional response.

The reasons for this are complicated, but they can be approached from two broad perspectives: the police and the courts. Some of my fellow bloggers have dealt with the courts already (plenty of links to get you started, I hope), so let's focus on the police.

On paper, police are subject to civilian oversight. In practice, the Toronto Police Association has a long history of doing everything possible to neuter that, and it has been abetted in that by a tame and ineffectual Police Services Board. Board members have varied from “cops are tops” cheerleading to sporadic attempts to assert some measure of control, but as a corporate entity, the Board has never, in living memory, demonstrated anything close to genuine effectiveness.

Perhaps the best illustration of that is in the Toronto Police Association's continuing refusal to refrain from political activity. Every few years the issue arises, and just as predictably the Board will harrumph and cluck its disapproval – and be blown off. No one has ever had the stones to actually put the question to a legal test. Culturally, historically and institutionally, the board has always been a paper tiger.

Just as predictable has been the police union's response: huffing and puffing about how Board members “don't understand police work.” The arrogant and transparently ridiculous argument that Association executives aren't police officers and thus aren't subject to the proscription on political activity. (Jesus H. Murphy. How many other people get to decide for themselves which laws they'll obey and which laws they'll ignore? How they'll interpret the laws? Or throw up bullshit excuses like “we're not police officers” for the purpose of this law?)

But it hasn't stopped there. Five years ago, we saw widespread defiance of an order from the chief of police during contract negotiations, marked by mass demonstrations of armed and uniformed cops to demand more and more of our money. Call me a stickler for paperwork if you must, but we provide police officers with those uniforms and weapons to be used in the performance of their duties. Marching on city hall in a display of armed force to press private contract demands is not part of those duties.

And given that there's never been any material or tangible consequence for things like this, is it any surprise that more and more cops feel the licence to go wilding – on us? Who's going to stop them? We've all heard dozens of revolting stories of egregious police abuses, sadism and brutality during the G20, and it's abundantly clear that nobody's going to face any criminal or disciplinary liability for any of it. The Blue Wall's up, folks, and it's going to stay up.

Established procedures for complaints? Independent inquiries? Talking to the Police Services Board? Uh-huh. Good luck with that.

(To come: more on the dysfunctional nature of police culture.)

Update: Speaking of cops, it seems that Officer Bubbles is inadvertently demonstrating the healing power of public scorn.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Robert Dziekanski, the RCMP, and an anniversary

Presented without comment:

Really can't argue with that, can you.

Constable Kwesi Millington.
Constable Gerry Rundel.
Constable Bill Bentley.
Corporal Monty Robinson.

You guys proud of yourselves?

Moon 'em, Mahmoud

OK, so let me make sure I've got this right:

Israel bombs the shit out of Lebanon, flattening towns and neighbourhoods and killing hundreds of people, and nobody says anything.

Iran – for all its other faults – helps finance the reconstruction and relief efforts, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit is "provocative?" Supporting Hezbollah is undermining Lebanese sovereignty?

I hope he visits southern Lebanon. In fact, I hope he goes right up to the border fence, looks the Israelis in the eye, and then drops trou and moons them.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Best use of the word "socialist" this month

I've written recently about the need to win back the words, with this one being perhaps the most important, given the way the Venomous LoserTM at the Toronto Sun flings it about so carelessly.

So it's especially heartening to see things like this.

It adds a little frisson to the schadenfreude.

All right, all right. I know. Cheap shot. More substantive post to come soon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A tale of two tweets

Because I'm pretty sure he'd rather be at home enjoying a restful day in the company of friends and family.

Also: a terrific post from Rusty Idols contrasting our own G20 asshole cops with the riot cops in Belgrade, who stood up to a bunch of homophobic thugs. Yes, that's Serbian police, being progressive.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Let's get their names

I'm speaking of the moral pygmies otherwise known as the prosecutor and Justice of the Peace involved in revoking Alex Hundert's bail.

