By Henry McRandall
Recently resigned Conservative Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty died today and the mainstream media and the gaggle of puppet political prostitutes – from all parties – were tripping over each other in an attempt to lavish the loftiest praise on the hard-hearted man who designed the country’s harsh and deadly federal austerity budgets for more than half a decade. But while the crony praise for the lout who fought the global recession on the backs of poor and working-class Canadians – when there were much better alternatives – was wildly flattering, it was totally undeserved.
Flaherty – throughout his lengthy federal and provincial (Ontario) political career – was an ardent right-wing warrior only too happy to crush the Other99% – behind a facade of benign rationality – in order to deliver enormous, illicit financial benefit to his own political benefactors, all of whom already had far, far, far more than their fair share of the economic pie.
But while the pols and the pundits all stressed his lengthy “public service” career and lamented that he did not get the chance to enjoy his post-politics, private-sector rewards for supposedly saving Canadians from the severe consequences the masses have endured in many other countries in the years since the corruption and criminality of the ownership class near-bankrupted the global economy, the reality is that the only segment of the Canadian public that he “saved” or “served” was the psychopathically greedy Top1%. That he didn’t get a chance to collect the rewards the Top1% and the corporations they control would no doubt have offered him in return for his unswerving commitment to the cruel and lethal corporate-capitalist agenda is, rather than something to lament, perhaps a hint that there is still a tiny spark of justice somewhere in the universe.
The intellectual and moral lightweights in the halls of political and economic power were effusive all day about this “great man” and the “sacrifices” he had made in his 25 years of “public service.”
What did this “great man” do in his many years of “public service”? Well, as finance minister in Ontario’s Conservative provincial government starting in 1995, he slashed welfare benefits by more than 20% and froze them for nine years, he froze disability pensions for nine years, and he froze the minimum wage for nine years – all the while also slashing real government spending on health care, education and social programs and simultaneously giving tax cut after tax cut after tax cut to corporations and the wealthy. As Conservative federal finance minister for the past eight years, Flaherty first delivered the biggest federal deficit in history before gradually whittling it down to almost nothing – by cutting real federal spending on health care, education and social programs and simultaneously giving tax cut after tax cut after tax cut to corporations and the wealthy. And if you think freezing the minimum wage and social supports for the poorest and most vulnerable only effects minimum-wage workers, the disabled and families in the most precarious of circumstances, you’re deluding yourself. Every time the income of any small segment of the underclasses is reduced, it puts downward pressure on all working-class and middle-class wages by making workers in general so desperate and insecure that they are willing to work for much less – even for much less than a living wage – in order to escape being tossed even further down the economic heap. It was also under Flaherty’s 8-year tenure as Canada’s federal finance minister that the percentage of workers eligible for unemployment insurance if their jobs should become outsourced or offshored dropped to a disastrous level of less than 32%. read more »
By Henry McRandall
By Henry McRandall
Canadian global rock superstar Neil Young began a four-city Canadian mini-tour yesterday to generate funding for a First Nations (Canadian “Indians”) legal battle against rampant government treaty violations and the comments he has made both before and after his first performance have so rocked extreme-right-wing Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper that Harper has now gone lunatic in his public war against Neil Young.
Unlike Harper, who has never been anything but a slick, extremely-well-coiffed poseur and opportunist and whose majority government has begun to disintegrate under the pressure of a litany of still-raging scandals, Young has a record of contributing to the public good and promoting social justice that goes back decades.
While Stephen Harper has never sought anything other than his own financial and political benefit and that of his political and corporate cronies, Neil Young’s tremendously successful and conscientious musical career has gone hand-in-hand with his avocation – an unshakeable commitment to social justice and the well-being of others.
Yes, Neil Young has probably made a lot of money over the course of his 47-year (so far) musical career. But he has also generously not only shared his personal resources – both financial and professional – in support of a wide variety of worthy causes, he has also used his celebrity and his vocal and musical talent to promote a wide variety of worthy causes and to denounce situations that were not conducive to social justice. read more »
By Henry McRandall
As a veteran international journalist and publishing consultant – university-educated in sociology, history and economics, and having done very well in all of them – and even much more educated in economics through self-education – I was aghast but not shocked by the outright lies contained in the U.S. and Canadian unemployment figures that were released this morning.
