Does the NDP Die with Layton?

Layton pauses at a press conference on July 25, 2011.

As you might’ve heard, Jack Layton, leader of the NDP, passed away this morning at 4:45am. And as sad as I am for his family, I can’t help but to feel that the rest of the Country is fucked and has a lot more to mourn than the passing of a loved one. With Layton’s passing, we’ve lost probably the only chance we currently have at having an effective opposition and counterweight to the money hungry hacks in the Prime Minister’s Office.

When Harper bulled his way to a majority government on may 2nd, it was mostly at the expense of the Liberals. Voters had lost faith in the Liberals because of the sponsorship scandal and because they had no viable leadership prospect. So when a lot of Liberal supporters cast their ballots o nMay 2nd, they were thinking of their pocket books and their gas tanks. They wanted someone running their country who was actually in control of his party, and it didn’t hurt that that someone would give them the tax breaks they needed to keep up their conspicuous consumption in a down-turn economy.

Of course, even though enough Liberal supporters swung right to give Harper the majority he was looking for, many more more showed a social conscience and swung left, giving the NDP in the official opposition seat. Even the Bloc lost ground to Jack, leaving Quebec an orange province — with the New Democrats taking 59 of the 75 seats.

Canadian 2011 Election Results

It was a momentous occasion and milestone in Canadian electoral politics. Never before had the NDP formed the official opposition at the federal level. And the timing couldn’t have been better, because what more would you want out of the opposition when a bunch of right-wing oil lackeys are at the helm? I mean, the Conservatives might’ve had a majority and carte-blanche to sell the nation off to private interests, but if you’re going to have a watchdog barking up their tree, it mind as well be someone from the labour-left.

At the same time, though, the NDP’s rise to prominence kind of signalled the rise of bi-partisan politics in this country. The more centrist Liberals who’d been a major force for the last half century had been relegated to insignificance, and now the voters’ only two real viable choices were left or right. Suddenly, there was much less room (and need) for compromise in Canadian politics, and only one of the two viable options was likely to ever attract the financial support and backing of private interests.

But if any of the current stakeholders could recognize the problem with that and had the experience and connections to help restore party-diversity in the Canadian electoral ecosystem, it was probably Jack. Something about the man told me that, as much as he revelled in his party’s recent rise, he recognized that to effectively oppose the Conservatives, voters needed a viable centrist option. Now, that could’ve meant a lot of things, from a revamped NDP to a merger with the Liberal party,  but Jack was likely too experienced and committed to his beliefs to ignore this striking reality.

Of course, now with his passing, the NDP just might suffer from the same power vacuum that crippled the Liberals. Even though he stepped down as leader, there’s no longer any chance of him returning, nor a figurehead for party hopefuls to turn or appeal to for guidance of support. If something unexpected and unforeseen doesn’t give soon, we could very well end up spending the next decade selling our freedoms and principles off to the carbon barons just to get by and put food on the table.

The Science of Oilsands Bribery

Credit: Suncor Energy

Canadian Environment Minister, Peter Kent, has announced a plan to monitor the impact that the Alberta oil sands are having on air quality, water quality, and bio-diversity.

You care because the $50 million bill for the project will be footed by the oilsands industry instead of the taxpayers. I care because the man in charge of environmental policy for country seems to think that it’s okay to stack the scientific method to find whatever evidence will make him and his friends richer. As the CBC reports:

Kent said Ottawa will start work with the Alberta government and industry to implement the monitoring plan “almost immediately.” He estimated it will cost up to $50 million a year and said it will be paid for by the oilsands industry.

“I think it’s very important and it will provide the facts and the science to defend the product, which some abroad are threatening to boycott,” Kent said after unveiling the plan at a news conference in Ottawa.
Kent said results of the monitoring will dispel what he called misinformation about the oilsands that is used to “discriminate” against a “great Canadian resource.”

Monitoring will provide the hard science to prove the oilsands are “being developed in a responsible, sustainable and constantly improving way,” he said.

So Kent has pretty much said that he’s accepting money from private interests and will use it to further those interests for years to come. I guess it doesn’t count as bribery if you invest the money right back to the people that paid you off in the first place.

