Bringing down the Harper government…

December 6, 2008

This poignant piece written by Political Science professor James Laxer is in Straight Goods, Saturday, Dec. 6th.  Laxer’s sage advice is intended for Liberals and the NDP. But all Canadians, especially those who are brainwashed by the Harper government into believing that the coalition is bad for our country — and that Harper’s is the only ‘legitimate’ government — should also pay attention.


Bringing down the Harper government

Liberals, NDP, embarked on venture that is not for the faint of heart.

Dateline: Monday, December 01, 2008

by James Laxer

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries/
such a full sea are we now afloat
And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures.

The Liberals ought to heed these words as they move forward to topple the Harper government. If, instead, they hesitate and give in to their fears, they will hand Stephen Harper an enormous political victory.

If the Conservatives manage to salvage their hold on government, the retribution they will inflict on each of the opposition parties will be a terrible one.

Having committed a grave political blunder last week with its Economic Statement, the Harper government is desperately regrouping to try to regain control of the situation. Apparently they are in full retreat, but no one should be fooled.

The concessions being offered — backing away from slashing campaign funding for political parties, dropping the assault on the right of civil servants to strike, and moving forward the date of the budget — are all designed to convince faint hearted Liberals that they should abandon the idea of defeating the government and installing a new ministry in which they will hold the key positions.

If the Conservatives manage to salvage their hold on government, the retribution they will inflict on each of the opposition parties will be a terrible one. Stephen Harper does not deal well with what he interprets as public humiliation. Here’s a guy who can’t even attend the annual Press Gallery dinner in Ottawa because he’d have to lampoon himself and people might laugh at him. Lacking a sense of humour, which means a sense of proportion, he is not well-suited to political life in a democracy where give and take is of the essence.

The only thing this man understands is conquest, which is why even the members of his own party don’t really like him. If the Liberals decide to let Harper wriggle out of this one, they will have exchanged the substance of victory for a Pyrrhic victory.

Making a coalition work will not be easy for either the Liberals or the NDP. What will unite them though is that they are on the same side of the fence when it comes to the need for a serious stimulus package to cope with the economic crisis.

Oddly enough, keeping the Bloc onboard may prove to be not so challenging. The Bloc will claim credit for the portion of the stimulus package that goes to Quebec, and they will be rid of Harper’s noxious agenda on culture, crime and gun control, an agenda that Quebeckers hate with a passion.

The Liberals, NDP and the Bloc can either hang together or they will hang separately.

They cannot play this game again. If they were to unite to topple the Conservatives further into the mandate of this parliament, Harper would have a much better chance of talking the Governor General into granting him a dissolution and a new election.

This is it guys.

If the opposition fails to defeat the government and install a new one, Harper will exercise complete control for the next couple of years. The opposition parties will be stuck with Flaherty’s budget at the end of January, which is virtually certain to fall short of what the country needs in terms of economic stimulus. Do they really want to place the fate of Canadians in the hands of a man whose first plan for coping with the economic crisis included selling the CN Tower?

This may not have been the way the Liberals wanted to return to government. But it’s a good way. If they perform effectively in office for the next two years, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc will be well positioned for the next election. And, it will be the Conservatives who will fall prey to infighting. If the Conservative government falls, the campaigns to replace Harper as leader will be well underway by Christmas.

The united power of the opposition parties has been demonstrated to great effect over the past few days. They occupy the high ground and the only thing that stands in their way is their own self-doubt.

PS I know the speech at the top of this post was delivered by Brutus, who came to a bad end. Shakespeare had a way of having even his doomed characters give voice to enduring truths.

James Laxer is a Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto. His published books include Decline of the Superpowers; False God: How the Globalization Myth Has Impoverished Canada; The Undeclared War: Class Conflict in the Age of Cyber Capitalism; the national bestseller, Stalking the Elephant: My Discovery of America; and the award-winning Red Diaper Baby: A Boyhood in the Age of McCarthyism.

Harper is a neo-conservative ideologue, obsessed with power and his own sense of self importance. He is contemptuous of Canada and a stalwart member of neo-con right-wing groups, closely linked to their U.S. counterparts. This group’s insidious agenda is not what most Canadians envision for our country. Conservative Canadians who believe that Harper’s party represents them and the country have been duped by his relentless divisive propaganda aided and abetted by the cowed media and pundits. If these Canadians remove their blinders, they will see the ‘real’ Stephen Harper and get a glimpse of what he has in store for us in the coming year. They will see that Harper’s plans for the direction of our country are far different from that of mainstream Canadians, regardless of where we stand on the political spectrum.. It is imperative that Canadians of all political persuasion unite for the good of our country.