The U.S. is claiming that its unemployment rate fell from 7.1% to 6.7% after only 74,000 jobs were created last month – far, far fewer than economists had expected and far, far, far fewer than the job creation required to keep pace with the growing population and workforce. CNN, of all possible sources, was kind enough to point out that the participation rate – the number of persons of working age who are either employed or actively seeking employment – has now fallen to its lowest level since 1978 – just 63%, meaning that there are no jobs available for almost two in every five American workers. Uncle Sam blamed the discrepancy on so-called “discouraged workers withdrawing from the workforce.” I cannot for the life of me figure out how Uncle Sam figures out how many workers have become too “discouraged” to even look for work or how Uncle Sam believes this massive number of jobless Americans are surviving – it’s certainly not from any savings from the massive number of U.S. jobs that don’t even pay a living wage; nor is it from the $1.30 per meal that they get in food stamps.
In Canada, the official unemployment rate jumped from 6.9% to 7.2%, meaning that for the first time since the global economic collapse of 2007-08, Canada’s official unemployment rate is now higher than that in the U.S. despite the oft-repeated lies of extreme-right-wing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has been claiming for the past eight years that Canada has not even had a recession.
The official unemployment rates in both countries, of course, do not differentiate between people working full-time and those only able to find a few hours a week of very-low-wage, part-time or casual employment with no employee benefits whatsoever. Even if you’re only working two hours a week for $7.25 an hour, you’re counted as employed. And, conned by the corporate mainstream media and the Satanic Teabaggers, far too many Amerikkkans and Canadians are quick to point the finger at the jobless victims of corporate capitalism rather than the psychopathic billionaires and mega-millionaires who are hot-to-trot for the downsizing, outsourcing and offshoring of as many quality, decent-wage jobs as possible.
The massive fraud known as “free trade” has served no other purpose than to kill as many quality North American jobs so that decent working-class and middle-class wages can be cynically converted into mega-profits for the already-immorally-wealthy. read more »
By Henry McRandall
Once upon a time, Canadians had a social-democratic political party – the NDP or New Democratic Party – that has managed on occasion to win power in five of the country’s 10 provinces which, combined, hold more than two-thirds of Canada’s population. But they have never managed to win power at the federal level – and that was the rub.
Desperate to finally hold sway in Ottawa, the middle-class so-called “centrists” who were gradually taking over a party that had been proudly built over decades by poor and working-class Canadians were chomping at the bit to get their own snouts in the public trough and began more than 20 years ago to shift the party ever so slowly toward the right (they call it the “centre”) so that it would be more to the liking of their own class.
For years, the drift remained gradual and no thought was ever given to patching together a genuinely leftist platform that might finally give poor and working-class Canadians a real reason to vote – for the first time in decades.
Finally, after the untimely death of the heroic Le Bon Jack (Layton) in 2011, the “centrists” found their man in former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister Thomas Mulcair and they catapulted him into the federal NDP leadership. No longer would their party have to “pander” to the legitimate needs of the poor or the working class. The new agenda would be all about “the middle class”.
How much more evidence will have to pile up before REAL New Democrats come to realize that neither Thomas Mulcair nor their new “centrist” orientation are going to deliver them to the “promised land” of power?
And the evidence so far has been absolutely massive. Since becoming federal NDP leader less than two years ago, Thomas Mulcair’s “centrist” leadership has steadily sunk the New Democratic Party back into the also-ran level of public support: read more »
By Henry McRandall
In the U.S., they call its “Veterans Day.” In Canada, they call it “Remembrance Day”. And in many countries around the world, today is the day everyone is supposed to stop and pay tribute to the vast number of men and women who have risked life and limb, supposedly “to protect OUR way of life.”
The public rationale for all these western invasions and occupations of massively impoverished and defenceless countries, however, has nothing at all to do with “protecting OUR way of life.” It is all about guaranteeing the Top1% and the criminal capitalist multinational corporations they control unrestricted access to cheap labour, cheap resources and a laissez-faire attitude toward worker health and safety and environmental safeguards.