Touchdown Without a Dance

Forty two years and one day after the first moon landing, the Shuttle Atlantis touched down for the last time this morning, marking the end of the Space Shuttle Program. The twin sonic booms were heard at Kennedy Space Center at 05:53:33 AM EDT, touchdown happened at few minutes later at 05:57:27 AM EDT, and less than a minute later, at 05:58:23 AM EDT, the shuttle rolled to a full stop.

Credit: Nasa

You care because it give you something to talk about around the water cooler later today. I care because this marks the end of an era when it wasn’t only okay, but we were expected to have hopes and dreams. No one’s going to tell little Billy that he can be an astronaut when he grows up, because that would be silly and unpatriotic.

That’s probably why they scheduled this final landing so early in the morning: it’s kind of embarrassing and they didn’t need people gathering around the tube to watch it like some kind of milestone or moon landing.

After all, the Shuttle Program was just part of a race we won a long time ago, and it was kind of silly and vain to keep it up for so much longer. The Cold War has been over for a long time now, and there are new wars to fight, wars that aren’t going to be won by space walks and moon landings, but by things like body scanners and security conferences. And if little Billy works hard, and is luck, maybe he can be a TSA agent when he grows up.

Wikileak Freedom Fallout

The Real Assange...

Given that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange previously threatened to release everything if he’s arrested, it’s no surprise that the leaks keep trickling along even though he’s been arrested and denied bail. After all, this is a man of influence and infamy: since having his funding cut and Swiss bank account frozen, hackers have started attacking his enemies on his behalf.

And this ugly mess is just getting started. Before the dust settles, there’s going to be a lot more diplomatic embarrassment, suspects arrested, charges laid, and new “terrorists” and “terrorist organizations” added to our watch lists. When it’s all said and done, these Wikileaks can play out in a lot of different ways.

They can end up selling a war with Iran and/or North Korea to the Western citizens and their governments. After all, the former makes the Saudis nervous, and the Chinese is fed up with the latter — so there’s really nothing left standing in our way. Here’s to another decade with no exit strategy.

Then there are all the overarching threats to our security and prosperity. If we’re going to start sharing hit-lists of sites vital to US interests online, the police are going to need more powers to protect “vital interests,” keep tabs on everyone who hates freedom, and suppress those leaky media outlets that keep dripping fuel on the fire.

Make no mistake about it. The political fallout from these Wikileaks are going to be short-term. After all, in politics, terms are often short and everyone’s expendable. It’s the rest of us who might have the most to worry about. If we’re not really careful lucky, this whole thing can end up costing us everything that it was suppose to protect.

The Leaky Axis

Click, click, boom, boom...

There are a lot of things that we know and don’t know about Cablegate. We know that’s what been leaked so far is just the tip of the iceberg. We know that a lot of leaders and diplomats have already been put in a really tight spot. We know that Julian Assange has pissed a lot of people off. We know that a 23 year old kid is the prime “leaker” suspect. And we know that even though Assange hasn’t yet released stuff on UFOs, the conspiracy theories are already flying.

We don’t know what’s going to be in those remaining documents, but what we know from the ones that have already been published is that international stereotypes exist for a reason: diplomats are spies, Russia is corrupt, Afghanistan is worse, the German leader lacks creativity, and the French leader is vain.

What we didn’t expect was that, apparently, the Saudi’s don’t like Iran and China is fed up with North Korea. How’s that for a revelation, Mac? Rogue states make their rich and greedy neighbors feel uneasy.

And that’s the beautiful thing about democracy: no two market-democracies have ever gone to war with one another. Democracies are governed by peace-niks who worship the rule of law and an invisible hand. And what we’ve learned from Cablegate is that there’s not much left standing between our previous free-market and the millions of consumers being held hostage by an Axis of Evil.

A Week in WikiLeaks

Julian Assange doesn't like plumbers...

It’s been a bad week for Wikileaks found, Julian Assange. First, last Sunday, Republican Congressman, Pete King, started pushing for Wikileaks to be classified as a terrorist organization. Then, on Monday, Sarah Palin called for Assange to be hunted down as an “anti-American operative.”

But what Tuesday held in store made The Maverick look more like The Moderate. First, an established Canadian politico outright said he should be assassinated, while a Canadian newspaper wondered why he wasn’t already dead. Meanwhile, back in the US, authorities started looking into charging Assange under the Espionage Act.

