The Hypocrite Party of Canada

The Hypocrite Party of Canada (formerly known as the Conservative Party of Canada) has been clutching its pearls since yesterday about a tweet by Dale Smith that referred to Pipsqueak’s speech saying “when a horse is that lame you shoot it”.  By being willfully obtuse the Hypocrites are shouting from the rooftops that Smith “threatened violence on an MP”, which doesn’t nearly pass the laugh test, and want Smith to be expelled from the press gallery.

It’s funny, I can’t recall that much outrage back in 2019, when a Tory Senator spoke to a group of protesting truckers and told them to “roll over every Liberal left in the country”.  The name of the Senator is David Tkachuk, and this was actually reported at the time: https://www.huffpost.com/archive/ca/entry/david-tkachuk-united-we-roll-ottawa-convoy_a_23674517

And Senator Tkachuk double down when he was asked to apologize: https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/conservative-senator-won-t-apologize-for-telling-protesters-to-roll-over-every-liberal-1.4307250

There is no record of the Hypocrite Party of Canada ever taking any measure in response to this, or even issuing any kind of statement whatsoever to put pressure on the Senator.

If the Hypocrite Party of Canada want to play this game, we’ve got receipts.

How I am Better than Donald Trump

I managed to get put in Twitter jail for saying that a politician in the USA who falsely claimed to be a combat veteran “rode into town on Stolen Valor and should be railroaded out with tar & feathers”. Anyone with two or more working neurons would take that to mean “he tried to capitalize on lies about military service and he should be roundly shamed and ridiculed”, but clearly Twitter’s staff does not have such a luxury of neurons.

Donald Trump basically had to completely ignore the service’s ToS and repeatedly violate it for years to get such treatment, and I did it just by making a simple joke while sitting at home. That’s how I am better than Donald Trump.

Of course there’s also the whole thing about me not being a misogynistic, racist con man with a history of defrauding charities, *very* close friendship with sexual predators and over 30 sexual assault allegations. But today I’m just concentrating on how I’m better at getting my Twitter account suspended.

Life imitating art — but it’s “Triumph of the Will”

Donald Trump had one of his rallies on Saturday but a lot of people are saying that the former president has gone too far at this latest event. I didn’t feel like actually listening to Trump speak for 10 seconds, let alone two hours, but then this photo taken at the event started circulating. See if you can tell what makes this photo interesting, it’s very subtle…

Trump rally salute
Trump rally salute

Hmm… let’s go to video, that’s the Newsmax feed. Newsmax was one of very few stations to broadcast this event. Even Fox News gave it a miss. Check out the second video in this tweet:

It’s not just Trump either, this video was taken at a rally for the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania held on the next day:

This is getting pretty creepy.

 

21 Years On

Today is September 11th 2022, the twenty-first anniversary of the attacks on New York City and Washington by a number of Al Qaeda associated terrorists. One of the questions asked on social networks today is, how do you mark this momentous day?

As someone who lived in the NYC area at the time and saw the towers collapse not on television but with my own eyes, I don’t mark the day in particular.

The trauma of the events, the heroism of the first responders, the sorrow of knowing how many lives were extinguished in the collapse, seeing people come together, neighbors helping neighbors… these are things that stay with me all the time. They don’t go away the other 364 days of the year.

But every year on the day I’m reminded of how the right-wing stole the day and used it as an excuse to start a war of choice in Iraq that’s completely destabilized the region and lead to millions of deaths as well as the establishment of a ultra-fascist state (ISIS) that no one has been able to fully eradicate, and ultimately the start of the downward spiral in which the United States finds itself now where it feels like 30% of the country have become radicalized white supremacists as a result of the power hunger of the Republican Party.

In a very real sense 9/11 was the beginning of the end of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and it should have been recognized as such. It was a desperate operation that was meant, in the planners’ minds, to “wake up America” and cause it to rebel against their leaders for their historical hubris, and resulted in the opposite. That’s the real goal of what are intended to be “revolutionary actions”. The only thing it showed is how much Al Qaeda’s leaders had their heads up their own asses. In America the right-wingers started the battle cry and the others followed in response to the trauma of the event. How people who had renounced any national alliance and instead chose to live in literal caves in Afghanistan thought that they knew how Americans thought would be pretty comical if it hadn’t lead to so much death.

Even in tactical terms I’m certain the operation was pretty much a failure. In the famous video that was issued shortly after this Osama bin Laden expressed that the event had been “more successful than had been hoped”, which is something he would say, but what he betrayed there was that things hadn’t gone to plan. We now know there was supposed to be a fifth plane but the prospective pilot of that plane had been in FBI custody for a while. One of the four planes was brought down in Pennsylvania as a result of the passengers storming the cockpit, and the attack on the Pentagon had not caused nearly as much damage as had been hoped.

