Showing posts with label wingnuts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wingnuts. Show all posts

6.21.2018

how to get your website removed from the wayback machine

During my recent attack by wingnut trolls, I learned something new: how to request that the Internet Archive remove your site from the Wayback Machine.

* * * *

Before I was nominated as an NDP candidate in the recent provincial election, of course my online presence had to be vetted. All potential candidates were asked to deactivate their personal profiles from social media, and in addition I was asked to delete a few random tweets from several years ago. None of this was a big deal to me. The only big deal was wmtc.

Early on, I was asked if I'd consider taking down the site. My first reaction was completely negative. Wmtc is so much a part of my life. Take it down? No way!

It was only weeks before the election would be called -- and I've been blogging for 14 years. That's a lot of words! There was really no way to vet everything. While the NDP was considering the situation from their end, I was also thinking more about being a candidate, and increasingly feeling like it was something I wanted to do. The next time we spoke, I said I was amenable to taking the blog offline for the duration of the campaign. They were happy; I was happy; things proceeded.

This is where someone made a mistake. The NDP research team should have given me instructions for getting wmtc excluded from the Wayback Machine -- but they did not.

The troll that emailed wmtc links to the Toronto Sun columnist might have done it anyway -- that person may have been saving those links for a long time, or may have found them on a message board -- but the columnist would have had no way to verify it.

But that isn't what happened. Only after the columnist got in touch with me, a research person gave me these instructions:

1. Use the email account associated with your blog.

2. Email info@archive.org, identify yourself as the site owner, and request removal of the site from the archives.

Then, supposedly, you will quickly receive an acknowledgement of your email, and in 2-3 days, your site will be excluded from the Wayback Machine.

I sent the email.

I received no reply.

A week went by -- a very stressful and difficult week -- and still I heard nothing. Meanwhile, the trolls and the columnist had dredged up more material to take out of context, selectively quote, and use against the NDP.

The Party's research department got in touch again -- the sight of her number on Caller ID made my stomach turn over -- and we agreed that I'd email them again.

Eight days after my first email, I received this form letter.
Hello,

The Internet Archive can exclude web pages from the Wayback Machine (web.archive.org), but we first respectfully request that you help us verify that you are the site owner or content author by doing any one of the following:

- post your request on the current version of the site (and send us a link).

- send your request from the main email contact listed on the site.

- send a request from the registrant's email (if publicly viewable on WhoIs Lookup) or webmaster’s email listed on the site.

- point us to where your personal information (name, personal contact info, image of self) appears on the site in a way that identifies you as the site owner or author of the content you wish to have excluded - in this instance, we ask to verify your identity via a scan of a valid photo id (sensitive info such as birth date, address, or phone can be blacked out).

- forward to us communication from a hosting company or registrar addressed to you as owner of the domain.

If none of these options are available to you, please let us know in a reply to this email.

We would be grateful if you would help us preserve as much of the archive as possible. Therefore, please let us know if there are only specific URLs or directories about which you are concerned so that we may leave the rest of the archives available.

As you may know, Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library, seeking to maintain via the Wayback Machine a freely accessible historical record of the Internet. The material in the archives are not exploited by Internet Archive for commercial profit.
This was very discouraging. I had waited more than a week, and still I was only at the form-letter stage! I already was emailing from the account associated with the site! Most of the other methods of verification were not available to me. I was a bit panicked and not thinking entirely clearly.

But finally, I logged into the DNS company that hosts my URL, and took a screenshot of the account profile page. I also scanned my driver's license, and sent both DNS screenshot and license pic to the archives' email address.

Three days later, I received the same form-letter reply to my second request.

Two days after that, I received this notice.
Hello,

The sites/URLs referenced in your email below have now been submitted for exclusion from the Wayback Machine at http://www.archive.org.

Please allow up to a day for the automated portions of the process to run their course and for the changes to take effect. If you have any other questions or concerns, please let us know.
By this time, of course, it was way too late.

6.08.2018

on poppies, veterans, trolls, and doxing

First of all, I do not apologize.

I have nothing to apologize for. No one should apologize for having an unpopular opinion, or an opinion that the majority finds offensive.

Second, I said nothing disrespectful to veterans. My utter lack of respect -- my undying contempt -- is for rulers whose policies send humans into unnecessary armed conflict. Those rulers pay lip-service to "supporting" troops, while their policies ensure more humans will suffer from the effects of war.

If you're joining us in progress, here's what you missed. 

Before the election, I took all my personal social media offline. We knew that the opposition would dedicate vast resources to digging up or fabricating anything they could use against NDP candidates. For some reason, no one directed me to remove wmtc links from the Wayback Machine (i.e., internet archives). This proved to be a grave error.

A right-wing political hack who masquerades as a journalist received excerpts from some old wmtc posts from a troll source. I know this because Hack forwarded Troll's email to me, with the identifiers scrubbed.

Hack did what hacks do, and trolls did what trolls do. Hack kept this going for way longer than any of us expected, dedicating three columns to me, and mentioning my name in several other columns. Eventually it was reported on by more mainstream media.

The right-wing attack machine moved from candidate to candidate, digging up tiny bits of online fodder, distorting and quoting out of context, in a ludicrous attempt to portray the NDP as a hotbed of wacko radicalism.

Doug Ford and his party waged the worst kind of campaign possible: they obfuscated facts, and relied on lies, sloganeering, and mudslinging.

Andrea Horwath and our party were consistently positive, focused, truthful, and precise.

That the majority of voters in Ontario chose the former over the latter is profoundly disturbing.

Doxing

I thought I knew what it was like to be attacked by trolls, from early wmtc days. I was wrong. The trolls who attacked this blog were annoying gnats who could be easily batted away. The troll attack orchestrated by Hack & Co. was a whirling swarm of angry hornets, the size of a midwest twister.

Their weapons were the most vulgar kind of personal insults, and graphic threats of violence.

I have pretty thick skin and don't tend to take things personally. My union sisters and brothers often describe me as "fearless". But this was a form of violence, and it shook me.

I'm lucky that it didn't affect my outlook, my opinions, or my self-esteem. That's down to the amazing support I had -- from the party, from my union, from friends, and from strangers who agreed with my views and reached out to me. Because of this support, I was shielded from most of the invective. I saw only a small portion of it, yet that was enough to shake me. I felt that my personal safety was threatened. That's not easy to do to me.

It's difficult -- nay, impossible -- for me to understand this kind of behaviour. The whitehot anger, the fervor so easily ignited -- the immediate willingness to attack, the assumed entitlement to say anything to anyone, hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. The seeming inability to respectfully disagree. It is truly beyond my understanding.

What I think about poppies, militarism, and veterans


I wrote the now-infamous post about the poppy symbols at a time when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was flogging the war machine in Afghanistan. I have a deeply held opposition to war, and I wanted Canada out of Afghanistan.

I also link the symbolic poppy to the general militarism that infects our society -- where "support the troops" is code for "support the war". Militarism takes many forms, including recruiting in schools, honouring military members at sporting events, using weapons as entertainment, such as air shows, and for me, the ubiquitous poppy symbol.

Naturally I understand that the majority does not view the poppy symbol this way. Hundreds tried to enlighten me, as if somehow the view of the vast majority hadn't reached my ears. But guess what? I disagree.

