sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (abortion)
I have been trying really hard to not post about Trump, because I worry that his stubby choad gets to half-mast every time his name is mentioned, and also because enough people have been posting about the semi-sentient clump of hair and I'm quite sick of hearing about it.

But I was intrigued by the latest stupid-ass thing he said, because I don't actually think it was that stupid relative to most of the things he says—and he was forced to retract it.

It's the abortion thing, of course. I had to look it up because I keep seeing references to it on FB and I wasn't sure what the big deal was. He said that abortion should be illegal and women who have abortions should be punished. And enough collective shit was lost that he actually had to back down for once.

I find this startling.

Oh, not because I agree. I don't. It's a disgusting position. But because it is more ethically consistent than anyone else in the Republican/anti-abortion camp, and they're largely the ones bothered by the statement.

There are a number of things I don't understand about people who claim to be pro-life, but probably the biggest one is why they aren't all out there murdering abortion doctors, vigilante-style. I mean, I'm glad they're not. And logically, I know why they're not, even if they haven't examined it all too deeply. It's because they know that their position on abortion is fundamentally dishonest.

Trump's initial stance on punishing women is abhorrent, but it's honest. (I mean, it's not really, because he doesn't actually believe anything and he has the ideological coherency of a fairly dim third grader desperate for absolutely any sort of attention at all. No Republican is actually anti-abortion; they're all of the "it's moral and necessary if my mistress does it" school. But let's pretend, for the sake of argument, that he believes it.)

Those who oppose abortion claim to do so because they believe that the fetus is a person, deserving of full human rights. Except not really. Try asking an anti-choicer why they never protest outside of fertility clinics and if you ever get an answer, you come and tell me right away what it is, because I've never had one capable of justifying that. In their heart-of-hearts, they know that an embryo isn't really the same as a child. But all of their rhetoric suggests that killing an embryo is exactly the same as killing a baby.

So if abortion is actually murdering a baby, Trump's initial position made total sense. It's comparable to a contract killing—yes, you would charge a hit man with murder, but you would also prosecute the person who ordered the hit. The second you suggest that abortion should be legal but only the doctors should be charged, you open yourself up to the legal possibility where it's perfectly fine to arrange someone's death as long as you're not the one firing the gun.

If you ever want to get an anti-choicer to shut up really quickly (which, for me, is all of the time), the best thing to ask besides the question of fertility clinics is how they plan to sentence women who get abortions. Manslaughter? No, you don't just get an abortion on a whim. It'd have to be first-degree murder. I'm not a lawyer and don't even play one on the internet, but that's a lot of years. And given that one in three cis women will have an abortion in her lifetime, that's good news for the prison-industrial complex and deeply uncomfortable for everyone else.

I'm fascinated by this latest kerfuffle because it really exposes how no one who claims to be pro-life actually believes, deep down, that abortion is murder. The root desire in the anti-abortion soul is to punish women; the rest is just window-dressing. Trump had to backpeddle because he once again said out loud what they were all thinking. Whoops!
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Mistgeburt)
I've seen a number of images and video on the theme of last night's election, but there's only one image—though it has failed to gain the traction that shirtless!Trudeau has managed—that can adequately sum up how I feel about the results.


That's from the cyberpunk masterpiece Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis, and if you haven't read it, what are you doing reading my blog? This comic is so much better, and astonishingly prescient. In my favourite arc, the current President, known only as The Beast (even to his children) is challenged by a telegenic, liberal-seeming politician nicknamed The Smiler. At first, Spider Jerusalem, our cynical journalist hero who is in no way Hunter S. Thompson, grudgingly admires him—insofar as he can admire any politician—until he discovers that while The Beast, who is in no way Richard Nixon, is an authoritarian monster, the Smiler, who is in no way Tony Blair, is hiding something much worse.

I don't need to tell you what happens next. You've read a dystopian book or two.

I swear, if I see one more "congratulations Canada!" post, I am going to fucking hurl. It's bad from Americans, as you guys don't really understand our political system or major parties, but it's worse from Canadians, who don't understand our political system or major parties. While I'm as happy as anyone to not have to use this icon anymore—

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 4.20.05 PM
(You get to see it one more time though. Sorry.)

—there is no cause for celebration. And here's why.

Justin Trudeau is indistinguishable from Harper on most things that count, except scarier because no one seems to understand this.

I would ask all Canadians who "voted strategically"* or caught themselves saying "anyone but Harper" to ask themselves why they hate Harper.

Is it because his economic policies favour the rich at the expense of the poor? From a friend's post (since I'm too exhausted to dig up more authoritative sources, but trust me, this is the Liberal fiscal plan):

1) A tax increase on the rich 1%, in order to give the upper 50% a tax cut. People making over 100k, but less than 200k will be looking at a tax cut amounting to $600. Those who make 50k a year will get $80 dollars, those below $45k get nothing.
2) GST cuts for land developers who build "for profit" rental housing -- make a profit, get a tax cut plan. Mike Harris tried, and failed to promote affordable housing using "tax incentives", and the Liberal plan will also fail.
3) Cuts to EI payroll tax, further reducing available funds available for unemployed workers. In the 70s, 70% of the unemployed were serviced through EI (UIC), today only 30%. The Liberal plan continues this trajectory.
4) Expansion of the "baby-bonus" system instituted in 2006 by Harper in place of a daycare plan. Extremely wasteful use of government money.