Better and more eloquent observers than I have already noted the context for this asinine, insulting and overbearing development. But it's not just about an organized and calculated campaign to criminalize dissent and make people reluctant to speak their minds. What's particularly galling about this is the smug arrogance of the state functionaries; they know what they're doing is bullshit, they know we know, and they know there's nothing we can do to hold them accountable. (At least not in the formal institutional sense, but more about that in a moment.)

It's the same kind of attitude we saw from the hordes of asshole cops who were indiscriminately abusing and brutalizing people during the G20 clusterfuck. We're doing this because we can, and we're not even trying to hide how much we're enjoying it. Arbitrary, bullying pricks.

So. The prosecutor and the JP: today's Little Eichmanns TM. Not much point in hoping for a meaningful institutional response (as Alex Hundert's case shows), but at least we can expose them for what they are: banal little cogs in the apparatus of repression, deserving of nothing more than our scorn and our pity.

H/t Dr. Dawgpogge and Cathie.

Update: The Justice of the Peace in this travesty is one Inderpaul Singh Chandhoke, whose 30 years on the bench apparently haven't fomented an appreciation of basic logic, let alone the Charter of Rights.

Big h/t Dr. Dawg. More to come. Let's see if we can name and expose the prosecutor and the security manager at Metro East Detention. Maybe there's work for them at Abu Ghraib.

Crazed terrorist threatens to down aircraft in suicide attack

Gosh darn those dirty brown people with funny names!
Terrified passengers on a London-bound flight froze in their seats as a crazed man ran through the aisle of the Qantas jet screaming: 'You will all die!' 
Praying and yelling in a foreign language, the man threatened to kill himself and the passengers on the fully-laden jet several hours after it took off from Melbourne to fly to London via Hong Kong. 
Flight attendants managed to jump on the man and restrain him as he threatened to open an emergency exit door, shouting: 'It is God's will'.
From the Daily Mail.

Wow. So why isn't the media going apeshit over this? This is Fox News / Sun Media / National Putz whacking material, for Chrissakes.

Never mind.

What's that you're saying? Bias? In the lamestream media? Facts inconveniently deviating from the approved narrative? 

Sorry, I'm just not understanding you. Your lips are moving, but I can't hear what you're saying.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lazy leftie takes advantage of the hard work of others

Not so fast, stereotype lovers: That would be me, linking to good posts from other progressive bloggers.

Stageleft:: The Clearest Statement of Conservative Philosophy You Will Ever Read

What matters is that we are going to ram through a bad and unpopular decision that lines up nicely with My Party's Ideology, justified by my lies. 
And you fucking idiots will sleep right through it.
Beautifully succinct, and perhaps it even picks up on Salutin's suggestion about the influence of  Leo Strauss on the Harpoonians. But maybe I'm just still in mourning.

DAMMIT JANET:: Did the good guys just win one?

No juice and egg on their face. Not quite the hog's trough banquet they were expecting. 
Let the market decide. And I'm betting this venture is falling flat on its eggy face.

What the hey. Karma doesn't always have to be a bitch ...

Isn't it time ...

... for moderate Christians to "refudiate" Charles McVety? Aren't community leaders supposed to take responsibility for outing the radical extremists within their midst?

Creekside: McVety wants National Defence investigated

Sunday, October 3, 2010

More Sun readers speak ...

Link here. Who knows, they may actually leave this charming stuff online.

About those "elites ... "

Seems it's a new talking point for the Harperites and their media lickspittles: smear their opponents as "Toronto elites."

Ummm ... just who was it that spent billions of dollars turning our city into an armed camp for the benefit of the most exclusive elite club in the world last summer?

John Baird might want to take his own advice.

The slow leak of Marcus Gee's drip-drip narrative

The Globe's ideologically reliable urban-affairs curmudgeon thinks he has the secret to Rob Ford's success.