I have never written or said anything that disparages veterans. On the contrary, the pages of this blog are replete with disgust for the governments that disrespect veterans by slashing funding for their health and rehabilitation. My "11.11" category is about peace. If wanting peace disrespects veterans, we are living in an Orwellian nightmare.

What supporting veterans should look like

I have no doubt that for some people the poppy is a potent symbol, and that they believe wearing this symbol shows respect and reverence for veterans. I have never suggested that other people shouldn't wear poppies. I simply choose not to wear one. (I don't refuse to wear one, as the memes said. I choose not to.)

To me, if we truly want to support veterans and military servicemembers, we must do two things.

One, create and fully fund a robust array of supports for people who have suffered from war, to support their physical and mental well-being. Our society does not do that.

And two, stop making war. Stop creating veterans. Search for ways to resolve conflicts that do not involve killing people. And never use war as a means to profit.

Until these things are done, you can cover yourself in poppies, and your "support" and "respect" will be as false as the plastic flowers you revere.

A final word about respect

I don't disrespect veterans. But I don't automatically respect someone because they are a veteran.

Many people contribute to our society through their work or their passions. Others harm our society with selfishness, greed, violence, and unkindness. When people are kind and generous, when they act with compassion and integrity, I respect them. When they do the opposite, I do not. This is as true for veterans as it is for teachers, social workers, nurses, or politicians.

People who hurl crude insults at strangers because they cannot abide a difference of opinion, but who claim to love freedom and respect veterans, are ignorant wretches. I don't respect them. I pity them.

3.20.2016

fascist shift: donald trump in context

Many years back, I used to blog about a phenomenon called fascist shift. I borrowed the term from Naomi Wolf's essential The End of America, but the concept was something I had been thinking about for many years. In brief, fascist shift asks, What if we're all looking for jackboots and Sieg Heil and tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue, and while we're keeping our eyes peeled for a scene from a black-and-white newsreel, a different brand of fascism moves in and sets up shop? What if today's fascism is more insidious and less obvious - and what if it's dressed up in a democracy costume? What if while you're saying That can happen here and But they wouldn't do that, it already has, and they did.

When you scroll through Wolf's ten indicators of fascism, are there any not seen in the US? And have any of them been repaired or reversed under Obama? Not a one.

Now, though, Donald Trump's presidential bid and the many millions of Americans who support him bring America's fascist shift into better focus.

* * * *

It's difficult to analyze Trump on this level, because most people only want to talk about who will become the next US President. Whereas I think (a) it's incredibly obvious who will become the next POTUS, (b) it doesn't really matter, and (c) any pretense of democracy in the US is a complete sham. In this post from 2012 (which is a good read, by the way), I wrote:
As always, I am completely blocking out all US electoral politics. I don't know anything about the campaigns, because I already know everything about them, without knowing a single detail. If you've followed one US election campaign since 1980, you've followed them all. They only change by a matter of degree: they get worse and worse.
Nothing has changed in the intervening years. Including all the voters who seem not to understand what is happening.

I cannot understand - I mean, for the life of me, I cannot understand - how anyone of voting age could possibly think Bernie Sanders is going to win the Democratic nomination. It is not even remotely possible. (For more on that, see my post "bernie sanders, the pope, and the politics of amnesia".)

Bernie Sanders running as a Democrat is ultimately a betrayal of everything Sanders says he stands for. And if he ran as an independent and tried to build a movement, he'd be vilified by the people who now praise him, and everyone who dared vote for him would be accused of electing the Republican. Such is the tragedy of the American left.

And despite Trump's performance in the primaries, I still believe, as I have all along, that the Republican National Party will not give the nomination to Donald Trump. I don't think the corporate oligarchs that control the duopoly parties want a clown as their figurehead. I don't know (or care) how they'll manage it, but my lack of imagination will not impede them.

It looks like the RNC has decided to sit this one out, as each party does from time to time. They can run a weak candidate, and simply let Hillary Clinton win. And why not? A Hillary Clinton presidency will be every bit as Republican as the Republicans. It's a win-win for the corporate masters.

* * * *

But this doesn't mean I don't recognize the significance of Trump's campaign. Trump - not the man, but the performance, and the audience's reaction to it - is a milestone of sorts. Trump is American fascism unmasked.

In a discussion on Facebook, a friend wondered when was the last time a presidential candidate from a major party spoke about hatred and bigotry in such bald, uncoded terms. The most recent example we could think of was George Wallace. (Todd Gitlin had a similar thought.) That's going back a ways.

I may have forgotten some gems from Michele Bachmann's campaign, but Bachmann never commanded the attention that Trump now enjoys, garnering a full 23 times the media attention given to Sanders. The US and Canadian media are enthralled. What will he say next? How far will this go? His entire campaign is one long vamp for the camera.

* * * *

The mainstream Canadian media (and Canadians who look to those sources) seem to take the US at face value. The skepticism and caution applied to Canadian politics ends at the (Democrat) White House door. Trump's open racism and bigotry shocks them, because Obama! They seem not to recognize that all the hatred of Obama and the worship of Trump are fueled by pure, undiluted racism. Much of the white working class - with no decent jobs, no bright future for their children, and no rescue in sight - cannot abide that a black man represents their country, and sits in a position of authority over them. The subtitle of this Barbara Ehrenreich piece says it all: "Downward mobility plus racial resentment is a potent combination with disastrous consequences."

Progressive USians know that both institutional and personal racism have never gone away. But, as someone said in that same Facebook conversation, for the last 40 years or so, most politicians have trained themselves to speak in code or to keep their mouths shut. But all the while, O'Reilly, Coulter, Limbaugh, Beck (and so on) have been stoking that hatred, keeping their audiences primed and ready. Now Trump comes along to cash in.

For me the surprise is not that so many Americans rally around hatred, bigotry, xenophobia, and violence. The surprise is that so many people are surprised! How did you all not know this about the US? A country founded on the genocide of its original inhabitants, built by slavery, justified by conquest, and made rich and powerful by imperialism. The United States, where property rights and the rights of the ruling class are sacrosanct above all, including human life.

For all its fears of communism (then) and terrorism (now), the US has only ever been in danger of takeover from fascism.

3.06.2016

last day and home

We spent our last day in Oregon poking around downtown Ashland, looking at scarves and jewelry and used books. We don't shop much when we travel, but there were a few things I was looking for on this trip, and I found them all. We also picked up this very amusing guide to New York City etiquette, and had a second great lunch at Brothers'. If you're ever in Ashland, go.

We also walked around a beautiful neighbourhood with the lovely Sophia in the stroller and her mom happy to be out of the house on a gorgeous spring-like day. The trees are in full blossom and daffodils are out. In early March?

We also enjoyed another dinner with D&E and Sophia. I swear she's grown since we've been here. I'm sad that I won't see her again for a long time. In fact, with my mother relocating to Oregon, and so many of my favourite people on the left coast, I find myself wondering why I'm living in the Toronto area. It's especially easy to feel that way after coming from the beautiful green of southern Oregon into the ugly gray of Mississauga. I like living here, but at the moment I'm not sure why.

The first few hours driving north from Ashland were beautiful. The interstate is only two lanes there; it winds through green mountain passes, with many cows and sheep grazing on the open range. We stopped at a truckstop diner for lunch, and it felt like we were still on vacation.