Okay, math is hard. How about the environment? Trudeau's not quite so bad there, but he supports the Keystone XL pipeline and I'll bet you anything he flips on the other two.

Do you like jobs? Freedom of speech and privacy on the intertubes? Transparency when it comes to trade deals with other countries? Well, Harper negotiated that stuff away in secret with the TPP, but fortunately there's Wikileaks and come on people, if it were a good deal for Canada, they'd have told us what was in it. Instead, the Conservatives held out spilling details before the election, so everyone who doesn't keep up with trade deal acronyms was left in the dark as to how hard we'd get reamed.**

Trudeau doesn't know what's in it. But he's for it.

Most important to me personally, though, is the Harper government's attacks on our civil liberties. That would be Bill C-24, which takes the unprecedented step of allowing the government to strip the citizenship of any Canadian who is eligible for dual citizenship. This includes me, if you were wondering. If someone decides I'm a terrorist (more on that in a sec), I can be deported to Israel. Imagine. The Liberals supported the bill.

Even worse is Bill C-51, which is a mass surveillance, thought crime, and arbitrary arrest bill, loosely defining terrorism as "whatever we don't like," the sort of thing that they used to write dystopian literature about before dystopian literature became a manual for policy writing. The Liberals voted for that one, too. Except Trudeau; he didn't think the skullfucking of our most basic human rights was worth showing up to vote on.

Now, the one nice thing I can say about Liberals is that I appreciate their ideology. They have none. They crave power, and only power; their sole political aim is to get elected and stay there. This is kind of cool because it means that they're by and large not bigots. One voter-unit is the same as the next, and they don't care what your gender or sexual orientation or ethnicity is. So things, in the short-term, might suck slightly less for the Muslims who are getting assaulted on our streets by Harper brownshirts.

Oh, but shit, yo, Trudeau also voted for Bill S-7, the—I'm not fucking making this up—"Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act," which makes things that were already illegal more illegal if you do them while brown. So while I don't think the Liberals are racist for ideological reasons the way the Tories are, they'll be racist if it'll make them popular. And as the whole niqab debacle and the aforementioned brownshirts illustrate, Canadians are pretty fucking racist.

So tell me why I should be happy today. Other than that my inevitable "Prince Justin is a Twat" icon is going to be nicer to look at than my Harper "Fuck the People" icon. Seriously.

The other bad news is that the Liberals' gains come mostly at the expense, not of the Tories, but of the NDP, who while far from being proper socialists, at least voted against all of the shitty things I just mentioned. We lost a bunch of really great MPs to strategic voting. Just to give one example, Dan Harris in Scarborough Southwest, a hardworking progressive who is just a wonderful guy, lost to Bill Blair, former Chief Pig, who supports carding despite the fact that it's racist and doesn't work, and who presided over the vicious police state that Toronto became during the G20. Or awesome Olivia Chow losing to career sleazebag Adam Vaughan. Or punk-rock-as-fuck Andrew Cash losing to "who the fuck is she?" Julie Dzerowicz. (Seriously, what does "held senior leadership roles in the private and public sector" mean?) Or, in the campaign I worked on, Matthew Kellway, who lost to some guy who no one knows anything about except that the name "Trudeau" was on his sign. (Note to my countrymen—we vote for MPs, not the fucking president; learn what your MP stands for and don't just vote based on the party leader.)

Now, I don't even say this as an NDP ideologue, because I'm not one. I only joined the NDP very briefly, to try to keep Mulcair from winning the leadership after Layton's death, and left when they took the word "socialism" out of the party platform. I volunteered with Kellway's campaign out of outrage over Bill C-51 and support for the only political party that had convictions and a commitment to democracy. I'm glad I did, exhausting and depressing as it was. I'm hoping that this defeat leads to a reexamination of the NDP's Blairite direction, perhaps even an exodus of the rightward elements like we've seen in the UK. One hopes the correct lessons have been learned.

In any event, I was despairing last night, as Canada swapped a kitten-eating robot for a born-to-rule pretty boy with more or less the same political leanings but better hair, and backslapped and rejoiced and called it "change." I felt a little less despairing when I woke up and remembered:

1) This is basically the political configuration of my youth, with a Liberal majority, a Tory opposition, and the NDP snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. (The Orange Crush in the last election was an aberration based on Quebec's weirdness and Layton's charisma; the NDP should never have expected to build on Quebec as a base.)

2) Electoral politics has never been the main thing that I do; among other reasons, I'm far to the left of anyone electable.

3) As someone who writes a lot of dystopian fiction, I would be at a loss for inspiration if I ever actually liked the government in power.

4) Having canvassed once or twice a week, every week, for almost three months, my ass is looking really fine.