Personally I have always believed that what the planners thought would happen as a result of the airplanes hitting the towers was that the momentum would cause the towers to topple over. That would have been an absolute catastrophe for lower Manhattan. The towers site is very close to Wall Street and the NYSE was only a few blocks away. Had the first plane had its intended effect the NYSE and everyone in the building at the time would have become history. As it were yes, the entirety of lower Manhattan was covered by asbestos-laden dust as a result of the attack, but the actual heavy debris zone was confined to a surprisingly small area, extending past the footprint of the WTC site only by about one NYC block. One can’t overestimate how important that detail is in retrospect. The NYSE reopened less than a week later, which is pretty remarkable.

The fact that the towers pretty much collapsed into their own footprints is something that (in my opinion) OBL didn’t expect and didn’t plan for. As was the low number of casualties. These were the two largest buildings in NYC, a place full of natural go-getters who really don’t think that showing up to work at 7am is unusual. The city itself put in an order for 50,000 body bags in the days following the attack and that did not really strike anyone as being excessive at the time. That ultimately less than 3000 died was pretty amazing. Ultimately the terrorists had a “symbolic victory” at the expense of losing pretty much everything they had.

What America did to itself and the world as a result of 9/11 is something much worse. I won’t go through it here because, well, it’s 21 years of nihilistic Republican hubris occasionally paused by Democrats desperately trying to fix things while dodging GOP knives aimed at their backs. It’s just too long to go through. I’m left with the overwhelming sense that the USA I knew and loved before that no longer exists, with the fault of that not being the attack but the rabid and ugly nationalism that followed it. And for all the posturing and chest-beating the USA has steadfastly refused to hold Saudi Arabia responsible in any way for their part in the plot — which was just an extension of the usual Saudi policy of remaining willingly blind to terrorist plots as long as they happen outside the Kingdom. Most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia and many of them had their rents in America paid by the Saudi Crown while they lay in wait for the signal to strike. None of this is new, everything’s in the official 9/11 report. But oil money speaks louder than corpses in the rubble.

So, every year at this time, that’s what I consciously remember. America responding to the last dying spark of Al Qaeda, by slowly but surely destroying itself and making a mockery of its own so-called principles.

Saying Goodbye

My 14 year old dog Judi has recently crossed the rainbow bridge.

Judi was 5 when she came into my life in 2012. She was my first dog, my first pet really. I had spent quite a bit of time in the two years prior researching dog breeds and I knew that I wanted a boston terrier, and then something happened that made me decide to “pull the trigger” on this, so to speak — I suffered a third degree burn while out for the Labor Day long weekend and had to spend almost two weeks in the burns ward. I found the experience particularly trying because once you’re let into the burns ward you really can’t leave until your skin graft is in place, due to the chance of infection. A third-degree burn basically causes a hole in your skin that just lets any pathogens in.

Once I left I figured that I should get a dog now, or forget about the whole thing. I spent a lot of time on Kijiji (it’s like craigslist for Canadians) looking at adoptable dogs. I didn’t want a puppy, I wanted to adopt a grown dog, which I felt was the best approach for someone with no experience. Somehow I knew that I wanted a girl, but didn’t really know why. But when I saw Judi’s ad I didn’t think twice and made arrangements with her current owner to pick her up that same day. The ad said free but the lady called me back and said that was an error and that getting Judi would cost me $200. That’s a bit of a joke given how much dogs cost nowadays.

So I drive over and pick up my little dog. She clearly hadn’t been there that long. The lady said that Judi and her other dog, a toy poodle, weren’t getting along — probably because, as I figured out soon after, both dogs were intact females probably used for breeding. Mind you, such was my inexperience that I had no idea that Judi had recently had a litter of puppies, I learned that from an employee at a pet shop. Her claws were in pretty bad shape, no one had trimmed them for quite a long time. But she wasn’t going to be neglected anymore, not now that she was with me. For about a year I became a dog dad, going on long walks all over Montreal with Judi.

Judi moved to Halifax with me in November of 2013 and became part of the merged family I formed with Lucie and Geneva, not without a few hiccups of course, but we hit our stride. Then along came Beatrice, whom Judi seemed to fear at first, but later warmed to.

Judi seemed to especially enjoy the first apartment I moved to in Halifax. It had a fairly large backyard and we liked to give her the run of it, with our rear door open so we could monitor her. She was well-liked by the other people of the building. She wasn’t so keen on other dogs; indeed her reaction to another canine was always a toss-up. Whenever I saw another dog coming towards her I took her in a different direction. You’d be surprised how often other dog owners completely disregarded this, however. I remember being in Montreal on a grassy knoll when I spotted another dog owner walking his dog, and so I was taking Judi to another place and not being even remotely subtle about it, but the guy was probably a little thick and insisted on having his dog meet mine, and Judi snapped at the poor canine. The other dog owner asked “why did he do that?” and the explanation going way over his head. Yeah guy, your dog is friendly, but my dog isn’t, and that’s why I was trying to get away. But sadly it’s a very contemporary trait of people that they just refuse to see reality even as it unfolds before them.