But what made me think the drive from Talent, Oregon to the Vancouver Airport was 10 hours? It was a bit more than 12 hours, and it rained for the last four. Then it was a slog through the rental car return to the marginal but overpriced airport hotel, take out food that ended up being enough to feed four people, and another 4 a.m. wake-up. Kind of a crappy ending to a great trip. But good music in my ears, plus a lot of coffee and (surprisingly good) airport food were very soothing, at least for me.

Something interesting we saw on I-5: huge signs from the libertarian right. "WAKE UP AMERICA OBAMA IS KILLING US". And another one we only partially saw as we drove by: "...DICTATOR OBAMA...". These were professionally made signs, not handwritten.

Also on I-5, you are told that JESUS DIED FOR SINNERS and other such statements. Create your own!

12.01.2013

former walmart executive leads covert smear campaign against activist workers: watch their hilariously awful video

From The Nation:
Last night, Worker Center Watch - a new website dedicated to attacking labor-affiliated activist groups like OUR Walmart, Restaurant Opportunities Center, and Fast Food Forward - began sponsoring advertisements on Twitter to promote smears against the protests planned for Black Friday. In one video sponsored by the group, activists demanding a living wage and better working conditions for workers are portrayed as lazy “professional protesters” who “haven’t bothered to get jobs themselves.”

“This Black Friday, just buy your gifts, not their lies,” instructs the Worker Center Watch narrator. . . .

Worker Center Watch has no information its website about its sponsors. Yet the group attacks labor activists and community labor groups for lacking transparency. “Hiding behind these non-profits, unions mask their true motivations, circumvent operational requirements and skirt reporting and disclosure obligations,” says Worker Center Watch, referring to labor-supported worker centers like OUR Walmart.

TheNation.com has discovered that Worker Center Watch was registered by the former head lobbyist for Walmart. Parquet Public Affairs, a Florida-based government relations and crisis management firm for retailers and fast food companies, registered the Worker Center Watch website.

The firm is led by Joseph Kefauver, formerly the president of public affairs for Walmart and government relations director for Darden Restaurants. Throughout the year, Parquet executives have toured the country, giving lectures to business groups on how to combat the rise of what has been called “alt-labor.” At a presentation in October for the National Retail Federation, a trade group for companies like Nordstrom and Nike, Kefauver’s presentation listed protections against wage theft, a good minimum wage and mandated paid time off as the type of legislative demands influenced by the worker center protesters.

The presentation offered questions for the group, including: “How Aggressive Can We Be?” and “How do We Challenge the Social Justice Narrative?”
Full story, including much linkage and the amazingly awful astrotuf video, here.

9.14.2013

wmtc trolls are alive and as insane as ever

I haven't been writing much lately, so it's good to know loyal wmtc readers are still reading every post. Well, one is, anyway.


Yes folks, a full seven years after first appearing in comments on this blog in the guise of a female fan, the freak we call Mags is still spewing his bile on a regular basis. We delete most of the comments without reading, but once in a while, it's good to share.

For the record, I regard every one of those (nearly) 3,000 victims of September 11, 2001, and their loved ones, among the extremely long list of victims of US imperialism. I have mourned them all. Not a one deserved their fate.

I merely recognize that their numbers are dwarfed by the millions of unacknowledged victims of US imperialism and other wars the world over. And I've had my fill (and then some) of the US exceptionalism and UScentrism that fetishizes the event.

I know you all know that. But some things just need to be said, even if it brings attention to the class clown that we normally ignore.

September 12, 2001: a view from new york.

September 11, 2010: it is so time to be over 9.11

September 11, 2011: 9.11.11: an anti-remembrance

It appears that in 2012 I ignored the day completely!

And on the endlessly fascinating, maddeningly inscrutable topic of trolls, I am still wondering, why, why, why???

Scrolling through the "wingnuts" wmtc category, I notice that I also mentioned Mags when we returned from Spain in late May. I must be running out of material!*






* Not really.

5.30.2013

special update for long-time wmtc readers

In 2009, I wrote this brief history of trolls at wmtc. At that time, the sad man who calls himself magnolia_2000 had been reading and leaving comments on wmtc for about three years.

Now it's mid-2013, and Mags is still reading. It's been six years. Six years!! None of his comments is ever put through moderation. Ninety-five percent of his comments are deleted unread. But still, he continues to post.




GaryStJ went away. The guy from the Naruto fan forums went away. But not Mags. Allan says Mags is my most loyal reader, and at this point, I can't disagree.

1.13.2013

it's time we all starved the trolls: stop reading comments on mainstream news stories

Robert Fisk has a good piece in The Independent about the incivility (to put it mildly!) that is endemic in the comment sections of online news stories: "Anonymous trolls are as pathetic as the anonymous "sources" that contaminate the gutless journalism of the New York Times, BBC, and CNN".

Fisk wonders why newspapers that will not publish an anonymous letter to the editor will allow anonymous lies and hateful screed in comments. Surely he knows the simple answer: money. Advertisers are paying for clicks, and the idiots in the comments section are increasing the clickage.

Why should we help them by reading those comments? Consider this.

We know that governments pay people to troll the comments section with disinformation and misinformation, just like they hire fake journalists and bribe working columnists to influence public opinion.

We know that the number of comments in any one direction cannot be taken as a gauge of public opinion. When Common Dreams responded to a flood of reader complaints after they opened articles for comments, they learned that one person was posting under more than 50 names.

So:

1. Media needs comments to generate advertising income.

2. Governments pay people to write comments.

3. Comments that may appear to represent a majority may be written by one or two people.

4. We have no idea how much #2 and #3 overlap.

Every time I share these facts, at least one person has not heard them before. This has led me to make it a personal mission: to always ignore comments to online news stories and to always encourage others to do the same. I hope you will join me in this mission.

Many people seem to believe that these comments reflect public opinion. They may or may not - we have no way of knowing. The only thing we know that comments reflect is corporate media's need for clicks.

Media sites won't close down their comments sections anytime soon, not as long as clicks are associated with income. But we have a choice.

I know it can sometimes be seductive. You want to see what people are saying. Don't go there. Refuse to look. Refuse to click. Remind yourself: you will not learn anything, the ignorance and hate will upset or anger you, and you will change nothing.

What's more, it's not an effective use of our time. If we're busy reading and responding to comments, we're not building a movement to change the world. Think of it this way: Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney would love it if we spent our time responding to comments on news stories.

That sewer of hate and lies lives on clicks. The only way it will die is if we starve it.

12.10.2012

anti-choice group advertises on... hangers. yes, hangers.

Apparently this is not a story from The Onion. From Reproductive Health Reality Check:
There is a branch of anti-choice activists that will use pretty much anything as a medium for their message: newspaper ads, graphic signs displayed in front of schools, bus stop benches. You would think they would know well enough to leave one place untouched, though. Wire coat hangers.

You would be wrong.

Springdale Drycleaners of Cincinnati, Ohio, has been etching "Choose Life" ads on wire coat hangers used to hang dry-cleaning.

What's worse is that this seems to be an ongoing effort. Reports of the "choose life" coat hangers already were on the internet back in March of 2011, when Joe.My.God posted a picture of the hanger then. And before that on Regretsy in 2010. So despite over two years of attention, the business continues to think this is an excellent cross-advertising campaign. In fact, the practice was losing them customers as far back as August of 2010, but still the dry-cleaner continues to use hangers as a place to offer inappropriate propaganda.
See original for links. You know I won't link to that crap.