Sadly, though, Canadian media has no one like Spider Jerusalem to expose the truth, and those of us who value silly little things like freedom and democracy are left to muddle through as best we can. I hope we can rebuild from this, but it's easier to take rights away than it is to gain them, and there's more work to do with a populace that thinks it's free than one that knows it isn't. We must be at once—and I hope the NDP understands this, because historically it hasn't—both principled and ruthless.

Good riddance, Beast, and welcome Smiler, and the rest of you can hold your fucking congratulations until you see what he has in store.

* Note, remember next time that anyone who tells you to "vote strategically" is telling you to support the Liberals. The NDP were winning at the outset.

** I'd say they deserved it for not educating themselves, but I have to live with the results of their ignorance.

ETA: The Beaverton, as usual, has the best coverage: Nation groggily wakes up next to Justin Trudeau:

“Really, the C-51 guy? The guy who’s friends with Bill Blair?” said New Zealand, over Snapchat. “Tell me he at least doesn’t have a douchey native-inspired tattoo.”
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
If, a decade ago, you would have said to me, "the British Prime Minister will be publicly accused of having fucked a dead pig's head," I would assume this sentence would be followed up by, "and he resigned in a cloud of scandal the following day."

(Certainly, my favourite comedy of all time, once praised for its accuracy in depicting Whitehall politics, seems adorably quaint, with ministers being forced to resign over all sorts of lesser scandals that do not involve porcine fellatio. Though, in fairness, that was a Labour government, even if it was the worst possible Labour government, so maybe it is still accurate and it's just times that have changed.)

Then again, if you'd said, "the mayor of Toronto will have been proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to have smoked crack, driven drunk, and beaten his wife, and he will not lose his job or even put much of a dent in his political career over this," I wouldn't have believed you either.

Or, "the Prime Minister of Canada can turn a blind eye to Senate expense scandals, trash the economy, impose such ridiculous policies that scientists and librarians rise up in protest, and shrug his shoulders at the tragic drowning death of a 3-year-old boy and still ride high in the polls," I'd have accused you of a cynicism even I don't possess.

And yet.

The way to deal with scandal, these days, is to just shrug your shoulders and say, "so?" It's like they've realized that they're not accountable—it doesn't matter how many people think they're scum. They don't need the majority of the populace on their side—just a very committed minority of bigots who vote. That's it. Whereas the left falls apart at the slightest verbal fumble. It's mindboggling.

Don't get me wrong; I still derive an immense amount of pleasure knowing that David Cameron's sausage slid between the mandibles of a dead pig. And I enjoy, perhaps even more, his cronies and supporters tripping over themselves excusing said behaviour as normal teenage shenanigans. I've even come, in these past few days, to enjoy Twitter, which was invented for situations like this.

But I bristle at impunity. I don't want to live in a world where someone gets away with doing a thing that, were an ordinary person to do it, that person would have to hide their face in shame for all eternity. It's chutzpah to say, "So?" and walk on, and yet I keep seeing it.

And it terrifies me, because we have an election coming up. And we have one guy who is okay with drowning children, and one guy who thinks it's okay for the government to spy on you, and one guy who pretends to have a conscience but doesn't really but is still less bad than the other two. I want to think people are not okay with the child-drowner saying, "Eh, so?" and winning a fucking majority, but one has never gone broke underestimating the bigotry, cowardice, and selfishness of the Canadian people. Or at least the fraction of the Canadian people who bother to vote.

Harper could fuck a pig and get away with it, I'm sure. I'd guess that he has but I don't know that robots are capable of such acts.

The ability to laugh in the face of power is strong, but not as strong as the ability of the powerful to shrug it off.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (monocleyay)
David Cameron, metaphorical pigfucker, is also apparently a literal pigfucker. (Bless the British press—you won't often hear me say that—for immediately supplying the internet with lots of pictures of Cameron holding pigs.)

[An alleged eyewitness] even claimed another member of the group has photographic evidence of the alleged act.

But the individual who is said to own the picture did not respond to approaches by the authors.

Oh hey, fortunately there's video! NSFW, obviously.

Hats off to you, Britain. Your Prime Minister fucked a dead pig. You beat our crack-smoking mayor and Peegate. I now feel secure in the knowledge that nothing that happens in Canadian politics will ever live up to how fucking insane that is.

Meanwhile, lovely Corbyn, alas, is set for a reenactment of one of my other favourite British political dramas. Although apparently he's a vegetarian and so if he doesn't win the next election with the slogan, "at least we don't fuck pigs," he needs better advisors.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
While Harper is generally known for tightly controlling the audience at his events and plugging any leaks in the media, he apparently has much less control over the bowels of his candidates.

Witness the following glorious, glorious headline:

Jerry Bance, Conservative caught peeing in mug, no longer candidate, party says


It's going to be such a rush of relief when we no longer have a Tory government.

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 7.43.46 PM

The jokes continue to stream in.

Of particular note is Mulcair's response:

"This must be someone who's adept at Stephen Harper's trickle down theory of economics."
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
Here is an excellent round-up of all the ways in which the Conservatives were evil in 2014. Highlights include corruption, election fraud, stupid laws with stupider names, the Temporary Foreign Workers program, treating refugees like shit, and, of course, surveillance.

