Todd Taliaferro’s Trump Limerick series Part III

Of Putin no ill has Trump spoken 
Such words anyway would be token 
As Trump's critics know 
His bluster's for show 
Vlad's end would leave Donald heartbroken

What sort of man needs a parade? 
Is this moron in the fourth grade? 
His hour of fun 
Will cost US a ton 
It won't be his money that's paid

An ass-kissing Fox shill named Hannity 
Takes pleasure in stroking Trump's vanity 
His audience buys 
Each one of Trump's lies
Thus perpetuating insanity

Todd Taliaferro’s Trump Limerick series Part II

Without any apprehension 
Trump screwed McCabe out of his pension 
He never gets tired 
Of saying "you're fired" 
Or increasing national tension

Said Donald, "I just had to try it" 
So Stormy got paid to be quiet 
Republicans blamed her 
Evangelists shamed her 
Trump did what he does -- he denied it

Controlling guns seems a lost cause 
The NRA writes its own laws 
Trump plans to do naught 
'Cause his ass is bought 
It's an endless parade of last straws

Todd Taliaferro’s Trump Limerick series Part I

A YouTube viewer who goes by the name Todd Taliaferro posted a comment on YouTube that showed a prolific hand at making limericks (link here). His series of limericks goes on for some 45 or more stanzas. I was so impressed, I am going to post three of these per week.

Trump's "University" was a scam 
It put Trump once more in a jam 
Sure, Donald's reptilian 
But twenty-five million 
Makes even rich bastards go "Damn!"

McMaster done sealed his own fate 
By bad-mouthing Donald's soul mate 
Though his words were true 
Trump gave him the screw 
Which helps make America great

Trump's secret is Putin's paid trolls 
Their propaganda fooled the polls 
With Trump's sneaky lies 
They tricked the unwise 
Who still choose to act like assholes


Catherine McKenna taking things personally

Federal environment minister Catherine McKenna entered a heated exchange yesterday with a right-wing nobody from a far right-wing website which nobody reads that I can’t bother to look up the name of. This happened in Vancouver in front of a small scrum of journalists which included more recognizable outlets such as the CBC, CTV, and The National Post.

The far right-wing nobodies referred to her as “climate change Barbie” on their website. No one would have cared about or known about this had McKenna acted as their publicist by giving this crank website the kind of publicity they could never have purchased at any price: a public outing and heated discussion in front of national media that attracted all kinds of attention. It really doesn’t matter if the journalist at the brunt of the discussion is ashamed to work with such a pack of neanderthals (he should be), or even admits to being ashamed (which is not clear). It doesn’t matter whether the journalist was part of the problem or part of the solution in spreading sexist descriptions of female politicians. What matters is that this backwoods website had been catapulted into the national consciousness and national conversation and thus have the appearance of being taken seriously, when it was completely un-necessary.

Why give vent every time some third-rate reporter from some obscure website utters something offensive about women? If they were ignored, no one would care. After all, this is how journalists on the left had been ignored for years. This technique has been well-known to politicians for a long time; but I guess someone forgot to tell McKenna.

A list of state slogans

From the responses to Chris Cillizza’s request on Twitter (@CillizzaCNN) that people submit their own state motto. Fair use, since none of these were authored by Chris Cillizza, but submitted by the general public.

Alabama: first in football, but last in everything else.
Alaska: Worst deal in history. Give it back to Russia!
Arizona: Sunny, With Sucky Senators.
Arkansas: Come dig for diamonds and leave with Cotton.
California: the land of fruits and nuts
Colorado: So fricken high they voted for Hillary
Connecticut: Just a restroom between Boston and New York.
Delaware: Have you seen Delaware? It’s more like a Dela-won’t.
Florida: underwater shark bait
Georgia: Without Atlanta, It Would Be Another Alabama
Hawaii – when you only want to be “sort of” American
Idaho: “Where did you think Vodka came from?”
Illinois – Land of the only President I rank above me.
Indiana: Where Indiana Jones comes from
Iowa: Gateway to Nebraska
Kansas: “Great band! I am delivering on my promise to bring the U.S., the whole world actually, to the ‘Point of no return.'”
Kentucky: New Jersey Charm with Mississippi Sophistication
Louisiana: We’re Alabama with Better Food
Maine: Basically Canada — except Paul LePage
Maryland: The Wire was real, you know
Massachusetts: Vegans and Massholes
Michigan – The rusted-out can you buy viagra female over the counter gauntlet of the Great Lakes.
Minnesota: Always getting out over our skis.
Mississippi: more ‘I’s than teeth
Missouri: First in meth houses.
Montana: The cool stuff died 65 million years ago.
Nebraska: First in Friendship, Second in Cat and Dog Obesity
Nevada Home of High Rollers and Low Lifers
New Hampshire: A drug-infested den (Trump)
New Jersey: ‘I don’t own it, they’re just paying to use my name’
New Mexico: the only Mexico paying for my wall
New York: “At least we’re not New Jersey.”
North Carolina: Gateway to Virginia and its many great Trump properties!
North Dakota: For when you are bored of South Dakota.
Ohio…we put the O in opiates.
Oklahoma: 1st in earthquakes and tornadoes, 49th in everything else.
Oregon: The home of the witch trials.
Pennsylvania: They said I had no chance.
Rhode Island: Small state, small hands.
South Carolina, the rusty buckle of the Bible Belt.
South Dakota: Gateway to North Dakota
Tennessee. Above Kentucky in everthing but the map
Texas: Thank God for Mississippi.
Utah-needs casinos
Vermont: communists and cows.
Virginia: Make-Believe Southern State
Washington: Too much cyber.
West Virginia – Come for my Cousin, Stay for the Coal
Wisconsin – The Curdled Milk State!
Wyoming – Not sure where it is, but I think I won there.