7.27.2012

rtod: the how to guide for understanding rioting negroes

Revolutionary Thought of the Day: the KFC Double Down is a plot against white America.
The Negro Rioting Plan that's been put in place is a terribly complicated strategy that has taken hundreds of thousands of Negroes to plan and thousands of years to come together. Sleeper agents, technological advances and an unwavering patience has been our friend on this path to finally achieving our rioting plans. Only one man has ever come close toppling our years of work to destroy then redistribute good earnest White folks wealth with epic rioting.

That man is the brilliant and perceptive Glenn Beck.

Glenn Beck has been our arch nemesis for years. His amazing detective skills has outed many of our operatives and leaked several plans to the world. Our only method of battling his spectacular abilities is to paint him as being a fucking crazy person who clearly doesn’t understand ANYTHING and is simply out to profit from fear mongering and race baiting.

But we Negroes know the truth.

We know this man to be comprised of amazing moral fiber and his main concern is to save America. And since OUR main concern is to destroy America with some fantastic rioting we had to get him off national television. He couldn’t be allowed to continue like that lest we risk everything we’ve worked for crashing down upon us.

On his radio show recently he spoke of the impending race riots that are soon to come if Barack Obama isn’t re-elected. The part he hasn’t worked out yet is that the NEGROES have been working TIRELESSLY to make sure Obama DOESN’T get re-elected just so that we CAN riot!

The economic collapse? Negroes. Bush tax cuts? Negroes. The KFC Double Down? NEGROES. (We want White folk fat so when we riot they can’t do much about it.)

The Negro Riot Plan called for us to undo all of the good work the Republican party has been doing for the people of America. Trickle Down Economics—this indisputable and amazing economic theory has been undercut by all of our hard work. Jobs were created by the rich and the Negroes—in conjunction with other ethnics—have made sure NOT to take those jobs, continue to multiply, and lean on government services hopefully bankrupting it.

The incredibly high unemployment rate amongst Blacks has been hard to create. With so many jobs available and wealth just waiting for us—there are Negroes that have been tempted to just get a job and support themselves. But luckily a large enough group has remained diligent and maintained a lifestyle under the poverty line all so that we can finally come together and RIOT. In the meantime we will continue our smear campaign of Glenn Beck in hopes that America won’t wake up and find out what we’re planning.

Seriously Glenn Beck. Stop snitching.

7.14.2012

and the jason kenney award goes to... jason kenney (updated)

Have you all seen this petition? The Honourable [sic] Jason Kenney asks us to sign a petition thanking none other than Jason Kenney. Macleans found it amusing, and the National Post has the Twitter talk.

But it took Dan Murphy, cartoonist with The Province, to really do it justice. Please watch and share!

Note: To see this video, please click here. The auto-play was too annoying!

Also, my recent Kenney-related post is running at The Mark.

Also also, this cartoon at the Hamilton Spectator.

Also also also, Tabitha Southey: Cabinet minister is a thankless job – unless you’re Jason Kenney.

6.26.2012

national portrait gallery? no, it's the national harper gallery!

Quick, get a dictionary and look up megalomaniac. See if it shows Stephen Harper's picture. Then again, maybe Harper had none to spare.

I missed it when Kady O'Malley and Elizabeth May broke this story, so I'm glad I saw this in the Ottawa Citizen. Emphasis mine.


Harper gallery leaves MPs speechless
Citizens who really want a national portrait gallery in Ottawa can rest easy. The government already has one.

All you need to get in is a Commons security pass, a Conservative party membership and a keen desire to view exclusive pictures of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, exclusively.

Conservative MPs confirmed yesterday what Green party leader Elizabeth May and Macleans.ca blogger Kady O'Malley reported on their cyberspace sites.

Photographs of Mr. Harper in various poses, at various sites, are hung throughout the private and cosy government lobby of the House of Commons.

Ms. May and Ms. O'Malley were surprised and a bit speechless when they saw the exhibit recently as guest Commons Speakers during a youth Parliament.

"When you walk in the door, all you see are pictures of Stephen Harper," said Ms. May

"I'd say between every window, in every available space of the wall, at eye level, every available space has a photo of Stephen Harper."

"You've got photos of Stephen Harper, but not of previous prime ministers," she added. "Photos of Stephen Harper in different costumes, in different settings, dressed as a fireman, in Hudson Bay looking for polar bears, meeting the Dalai Lama, even the portrait of the Queen had to have Stephen Harper, but in a candid, behind her."


A press aide to Mr. Harper said he would get back with an explanation, but didn't.

The exposition might not be too surprising, though.

The prime minister's official Christmas card last December portrayed Mr. Harper looking out a living room window adorned with 24 photographs, small to large, of Mr. Harper in various poses.

When the party last year unveiled its election campaign war room, Mr. Harper stared out from campaign posters on every wall.

NDP MP Paul Dewar, who has never seen the interior of the Conservative lobby room, made a joke based on Mr. Harper's admitted preference for running a tight ship and keeping an eye on things. "If you're ever wondering who's in charge, just look at the wall," said Mr. Dewar.

Liberal MP Mauril BĂ©langer said the Liberal lobby has always displayed portraits of previous prime ministers, even cabinet ministers.

One Conservative said the Harper photos have been up for at least three months.

Another, Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai, was a bit reluctant after question period to talk about the exhibit, possibly because another Tory, Secretary of State Jason Kenney, happened to be walking by just at that moment.

"Well, this is the Harper government," said Mr. Obhrai.
Thanks to @__Danno.

5.19.2012

a trip down memory lane with wmtc

Combing through some old files, I found this lovely bit: a comment from "GarySTJ", a former troll who was obsessed with me for a time. I used to delete his comments, then paste them into posts so wmtc readers could have fun kicking him around.

After being banned from wmtc, he started appearing at other blogs where I commented, hijacking the thread with insults directed at me. One blogger noted (a paraphrase), "I don't know L-girl or GarySTJ, but L-girl has an internet presence, has written a blog for several years, and is commenting on this post. GarySTJ has an anonymous profile, has never commented here before, and is posting personal attacks on another commenter. End of discussion."

After that, GarySTJ must have gone into rehab, and we never heard from him again. This old email really brought me back.
From: GarySTJ [noreply-comment@blogger.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2006 12:45 PM
To: movetocanada@gmail.com
Subject: [we move to canada] 7/19/2006 12:45:10 PM

Returning to the Blog this afternoon, I thought I might see some reasonable responses. Instead I've yet again been drenched in a tidal-wave of masturbatory, nationalistic, verbal diarrhea - and in only its most stench-filled, nauseating form.

Laura,

I have stated my purpose here quite plainly, and on a number of occasions. I have given you every opportunity imaginable to do the simple research I've requested and
prove to me (and the readers) that, yes, you did make an informed decision emigrating to this country and that, no, you didn't come for aesthetic, self-aggrandizing, self-congratulatory purposes. I have pleaded with you to demonstrate with even the smallest shred of evidence that you have even the most basic understanding of the political, military, social, cultural history of this country. On each and every one of these accounts you have failed to deliver, cementing my suspicion that you are an ignorant, all-talk, narcissistic blowhard. You have moved from the cutting edge of leftist activism to the centrepiece of a nationalistic circle-jerk. Congratulations, as this is no small accomplishment.

