Archives For News and Politics

Every now and then I read something that completely takes the wind out of me. Usually these involve harrowing stories of amazing individuals, or truly unbelievable events. Other times I am amazed by the utter stupidity and incompetence of people in the modern world. Here I was, pleased with my blogging output for the day, ready to continue reading the first book in my 50 Book Pledge, and then I see this tweet from Norm Wilner:

The link is to an opinion column on the New York Times website entitled ‘Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?’

Look, I have a great deal of respect for The New York Times. It’s generally a fine organization dedicated to putting out quality, well-written journalism. At least, I used to have a great deal of respect for them. Now, maybe not so much. Click to read more.

Republicans are nutjobs. Not all of them, but a lot of them. They are people who view society as something that should not evolve or grow or make progress. They are dragged kicking and screaming into the march of progress and the betterment of society, and they do as much as possible to curb or reverse such trends. They are also people who by and large conflate their views of how government and society should be run with their personal religious convictions. What’s worse, half the time their religious convictions don’t sync up with what the Republican party actually stands for. Find me the passage in the New Testament where it says that those with the most money should have the greatest voice and the most power.

So yeah, I don’t agree with most Republicans on almost anything. There are a few things I do sometimes agree with them on, but not many. That’s why it makes me sad when I do agree with them on things that they are 100% right about for 100% the wrong reasons. ThinkProgess, a left wing site, recently published an article about a poll which revealed that approximately 2/3 Republicans and FOX News viewers believe Islam is incompatible with American values. I am neither a conservative, nor a FOX News viewer (other than occasionally, and only ironically), but I am inclined to agree with that statement. In fact, they are completely correct. Continue Reading…

I was never the biggest supporter of NDP Leader Jack Layton. I found his politics leaned too strictly to the left, but with a cold, calculating tendency to prop up the Conservative Party for no other reason than to get ahead of the Liberals. But whatever I thought of his shrewd politicking, there is no doubt his ambition was as grand as any Canadian politician since Pierre Trudeau. Layton saw something beautiful and compassionate in the Canadian electorate. When people scoffed at the idea of a powerful federal NDP, Layton stood strong, stood firm, and brought a boundless energy to the sadly apathetic state of our federal system.

Layton is gone now, but his energy will hopefully live on for a while longer.

It was in the last election that Jack Layton was finally vindicated for his vision. As he got up on the national stage, cane in hand as a sign of defiance, he displayed remarkable tenacity. Through sheer force of personality, Jack Layton managed to make the NDP the official opposition for the first time ever in the House of Commons. I did not vote NDP, but I couldn’t help feeling great pride in the way Jack Layton managed to speak to Canadians and to a dejected electorate in Quebec.

His passion was endless and the fortitude Layton brought to Canadian politics will be remembered for some time. He was a true fighter. He fought cancer in the last years of his life, and just as everything seemed to turn a corner and everything seemed to be going Jack Layton’s way he lost that fight.

The suddenness of the announcement on July 25th that he had a new form of cancer was shocking. That shock is only outdone by the suddenness of his passing mere weeks later. Canada needed a strong party and opposition leader like Jack Layton, and he leaves behind a huge void that will be immensely difficult to fill.

The loss of Jack Layton is a deep loss for Canada. My thoughts are with his wife, Olivia, his children, and all of his family and friends. I mourn with them, and I’m sure all of Canada mourns with them as well.

I don’t have much more to say about this epic rant from MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan. He basically nails it. It’s so refreshing to see a cable news host get riled up and angry, but not be completely crazy like Glenn Beck or completely and morally wrong like Bill O’Reilly. If only the news media and politicians actually spoke the simple, direct truth this way all the time, the world would be a better place.

Good work, Mr. Ratigan. My respect for you just ballooned.

Mayor Rob Ford, very tired, total asshat.

Today I got in front of my TV to watch some CNN. I was confronted with the BREAKING NEWS that Speaker John Boehner was trying to get his totally fractured party to vote one way on his proposed budget/debt-ceiling plan. After a few hours of waiting, Boehner didn’t get anything done, the vote didn’t happen, and the United States continues to be stuck in a terrible political game that threatens the global economy and the welfare of a nation.

Meanwhile, here in Canada, in the fine city of Toronto, democracy is working just as it should.