Wars are never declared by the poor or the working class. It is always the Top1% and their puppet political prostitutes who declare wars against real or imagined enemies. But it is never the pampered sons and daughters of the immorally wealthy – whose gains are almost totally obtained through massive, unpunished criminality, such as their refusal to pay their workers a living wage and other crimes against humanity – who are forced to go and fight these immoral wars. No, it is the sons and daughters of the poor and the working class who risk life and limb in the service of their wealthy “betters” – either because they are desperate for access to the education that might someday enable them to get a decent job or because they are desperate for any kind of job right now just so that they can survive.
The events of 9-11 – which the U.S. hypocritically expects the rest of the world to remember every year until the end of time – were nothing compared to the DAILY death toll inflicted on the rest of the world – every day of the year – by the capriciousness of the U.S. State Department and the carte blanche multinational corporations enjoy, to commit massive felonious atrocities around the world with no fear of ever being brought to justice. Yes, 3,000 Amerikkkans – mostly wealthy and/or powerful Amerikkkans – were killed on 9-11. But every day of the year – 365 days a year – a child in the so-called Third World dies – every one and a half seconds – either from starvation or from untreated but treatable disease because of these twin culprits – a massively criminal multinational corporate capitalist cartel and a quiescent United States State Department. That’s more than 50,000 children – all under the age of five – being martyred EVERY day just to keep the profits of the billionaires and mega-millionaires forever growing larger. read more »
By Henry McRandall
As the United States and its NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) “allies” (read “proxies”, “aiders and abetters,” “fellow travelers”, or, in the case of Canada, “lapdogs”) attempt to lure the world into a misadventure that could have cataclysmic global consequences, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the entire Syrian population now find themselves in the crosshairs of Amerikkkan “exceptionalism” gone berserk, of Amerikkka’s insatiable lust for global hegemony gone insane, and of Amerikkkan hypocrisy gone shameless.
It is, however, just another absurd progression in a jingoistic, “wild west” Amerikkkan mainstream culture that has now chosen to divorce itself entirely from reality and from accountability.
For days now, the talking heads of the western body politic; of the insane, steroid-enhanced U.S. and NATO military leaders; and of the integrity-challenged corporate (and even public) mainstream media have been beating the drums of war with regard to Syria – based solely on a single – and yet-to-be-substantiated – allegation by the CIA-financed, al-Qaeda-led, and mostly-foreign-mercenary “rebels” that the Assad regime unleashed a chemical-weapon attack a few days ago that killed hundreds of civilians and very seriously hurt hundreds of others. There can be no questioning of the fact that these horrific deaths and injuries did occur and that chemical weapons were the probable cause. But there has been absolutely no evidence to date that the Assad regime was responsible for the attack. In fact, it was the U.S. and its NATO allies that demanded that the UN investigation restrict itself only to the issue of whether chemical weapons were used – and not address the issue of who was responsible for their use. That demand was accepted. Meanwhile, the Assad government has demanded that the UN also investigate not only the use of chemical weapons but also who used them at this particular site and also investigate three other sites where it says government forces were attacked by the “rebels” with chemical weapons. The UN has not responded to this demand. read more »
By Henry McRandall
More than 600 people have been killed and another 4,000 injured over the past 36 hours as Islamic Brotherhood supporters of appropriately deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and secularist supporters of the military-backed interim government square off over who will ultimately control the most populous country in the Arab world.
Meanwhile, yesterday, the Israeli government of right-wing warmonger Binyamin Netanyahu and the puppet chairman of the so-called “administration” of the West Bank portion of partitioned Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, agreed to schedule weekly meetings in their interminable pursuit – at least for public consumption – of some sort of phantom peace.
And, finally, daily suicide bombings – pitting Sunni and Shia Muslims against each other – continued unabated this week in “liberated” and “democratized” Iraq and various other North African and so-called “Middle Eastern” countries.
What is the connection amongst these various disasters? The connection is that they are all part of what seems to be a well-orchestrated campaign to fan the flames of moderate bloody friction into an all-out conflagration that could soon consume the entire oil-rich region and eventually entangle almost the entire world.