Laura, you are a typical liberal. You are a liberal in the purely American sense of the word. You are an embaressment to a long tradition of left of centre, progressive socio-political thought. You are ignorant to history, you are ignorant to the movements of people, you are ignorant to anything outlying the myopic trope of the impotent American liberal movement. You are, simply put, the personified reason why the American left is a walking train wreck.

You fancy yourself to be a modern day Harriet Tubman, ushering in fellow politically disenfranchised Americans (and other white, middle classers) to the "great white north". Realistically you are the contemporary equivalent of a UEL. In other words, you are the unwitting descendent in long line of historical, Tory losers.

Every single advancement of the average Canadian has been won by fighting tooth and nail against complacent shitbags such as yourself. And the shit runs deep in this country. This community serves as an example of that as its complacent, complicit nationalism is equate-able to a less literate, less articulate, less self-reflective version of the O'Reilly Factor. Laura, the people you've stumbled upon here are not leftists, they are not progressives, they are not academically or personally motivated towards the critical analysis of this country. This community is, Laura, typical of mainstream nationalists found all over Canada. You are as likely to find honest, critical perspectives about Canada here as you are about George W. Bush at a Republican convention. You have tapped into a demographic whose heavily biased outlook will not serve you in any truthful understanding of this country. This is evidenced in the mountains of one-liner, cliched platitudes that have apparently, and in your mind only, passed as "answers" to my very pointed question.

Now, you claim to have done your homework before moving to this country. You claim to have come to the intellectual conclusion that Canada is a fundamentally more innocent country in which to live. You've come to the conclusion that so different are the United States and Canada in this respect that a massive, expensive and time consuming international relocation was warranted. In the face of evidence, in the face of fact, in the face of a hundred years worth of objective studies you've stuck by this conclusion. This does, however, rely on the fact that you've actually done more than a surface level, superficial analysis of this country - and to be honest, I think thats an overly-generous assumption.

I've said it before and I'll say it now, I'm not going to do your research for you. I will, however, concede to give you a brief list of topics to look up on your own. This is no small task and will take a great deal of effort - an effort which you've presumably (though implausibly) already exerted. You're going to need to use strong primary sources. You're going to need to research current events such as Canada's direct role in the war in Iraq, including the JTF2, the manning of AWACS, the escorting of the US Gulf Fleet, involvement with CENTCOM, the supplying of uranium to the US, the refueling of aircraft in Canadian air-space, the commitment of over $20 million to the training of Iraqi police and $400 million to running the occupation regime, and the effort to replace US troops abroad so as to make more available for service in Iraq. You'll need to research recent events in Haiti, such as the Canadian aided 2004 coup, the training of HNP forces, the July 6th massacre, the Duvalier Policy, assisting in regime change and propping up the new, un-elected puppet government. In Afghanistan we have the PTA, the breakdown of the third GC, the willing transfer of Canadian held POWs to Guantanamo Bay, non-compliance with AIHR, Kandahar "POW" camps, the 1 in 2 chance of an Afghan being shot with Canadian munitions and the slaughtering of over 75,000 civilians. In Israel we have Government complicity in IDF actions, the IAI (including Whitney Canada, Pratt, NMF, etc.), the CHIC, the Trans-Israel Highway, Raytheon Canada, the en-masse deportation of Palestinian refugees in Canada and the 45% share Canadian companies have in the manufacturing of IDF military equipment. Domestically we have Maher-Arar, the security certificate five, the deportation of war resisters and the smashing of the democratic Quebec sovereignty movement. And we can go further down the line to the Pinochet Junta, commitment in 1991 Iraq, Iraqi sanctions, the 1999 bombing of Kosovo....

In a couple of minutes I've just scratched the surface of questionable Canadian foreign and domestic involvements during the last few years ONLY. And to scratch the surface is an understatement, as there are mountains and mountains of information available for those who care to look. To go back even further is to bring on another deluge of highly researched, and publicly available, allegations. Now, can you honestly tell me that you had even the foggiest notion of even one thing which I've mentioned above? Can you truthfully say that in the face of these things (which you've apparently already researched) you can still tell me and the rest of your readers that the conclusion you came to was based on objective, researched fact. Can you tell me with even one shred of self-respect that your choice to relocate was based on a strongly educated conviction that this country was guilty of so few transgressions on humanity so as to make them able to be excused and overlooked. This suggests either gross apathy or wide scale ignorance, the latter being most likely, as any bit of research sees your flimsy, liberal-American stereotypes of this country fall flat.

Laura, I think we the readers deserve something. I think we deserve to hear that your move to Canada was prompted not by research, not by a complex understanding but rather a selfish desire for attention - as evidenced by this blog, as evidenced by your G&M article and most fittingly by your reactions to me. To do otherwise, Laura, is most plainly and most simply an intellectual dishonesty.

Thanks.

--
Posted by GarySTJ to we move to canada at 7/19/2006 12:45:10 PM
After finding this file, I treated myself to the history of GarySTJ at wmtc. The posts are minor - it's the comments that illuminate: one, two, three, four, five. And to complete the picture, here's where I turned on comment moderation, and here's the essay I got out of the experience.

1.15.2012

a quick lesson on the affects of religion on longevity

It has come to my attention that certain fundamental religious people believe that the death of Christopher Hitchens, who had advanced cancer, vindicates their beliefs and proves that Hitchens' atheism was wrong.

This is quite strange, and quite hilarious, and also quite wrong. Let's review.

What happens to atheists with advanced, terminal cancer? They die.

What happens to religious people with advanced, terminal cancer? They die.

What happens to all people, always? They die.

I hope this has cleared things up for you.

1.05.2012

memo to progressives and liberals: ron paul is not your friend

Can it be? Are progressive people supporting right-wing libertarian Ron Paul for the US Presidency?

In 2008 I wrote on supposedly liberal people supporting hillary clinton. I didn't agree with that choice, but I understood it. This... this is just insane.

So Ron Paul opposes foreign wars and the federal power build-up. Ron Paul also:
- opposes legalized abortion for any and all reasons
- would allow states to regulate abortion, including prosecuting pregnancy terminations as murder
- has signed "the personhood pledge," which would ban many methods of contraception
- opposes all government involvement in healthcare, including any bare-bones safety net (but apparently making abortion illegal is not government interference in health care)
- opposes all government-mandated civil rights legislation, such as laws forbidding businesses to refuse to serve people based on skin colour
- opposes all health and safety regulation of business
- opposes all environmental regulations
- opposes the Americans with Disabilities Act
- opposes public education
- opposes social security of any type

Had enough yet? Katha Pollitt can explain it much better than I can: the "handful of cherries on a blighted tree".
What is it with progressive mancrushes on right-wing Republicans? For years, until he actually got nominated, John McCain was the recipient of lefty smooches equaled only by those bestowed upon Barack Obama before he had to start governing. You might disagree with what McCain stood for, went the argument, but he had integrity, and charisma, and some shiny mavericky positions—on campaign finance reform and gun control and... well, those two anyway.