Inspired by this poster. (h/t [ profile] jackspryte)

Anyway go have a look in case you're an American planning to flee to Canada, or a Canadian whose relatives insist Harper's good for the economy.

MEANWHILE in Toronto, Tory's government already has a death toll of at least two—homeless guys who froze to death because the city didn't issue an extreme weather advisory, even though temperatures are in the negative double digits. But at least the trains run on time. Oh wait, they don't.

ETA: OCAP occupied the mayor's office, forcing Tory to order the warming shelters open. Good on OCAP.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
US: Sorry about your election.
UK: Happy burning effigies day!
Canada: Here is what our freedom-lovin' gub'mint has been up to lately:

Obviously, the Conservatives used the Ottawa shooting to try to ram new civil rights abuses down our throat. "Preventative detention,"
"information sharing" such as the sort that led to Maher Arar's torture, and thought crimes. Not surprising; they've been wanted to do this for awhile and some mentally ill lone shooter who spent too much time on the intertubes gave them a good excuse to make it happen.

There's no money to pay for veterans' services, but there's apparently money to erect fake tanks all over the country.  However much this is costing, it is too fucking much.

The Tories' latest law, the amazingly named Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, bans a bunch of things that I think were illegal anyway and doesn't address any of the barbaric cultural practices that Conservatives enjoy. Convenient!

Speaking of barbarism, the Conservatives continue to fight the court ruling that found cutting health care to refugees to be unconstitutional.

And then the Bank of Canada governor just proposed a novel way to deal with youth unemployment. It seems that today's shiftless, aimless Millennials have not considered...working for free. Yes, really.

That's the kind of week it's been!
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat your ballot)
I've slept it off, sobered up, and I think I'm willing to write a bit about the election.

Here are some things that John Tory, our mayor-elect, believes or has claimed to believe in the past*:Toronto, meet your sensible, nonpartisan, stable new mayor. Breathe a sigh of relief that the white millionaire who is slightly more open about his racist beliefs—albeit only slightly—lost to this white millionaire. Enjoy being governed by an inbred born-to-rule shitbird who views the mayoralty as a consolation prize that he deserves for having lost so many other elections.

Fuck this guy. Doug Ford would have been better. Doug Ford would have managed to get nothing done because everyone hates him, which is better than the slow strangulation that Tory will inflict on this city.

I mean, obviously Olivia Chow should have run. Her campaign manager is #gulagbait. There were so many opportunities and her team squandered nearly all of them. Her defeat is a massive failure of political strategy, it is true, but it is also a failure of the city's collective imagination to dream of a functional municipal government that doesn't resemble the detritus left after you drain a municipal swimming pool.

Okay, why did Chow lose? Why, in a city that resembles her much more than it resembles either of the shouty white bullies, was racist propaganda like this not challenged at all? Why did no one point out that Tory is as much a reactionary fanatic as Ford? Why was Ari Goldkind** the only one to point out Ford's antisemitism? What the everloving fuck?

Part of it is that the campaign did not take into account Tory as a serious candidate—which I kind of understand, as I didn't either, but this is why I'm a teacher and not a political strategist—probably because he always loses elections. That's what he's for. He fails at things. So it went after Ford's populism (Rob, not Doug), and softened the edges of Olivia's actual politics, losing her much of the left. She failed to attack hard enough on economic issues and the elitism and privilege of her two opponents. They were trying to repeat the success of Miller, except that Miller was a six-foot-something loud British guy who could shout over his opponent, which is not something that Olivia can do. She failed, like every downtown leftist since amalgamation, to appeal to or understand the suburbs.†

But it's not just her. A shitty campaign does not negate the decades of hard work she has put into the city; she ought to have won on name-recognition alone. The city—my city—fucked up too.

Think back to four years ago, when the Honourable Wife-Beater was first elected. People asked me to explain why, and I said it was kind of like when you have a fight with your boyfriend and you go out and get drunk and pick up some guy and have sex you can't remember and wake up in a strange bed and he won't get off your arm. Now, if you'll permit me another metaphor, it's like when Angel and Buffy broke up, and Buffy went for Riley, who seemed really normal and stable by comparison, even though he didn't actually have anything in common with her, or understand her or her needs and made everything all about himself and then cheated on her with vampire prostitutes. It might have looked superficially understandable but it made for a very boring season of TV. Alas, we face much worse than either a hungover morning of regret and shame or having our collective hearts broken via vampire prostitutes—we face the erosion of what little common good we have left in this city.

One thing that I don't think the Fords, and the far-right in general, are given enough credit for is their ability to not only haul the Overton Window off the deep end, but convince everyone that This Is The Way It Has Always Been. Toronto, after four years of Ford, does not remember having a mayor who had an actual vision and who was not a crack-smoking, wife-beating international laughingstock. They think they have always been taxpayers and customers rather than citizens, atomized individuals with no stake in the common good. Racism has always been part of the discourse; we openly get to disparage people of colour, so the guy who only deals in dogwhistle racism is now a moderate. Islamophobic graffiti? Neo-Nazis and rapists allowed to openly spew hate in their campaigns? Blatant violation of election rules? We're used to it now. This is Toronto politics. This is why Tory comes off as the lesser evil when he's the far more insidious danger.