In the case of Egypt, Morsi came to power on June 20, 2012 by winning a runoff against Ahmed Shalik, the last prime minister of deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak, by barely 3 percent after a general election in which only Morsi and Shalik had viable campaign financing or organization. The final choice that Egyptian voters faced was a choice between two very disgusting options. In the final analysis, massive public repudiation of the new regime would have come within months. regardless of which of the two had won. Once in power, Morsi immediately began turning away from the moderation he had promised in domestic affairs and began tacitly and surreptitiously implementing a harsh Islamic code known as “sharia” that would have stripped women, children and the large non-Muslim minority of many of their rights. He also failed horribly to improve of the desperate economic conditions under which most Egyptians were living and failed abjectly to stem the stubbornly rising tide of unemployment. Within a year, Morsi and his Islamic-Brotherhood-controlled party had turned a majority of the population against them and popular uprisings began to spread across the country. Extremists among the hardline Islamist party, however, seized the opportunity to turn public opposition and resentment into newfound sympathy among moderate Egyptian Muslims and the one-sided protests rapidly devolved into civil war.
In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace talks” finally imposed on the two sides after months of so-called “shuttle diplomacy” by now-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry – er, Mrs. Heinz -, the first bid by extremist Israeli warmonger Netanyahu was to offer three separate “olive branches” to the Palestinians: first, he announced the release of 100 Palestinian prisoners of war (seemingly all will be prisoners already scheduled for release over the course of the next month); then he authorized the construction of 1,200 new Jewish homes and expedited the construction of 2,000 more already authorized – right in the heart of territory most crucial to any eventual geographic unification of the two distinct Palestinian territories – or bantustans, or concentration camps – the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; and then he launched air strikes on Gaza. Great peace overtures! Moreover, any peace talks including Abbas but excluding democratically-elected Hamas cannot possibly have any moral or judicial legitimacy. Abbas’ elected term in office ended more than five years ago. He no longer enjoys the support of a majority of Palestinians even in the West Bank – which is the only portion of Palestine he even nominally “controls.” And the fact that Abbas is totally dependent on so-called U.S. “foreign aid” and Israeli collection and remittance of Palestinian customs duties for 50 percent of total West Bank revenues makes him nothing but a totally compliant puppet on the tightly controlled strings of the US-NATO-Israeli axis of evil.
And in the case of the suicide bombings that have become a part of everyday life for civil society in much of the Arab and Muslim worlds ever since the U.S. and its NATO “allies” began “liberating” and “democratizing” the so-called “Middle East” and North Africa more than 12 years ago, the flow of blood unleashed by the western “pillars of morality” has spread steadily to now taint the soil of a vast, growing and crucial region of the world.
Take a look at the map above this story. If you start at the zero hour position at the top – in Turkey – and work your finger along in a rough clockwise pattern until you return to the top and the twelve o’clock position, your finger will have wound its way through 15 separate countries – Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan (which includes the new independent country of South Sudan), Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon – that have been splattered with blood over the past decade and more, thanks primarily to U.S. foreign policy and Amerikkka’s insatiable lust for global hegemony. Every one of those countries has endured unbearable violence and suffering in the name of “pax amerikkkana.” Not even included on that map are Afghanistan and Pakistan who have also paid a horrific price for the imposition of U.S. will on this vital region of the world. read more »
I couldn’t help but laugh this afternoon when the Cleveland, Ohio, judge sentencing Ariel Castro to 1,000-years-to-life in prison – for kidnapping, beating, brutally raping, terrorizing and kicking his three young female victims to the point of miscarriage after he had impregnated them, and holding them hostage for 10 years in premises unfit for human habitation and under conditions of extreme cruelty and depravity – concluded his remarks with the ludicrous observation that the one good thing that came out of this horrific tragedy is that Castro’s victims “now have their freedom – which is the greatest part of being an American.”