Now Ron Paul is getting the love. At Truthdig, Robert Scheer calls him “a profound and principled contributor to a much-needed national debate on the limits of federal power.” In The Nation, John Nichols praises his “pure conservatism,” “values” and “principle.” Salon’s Glenn Greenwald is so outraged that progressives haven’t abandoned the warmongering, drone-sending, indefinite-detention-supporting Obama for Paul that he accuses them of supporting the murder of Muslim children. There’s a Paul fan base in the Occupy movement and at Counterpunch, where Alexander Cockburn is a longtime admirer. Paul is a regular guest of Jon Stewart, who has yet to ask him a tough question. And yes, these are all white men; if there are leftish white women and people of color who admire Paul, they’re keeping pretty quiet.

Ron Paul has an advantage over most of his fellow Republicans in having an actual worldview, instead of merely a set of interests—he opposes almost every power the federal government has and almost everything it does. Given Washington’s enormous reach, it stands to reason that progressives would find targets to like in Paul’s wholesale assault. I, too, would love to see the end of the “war on drugs” and our other wars. I, too, am shocked by the curtailment of civil liberties in pursuit of the “war on terror,” most recently the provision in the NDAA permitting the indefinite detention, without charge, of US citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism.

But these are a handful of cherries on a blighted tree. In a Ron Paul America, there would be no environmental protection, no Social Security, no Medicaid or Medicare, no help for the poor, no public education, no civil rights laws, no anti-discrimination law, no Americans With Disabilities Act, no laws ensuring the safety of food or drugs or consumer products, no workers’ rights. How far does Paul take his war against Washington? He wants to abolish the Federal Aviation Authority and its pesky air traffic controllers. He has one magic answer to every problem—including how to land an airplane safely: let the market handle it.

It’s a little strange to see people who inveigh against Obama’s healthcare compromises wave away, as a detail, Paul’s opposition to any government involvement in healthcare. In Ron Paul’s America, if you weren’t prudent enough or wealthy enough to buy private insurance — and the exact policy that covers what’s ailing you now — you find a charity or die. . . .

. . . No wonder they love him over at Stormfront, a white-supremacist website with neo-Nazi tendencies. In a multiple-choice poll of possible effects of a Paul presidency, the most popular answer by far was “Paul will implement reforms that increase liberty which will indirectly benefit White Nationalists.” And let’s not forget his other unsavory fan base, Christian extremists who want to execute gays, adulterers and “insubordinate children.” Paul’s many connections with the Reconstructionist movement, going back decades, are laid out on AlterNet by Adele Stan, who sees him as a faux libertarian whose real agenda is not individualism but to prevent the federal government from restraining the darker impulses at work at the state and local levels. . . .

Supporting Ralph Nader in 2000 was at least a vote for one’s actual politics. Supporting Ron Paul is just a gesture of frivolity — or despair.
I understand that people are desperate and want to believe in some kind of "none of the above" candidate. Supporting Ron Paul may seem like the easy way out of a system that is beyond repair. But if you insist on working within the system, then get down to the hard work of building a true progressive party. There's no shortcut, and if there were, it wouldn't look like Ron Paul.

12.16.2011

stand against islamophobia: boycott lowe's... and more

By now you've probably heard about the "All-American Muslim" TV show vs. Lowe's Home Improvement vs. Florida Family Association craziness. I know "The Daily Show" has been tracking the story (of course the video is not available in Canada). But in case you haven't heard about this particular bit of insanity from TGNOTFOTETM, this excellent column in The New Yorker's online edition will fill you in.
The Jaafars and their children form one of five Dearborn families featured on “All-American Muslim,” a reality show, on TLC, created by some of the same team behind “Real Housewives of New York.” The show has become the target of an ugly campaign by a group called the Florida Family Association, which calls it “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” That someone, somewhere, would yell at the television when presented with images of Arab-Americans getting married or ready for school or running a football practice is sad, but might not be surprising. What is more remarkable, and even alarming, is that the group’s campaign persuaded Lowe’s, the home-improvement chain, to pull its advertising from “All-American Muslim.”

The Florida Family Association says that Lowe’s is not the only sponsor it has driven away. That is hard to know, since ads are bought and sold all the time. Lowe’s, however, made no secret of its decision to walk away: “Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lighting rod for many of those views,” it said in a Facebook post. “As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”

That is, at a minimum, weak on Lowe’s part. Why would it be so responsive to a letter that contained lines like, “One of the most troubling scenes occurred at the introduction of the program when a Muslim police officer stated, I really am American. No ifs ands and buts about it.” Are those the sort of words that cause panics? The actual complaint that the Florida Family Association has is particular and peculiar: that “All-American Muslim” is dangerous because its subjects aren’t. The Florida Family Association isn’t pretending that these people—the Amens, the Aoudes, the Bazzy-Aliahmads, the Jaafars, and the Zabans—aren’t exactly who the program says they are. (It’s a fairly diverse group that includes, even within those families, women who wear the hijab and ones who don’t) When it says that the show is an effort to “inaccurately portray Muslims in America,” it is rejecting that reality in favor of stereotypes. In other words, the truth is false if it does not look the way one thought it would. It is seized by the fear of a bland Muslim. [I highly recommend reading the whole column.]
I've been pleased to see that a boycott of Lowe's is in full swing, with entertainment entrepreneur Russell Simmons buying the advertising that Lowe's gave up. That's excellent, but we need to do more. At a minimum, we can write to Lowe's and tell them we support the boycott, and why. What we need, though, is a large, public repudiation of this disgusting Islamophobia.

What is it like to live in a country your entire life, your family to live in that country for generations, and be singled out as The Other, have your basic values and loyalties questioned? Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians learned what it was like. European Jews learned. African-Americans were The Other for hundreds of years.

I keep asking myself, how can we show our Muslim neighbours that we abhor this kind of scapegoating and bigotry? What can we do that is more than lip service? I'm not asking this rhetorically: I'm really asking. If you have thoughts about this, share them in comments.

Meanwhile:

Lowe's contact form

Lowe's email

Robert A. Niblock, Chairman and CEO
Lowe's Companies, Inc.
1000 Lowes Boulevard
Mooresville, NC 28117-8520

8.21.2011

you can look it up

"Can anyone on Capital [sic] Hill read?” demanded a sign held by a protester at one of the first Tea Party rallies, back in February of 2009.

"If so read the Constitution
As Americans we do not have the right:
To a house
To a car
To an education
Americans have a right
to per sue [sic] happiness
not to have it given to them!"


The sign intrigued me, and so I took a picture of it as its author held it aloft. Nobody’s entitled to the good things in life, her sign seemed to be saying, and so presumably we should stop crafting policy to make home ownership, travel, and education affordable — a curious demand in the middle of an economic catastrophe.

But I was also taken by the surface-level irony: accusing others of cultural illiteracy while herself apparently mixing up the Constitution with the Declaration of Independence, the document that actually mentions the “pursuit of happiness.” I filed it away and eventually forgot about it.

Until a year and a half later, when I was reading Spread THIS Wealth (And Pass THIS Ammunition!), a book by one C. Jesse Duke, a Tea Party enthusiast who has actually designed and copyrighted his own version of the movement’s familiar snake flag. Mr. Duke writes as follows:
Benjamin Franklin said, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”
Here it was again, this time attributed to one of the few men who had a hand in drafting both the Declaration and the Constitution. Could Franklin really have got them confused?