Pertinent Links:

Council of Canadians

http://canadianlabour.ca/en/coalition-government-rallies-across-canada

http://www.harperindex.ca/ViewArticle.cfm?Ref=00174

http://dawn.thot.net/harperstiestousa/american_right_report.pdf

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism – Naomi Klein’s website and book

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America Pays the Piper

September 24, 2008

To understand how the United States got itself into today’s bailout mess, one has to look back three decades to the rise of Ronald Reagan, the neocons and the anti-regulators, writes Robert Parry.

After a 28-year binge of drunken optimism and blind nationalism – often punctuated by chants of “USA, USA!” and “We’re No. 1!” – Americans are waking up with a painful hangover, facing a grim “morning in America,” not the happy vision that Ronald Reagan famously sold them on.”

For the full story, go to Consortiumnews.com .


Naomi Klein: Now Is the Time to Resist Wall Street’s Shock Doctrine

September 24, 2008
Now Is the Time to Resist Wall Street’s Shock Doctrine
By Naomi Klein
The best summary of how the right plans to use the economic crisis to push through their policy wish list comes from Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. On Sunday.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20848.htm
===

Letter to confused Canadian voters

September 23, 2008

This impassioned letter to Canadian voters is from my best friend, Klara Palotay. Klara had lived through the horrors of Nazi fascism and Stalinist communism, so she knows the evils perpetrated upon citizens by these regimes. Canadians who care about our country must not be complacent and think this cannot happen here. It can, and it will! Remember, the good people of Germany did not believe it could happen to them either until it was too late. This has nothing to do with ‘left’ or ‘right’, liberals or conservatives. It has to do with the fate of our country. I urge my fellow bloggers to post Klara’s letter on your blogs to get the truth out about Stephen Harper’s insidious agenda. We cannot count on the mainstream media, even those that are purported to be ‘unbiased’. Our last bastion of objectivity, CBC, has joined the ranks of those who are aiding/abetting Harper in his smear campaign against Stephane Dion  — and their reporting is greatly slanted in Harper’s favour. The media have abandoned all objectivity, fairness and accuracy. They have become willing partners in Harper’s neocon machinations to turn our country into a US-style oligarchy.  We must not let this happen!!

Hello confused voter:

I am so sorry that you still think it is unfair of our venerable CBC to thrash Dion and tow the Harper line. I can see you need a bit of background info on this. When Harper cheated his way into office with the collusion of the RCMP and unfortunately Jack Layton, the whole dynamics of politics changed. Harper is a US lobbyist sent to us and financed by the republicans and big business to open Canada for the US style unregulated casino like financial system. Chretien was ousted by Martin for not cozying up to big business and Bay St. enough. Martin tried to behave as if his agenda was the usual Liberal semi socialist program even though he too was in agreement with selling out Canada to corporate interests. After all, he was the one who put us in the Afghanistan combat role under US command, Enduring Freedom. We are not under the Nato umbrella, we are already embedded in the US army. That is why Dion had to agree to the mission extension; there is no way the Americans will let us go. The Americans also blackmail and unfairly interfere with other countries internal politics. Harper win was engineered by them, because Martin was not as compliant as this current puppet proved to be. Martin was the one who put us on the road with deep integration and the SPP where the goal is to merge us into the US. As it is, we have too many laws and safeguards preventing that from happening as yet. Harper for the past 2 and a half years was furiously working behind the scenes to harmonize whatever he can with US laws and regulations, at the expense of the public. Since that time when Harper sneaked his way into office, Canada the decent, tolerant, just country ceased to exist. Witness the relentless attacks and bullying that have been going on for the past two years. Is this the country you grew up in? When Dion was chosen as leader of the party, all the pro business people went ballistic. Their lovely plan of selling us to the US developed a major snag. Here was a man who is honest, principled, just and not in politics for personal gain, thus he became their chief nemesis. In other words, he is a mortal enemy to the crooks on the right, both of big oil and big business. A man you cannot bribe or intimidate is their worst enemy. We, who attended that famous convention chose him precisely for those qualities. We did not want a Martin clone in Ignatieff or a pro Israel, and by extension another American supporter to be the new leader. We wanted a man who would stand up for Canada and we knew Dion could do it. We wanted to change the party and return it to local control for the citizen’s benefit. Two weeks after the convention the attacks started from the Cons. Have you ever wondered why they spent millions in the past years to assassinate Dion’s character? Isn’t it strange that they did not succeed in destroying him and like an energizing bunny he keeps on going because he knows HE IS RIGHT? He has a fully developed plan for the well-being of Canada and the other side is furious that nothing seems to faze him, not his own party’s lack of faith or the whole negative press he gets, he just pushes on because HE IS RIGHT! You must learn that two-thirds of our media are in conservative hands and they do not want him to win. Harper offered them unregulated markets where they can fleece the public with impunity. You think they will be fair and just? All the polls paid by them is fabricated to sound that way, to discourage the voters and have them stay home. If the Liberals lose heart as a lot of them are, the feeling forced on them already is: “what is the use, Harper will win anyway.” But why should they? The cons have no platform, no plan for Canada except to let the market destroy its safety net. The CBC is a government funded organization that is gutted from the inside, and the long time anchors like Peter Mansbridge and Don Newman gave up their objectivity long ago against being fired. Don’t think Harper would not do it, he has a string of wrongful dismissals under his belt.