To make such an insane observation in the light of all that has transpired in Amerikkka over the past 32 years – and especially since so-called “9-11″ – that judge must either be living in a cocoon in some isolated, gated community far from the maddening crowd or simply took too many hits of acid (LSD) before handing down sentencing. read more »
By Henry McRandall
Orlando, Florida criminal defense lawyer and CNN analyst Mark Nejame hit the nail on the head when he identified one of the factors in yesterday’s gross miscarriage of justice that saw white wannabe cop George Zimmerman walk free in the shooting death of black minor Trayvon Martin. The Amerikkkan “justice system,” Nejame observed, “Is about process, not outcome.”
The very notion that any “justice system” should not be about “outcome” is ludicrous even on its face. The goal of any “justice system” should be – and must be – about achieving just redress, not about some airy-fairy “process” in which the ultimate “outcome” is far too often rigged in advance.
The U.S. and its northern lapdog – Canada – like to pat themselves on the back for the facade of “due process” that has evolved – or, rather, devolved – in North America over the years. The players in the “due process” scam are meticulous about dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” in the mountains of documents they produce in support of an “outcome” that is routinely pre-determined. But what they are delivering rarely has any real semblance to “justice”.
Consider the flubbed prosecution of George Zimmerman: From the very outset, the deck was stacked – by several factors – against a conviction.
The so-called “stand your ground” laws in Florida and many other states are simply a revival of the racial lynchings that were supposed to have been ended by federal civil rights laws of the past half century and by federal intervention in state-level systems of injustice, particularly in the Deep South. But for all the vapid rhetoric of the GOP Teabaggers and Democratic Blue Dogs about the right of self-defence, the “stand your ground” laws are – to call a spade a spade -, in many cases, a licence for cowardly white men to kill unarmed black men – or boys – who cross their paths and inspire that moment of irrational paranoia and panic that instantly prompts the trembling white men to think “black thug! danger!”
Presumably, the almost-totally-white jury that found Zimmerman “not guilty” was motivated by the psychological construct and ruse of “reasonable doubt.” One cannot help but wonder if the mostly-white, middle-class women on this jury would have had the same level of “reasonable doubt” if Trayvon Martin had been white and George Zimmerman had been black. read more »
By Henry McRandall
While Canadians are not scheduled to elect another federal government until late 2015, the very real possibility exists that the criminally corrupt majority Conservative government of hardnosed right-wing Prime Minister Stephen Harper could collapse in the coming days, weeks or months.
The last time a majority Canadian federal government collapsed was 50 years ago when another (Progressive) Conservative prime minster, John G. Diefenbaker, squandered a massive majority in Canada’s elected lower house of Parliament, the so-called House of Commons, and saw his party crushed in a forced election in April, 1963.
Historians have not been kind to Diefenbaker, largely dismissing him as a flaky, do-nothing crank. And, indeed, Dief the Chief lived out his remaining political years in ignominy and disgrace. Yet, for all his and his government’s failings, it was his initial courageous stand on a crucial moral issue that led to his destruction and downfall. Diefenbaker had dared to defy Canada’s political masters in Washington by championing the cause of keeping Canada free of nuclear missiles. In response to his courageous early posturing, Diefenbaker was skewered by then United States president John F. Kennedy and by Canada’s mainstream media. The pro-nuclear cacophony was so deafening that few – even within the (Progressive) Conservative party, caucus or even cabinet – dared to rally behind the beleaguered prime minister. Diefenbaker was also light years ahead of his time when he aggressively promoted the idea of massively developing Canada’s Arctic north.
Ironically, Diefenbaker’s defeat as prime minister came at the hands of Liberal leader Lester B. Pearson who insisted Canada should honour its NATO “obligations” and allow nuclear missiles to be planted on Canadian soil. This was the same Lester B. Pearson who, as a diplomat and civil servant, had pioneered the cause of United Nations peacekeeping and been rewarded for those noble efforts with a Nobel Peace Prize just six years earlier.
Another irony is that while his (Progressive) Conservative predecessor of 50 years ago was turfed out of office largely as a consequence of having briefly stood tall on a matter of principle, the potentially-imminent disintegration of Stephen Harper’s majority Conservative government would, on the contrary, be the consequence of Harper’s – and his Conservative government’s – total lack of ethics or principles. read more »