And "progressives," or at least self-defined liberals and moderates, bought it hook, line, and sinker. This guy can decide to reinvent himself and it's only us fringe, loony leftists bringing up his past. Most of the city voted for Tory; most of the city does not vote Conservative in provincial or federal elections. It's as though if you're rich enough, white enough, and shout loud enough, people will believe anything.

Oh, and Tory is bland. Squeaky clean. He'll sell the city off, piece by piece, to his corporate cronies, and it's not even going to be fun to blog about.

As I'm reading this, he's now claiming that he'll include Chow and Soknacki (whom I also like) on his transition team. I'm dubious that this is a good move for either of them and I do not trust anyone who claims to be above left and right, or who talks about unity without any grounding in reality as to why the divisions that exist are there. As he tries to play the Great Unifier, just remember that deep in your heart, like all Tories, he looks down on you and thinks you're scum.

* I do not know what John Tory actually believes. I am of the opinion that he is a robot assembled by the Conservative Party and programmed to say stupid bullshit.

** I like Ari Goldkind. He should run again. I didn't vote for him because he didn't have a chance, but I was impressed with his campaign.

† This should not be read as me endorsing de-amalgamation. I think it was a bad thing but can't be undone.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (bat country)
Transit, speaking from a purely utilitarian perspective, has to be the strangest possible public service to politicize. In Toronto, we've had massive debates about transit for years; the system was designed and mostly built in the 60s and 70s and has been underfunded since. At the moment, the municipal race being in full swing, the debate is between building an expensive subway with a few stops that is impossible to finish in most of our working lifetimes, and an LRT, which is cheaper and can serve a larger geographic area. Even people in wards already served by the existing subway, like the one in which I've been canvassing, frame candidates' positions as "subway or LRT?" with "subway" being code for Ford's far-right lunatics and "LRT" code for Chow's centre-left.*

Some friends of mine who aren't from Toronto expressed disbelief that subways are even a political issue, and they are absolutely right to find it bizarre. But it speaks to a theory I've developed about the Canadian right.

Other countries have a right wing that is unified by something. In the UK, it's class; in America, it's racial hatred and the legacy of slavery plus religious zealotry and a fear of communism. In Canada, it's not like we don't have class stratification or racism or religion or anti-communism (we have considerable and comparable amounts of the former two and some of the latter two) but for various historical reasons, none can function as a unifying current. Instead, we must resort to the basest, most rudimentary form of conservatism: I don't wanna pay for stuff. It is the politics of a cranky toddler, so it's not surprising that in Toronto, we're currently at least nominally governed by one.

The thing is, one can argue with, say, health care (something else that ought not to be politicized), that there is someone who benefits by keeping their money out of the system. In America, the insurance companies are the biggest winners, but conceivably rich people get something out of it too. From their perspective, it's fine if poor people die, and they can afford private health care. It's an inefficient system, which is why rich people ought to also support universal health care (after all, it's not like they overall get better care than rich people in the civilized world), but the upper class benefits from lower taxes and is able to mitigate the crueller implications of privatization. Same with schools; it's inefficient as all hell, but the rich can elect to have their children privately educated.

There is no such escape valve with transit, though. I was in Seattle last week, after not having visited for a few years, and was shocked at the traffic. It took at least twice as long to get anywhere. Otherwise, the city was thriving in a way that I haven't seen in any North American city since the economy tanked; everywhere was booming, everyone was high on legal weed, it was great. But apparently the booming economy led to a massive influx of people, and it was unexpected, and the transit infrastructure can't support it. Of civic problems to have, it's not the worst one, and certainly the gridlock was better than Toronto's. But it was still quite dramatic.

The North American conservative's alternative to the public welfare is private everything. The mass of humanity gets sub-par hospitals and schools; the elite get nice clean ones. So it makes sense, by conservative logic, to not pay for mass transit.

Except! What happens when there's no transit infrastructure? The roads get jammed up, and rich people use those roads and get stuck in traffic like the plebes. So it benefits the rich, even Rob Ford, who does not live in drunken-stumbling distance from his place of work, to invest in transit. Building more roads isn't even an option, because that's expensive, and people amazingly enough do not love privatized roads. Transit is a question for which the conservative has no answer, for which there is no answer beyond the collectivist one. You can, in theory, argue about whether a subway or an LRT is better**, but one is necessary no matter how much you loathe the smelly sheeple who commute to work without their own cars, and neither can fit easily within the austerity logic of the North American right.

* It's important to note that the Honourable Wife-Beater is not in any way in favour of building an actual subway. His famous refrain of "subways, subways, subways," is an attempt to stall so that nothing at all ever gets built. It is easier to stall on a subway than on an LRT.

** The LRT. Everyone knows this.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat your ballot)

So I normally wouldn't link to Reddit but this is important and I haven't seen it discussed anywhere else. Here is a non-Reddit link but it's still citing the same sources.