The Government is telling me who I am: The voting Survey: a lesson in sampling bias part III

As a response for participating in the survey, I finally know who I am, because the government told me so. Apparently I am a pragmatist. In an earlier one of these online surveys, I was someone on the loony left. These labels are, on some level, amusing. It’s kind of like reading a Horoscope characterization of yourself, with about the same level of scientific accuracy. Most things on this list as so broadly-defined that they can apply to just about anyone. I will just show this characterization below without comment:


  1. Pragmatists
    • My democracy is balancedand straight-forward
    • Pragmatists generally want governments to strike a balance between decisive action and compromise. They tend to prefer a clear line of accountability to voters, but not at the expense of collaboration between parties.
    • Pragmatists are split about whether special measures are needed to help increase the diversity of representation in Parliament.
    • Pragmatists typically prefer that election ballots are easy to use and to understand.
    • Pragmatists generally view voting as a democratic duty rather than a personal choice and are slightly more inclined to support mandatory voting. They are among the least likely archetypes to support online voting.

Who are Pragmatists?

    • 52
  2. MALE
    • 48%
    • 52%
  4. OTHER
    • *
  5. RURAL
    • 25%
    • 29%
  7. URBAN
    • 46%

The voting Survey: a lesson in sampling bias part II

So far, in the last post, I had revealed an example of sampling bias as being the fact that the questions only hint at particular alternative voting systems without coming out and suggesting one and how it has been implemented elsewhere, so that a more intelligent response to the questionnaire could be made possible. A casual questionnaire participant would look at these questions on offer and probably say “sounds like a great idea” without understanding the details of the proposed voting system that would make him or her think otherwise.

It is also my understanding that certain groups of people (i.e, government and industry) are often breathless in their praise of computers. Now mind you, computers are a great technology (my blog runs on one), but the most trustworthy technology have been voting with physical paper ballots. It is hard evidence that a vote took place. Pushing a button or pulling a lever or interacting with a computer sends electrons through conductors that have no memory and leave no trace of themselves behind. The “memory” on a computer would then only be as effective as the program running that is counting my vote. On the other hand, a pen mark on a paper ballot will last a hundred years.

This is to say nothing about our experiences with federal elections south of the border. Since the voting machines came in, there have been accusations, not without merit, of corruption in the American voting system, due to the way the machines counted the votes, leading to people ask how they were programmed. But when called upon to surrender their source code, companies like Diebold refused, citing patent infringement. If this were government-owned source code, they could make a clear case for public accountability, and demand that the feds surrender the code and make it public. But Diebold is a private company, so they can’t make that demand. This in effect gives companies like Diebold unaccountable power over election turnout in the United States.

On the “Cooperation” scenario is that allowing opposition parties to participate in developing policy places the Prime Minister as the lone president of “Canada, Inc.”, thus Americanizing the Candian system (I know you all want that), since this also allows the PM to be elected on a separate ballot (not a bad idea in some ways). Of course this proposal of separate ballots for the PM is nowhere on this questionnaire. Everything is just hinted at, hoping the participant doesn’t think any bit deeper.

We would have to say farewell to the bloodletting of Question Period, and if we ever hated big governnment before, it would be worse this way, with no effective opposition, and no avenue for citizen input in the lower chamber. The government would have 338 elected employees (formerly called MPs) working for it, rather than some of them in opposition. That would only leave the upper chamber, the senate, to speak for anyone with an opposing view.

There were then these binary questions asked, in the form of “which do I want more?”:

  1. A government where one party governs and can make decisions on its ownOR a government where several parties have to collectively agree before a decision is made?
    • I like how the question makes you want to answer in favour of cooperation. Cooperation leaves no voice of opposition, and no accountability. But if I favour the first option, am I supporting dictatorships? Also, was there ever a problem with “cooperation” and policy making in the past that would lead us to demand a total overhaul?
    • I don’t define governing with an opposition party on the other side of the house “governing on your own”.
  2. One party governs and is solely accountable for policy outcomesOR several parties must cooperate to govern and they share accountability for policy outcomes?
    • This question is really the same as the first, and makes no suggestion as to how accountability would be held in the second scenario. “Shared accountability” leaves open the question “to whom?”. There has to be an elected body that holds MPs accountable. Up until the last election, that role was filled by the MPs in opposition.
    • This brings up the murky topic about the senate being elected …? I like the senate and understand what they do. They are not just a rubber stamp on Parliament, they speak for minorities, and for the long term. That is why they don’t run for election. They are there to think of policy’s effect over decades and vote based on “sober second thought”. The lower chamber and elections have the problem of only thinking as far as the next election for the effect of policy. Senators do not have to do the bidding of the lower house or of their party or of the Prime Minister. Policy is something we must live with for decades into the future, and we need that additional deep thought by detached individuals to help the lower chamber change its policy so that things work into the future. It has served us well in the past, and again, the only complaints come from self-interested groups who want to see a more American system. Remeber, our senators right now have no committement to party loyalty whatsoever, and is thus detached from the lower house. The American system is still bound to party loyalty.
  3. Ballots should be as simple as possible so that everybody understands how to voteOR ballots should allow everybody to express their preferences in detail?
    • Simple is always better.
  4. Members of Parliament that do what their party promised, even if it means going against what their constituents wantOR members of Parliament that do what their constituents want, even if it means going against what their party promised?
    • Voters usually vote for their party and their platform. The local platform is far less publicized, even locally. So, I think party promises should come first, since that is likely what got their party into power. And to the extent that the party strays from the original platform, MPs should become the voice of their constituents.
  5. No further action needs to be taken to ensure that those elected to Parliament better reflect the diversity of the population they representOR further action needs to be taken to ensure that those elected to Parliament better reflect the diversity of the population they represent?
    • Diversity is determined by voters. What on Earth could the government do to change that? Telling some people they can’t run and saying that others can? The voters have to decide that. And if a under-represented member of a minority wants to run, then let him or her, and wish them the best of luck. Was there ever anything preventing this from happening?
  6. Canadians should have the option to cast their ballots online in federal elections, even if the security or privacy of online voting cannot be guaranteedOR Canadians should continue to vote using paper ballots at a polling station, even if it is less accessible for some voters?
    • Again, we have always accomodated disabled people at the voting station. I say that as the husband of a wife who has been in a wheelchair for over a decade. It is another non-problem. The huge problem is from the first choice: the lack of security in online voting. This is always the problem in improving convenience for people in computer software: security is always sacrificed. To make the voting system trustworthy, I believe it is worth a little discomfort for a few minutes at the voting station in filling out a paper ballot. Again, I have heard of no one complaining about not using computers. I have heard a whole lot more about us speaking of American elections as a laughingstock with their computer voting.
  7. Voting in federal elections is an obligationOR voting in federal elections is a choice?
    • Voting is our right. That includes a right not to vote. Sorry to say that, but that is the reality. If the candidates are all sub-optimal, then I should not be forced to cast a choice. The politicians must simply learn to be more in touch with the people who elect them. This is a simple human expectation.
  8. Having many small parties in Parliament representing many different viewsOR having a few big parties that try to appeal to a broad range of people?
    • I don’t think that can be answered with this questionnaire, nor is it the purview of our government to do anything about that. It should be up to the voters. It would help if the government lowered the official minimum seats for official party status from 6 down to 1.
    • And if the party was treated less as an extension of the PMO as it has been in recent decades, and more of a looser-knit set of politicians speaking for those who elected them, this idea of “representing many different views” would never have been a problem. Nobody asked for all party MPs to vote as a block on every possible legislation. Simply stop doing that, and we will be fine.
  9. Members of Parliament that spend more time in their constituency working with constituentsOR Members of Parliament that spend more time on Parliament Hill working on the issues that matter to their constituents?
    • I don’t see what problem this solves. If you are in your constituency office, you are spending less time voting on legislation in Ottawa, and less time in Question Period. If you are speding more time in Ottawa, you are spending less “face time” with your constituents. Wouldn’t we have already worked this problem out a long time ago? Why is this question being asked?
  10. Members of Parliament that always support policies that they think are best for their constituents, even if their constituents disagreeOR Members of Parliament that always support policies their constituents want, even if the MPs themselves personally disagree?
    • Also, wouldn’t an MP already know why they were elected and not let their personal opinions contaminate their support of policies? I would treat the voters as always being right, and would never be so paternalistic as to feel that I know better what my constituents need.

The voting survey: a lesson in sampling bias

Our feds came up with a survey that had some useful questions in it, but also had some questions that gave the overall impression of how they wanted the questions answered. They are asking me to agree or disagree with statements that have not been discussed a whole lot in the media, and really require complex answers. The “questions” usually came in the form of statements such as:

  1. Canadians should have the option to cast their vote online in federal elections, even if it is less secure.
    • How innovative! Are they thinking of repeating the mistakes in the American elections? Ballots may be low tech, but they are completely secure from hacking, which seems to occur too frequently in Europe and America to allow our democracy to be guided by it.
  2. There should be parties in Parliament that represent the views of all Canadians, even if some are radical or extreme.
    • The question is worded in such a way so as to make the repsentation of all Canadians itself a “radical” concept. The far left has had political parties for generations, but I am sure that the Marxist-Leninists and the Communists are completely out of the question. And the Greens are just slightly out of our consciousness. The far right is mentioned far more often in the media, and is what  most people might be thinking about in this survey, making this question sufficiently repulsive enough it its wording to encourage people to disagree with the statement.
    • “The views of all Canadians” is something that should be respected anyway. There have been, as of late too much corporate influence, but that can be changed by changing how parties are funded, not by changing how we vote. But for another thing, the number of seats for official party status should be lowered to 1, allowing Ms. Elizabeth May to represent the Green Party officially. The current minimum is 6, so the BQ would still have official party status.
  3. Governments should have to negotiate their policy decisions with other parties in Parliament, even if it is less clear who is accountable for the resulting policy.
    • The government elected should do the job it promised. “Negotiations” change the platform the parties were elected on into something else, making it harder for governing parties to fulfil their campaign promises, and be held accountable. Policies would be enacted that no voter ever agreed to. There is already a negotiation process anyway. That’s when MPs have “first reading” and “second reading” in the House of Commons. Policies can change to secure the votes on both sides of the house in that process. I don’t recall anyone complaining about that, except that it’s slow. The proposed measure sounds like it would be far slower.
    • Then there’s the question of “what if it works”? If it works, it clearly works in favour of the ruling party, since voters are likely to keep the same system operating, and opposition parties would be motivated to make the system fail on purpose in some way, so they can win the next election.
  4. A party that wins the most seats in an election should still have to compromise with other parties, even if it means reconsidering some of its policies.
    • No. You end up with a hybrid that neither the ruling party nor the opposition voted for. Doesn’t sound democratic.
  5. The voting age for federal elections should be lowered.
  6. Voters should be able to express multiple preferences on the ballot, even if this means that it takes longer to count the ballots and announce the election result.
    • I’ve heard of this before, it sounds good if the choices are structured as “first choice”, “second choice”, and so on. This hints at an electoral method that involves runoffs. Counting the votes means correlating who voted for X and Y. The lowest gets eliminated, so if X is eliminated, his votes are counted for Y. Mind you, this questionnaire never comes out and mentions a particular voting system. It just hints at things. So, what motivates these questions is itself an open question.
    • That being said, it doesn’t sound like a human can count this, since this means associating #1, #2, and #3 vote choices for each voter. My choice and your first choice might be the same, but if that person gets eliminated, your second choice might not be the same as my second, and we both need to be respected so that my vote then goes to my second choice as does your vote to yours.  It takes computers to make such fine-grained associations for millions of voters, and computers are corruptible. I would only trust it if the government hired programmers to write the code (so there is no patent infringement as Diebold so often cited in the States for its hacked voting computers), then make the source code public and free for anyone to download and examine, and compile to see that it runs the same way as the copies used in a voting kiosk.
  7. It is better for several parties to have to govern together than for one party to make all the decisions in government, even if it takes longer for government to get things done.
    • This call for multi-party “cooperation” in developing policy sounds like a jump into those school group activities where all children have some skill to bring to the group that causes the group to produce better results on a project than the sum of their individual efforts would have. I expect a huge generational difference in opinion here, depending on what kind of education you had, and what decades you attended school.
    • All fine. Wouldn’t we all want to see our members of parliament cooperate on both sides of the house for a change? But this has a problem of placing the opposition parties into the realm of accountability where there is nobody left in the house to hold the government accountable, since everyone is now a policymaker, and what would be the purpose of elections then? As much as I like Trudeau, we need the Conservatives and the NDP to ask him and the Liberal Party tough, pointed questions during Question Period. You can’t be a critic on the opposition side if you are also cooperating with the governing party. I need an opposition MP to complain to about policy as a citizen, and it doesn’t help if their party was consulted in drawing up the policy.
  8. Members of Parliament should always support the position of their party, even if it means going against the wishes of their constituents.
    • No, we have had enough of that. Constituents voted for the MP, they should matter more. But they should, out of loyalty, vote for policies that their party ran for on their platform. Loyalty should extend no further.

Hillary Pilloried

We should see more headlines like this. This past day’s election should have been Hillary’s to lose, not Trump’s to win. But this is what it has become. In the media, it was always about Donald. Donald says something outrageous, then the media and the world react, like a Greek chorus. Hillary, singing alto, would be part of that chorus, never having the opportunity to campaign on the issues themselves. This made the media’s job easy, since it became a story about character — Trump’s character — rather than policy, to the point where all other issues (health, education, the economy, employment) didn’t seem to matter anymore. All that mattered was Trump’s hubris. To balance this, Hillary spoke nothing on the issues either, but the political theatre unfolded to make her more of a sympathetic character, who couldn’t rather than wouldn’t.

Trump never had an idea if any of his promises would materialize, because in many ways he didn’t fully understand government. One thing that came out is that he was never reported to have put his investments in a blind trust, so that he doesn’t use his presidential insider knowledge to enrich himself. We have had the honor system for this, since there is no actual law against using presidential information to enrich yourself, although taking bribes can still land you in prison.

The Democrats did take a beating on all three houses of government. I am not sure what Dems had in mind as a party when they chose Hillary as the candidate. It is almost like they were part of the coronation of Trump.  Given even a mildly favourable candidate with a clean record, defeating Trump should not have been a difficult thing for the Democrats.