I read on. After Mr. Duke’s next sentence — “By patronizing our fellow citizens under the guise of ‘helping’ them, we have taken away their fundamental dignity” — he included an endnote. I flipped to the back of the book and found this reference: “Proverbs 20:4.”

Now I was really intrigued. The wording of the quotation reminded me less of Franklin’s well-known style than of mid-twentieth-century self-help. “You have to catch it yourself,” I soon discovered, is an exceedingly popular bit of Frankliniana, complete with the awkward reference to the Constitution. It can be found on countless quote-compiling websites, the modern-day equivalent of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations minus the fact-checking. Authors associated with the latest right-wing revival routinely attribute great significance to this quotation. Bloggers love it, especially those bloggers partial to a strict, no-welfare-allowed interpretation of the founding documents.

The saying crops up in all sorts of curious places. In 2003, the president of Stanford University used a version of it to welcome new students to the groves of academe. According to an article last summer in the Dallas Morning News, it adorns the office of the economic adviser to the prime minister of Georgia (the former Soviet republic, that is). Ann Landers quoted it in a 1992 column. Nowhere, though, could I find anyone who sourced the phrase back to a primary work by or about Benjamin Franklin. It does not appear in Bartlett’s itself. A search of the authoritative database of Franklin’s writings yields no matches. Google Books assures us it does not come up in any of the major Franklin biographies. I contacted six different Franklin authorities; none had ever heard of it. A search of scholarly journals turned up exactly one instance of the saying, in a 1960 issue of a magazine for high school English teachers — again, without the benefit of mooring to any primary works by or about Franklin.

. . . .

Even the witty axioms of Benjamin Franklin fade to insignificance when a liberty-minded protester contemplates the mighty utterances of Thomas Jefferson, such as this one:
The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.
It is a beloved saying. Someone has made a YouTube video in which a cartoon Founder recites the quote and then dares us modern-day slackers to do something about it. It has been incanted by Michael Steele, Lou Dobbs, and Christine O’Donnell, the former Senate candidate from Delaware, who deployed it to bolster the victimology that characterized her campaign: “That is the question, isn’t it?” she said in a speech last September, according to The New York Times. “And the verdict is in. The small elite don’t get it. They call us wacky, they call us wing-nuts. We call us, ‘We the people.’ ”

I was at first mystified by the right’s enthusiasm for this quotation. After all, the “small elite” that rules us was installed in its privilege by none other than conservatives themselves, who have done so much to make America a land where the voice of money outshouts everyone else. When the Tea Party faithful talk about the “elite,” however, they mean the exact opposite of that: they know that “elitism” is what happens when bureaucrats interfere with the natural, democratic, freemarket order of things, and therefore they find the maxim to be a stirring call to rise up against the lash of Boss Obama and his gang of unelected czars.

As with the Franklin quote, “ruled by a small elite” cannot be traced to an actual primary work by the sage of Monticello. The online Papers of Thomas Jefferson contain nothing. I consulted Jefferson scholars and the nice people at Monticello; none had heard it. Jefferson biographies: zip. I looked up elite in the Oxford English Dictionary and found that the word was first used this way in 1823, just three years before Jefferson’s death. An assistant editor of Jefferson’s papers at Princeton University told me that “as far as I can tell, TJ never used the word.”
This is excerpted from a terrific little piece in Harper's, several months back: "Check It Yourself," by Thomas Frank. Frank traces potential sources for both quotes, and speculates on this particular historical ignorance from a faction that claims to care deeply about history and returning the US to its roots. Interested readers may email me for a pdf.

I've looked everywhere for an image of the sign Frank quotes, but I can't find one. Instead, please enjoy these images. You've probably seen most or all of them before, but it never hurts to be reminded. And while it's true there's a wmtc house rule against correcting other people's spelling and grammar, that applies to otherwise civil and well-meaning commenters. Ignorant, racist neofascists funded by billionaires are fair game.










Many people's favourite:


And for old-time's sake, the one and only, except no imatatons:


I'm laughing, but it's very, very sad. Ignorance plus anger is a dangerous combination. Throw in all those guns and their handlers' money and you have... That sentence is still up for grabs.

6.24.2011

if the world sucks, why hasn't anyone told me? i respond to joe denial

"If that's really happening, why don't I see it in the news?"

I bet many of you may have encountered a question like this one. You're speaking to a co-worker or a classmate, or discussing an issue on a blog, or you've wandered into the comments section of an online news story. You offer a wider perspective, and you meet with a question like this one.

If millions of women are being beaten by their husbands, why don't I ever hear about it?

If First Nations people are getting cancer in unprecedented numbers, why haven't I read about it in the newspaper?

If the United States really has military bases all over the world, how come I don't know about it?


This person is not criticizing the mainstream media for not covering this issue; that's not what the question means. He's questioning the validity of a statement of fact, implying that you are grossly exaggerating an issue or even fabricating it.

If working conditions in these factories are so bad, why haven't I...

If inmates in US prisons are routinely raped and murdered, why haven't....


I've heard all these, and so many more. I've responded to each question, but I've never stopped to unpack the question itself. What's behind this irritating query? Why does this right-wing male - the only person from whom I've ever heard this question - need to deny the existence of very real issues?

If so many teenage girls are starving themselves, why don't I ever hear about it?

First, the question assumes that what this guy - call him Joe - hears and sees in the mainstream media equals What Is Happening. Joe's drive-time radio, CNN or Fox during dinner, and thumb-through of the local tabloid on his lunch break constitutes the sum total of What Is Happening. Maybe Joe also spends a lot of time online, reading headlines and some stories at mainstream news sites.

According to Joe Denial, then, if we subtract sports, weather, celebrity gossip, random crime, oddball pet stories, missing person stories, terrorism scares, and political downfalls, the remainder of what's broadcast on The News equals everything that is going on in the world. In this view, the mainstream media is a conduit to the rest of the world. News is not selected, edited and packaged, it is simply broadcast, all of it, like a giant feed from Planet Earth straight to CNN. And if it isn't in the mainstream media, it hasn't happened.

Second, Joe Denial assumes that he has seen all the news: every lengthy newspaper feature, every op-ed that references important studies (studies that often prove the very facts he is denying), every investigative news show, every magazine story. Because, of course, ongoing issues such as violence against women or environmental toxins are not "news". Unless a study is released or a sensational story breaks, these issues don't qualify as news and are reported on as features. So unless Joe D. follows every feature in every media outlet, he's not going to hear about these issues.

What's more, the above phrase "are reported on as features" ends with an implied "...when they are reported on at all". Aboriginal people getting cancer at rates alarmingly higher than those of non-Native people is not considered news, because aboriginal people are less important to the media, because they are not perceived as consumers of the products sold by the media's sponsors. Violence against women is accepted as part of our culture and only worthy of mention if an incident can be reported as a sensational crime story. Prisoners are unworthy of commentary at all; they are subhumans who deserve whatever they get, lest we be accused of being "soft on crime". And US imperialism, well, we don't look too closely at that. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

So far I've come up with these possible replies to Joe Denial's question. One, the mainstream reports on only a small fraction of what happens. Two, you don't see every media story. Three, these issues are not given high priority in our society.

But there's another possibility: the question may be a smokescreen.