There's a provincial election on Thursday. All of the major parties suck and are committed to austerity measures that will fuck us all over. The Liberals are hopelessly corrupt, the NDP has abandoned its socialist, labour roots and gone for centre-right populism, and the Tories are Tories, but even worse than usual because they're led by a kitten-eating zombie robot thing that is promising to cut 100,000 middle-class jobs, including mine.

With the lack of a progressive alternative, many people I know are considering declining their ballots. I understand this, I really do. The first time I was eligible to vote, I put on my "FUCK POLITICS, LET'S RIOT" t-shirt and stomped to the polls in my Docs and declined my ballot. This time around, there's an actual movement to do so. (Decline ballots, that is, not copy my awesome punk fashion statements.)

The thing that you should know is that the movement to decline your ballot was started by the Tories to make sure that progressive people don't vote. That's who wants you to stay home. You know why? Because conservatives never decline their ballot. The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

I'm not going to tell you who to vote for (except if you vote for Hudak, you suck donkey balls and I don't want to know you) but seriously, if you want to make a symbolic radical political statement, go riot in the street or something. Elections aren't everything, but it is very important that Hudak goes down in flames this time around, and it is even more important that you don't play into his agenda.

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat your ballot)
I stopped doing the Rob Ford stupidity countdown because it was too much work to update (it hit the point where he was doing multiple stupid things a day, and I couldn't update quickly enough), but damn, if Hudak gets in, it'll be even worse.

This guy. He's unreal. I mean, much has been said already about how, despite a masters in economics, he fails at basic math, and also he's a puppet of the Tea Party, and oh yes, he is actually made out of some sort of plastic-type material. And his smile. He has the worst smile. You know that. But! Did you also know that he is so right-wing that even the cops don't want anything to do with him? This, after he said he'd slash 100,000 public sector jobs but spare the cops, because it's way more fun to bash teachers and EAs. Do you know how fascist you need to be for the cops to disown you? The cops liked Mussolini.

The good news is I'm less and less certain that he'll win. He creeps out other Tories, for fuck's sake.

Related: I voted in the advance polls. For the NDP, if you're curious, albeit with my nose firmly held. I like my MPP though, and I can't stomach voting Liberal regardless of how much Horwath pisses me off, and there were no actual communists or socialists in my riding to toss a protest vote at. I've haven't felt more anarchist about electoral politics in a decade. Seriously, they are all shit at the provincial level, and it's the one that affects my life the most.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (AK Hello Kitty/springheel_jack)
Mike Harris, yes, that Mike Harris, the most vile piss streak in the history of Ontario politics, is apparently leading a mission to observe the Ukrainian presidential election.

First reaction: What could possibly go wrong?

Second reaction: Hasn't Ukraine suffered enough?

Third reaction: ...but can we leave him there?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
The Honourable Wife-Beater's latest kerfuffle is an example of why I think more emphasis needs to be placed on his disastrous politics instead of on his little crack hobby or weight.

To summarize the story briefly: Toronto Community Housing Corporation is the body in charge of public housing in Toronto. While frequently unresponsive and even abusive to poor, marginalized tenants—resulting, at least in one case, in the death of an elderly tenant evicted in 2013 under sketchy circumstances—its officials make six-figure incomes and are about as corrupt as you'd imagine. In part of his efforts to stop the gravy train, Ford forced the resignation of its entire board. The current CEO, Gene Jones, is an American who, up until recently, made $271,000 a year and a bunch of really interesting decisions involving hiring and firing, including hiring one of his buddies, creating a position for her, and then immediately raising her salary $30,000. Needless to say, the penny-pinching fiscal conservative Ford just loooooves this guy.

Anyway, the city's ombudsman, Fiona Crean, just released a scathing 111-page report on Jones that would cause the immediate resignation of anyone with an ounce of decency. OMG, did civic oversight just work? There was much rejoicing. I knew we had an ombudsman but didn't actually know anything about her, but this lady is my hero right now.

The Honourable Wife-Beater's response? He called for her head.

This right here—not the crack, not the drunkenness, not the public urination—this is why Ford is a shitbag. Because it's the pattern, not just with him, but with every conservative at every level of government. Preach austerity, hire cronies to waste money, and then try to muzzle anyone—journalists, scientists, ombudsmen—who point out the hypocrisy.

On a related, though less serious note, John Tory's latest is also pretty good. He's going to plant 3.8 million trees, presumably with magical money farted out by unicorns, because he cares sooooo much about the environment, but wants to cancel the proposed Eglinton bike lanes. (I try to have nothing to do with that part of the city, but I do really like the Eglinton Connects plan; it seems completely sensible and even pretty.) So, you know, anyone who votes for him should be aware that we would just be getting Ford, policy-wise, with fewer funny things that get us featured on American talk shows.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (yay)
Best news today.

It's time for a gif party!