Bill Maher is a comedian who tried to balance out the attempts to equate the weaknesses of the two candidates. It is a valiant effort, and well-executed, except that he insults the people who buy into it as non-thinking fools, thus defeating his own object of exposing Trump’s divisiveness by invoking some of his own. Maher doesn’t like excessive political correctness, but he appears to misunderstand how it could have worked in his favour.

Anyway, all I can do now is thank the late Dwight Eisenhower for imposing the 22nd constitutional amendment, the one that imposes limits on the president to serving only two terms.

Famous Teetotalers 012: Right-wingers

Theodore Anthony Nugent

Ted Nugent or “The Nuge” is a hard rock/psychedelic guitarist whose musical career dates back to 1963. He has made his stance against drug and alcohol abuse part of his right-wing activism. He is an ardent Republican supporter, and is strongly in favour of gun rights. It is said that his stance against substance abuse had an influence on a part of the Punk Rock movement known as the “Straight Edge” movement.

Bill O'Reilly
Bill O’Reilly

Bill O’Reilly, a host on Fox-TV, also won’t ever be accused of accusing the Republicans of anything is it legal to buy tramadol online wrong, unless it involves Donald Trump. And he is also teetotal. His show The O’Reilly Factor, was the highest-rated news show on the Fox network, and brought in the style of news commentary where afflicting the afflicted and comforting the comforted becomes the norm. But he would tell you that his roots are working class. This, like much of what he says, is disputed. However, he there is no disputing that he studied at Harvard; that he has had much experience in journalism before becoming part of the punditry machine that is Fox News.

From coronation to Elbowgate: the extremes of Trudeau coverage

Elbowgate and over 300 witnesses.

By world standards, the Parliamentary melee that happened this past week is pretty tame, but what has now become known as Elbowgate brings down our insanely high expectations of Justin Trudeau, fuelled by the media. The melee was nothing, Trudeau apologized, and sensible people are moving on.

Chretien applying what is now known as the “Shawinigan Handshake”

But in essensce it is a shock that it happened to anyone at all. This is the first time I have ever heard about it happening in a Canadian parliamentary session. The first thing that crossed my mind was: was Trudeau trying to out-Trump Donald Trump? In America, high-ranking politicians get goons to beat down undesirables. In Canada, the Prime Minister does the dirty work. Remember that creepy incident between Jean Chretien and that protester over a decade ago?

I think that this means that in Canada, the Prime Minister doesn’t order the army to bring order to the state. The person a rabble rouser would really need to fear is the Prime Minister. I mean, no one wants The Shawinigan Handshake done on them. There is a “goon” shortage in Canada. People here are too nice. The Prime Minister is the only nasty one among us.

Things cross my mind about Elbowgates, and Shawinigan Handshakes. Political theatre is done with a message in mind. I just can’t see a clear message. The Shawinigan Handshake was clearly political theatre. I don’t think that the PM was in any danger, otherwise, Chretien would never be allowed to be that close to a protestor. Both incidents defy logic in a similar way.

Famous Teetotalers 04: Politicians staying on the wagon

Scarfing down some OJ: about as alcoholic as it gets with Trump these days ...
About as alcoholic as it gets with Trump these days …

There was never any indication that Donald Trump over-indulged in alcohol, but any indulging he ever did came to a halt in 1981 when his brother died of complications from alcholism. From then on, the billionaire politician eventually put an end to all bad habits: no alcohol, cigarettes, or recreational drugs. In all the brouhaha he creates in politics these days, it is easy to forget that when he says all those outrageous things, he does it sober, and in his best sense of mental acuity. Scary.

Most people don’t, but they like the T-shirt anyway.

Ernesto (“Che”) Guevara (1928-1967) is a tad to the political left of Trump, I would suppose, but they have a lot in common. Both Che and Trump are loved or reviled, depending on who you talk to. Both were political outsiders that want to upset the political establishment apple cart for the sake of their own passionately-held beliefs. Che’s likeness, similar to the image you see to the right, was once used to sell strong drink (30% alcohol) that many people find hard to classify. Not a great homage to someone who not only was a non-drinker, but even tried to get alcohol banned in Cuba. The estate of the photographer of the image, one Korda Gutierrez, sued Smirnoff, the maker of the beverage, in 2000, for breach of copyright in using the photo on their bottles.

Recognizable OOC Recipients 01: Richard Gwyn

gwynThis is the first article in a series on Order of Canada (OOC) recipients that carry some cachet in Canadian popular culture.

I first heard of Richard Gwyn a few decades ago when I was in high school, and I bought a book by him called The Northern Magus, a bio of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. I loved the book, and I loved his way of writing.

Now at age 81, he has lived to having to refer to a second “Prime Minister Trudeau”. He is also a famous biographer of Joey Smallwood and Sir John A. MacDonald. He continues to contribute to The Toronto Star.

He was declared Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002. Officers of the Order of Canada would have demonstrated a high level of talent and/or service to Canadians. Gwyn had seen such service, being an executive assistant to the Minister of Communications in the early 1970s.