Toronto recently elected Rob Ford as Mayor. The best way to describe Ford is as the Canadian version of a tea-party clown, only much more obnoxious. Now Rob Ford is tabling cuts to municipal services based on the recommendations of the recent KPMG Report Core Services Review. The report highlights ways for the City of Toronto to save millions of dollars by making bold cuts. Everything is on the line, from cutting funding to community organizations for the poor and troubled youth, to cutting public transportation lines and services, to closing public libraries.

That last one made for some headlines when Margaret Atwood supported a petition which garnered 39,000 signatures in an effort to keep all library branches open. Rob Ford’s brother, Doug Ford, responded by saying, “I don’t even know her. If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is,” and “Tell her to go run in the next election and get democratically elected.” This is the kind of idiotic mindset Toronto is dealing with.

The proposed cuts would systemically alter the entire fabric of the city, and many of the cuts would actually cost the city economically down the road.

Yesterday, the Toronto Executive Committee opened up the Core Services Review to a public forum. And that’s where something happened. I am sitting now, right now, watching a live stream of the open forum that is still going on and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

Ford’s actions have awoken a normally apathetic public. The people of the city have come out of the woodwork to have their voices heard. These are people that understand the power of democracy in action. They are standing up against the people who play to the apathy of middle class voters. They are standing up for the future of one of the greatest cities in the world (hopefully before it loses that lustre).

On Twitter I have seen people using the hashtag #citizenfilibuster. I love that. It’s a slap in the face to what has happened to American politics of late, and it’s the perfect description for what these true citizens are doing. They are taking as stand, not unlike Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, for what’s right. Hopefully their voices are heard by the city councillors.

UPDATE: At one point late in the evening, Rob Ford left the room for roughly an hour. A lot of people speculated about what he was up to. Now we know at least one of the things he did. He called into a radio show on TSN Radio to talk CFL (that’s Canadian Football, for all y’all ‘mericans). While on the line he also took some shots at the people coming down to City Hall. That’s real nice, Ford. Real nice.

This is what democracy looks like, and ain’t it beautiful?

Yesterday, as I followed the news coming out of Norway, I was shocked and appalled. News of the explosion in Oslo and the subsequent shooting at the youth camp in Utøya spilled out on my Twitter and Google+ feeds, and all I could do was watch with bated breath as the scope of the attack became more and more clear. In the evening, I went out to a party. At that point in the night the death toll in Utøya had been confirmed as 10+. When I got back home in the early morning hours I checked the news reports to see if any more information had come out. My heart began to race as I saw the numbers. Over 80 people, mostly teenagers, shot at the youth camp.

“Shock” could no longer begin to describe my feelings at that point.

There have been many larger terror attacks all over the world. There have been many more killed in those attacks. But the visceral impact of a person using a gun to shoot and kill over 80 people is simply beyond my comprehension.

I am generally an optimist regarding the future of mankind. Humanity has been through too many wars and horrors to count, and as it stands our world is a much better place to live in that it ever has been. Yet the implication of evil has not gone away, and such an atrocity as took place yesterday proves that true evil will always exist.

I am an atheist. I don’t believe in God, nor do I believe in the Devil. I have no need for such things. Evil exists, but to attribute it to an outside, supernatural force ignores the truth at the heart of humanity. Our choices define us, and any good or evil in this world is a function of that. The man that took to committing such an unbelievable attack is evil. He is an evil person who acted on evil ideas and with ruthless disdain for everything potentially good in humanity.

Terrorism is a terrible thing, and we all grieve for the victims, but at the heart of such attacks are the people who carry them out. It is impossible to truly understand the mind of a psychopath, or to get in the head of a militant terrorist. Just as we cannot ever really comprehend the boys who terrorized the halls of Columbine High School eleven years ago, we will never be able to properly comprehend the forces that compel a man to blow up a building full of people and indiscriminately shoot nearly one-hundred people at a Summer camp.

There’s just no way. It’s impossible. Such inhumanity is diametrically opposed to all that makes us human. All we are left with is the impact. The initial shock. The visceral disgust. The grief and mourning for those who were lost and a sense of innocence shattered. The implications of such an attack in the heart of Scandinavia will not be fully understood for a long time.

For now, the senselessness of the attack in Norway is something we can only cope with, and when it comes down to it that’s the most horrific thing of all.

My thoughts go out to all the victims and all the friends and family of those who are now only with us in memory.