Perhaps my friend Mr. Denial knows very well that just because he hasn't seen or read about something doesn't mean it's not happening. He's using the lack of visibility as a rhetorical device to deny the existence of the issue.

This leads to a different question: why do some people deny the existence of very real, well documented problems? Why is it important for so many people to pretend that a spectrum of issues - violence against women, environmental racism, prisoner abuse, US imperialism, and almost anything else you can think of - do not exist?

Here I can only speculate, and poorly at that, as this mindset is the most foreign culture I've ever visited.

Some of this denial seems to be a knee-jerk, unthinking reaction: if a progressive person is against it, I must be for it, and if I can't be for it (because who will actually say "violence against women is fine"?) then I must deny its existence.

Some of the reaction seems to stem from an underlying belief that "lefties" - as anyone who is not rigidly right-wing is called, even very moderate liberals - are heavily invested in portraying the world as a dismal place and in protest for its own sake. I'm guessing this belief relieves some cognitive dissonance: Why are these people making such a fuss? I don't see anything wrong, and I don't want to believe there are so many things wrong with my world. Therefore, they are making a fuss over nothing, because that's what they do.

Some people hate and fear change of any kind. Reasonable people may disagree on the best solution to a problem, but questioning the existence of a problem short-circuits all possibilities. If nothing's wrong, there is no need to change.

Finally, some of this ingrained, knee-jerk denial reacts against an entire worldview, one that sees women, people of colour, poor people, and others outside the imperialist-patriarchal power structure as important. Joe Denial's belief system says exactly the opposite, although not in those terms: the world was fine until you people got so uppity.

The sad part is that Joe is a working-class guy who stands to benefit greatly from my worldview. Sadly, he identifies more with his oppressors, because they are largely white and male, than with the people whose vision would offer him a better life.

That's why it's worth taking a deep breath and answering his question.

4.28.2011

religious right watch: let's all call chapters and ask for the paperback of mcdonald's armageddon factor

Bene Diction at Religious Right Watch asks, "Is Chapters Indigo playing politics with paperback release of The Armageddon Factor?". The answer is: it's highly possible.
Chapters Indigo is owned by Heather Reisman (CEO). She is married to Gerry Schartwz who is the Board Chair, President and CEO of Onex. They are friends of Stephen and Laureen Harper, and have been Conservative Party backers since 2006.

Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, is on loan to Harper by the Onex Corporation. Wright’s appointment is noted in the afterword of the updated and revised trade paperback.

Given the paperback was updated and out in time for the election I have a question. Where is it? Is the revised edition sitting in Chapters-Indigo warehouses? The chain is in approximately 131 cities across Canada and I can appreciate delays, but the next obvious question is this.

Is Chapters Indigo holding back stocking this book until after May 2nd? As asked in the post headline. Is this bookstore chain playing politics?

How would you like to help out? Give the nearest Chapters Indigo store a call and ask if the paperback is in. If it isn’t ask why not. If you have an independent bookstore in your location, give them a call and see if they have it on the shelves, or if they can get it to you within the next few days and post your findings in the comment section.
Read the full post here, then call or visit your nearest Chapters Indigo location.

2.22.2011

the uterus police: georgia politican wants every pregnancy loss investigated by law enforcement

[allan guest post]

There are far too many US politicians - on both sides of the aisle - who despise equality, hate women, and have no shame in pushing legislation that would sound right at home in any of the world's worst dictatorships. Here are what two of them are doing.

Georgia Representative Bobby Franklin wants abortion classified as murder (of course), but he also wants to force the police to investigate all "miscarriages" (the antiquated term for a spontaneous abortion) to make sure that they were indeed spontaneous. From Daily Kos:
Franklin wants to create a Uterus Police to investigate miscarriages, and requires that any time a miscarriage occurs, whether in a hospital or without medical assistance, it must be reported and a fetal death certificate issued. If the cause of death is unknown, it must be investigated. If the woman can't tell how it happened, than those Uterus Police can ask family members and friends how it happened. Hospitals are required to keep records of anyone who has a spontaneous abortion and report it. ... Needless to say, there are no exceptions allowed. Not for rape victims. Not for incest victims. Not to save the life and health of the mother ...
(I first saw this at Care2.)

Two weeks ago, it was reported that Franklin has filed a bill that would remove the term "victim" from rape, stalking, and domestic violence cases and replace it with "accuser". A post at Creative Loafing notes that Franklin once actually
conjured the phrase "My body, My choice" while discussing a piece of legislation he introduced that would prevent the government from making vaccinations compulsory in the event of a pandemic. Irony at its worst.
Franklin is also not keen on having homosexuals in the military:
The Bible says it's a capital offense. You want someone with unrepentant criminal behavior? And it's not just that, neither should adulterers, neither should thieves, neither should a lot of things.
Well, I actually agree with this. Let's have the US military conduct a rigorous weeding out of its troops by strictly applying the 10 Commandments.

Have you ever said "goddamn it"? Out! Have you ever worked on Sunday? Out! Did you ever disobey your parents? Out! Have you ever stolen anything, ever? Out! Have you ever looked at anyone else in the world who was not your wife/husband and had a sexual thought? Out! Have you ever wished you had the same cool gadget as that guy over there? Out! And even if you somehow passed the test and were sent off to fight in a war, as soon as you killed one person ... Out!

Get 'er done, Congress!

Mother Jones reports that the South Dakota GOP-dominated House of Representatives will soon vote on House Bill 1171, which is sponsored by Representative Phil Jensen. The bill would
expand the definition of "justifiable homicide" to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus - a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. ...

[The bill seeks to alter] the state's legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person "while resisting an attempt to harm" that person's unborn child or the unborn child of that person's spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman's father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion - even if she wanted one.
The bill has already passed out of committee on a 9-3 party-line vote.

Sara Rosenbaum, a law professor at George Washington University: "It takes my breath away. Constitutionally, a state cannot make it a crime to perform a constitutionally lawful act."

The magazine continues:
South Dakota already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, and one of the lowest abortion rates. Since 1994, there have been no providers in the state. Planned Parenthood flies a doctor in from out-of-state once a week to see patients at a Sioux Falls clinic. Women from the more remote parts of the large, rural state drive up to six hours to reach this lone clinic. And under state law women are then required to receive counseling and wait 24 hours before undergoing the procedure. [There are ongoing attempts to increase this to 72 hours. - ed.]

Before performing an abortion, a South Dakota doctor must offer the woman the opportunity to view a sonogram. And under a law passed in 2005, doctors are required to read a script meant to discourage women from proceeding with the abortion: "The abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being." Until recently, doctors also had to tell a woman seeking an abortion that she had "an existing relationship with that unborn human being" that was protected under the Constitution and state law and that abortion poses a "known medical risk" and "increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide." In August 2009, a US District Court Judge threw out those portions of the script, finding them "untruthful and misleading." The state has appealed the decision.
But, remember: the procedure is still legal -- even though the state has not had anyone able to perform the procedure practicing in the state in almost 20 years. (Also, see this Common Dreams article from 2005.)

An update to the story states that Jensen is considering adding specific protections for abortion providers to the bill. "There's no way in the world that I or any other representatives wish to see abortion doctors murdered," Jensen told the Washington Post.

Oh, my goodness gracious, no.