I am a Trudeau fan, but …

Pat Harrington who played the superintendent on the 70s sitcom “One Day at a Time” (yeah, I know it’s an old photo).
Justin Trudeau. … wait… did I mix these guys up again?

I am a little worried about the fawning admiration the press is giving to our new Fearless leader, Justin Trudeau. It has crossed the border of “good news” reporting to the land of hero worship. Indeed, there is a lot to feel good about: his balance of cabinet among men and women, the bringing back of the long-form census, increasing funding for the arts, and many other things seem to bring back the warm fuzzies.

But not all things give me those feelings. First of all he lost big in the prarie provinces, but won a landslide in the Greater Toronto Area. One can almost feel the days coming back of Western alienation, the days his father presided over. I think that this is preventing him from speaking his mind on Keystone/XL.

Another problem is his choice of cabinet ministers. Yes, it is 50% XY and 50% XX. Trouble is, most of those cabinet ministers come from Quebec and Ontario.  5 of them are from the city of Toronto. There are two more from Markham, which is just north of the Toronto border. That’s more than one in five cabinet ministers. But it is expected since Trudeau did so poorly in the praries, and so very successful in the GTA, where there are about 56 seats extending from Whitby to Hamilton in a sea of red. Two exceptions are the Markham-Unionville and Thornhill ridings, which went blue. Other than that, I notice that ridings have fallen back to their traditional pattern where rural Canada seems to vote Conservative, and urban Canada tends to vote Liberal. The GTA was Trudeau’s trump card, being very densely populated with about one in six Canadian residents.

According to CBC, I am on the loony left of all political parties this election

I am somewhat opinionated on political matters, and over the years of my life have cultivated a sufficient literacy that I can discern attempts on news media to persuade rather than inform. Having done a university course on rhetoric helped greatly when I was young.

There I am, hidden behind and slightly above the Green party in progressive values; slightly to the left of the greens in economic sentiments.
Once more, left of gauche on constitutional matters, and above the greens progressively

I am not sure how I should react to these “surveys”. Have I really become, in my middle age, a radical lefty out to overthrow the proletariat (or whatever other Marxist cliche you care to fill in its place)?

I think this is a sad commentary on the political parties rather than a commentary on myself (I think commenting on the survey participant was the intent of the survey).  I don’t understand why, after bragging about taking nearly a million surveys, do they not compare me against other Canadians? This is because I believe the parties and the media are out of touch with the population. Because I now find myself on the flakiest of flaky left of the political parties, I am supposed to feel, what? Shame for holding such extreme views such as raising tax on the rich or enhancing our medicare (which has become the worst in the industrial world not counting the United States)? I realise the media has worked hard to manage my opinions and feelings over the decades over these and many other matters. Sorry to dissappoint, I guess.

Thank God for the secret Canadian AAEVPC Party!

The political party with the instantly forgettable name of “Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada” and the equally forgettable acronym “AAEVP” have a lot of flaky positions on many issues and thank God they remain a secret party that no one has ever heard of outside of small gatherings here and there.

There are a lot of things to be said in advocacy for the environment, and I am as angry as anyone should be at politicians who turn a deaf ear to things like global warming. The other issue, one of animal rights, is fine, but animal rights seem to trump more immediate human rights concerns in too many communities. We see things like more animal shelters and such (ok I suppose), and in the same communities, PIRGs (Public Interest Research Groups) and human rights associations closing their doors for lack of funding (definitely NOT ok!). I have seen social activism being reduced to rescuing puppies while the real dirty work of social activism — advocating for the rights of the human species — being sidelined and taken for granted.

“Tough on crime” agendas seem focused more on populating prisons with people guilty or not than of actually lessening crime. “Lessening crime” is a bit of a nonexistent social issue, an illusory one, since crime statistics are the lowest they have been in decades. It is often an empty-headed vote-grabbing issue done by politicians with no real platform to offer their voters. Yet activists and politicians to the left appear to be going to sleep on this issue, or not offering real solutions.

While the environment is something governments must act on, it has additional baggage of being something that will call upon us as citizens to change our personal habits in a profound way and usually in a disruptive way. A vote killer if there ever was one. The painful contradiction of this is that on this score, the AAEVP is right. Somehow, everyone must get it into their heads that the environment is what supports us, and it is the environment that can destroy us. And the environment does not care if you voted in favour of it or not. On the face of it then, there is nothing you can do in support of the environment that will ever be democratic, and that is because the environment imposes its own totality (read: totalitarian dictatorship), and there is no human that you can get angry at for this.

It would be a failure of the human species for the AAEVP to become popular, since your rights would be (quite properly) ignored in favour of the environment, but ignored again in favour of animal rights.

It is true, the Earth can do without humans, and if we wiped ourselves off the Earth (in some other way than through nuclear arms), the Earth can proceed onward, and probably in much better condition over time, creating a paradise that no human will ever know.

If our picture of our world in the future includes our survival, then the only way we can do it is to become stewards of the Earth. Every utterance of the AAEVP concerns protecting the environment and its animal species, so it looks to me that they view themselves as stewards of the environment. But to support animal rights while saying nothing about the more pressing human rights issues that affect us at our very doorstep could give the impression that the AAEVP doesn’t care whether we exist after voting day either.