Not surprisingly, it's a variation on the Mike-from-Canmore theme, except this time it's Peter Robinson, cheesed-off ordinary guy.

Take note of how carefully Marcus sets Peter Robinson up: he's no raving reactionary. In fact, he voted for David Miller! Quelle horreur! And why is he cheesed off? Well, take a guess: he's exasperated with the drip-drip-drip of steadily rising taxes and fees. It seems like every time he turns around, he's paying more money. Which is why Rob Ford's idiotic "stop the city hall gravy train" slogan is resonating with him:
"Maybe there needs to be four years of chaos and cost-cutting to restore a balance. Maybe, for all his faults, if he cuts and cuts we will somehow get started again."
Marcus then sets out all manner of things that Peter Robinson is now paying more for: his tax bill, the fees at his local hockey rink, his car registration fee, swimming lessons for his kids, etc. And the last straw, of course, is the bitter aftertaste from last summer's municipal garbage strike.

Well, yeah buddy, we know. It's tougher all over. But, according to Marcus's storyline, ordinary reasonable people like Peter Robinson are prepared to allow four years of service-slashing scorched-earth policies from government – while simultaneously convincing themselves that their taxes aren't going to go up. Short memories folks have, doncha think?

But that's just the beginning. Peter Robinson's complaints are set up as something we can all relate to. In other words, they're the context for Marcus's narrative, and that's what needs to be challenged.


Yo, Marcus? Show me something that hasn't gotten more expensive over the past several years. Now, let's contrast that with what Peter Robinson's been taking home over the same period. Anyone want to bet that the rate of increase for the first set of figures won't be somewhat higher than that for the second? And naturally, the drain on the second is going to be higher because of user fees, cost-recovery imperatives, and the like.

Again, my friends: context. Sorry to go all academic on you, but the capitalist imperative of short-term profit maximization and the demands of investors, shareholders and executive-compensation packages make that inevitable. Of course when organized labour tries to do the same thing by negotiating the best possible contracts for its members, it's all "lazy union thugs" and "outsource" and "contract out services" and "privatize" and "protect the poor taxpayer."

What's most insidious about this narrative – and Marcus is far from being the only one propagating it – is the way it's constantly dressed up as "common sense," as if it's something any reasonable person can understand. Again, another manufactured narrative, and in truth it's far from reasonable, because it's constructed so as to avoid making obvious comparisons and asking reasonable follow-up questions.

Everybody whines when taxes go up, for example. But at least those resources are used in accordance with public policy, in which every citizen has a say. The revenues that government raises through taxation go to things that contribute to the common good.

Contrast that with the spectre of rising bank rates. I don't know how much Peter Robinson spends on his mortgage, and I'd be willing to bet that wasn't part of his conversation with Marcus Gee, but the rising cost of borrowing money means he has to spend more on interest when he renews his mortgage, doesn't it? Anyone think that hasn't been rising steadily? And where does that money go? Does it pay for municipal services? Does it fix potholes in the road? Does it help maintain public-transit infrastructure? Does it help to defray the cost of his kids' swimming lessons?

No. It feeds bank profits. Somewhere there are executives winning bonuses for meeting their profit targets, and does anyone want to bet that that's not where the extra mortgage money goes? That bonus is paying for some suit's Albany Club membership. Which he then gets to write off. So in effect, guys like Peter (and you and I, for that matter) are subsidizing it twice. Just a hunch, but I doubt we'll see Marcus asking questions about that any time soon.

It may be too late to derail the Ford train wreck, and even if Smitherman or Pantalone manage to pull this one out of the fire, the dominant storyline for this election's been set. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep pressing the alternative.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The new (lobotomized) national newspaper


The redesigned Globe's Focus section - the intellectual heart of the paper, where Big Ideas are supposed to find room to stretch - leads with Margaret Wente arguing that we should take Sarah Palin seriously.

I'm just going to find a brick wall to bang my head against now.