And that's really what I have to say about that.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
In the vast, sprawling spectacle that is the Mayor Ford Crack Scandal, the catfight between Finance Minister Jim Faherty and Employment Minister Jason Kenney, both of whom are complete douchecanoes, is at the moment a minor sideshow. But it's exactly the sort of thing I hoped would happen when the crack story first broke, and the reason why I want the Honourable Wife-Beater to remain mayor for as long as he continues to spiral out of control.

Reason being, despite the Laughable Bumblefuck's attempts to present himself as a roguish, independent man of the people, he is very much tied to the Tory political structure. He's buds with provincial Tory leader Tim Hudak (who would bring back chain gangs if elected) and Prime Minister Stephen "Soulless Robot Kitten-Eater" Harper. He is not some working class sitcom schlub; he's a millionaire son of a former Conservative MPP and his other head, Dougie, has provincial aspirations. They have money, and it's been noted that Toronto's elite has been overall quite silent and disinclined to cut ties with the Fords, biding their time to see if Hizzoner is re-elected.

Which is why the Flaherty-Kenney feud is of interest—it's a sign of cracks appearing in the Conservative machine. Harper got into power, despite having all the warmth and charm of a Vogon poet, on the basis of out-organizing the centre and the centre-left, as well as the less reactionary elements in his own party. He's fucking smart and he runs a tight ship. Even in the face of two gigantic scandals, no one in his cabinet is allowed to speak off-message.

Until now. Kenney is evil but may have a sense of which way the wind's blowing—he broke ranks to call on Ford to resign last month, and it has created a shitstorm. Flaherty, who was buddies with Doug Ford Sr., loudly told Kenney to "shut the fuck up," and apparently it almost came to blows. I think we would all like to see that.

The longer this goes on, IMO, the better it is for everyone. Ford is completely capable of dragging down the entire corrupt, nasty, Tory apparatus. In order for that to happen, though, we need to focus less on the salacious personal details of crack and cunnilingus and more on the political gangbang that is Canadian Conservative politics.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
I haven't posted about it here yet, but I'm really enjoying the Senate expense scandal. I wake up every day to a whole bunch of deeply terrible people digging themselves further into a gigantic pit of shit, and it's very cathartic to watch, you know? Of course, it begs the question of why we have a Senate at all. I wonder what will happen if the Tories go soft on their three blatantly corrupt senators; I mean, people in this country are finally interested in the institution at the moment and why so many of our tax dollars go to douchebags who waste it in such a hilariously obvious fashion. And, in the case of Brazeau, beat their wives.

Meanwhile on the home front, the Honourable Wife-Beater (seriously, why do we have so many wife-beating politicians in this country?) is opposing affordable housing units to be built on the waterfront. Because he—I shit you not—does not think that it's right for the poors to live in a nice location like Queens Quay East. Keep in mind that by "affordable housing," they mean a lousy 71 units out of a massive condo development, and we're talking $1100/month for a three-bedroom—which, while good, is not going to be affordable for someone on social assistance or making minimum wage.

The Man of the People, ladies and gentlemen. He's totally down with the working class. Well, at least the segment of the working class that deals crack. The rest of you can go hang.

He's also rejecting a proposal to scrap user fees for recreation programs, because he hates the idea of poor people having fun.

I am likely to get involved with the upcoming municipal election, in my copious free time. I mean, I'm exhausted but this guy needs to go. It's apparent that his routine lawbreaking, corruption, and the fact that he fucking smokes crack with crack dealers is not enough to turf him from office, so a concerted effort will be needed by all.

I have to say, I'm reading a lot less local news since the Star went paywall. It kind of sucks, because local asshaberdashery is the sort of asshaberdashery that one can theoretically do most about. Though I am a lot less prone to incoherent bouts of rage lately. It's either the lack of regular Gravydammürung updates or the fact that I've been really tired.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
A senior Conservative cabinet minister has made my Monday by dropping one of the most hilariously WTF statements ever uttered by a Canadian politician who wasn't the Honourable Wife-Beater.

“We talk about Gangnam Style. There wouldn’t be a Gangnam Style if we hadn’t had the sacrifice of Canadians, members of the United Nations who came together with a resolve to ensure that we repelled communism,” [Veteran’s Affairs Minister Steven Blaney] said.

There is no response worthy of such a statement but a stream of Psy gifs.

That's right, kids! You wouldn't have K-Pop if Canadians hadn't battled communism.

Wait, were we even in the Korean War? And, um, didn't that one kind of end in a stalemate?

Anyway, it's a statement worthy of some of the DPRK's more hilarious moments. Also, where are the Tories keeping their stash of crack, and did they bring enough for the rest of the country?

(The Star responds, cheekily: "There was no word either on whether Canadian veterans would be saddled with responsibility for the current free fall down the musical charts that the South Korean artist’s follow up song, “Gentlemen,” has experienced in recent weeks.")

In "Things Canadians Actually Did Do," news, we are totally complicit in the brutal murder of a Chiapas anti-mining activist. So there's that.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
So what's our Fearless Kitten-Eating Leader been up to lately?

Besides losing over $3 billion of Canadians' money (but...but...fiscal conservatism and respect for taxpayers!), attempting to take control of the publicly funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and muzzling freedom of information, he has now slid all the way into outright fascism and is attempting to rewrite Canadian history.