A reading of their polical platform gives one the impression that they are not that serious. They seem to feel themselves more as persuaders of the other parties than in actually getting themselves elected. I guess I can go back to sleep. Nothing to fear here.

The bad optics of playing the “bully” card for Margaret Trudeau

Yes, I know the context. Margaret said what she said in the grander context of negative politics, using her son as an example.

The CBC article online today grabbed my attention: “Attacks on Justin Trudeau ‘straight out bullying,’ says mom Margaret“. That, and the illustration just conveyed the worst possible image of a mother doting on her grown son, who needs to stand on his own as an independent politician.

It plays into the Conservative image of trying to dissuade voters from Trudeau because of his young age. The truth is that Harper was 43 when he took over the Reform-Alliance Party, and he was almost that age when he first became Prime Minister. That is the same age as Justin Trudeau is now. At any rate the interview was to promote her new book, The Time of Your Life, about growing old as  a woman in Canada. But the last two minutes or so made the headline story.

In memoriam 2009 (what the heck)

I had something else in mind when I compiled this list of people who passed away back in 2009. For the heck of it, I am posting some “interesting” people who died that year (not in any particular order):

Les Paul, inventor of the electric guitar.
Les Paul, inventor of the electric guitar.

Les Paul – Guitarist and maker of guitars. Inventor of the electric guitar. Rock wouldn’t have existed without him.

Ed McMahon – Former night show sidekick and infomercial huckster
Farrah Fawcett – It was rather remarkable that lots of celebrities passed on in 2009. When I went through them at the IMDB website, I stopped counting at 600. In my “in memoriam” blogs, it’s not my style to emphasize celebrity deaths, but it can’t be helped here.
Micheal Jackson – Needs no introduction.
Sen. Ted Kennedy – While I don’t follow the Kennedys all that much, would he be the last surviving sibling of the “JFK” generation?

The Taco Bell Dog (Gidget) – Rest in peace, little guy.

David Carradine – The Kung Fu star
Dom DeLuise – The comedian only known to play a narrow range of characters, but appeared in plenty of movies
Walter Cronkite – News anchor for CBS, first to announce the death of JFK
Beatrice Arthur – Star of Maude and later, Golden Girls
Susan Atkins
Susan Atkins

Susan Atkins (“Sexy Sadie”) – Neither a celebrity nor politician, nor particularly “sexy”, was one of the murderers of the Charles Manson cult.

Billy Mays (ad huckster, “Tool Guys”) – Even infomercial hucksters are in greater than usual numbers here.
Ricardo Montalban – First, Nescafe, then Fantasy Island, then Star Trek, and now “the Undiscovered Country, from whose bourn no traveller returns” – Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene I.
Soupy Sales – Comedian most known during the 60s and 70s.
Sydney Chaplin – Famous for being the son of Charlie.
Roy Disney – Famous for being the brother of Walt.
John Travolta – First a sweathog, then a singer, then Saturday Night Fever, then Scientology.
Lux Interior

Lux Interior (The Cramps) – Punk rocker famous for incorporating the tackiest elements of ’50s chic into his music, art, and personal style. His songs appear on several recent movie soundtracks, including The Social Network, and The Matador.

Critique of the “Mindblowing Fact” video on income inequality

The video in question  is quite “mind-blowing” as promised, indeed, at over 13 million hits, it can even be called “viral”, but there are problems in how it presents and handles facts and references. While I don’t have a problem with the facts, and I am quite certain they are based on serious numbers, the presentation was too slick, with style clearly triumphing over detail.

The speaker begins by saying he was disturbed by a Harvard study that said that the actual distribution of wealth, what Americans think that distribution is, and the distribution of wealth idealized by Americans is totally out of whack. Americans are aware of existing inequalities, but have not the slightest idea of the extent of those inequalities. While he cites the Harvard study in his presentation, his only printed citation in his list of references at the end was the Mother Jones website, which, if you scroll down, you will find the “source”. In effect, the speaker, whom I didn’t catch the name of, is in effect citing Mother Jones citing the study by Professor Norton of Harvard Business School. I am aware of “Worstall’s Fallacy”, touted most of all by Forbes commentator Tim Worstall himself (Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, and self-described as a “world expert on Scandium”, a transition metal), that “income” and “wealth” are different ideas that seem similar, and that the speaker in this video was committing “Worstall’s Fallacy” by confusing the two. I am never told quite where the speaker in the video does this. But then I thought that even if you corrected for that in the video, it would not change the overall message, just dull it a little bit.

But an even more worrisome statement in the video was at around 2:24 or so, where he derides socialism. Why does he feel he has to separate himself from socialists? Socialism should not be considered a dirty word. The distribution he labels “socialism” is actually Communism. You can only have absolutely equal wealth distributions (as in Communism) in a command economy where you have “no freedom to choose your major”, as Abbie Hoffman once said about Maoist China in the late ’60s (why else other than in an unfree society would you study medicine if you were only going to make as much as a janitor?). And the “ideal” American distribution cited as supportable by 9/10 Americans (where rich and poor coexist) would only be possible through wealth redistribution. I think the word for that second option begins with “S” and ends with “m” and rhymes with “populism”, and exists to some extent in most advanced capitalist democracies around the world. In fact, capitalist democracies are the only places I think that socialism is possible.