What I am trying to say is use your head and use the internet wisely. You can find the truth easily, it is out there. The site to watch daily is The Turner Report, there you will get daily updates about the lies and shenanigans the conservatives are engaged in. Liblogs is another one, where you will read about all the outrages and happenings immediately as they occur. By the way, the only honest polling company belongs to Nick Nanos and he polls for CPAC. He was bang on with the last election results and he is the only one who does not manipulate the undecided numbers. Currently, the cons among decided voters lead at 36 per cent, the same as when they were elected in 2006, the Liberals are at 31 per cent despite the constant media barrage against Dion. Do you think there is not a concentrated effort to defeat Dion by the media? The NDP are at 22 per cent. Do you know what is the most important part of this poll? There are 20 per cent undecided voters!! Those people are waiting for the debates, they are waiting to see if anything happens like a major financial meltdown in the US or a new scandal, or Julie Couillard’s book on Bernier released before the election date. There are too many unknown factors still to call this election won by the cons. Harper as a dictator may sound good to his blind followers, but this is a huge country with regional interests that cannot be run by one rigid ideology. So I will ask you to accept the fact that big business, big oil, the media and Harper are conspiring against the Canadian people. Knowing this, your duty for your and your children’s sake is to go and help out with your local campaign and help however you are able. We need money and volunteers. This is the last chance for Canada to remain free; if we blow it this time will be an exploited poor region of a failing fascist empire. The slogan is WE WANT OUR CANADA BACK!! If you know any young people convert them to the cause, it is their future that is being given away. Allow Dion to return the country to its guiding principles: Peace, Order and Good Government. Let him fulfill his vision, Canada will be the richer for it.

Klara Palotay


Tomgram: Thomas Frank, Washington’s Lords of Creation

August 4, 2008

[Note for Readers: With this post, TomDispatch hangs out the “gone fishin'” sign for a week. Back on August 11th.]

As the Bush administration heads for “closure,” Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska seems to be heading for the same fate in a “redecorating” scandal; Monica Goodling of the (in)Justice Department is back in town for her hiring and firing practices; the eternally Foxy Karl Rove continues to give contempt of Congress real meaning; a federal judge ruled against the administration’s typically imperial idea of “immunity”; and rumors are flying about coming “preemptive,” blanket presidential pardons for those who organized the administration’s torture regime and committed other crimes. All the while, holding up the glorious banner of the Great Tradition, the John McCain campaign continues to be a chop shop for K Street Lobbyists. And that’s just a two-second glance at the Washington scene as August begins. As always, give them all high marks for consistency! Après Bush, of course, le déluge.

Thomas Frank, a Kansas boy who once followed conservatism deep into his home state and now writes op-eds that probably drive the readers of the Wall Street Journal crazy, has had a front seat at the Washington spectacle these last years as the Bush administration applied its “enhanced interrogation techniques” to the Federal government. In his latest must-read book, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, Frank offers nothing short of a how-to history of the conservative era — specifically how to destroy a government, leave Americans in the lurch, and enrich yourselves all at the same time. It wasn’t just, as he argues, that this administration left “smoking guns” littered around the landscape, but that it ! itself was the smoking gun. If you want to know just what we face as a nation in terms of rebuilding America, his book is a good place to start. Tom

Follow This Dime

Why Misgovernment Was No Accident in George W. Bush’s Washington
By Thomas Frank

Washington is the city where the scandals happen. Every American knows this, but we also believe, if only vaguely, that the really monumental scandals are a thing of the past, that the golden age of misgovernment-for-profit ended with the cavalry charge and the robber barons, at about the same time presidents stopped wearing beards.

I moved to Washington in 2003, just in time for the comeback, for the hundred-year flood. At first it was only a trickle in the basement, a little stream released accidentally by the president’s friends at Enron. Before long, though, the levees were failing all over town, and the city was inundated with a muddy torrent of graft.

How are we to dissect a deluge like this one? We might begin by categorizing the earmarks handed out by Congress, sorting the foolish earmarks from the costly earmarks from the earmarks made strictly on a cash basis. We could try a similar approach to government contracting: the no-bid contracts, the no-oversight contracts, the no-experience contracts, the contracts handed out to friends of the vice president. We might consider the shoplifting career of one of the president’s former domestic policy advisers or the habitual plagiarism of the president’s liaison to the Christian right. And we would certainly have to find some way to parse the extraordinary incompetence of the executive branch, incompetence so fulsome and steady and reliable that at some point Americans stopped being surprised and began simply to count on it, to think of incompetence as the way government works.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.