The latter is of particular interest to me as an educator. I mean, why do Canadians fall for someone like Harper in the first place? I find that, by and large, Canadians are intellectually uncurious, bigoted, provincial, and uninterested in critically examining our past. It makes it easy for someone like Harper to ooze in and spend tons of our money trying to retcon Canada into a militaristic America-lite state.

Canadian history is already taught in the dullest possible way to make sure that children aren't interested in knowing more. It by and large glosses over unpleasant incidents where settlers engaged in genocide against the indigenous population, put Japanese-Canadians in internment camps, sent Jews back to Nazi Germany to be slaughtered, bulldozed black communities, briefly flirted with slavery, and so on. It excludes the contributions of marginalized populations; textbooks will drone on about names and dates relating to important white men, then devote about a paragraph per chapter to "The Role of Women." While there are certainly engaging, creative history teachers who make the subject come to life (I was lucky to have quite a few!) the curriculum itself leaves a lot to be desired.

And now Harper's going to make it worse, despite not actually having the legal jurisdiction to do so. We've seen similar efforts in places like Arizona and Texas, where they're determined to erase the contributions of Latinos and blacks. Tomorrow's schoolchildren will learn more about war (in an effort to glorify Canada's role in occupying Afghanistan) and presumably less about, say, universal health care or the Winnipeg General Strike or anything else that prepares them to stand up to their government and demand better.

Harper wants total control. It's not enough to tear this country to shreds; he needs to salt the earth so nothing good can ever grow here again.

He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. Rinse, lather, repeat.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
So Tom Flanagan is pro-child porn, basically

The far-right, which is now mainstream in Canada, will continue to spin this in whatever direction suits them, but the fact is that Flanagan's comments, that the freedom of pervs to wank over child porn outweighs the right of children to not be abused, raped, or otherwise exploited by said pervs, really sums up the modern conservative mindset. (Of course Jonathan Kay is defending him. Of course.) "Freedom" is a meaningless term to them, easily appropriated to mean the opposite of what it means to most people. Just as some Maoists claim to recognize only the right to revolt, so does the contemporary right only recognize one right: the right to be a complete asshole.

Lest the significance of Flanagan's comments be downplayed as merely the senile babblings of some whacko poli sci prof, it should be noted that his is one of the key minds behind Stephen Harper's rise to power and the merging of the traditionally right-wing Progressive Conservative Party with the radical right Reform Party to form the CCRAP party. He's an important dude. He gets paid to think about this shit and how it will help the Tories stay in power.

And as much as Harper and his party will attempt to distance themselves from the pedo professor, his comments are indeed the logical conclusion of market economics. Marginalized people, including children, women, workers, people of colour, and especially indigenous people, are not entitled to rights or freedoms of any sort. Corporations have rights. Property has rights. Wealthy white men are entitled to freedom of speech, up to and including speech that causes active harm, but no one else is. (It is permissible to look at photographs of exploited children—that's just a matter of "taste," but the Raging Grannies are a threat to national security.) When Conservatives screech about the evils of child pornography, they typically have an agenda that has nothing to do with protecting actual children and everything to do with giving themselves broader surveillance powers.

Markets don't optimize human behaviour for the better. In a pure free market, child porn would be an incredibly profitable industry. We rarely see economic violence enacted as vividly as Flanagan's statements illustrate, but this is an extreme example of how the capitalism, at its heart, fosters cruelty and inhumanity.

I wish I could say I was enjoying watching this scandal unfold, but it, you know, involves child porn, which is kind of a rage-inducing subject for me. I do hope it brings down the government, but we're never that lucky.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
Conservative senator Patrick Brazeau is a wife-beating racist shitbag, and it seems to have caught up with him. Read this, then read this, and then enjoy the happy memory of that time Justin Trudeau punched him out. (Note: I also enjoy the thought of Trudeau getting punched, but Brazeau is more of a scumbag. Note also that this typifies my feelings about the Liberal and Conservative parties, respectively.)

While we're on the topic of people who shouldn't be in positions of authority, the LAPD has now totally lost its shit. If I'm following the story correctly, an ex-LAPD officer went nuts and killed a bunch of people after trying to whistleblow about corruption in the department. The LAPD reacted by shooting him just kidding, shooting two completely innocent people who looked nothing like him (as in they were Asian women and he is a black dude, but, you know, driving a car that looked a bit like his).

My pension plan is evil. :( I mean, I knew that, but this is really evil.

If you need a chaser after that, here's a video of the first Hello Kitty in space.

I also like this list of 25 things you don't have to justify to anyone. I disagree with #22, though—who you vote for affects other people, and if you vote for someone who, for example, wants to take some of my human rights away, I reserve the right to judge you for it. Otherwise, though, I think it's got a message many of us need to hear right now.

In other news, the snow is really coming down, isn't it? I am really enjoying my classes this semester and I hate the thought of losing a day of teaching, but—you know, if it's a snow day and I can hang around in my pyjamas all day watching The Wire and cuddling with my cats, that's okay too.


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