Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Hiatus From My Hiatus.

Back to my Ottawa Citizen column today about this.

The thing to notice is that what the federal Conservatives share with the Opposition New Democrats and Liberals is a comical inability to open their mouths on these subjects without insulting the intelligence of nine out of 10 Canadians. That’s the proportion of us who showed up in a February Harris Decima survey to affirm the obvious, which is that encouraging Beijing’s police-state racketeers to take over Canadian oilsands corporations — this is the core of the “national energy strategy” on offer, by the way — is unpardonably stupid and reckless. 
Beijing’s blood money is the only reason why the Enbridge pipeline idiocy is a serious prospect in the first place, but we’re expected to believe that’s beside the point. The NDP leadership is afraid that mounting a robust critique of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s $15.1-billion, way-above-market bid for Calgary’s Nexen Inc. might diminish the ability of the party’s doofus faction to throw “Sinophobia” mud pies at people.
The Liberal party remains beholden to party financiers who have been up Beijing’s backside for so long that Liberal windbags have become practised in the magical art of droning on for hours about the Chinese mess Canada has found itself in and everyone forgets everything they said the second they shut up. 
Meanwhile, as a Forum Research poll found in April, there are now fewer than one in five of us who believe that Prime Minister Stephen Harper puts Canada’s interests ahead of the interests of oil company shareholders. So Conservatives prefer to keep mum, too, saying only that the CNOOC proposition will be subjected to a “net benefit” test which everybody knows is completely bogus.
Former industry minister Jim Prentice helpfully admitted as much the other day. The test is useless precisely because it was “intended to be,” he said. Applying the Investment Canada Act’s “national security” test to the CNOOC bid will set off a similar charade because that’s what it’s intended to be, too. 
When the Act was amended in 2009, the federal cabinet ruled out any definition of “national security” and explicitly rejected recommendations to conduct national security reviews according to “concrete,” “objective” and “transparent” criteria. Just trust us, we know what’s best.
Meanwhile, don't get too self-righteous, hippies:
"In some ways, American liberals, even American radicals, have more in common with the Reagan right than they do with us. All of them, the whole bunch, are middle-class, Emersonian individualists. Emerson, Thoreau, all of these guys are scabs. Lane Kirkland [then the very Establishment president of the AFL-CIO] is outside the American consensus in a way that even Abbie Hoffman never was." 
 - from Which Side Are You On? by Thomas Geoghegan, Chicago labor lawyer.

"'Do your own thing' is not so different than “every man for himself.” If it feels good, do it, whether that means smoking weed and watching porn and never wearing a necktie, retiring at 50 with a six-figure public pension and refusing modest gun regulation, or moving your factories overseas and letting commercial banks become financial speculators. The self-absorbed “Me” Decade, having expanded during the ’80s and ’90s from personal life to encompass the political economy, will soon be the “Me” Half-Century." - Kurt Anderson.

Found here: "Individualism, Solidarity and the Love that Dare NotSpeak Its Name:"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Buy This Book.

The latest from my buddy Grant Shilling, Surfing With The Devil: "The stories in this book unfold where it matters, out on the water, away from the wars and the hatreds that sometimes seem to engulf the whole, sorry world back on dry land. The people he meets on the beaches along the way share their own accounts of the 'moments of peacefulness' they find out there. Shilling surfs, he writes it all down, and the result is this hopeful, funny, strange and brave book."

That's what I have to say about it in my dustjacket blurb anyway. Grant's escapades were previously mentioned in this Field Report from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Through Surfing, and you can buy the book here. Previously from Grant, published in my Transmontanus series, The Cedar Surf. you can buy that fine wee volume here.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Hysterium Canuckistania: The Saga of Omar Khadr and the "War on Terror."

It says something about the polarization over the “war on terror” that you could end up understanding less about its complexities after reading either of these books than you understood before you started. To get any useful sense of the facts and arguments involved, especially as they relate to the saga of Omar Khadr, you’d be better off reading both of these books, or neither.

From my Globe and Mail review of Omar Khadr, Oh Canada, edited by Janice Williamson, and The Enemy Within Terror, Lies and the Whitewashing of Omar Khadr by Ezra Levant.

My take: Sure, the guy was a kid. That doesn't cut much ice with me, but fair enough. And Guantanamo is a legal and constitutional black hole, and yes, Obama has kept it open (what to do?), and Obama has taken to himself the power to order the murder of Yemeni jihadis who also happen to be American citizens (so?).

It's complicated. None of us - not us Canucks, not the Yanks, not the Brits, the Dutch, the French, none of us - were ready for what happened on September 11, 2001. We weren't ready morally, intellectually, militarily, culturally, constitutionally, legally. And we still haven't got it figured out. 

Make jokes about George W. Bu$h all you like, smartass. None of you were ready, and you're still not.

You've heard all about Omar Khadr. I bet you've never heard of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. There are tens of thousands just like him.

La lutte continue.

Friday, July 06, 2012

"Poetry is the language of cowards."

I am not interested in your poetic legacy, the seven ghazal poems and the scattered verses you left behind—not even the ones that you wrote with your own blood. I am Afghan, a woman from the land of self-immolation where the soil is soaked with the blood of accidental martyrs. I am interested in the gory side of your story, the carnage and the blood. I am interested in your brother Haris, the king who was your murderer. He issued orders that both your wrists be cut. He planned your murder carefully, and he loved you. You were, after all, his only sister. Let me tell you that the year is 2012 and Afghan brothers still kill their sisters.. .

- from Nushin Arbabzadah's "The princess and the slave."

Monday, July 02, 2012

The War Goes On, But "Not In Our Name." Happy Now?

In Afghanistan, Barack Obama's peace-talks & troops-out "policy" is forcing the country's democrats, reformists, women's rights leaders, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and many other ethnic groups to focus on the single and urgent objective of hunkering down for the moment the knives come out. “Everyone is preparing,” says Abdul Nasir, with Khurshid TV. “It will be bloodier and longer than before, street to street. This time, everyone has more guns, more to lose." Amrullah Saleh: “If the Taliban are left armed and recognized as the legitimate controllers of the south, that means the partition of Afghanistan." As for the central government: "If it becomes pro-Taliban, we topple it. Simple." 
In Egypt:" Men are designed to lead and women are designed to follow."
In Pakistan, another massacre of the Hazara people in the ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing waged by the Taliban affiliate Lashakar-e-Janghvi, whose leader, Malik Ishaq, is allowed to remain at large. Are there no drones
Today in Timbuktu, the Bamiyan Buddhas II:  “This morning, the Islamists continued breaking the mausoleums. This is our patrimony, recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO,” said Aboubacrine Cisse, a resident of the town who slipped outside on Monday to witness the destruction. “They are continuing to destroy all the tombs of all the saints of Timbuktu, and our city counts 333 saints."
In Kenya: Islamist thugs threw grenades into two churches on Sunday, then sprayed gunfire at fleeing worshipers, killing at least 15 people.