Then, Late Thursday night, Wikileaks was dropped by their domain name provider and is now fighting to stay online (on a Swiss domain at Finally, on Friday, just as Ron Paul, a Republican, came to Assange’s defense today, arguing that he deserves the same protections as the mainstream media, Swedish authorities got a bit closer to getting him extradited from the UK to Sweden where he’s “wanted on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.”

Timely Accusations

Rape is one of those things where the mere accusation can ruin you. No matter how you’re cleared in a court of law, the allegation will always hang over like the rancid musk of leprosy and rotting flesh. No one will ever want to get too close to you ever again. You’ll be untouchable.

Which isn’t to say that Assange did or didn’t do those things he’s suspected of having done by Swedish authorities. We weren’t there, so as far as we’re concerned, it’s just one big game of Swedish he-said-she-said, and we don’t speak the language, so I guess we’ll just have to sit this one out. But hard to ignore the timing of both the allegations and renewed pressure to bring him back to Sweden.

Back on the Ranch

But this whole mess is a lot bigger than Assange and his allegedly unruly member. The move to classify Wikileaks as a terrorist organization is Machiavellian maneuver that’ll extend well beyond silencing some perverted dissident.

First, it would prohibit US banks, and companies like PayPal, Visa and MasterCard, from processing payments to the group. More importantly, it would also make it a federal  felony to provide WikiLeaks with “material support or resources”.

If the GOP can push this one through, what we’ll be looking at, here, is the criminalization of information. Anyone who has it is a terrorist, and anyone who consumes it becomes one.

In a world like that, everyone with a mobile phone and a data plan is at risk — is a risk. One wrong “Like” or search query and you’re a freedom-hating enemy of the state to be neutralized in a swift and exacting manner.

Pigskins for Jesus

Turkey on the Rocks

So here’s another Thanksgiving holiday.

You care because today is the biggest shopping day of the year, and it will be followed by 3 days of turkey and football — a game that lets you vicariously pay tribute to one of the biggest founding principles of this great nation: war.

I care because Thanksgiving is the original, all-American holiday — a secular tribute to the first bible-thumping settlers, and anchored in the American traditions of sloth, gluttony and greed.

So here’s to the guns, pigskins, and Jesus. May the next year hold nothing less than Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Image via, which has some Thanksgiving cocktail recipes here.

Gate Rape Thugs

The purpose of this post is to show off how I coined a clever phrase (see title) that rhymes perfectly with an already popular phrase that also carries negative connotations.

TSA Logo


You care because feds stored thousands of bodyscan images and the bodyscanners were pushed through by corrupt lobbyists who don’t care that they don’t really work because they can’t see inside body cavities and are dangerous because they deliver 20 times the dose of radiation that the TSA claims, at least you can still defend your your freedom of speech by wearing a satirical TSA t-shirt the next time you pass through airport security.

I care because even though the TSA has closed the loophole that would allows you to enter the US without being x-rayed or groped by issuing a new policy where refusing a pat down will cost you an $11,000 fine, they might haven’t gone completley mad just yet because at least transgender people can ask to be groped by an agent of the gender of their choice (via terrisenft) and they offer great customer service to those unlawfully detained for taking picture that they’re allowed to take.

Post inspired by Peter Shankman’s tweet.

Training the Enemy

Apparently, General David Petraeus and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are at odds with one another over a time table for NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

General David Petraeus

Petraeus wants a calculated and measured withdrawal, ceding responsibility to Afghan security forces, province by province, over the next four years. Karzai wants the Americans to lower their profile immediately, complaining that corruption is being fueled by how his government controls only about 20% of the reconstruction money pouring into Afghanistan.

You care because you think that the only way the war in Afghanistan (now in its most lethal year) can only be won through the kind of campaign that no liberal-democracy (especially one you pay taxes to) could undertake without committing war crimes en masse, so the sooner we hand it all off to a corrupt, Western-backed warlord who can do the dirty work for us, the better.

I care because the U.S. and NATO are spending a billion dollars a month (more than the total monthly budget of the entire government) on training a force where its not uncommon for soldiers to either tip off the Taliban through cell phones or abandon their post and join the insurgents.

Unless I’m missing something here, and the military industrial complex has been working hard behind the scenes to secure growth rates for years to come, it seems strange Karzai is in such a rush to deal with the mess that we’re going to leave behind in 2014.