A choice joke I heard making the rounds is the one about a Union worker, a Tea Party supporter, and a millionaire Industrialist in the same room where there is a plate with a dozen cookies. The Industrialist takes 11 of them, and whispers to the Tea Party supporter: “That Union guy is trying to steal your cookie!”

Rob Ford and His Continued Support

A likeness of His Worship, albeit looking a tad younger and slimmer in this photo.

Etobicoke. People in hard times. Yeah, there are good parts of this Toronto borough, but huge parts of it are run-down and filling up with down-and-outers looking to make a buck any way they can. People in hard times, closed shops and factories, low rates of literacy, and not much money to spend.

After decades of seeing their jobs moving to Mexico and the Asia-Pacific region, or having their job security thrown into torpor with the prospect of having them competing with jobs in these places, the members of Ford Nation are weary, and have lost hope in any prospect of a secure job. It is not like in times past anymore, where we lived in a work environment where the employer would take care of them. The differences in wealth have never been greater since the 1920s. The new employment strategy among the employers in Etobicoke seems to be to blame the unemployed for their unemployment.

There was, once upon a time, a way around this: Organize. Share thoughts and concerns, make demands. The ability to organize takes a certain level of self-efficacy, and not many seem to feel that they have it. It is a feeling, after all, since if illiterate workers in Argentina can do it, I am sure workers in Etobicoke can do it too. But there is a certain element of this that is emotional. if you don’t feel that you can do something successfully, you probably aren’t going to be successful.

One of many “splinter denomination” churches, this one has a national reach, with other locations in Hamilton, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Washington DC, and other places with lots of poverty. This one is located on Rexdale Boulevard in the heart of Ford Nation.

But that’s another thing. Today’s employee is probably just glad they have a job at all, let alone one that would grant any job security. Unstable incomes lead to unstable families, marriages, and lives. Who do you turn to?

God. And possibly Oprah.

I believe in God. But I think that the number of churches where the answer to poverty is that “if you pray to God with love in your heart, you will get what you need” is on a worrisone rise, and the one-of-a-kind churches seem to specialize in this. While apparently everyone has seemed to given up on organizing, and working as a group of concerned people in a community, I sense that some denominations tend to mimic the effects of the major media, in exacerbating feelings of aloneness and atomization, the opposite of community.

But in comes Rob Ford. Like “us”, he drinks, says anything that is on his mind, and tells off-color jokes. People in Etobicoke identify with him, almost forgetting that his father was a factory owner (he was born into money), and he too is also rich, owns a bungalow and drives an Escalade. Also, unlike most of the working class, he can afford to smoke crack. But instead, the self-appointed denizens of Ford Nation choose to see that “he has his problems” like “us”. He admits his imperfection so that it may help heal his wounds. Even Jesus had wounds, and suffered greatly, so that he may heal others.

Does anyone remember the billboard that was up for one day long the Gardiner Expressway/Highway 427 basket weave (you can’t call it a cloverleaf) that mentioned Rob Ford and ended with a quote from John 8:7? The “cast the first stone” verse is a bad choice of quote, since, well, what is the context? If I recall my Bible correctly, a woman who committed adultery faced a public death by stoning. Jesus intervened and made his famous order that any man who was there (they were all men doing the stoning) who was “without sin” cast the first stone. I take this, and I believe not altogether incorrectly, that any man present who had also not been adulterous cast the first stone. “Sin” in this context usually always means having sex when you are not supposed to. They had, by how I interpret that parable, all been sinful, and likely sinful in the same way. I can say how this is a commentary on how we as humans tend to be the most passionate accusers of other people’s sins which we have ourselves committed, but you’ll be spared. Instead, I draw your attention to the fact that the “sins” are equivalent. All people Jesus faces are guilty of the same or similar sins.

We are given the impression through this sign that I, a sinner have no right to call out a mayor who smokes crack or acts in a highly unprofessional manner in many ways. This only works if my “sins” are equivalent to Ford’s (in this case, vices of many descriptions including drugs and sex). Not all of us smoke crack or consort with prostitutes and drug dealers. I think that makes the majority of our population free of such “sins”.

Rob Ford is not Jesus. Jesus did not smoke crack, nor did Jesus find himself in the company of crack dealers. If it were, it would only to be to get them to repent their crack-dealing ways forever. Jesus was never in “a drunken stupor”. Also, unlike Jesus, most of Ford’s wounds are self-inflicted, if we are to carry the “wound” analogy. Ford has a bigger problem that can’t just be confessed away, and it goes beyond any problems “us common folk” have. These are problems involving criminals, and the police. This is a larger set of personal problems that would dwarf most of ours by orders of magnitude. And they are all problems that Rob Ford made for himself.

Rob Ford is not like us. Not like us at all.