It’s hard to tell whether a dog is truly happy. I hope that Judi was, although as things progressed it was clear that I could no longer give her as much time as I previously could, as I now had to take care of the humans in the house. We moved to Bedford in 2015, which Judi didn’t enjoy as much. I think she enjoyed playing with the other building tenants before that, and now she was in a place that had a postage-stamp-sized yard and only the family for company. Of course she was 9 by then and slowing down a little bit but still spry and energetic.

In 2018 we moved to our current house, a place which was (and is) full of potential, but TBH hasn’t lived up to expectations. We now had a yard… 90% fenced in but not closed, so Judi never took to it much. We lived in a dog-rich neighborhood, but Judi had started developing some problems with her hearing which left her deaf about a year after we moved, so she was not as interested in walking about as she had been before, and whatever interest she had mostly disappeared after she started getting vision problems as well. By that time I was the only one in our house actually taking her outside.

About a year ago we started noticing that she had some problems with her back legs, they weren’t working right anymore. It was fairly serious arthritis. Her muscles started wasting away. Her eye problems got worse and one of her eyes was bulging and had a broken blood vessel inside; then she started having seizures periodically where she would either slip on the floor like her four legs had no strength left, or fall over to one side. Vets didn’t have any answers for her problems. I noticed that she was sleeping more and more deeply during the day. After much soul-searching and discussions we decided that it was time to stop Judi’s suffering. We had a vet from a service called Forever Loved come to our house and help Judi cross the rainbow bridge.

It was very hard on the kids, particularly Geneva. She and Judi had become particularly close. However Judi was clearly in pain and we did not want to prolong her suffering because we weren’t ready. I don’t know what it’s like to have a pet put to sleep in a vet clinic, but it seemed to us best to do it at home, in an environment Judi knew and loved.

I think I’ll always remember bringing Judi’s body to the vet’s car. Judi hated getting picked up, even when it was needed — to get up on the couch in her last weeks, for example — but she felt so much heavier now that she was no longer struggling to get away…

It has been a little over two weeks now.

All four of us miss Judi. When you spend years and years sharing your everyday with a little creature like that they’re not “just a pet”, they’re a non-human person, they’re part of the family. We all miss her in different ways, and it’s a very personal process for each of us. We like to think that in situations like this, when we have a lot of time to prepare ourselves, we will know grief when we feel it. But we delude ourselves, especially by thinking of “grief” as something objective. It is not. It is like love in the sense that it reflects both the grieved and the griever.

The grief I feel constantly since her passage is that I feel I was not taking care of her and spending time with her as much as I should have in her last couple of years. I have suffered from major depression for decades now, and in the last few years the pressure on me has just ratcheted up to the point where I’m just dead tired by the time I’ve put the kids to bed — largely because I’m also the first one up in the morning to get them to school. I remember all the times that Judi came downstairs to see me and I was sitting in front of my monitors with a thousand-yard-stare, and just had no strength to do anything. A few pets as she came by, and that’s about it. I had no idea I would miss these little visits so much, or feel so damn guilty about them.

It’s also said that all dads should have a dog because at least it ensures that someone in the house will be happy to see them when they come home. That resonated strongly enough with me that I often told Judi that when she was visibly excited to see me; I knew she was deaf and couldn’t hear a damned thing, and as a dog she wouldn’t have understood what I had said anyway, but I never got out of the habit of talking to her. Well now I don’t have that.

I also miss her in a different way. When I came to Halifax I had already seriously reduced the amount of stuff I had (I used to have way too much stuff really). Since then I have also ditched a whole lot more things I owned; I got rid of about 95% of the physical books I had retained, almost all the DVDs I had collected over the years, most of the clothes I brought with me are gone or as good as gone (by which I mean I no longer fit into them and I’m not deluded enough to think I will ever do so again). So there’s little I still have that came with me on the 2013 move. In March 2020 the timing on my car failed — just in time for the first COVID shutdown — and since then I’ve had it towed to my house and tried to fix it, but I just don’t have the time or know-how. I remember how keen I was to get my hands dirty and fix that thing… but due to other engagements I could never give it the time I needed to give it, and now it just sits besides the house like a monument to my personal failures. I always go out the side door and can’t really ignore it.

In the 18 months it’s been sitting there I’ve come to accept that much, but many a time it struck me that Judi was the last reminder of my life before I made the decision to change it to whatever it has become now. And now she’s gone, and she’s taken a part of me with her.

Finally the grief is also, in a more general way, a statement on mortality. When I took Judi for her last walkies outside I knew it was the last time we would do this and it hit me like a ton of bricks. And earlier this week when I dropped off my daughter at school I watched her walk from the car to the school’s door and the thought struck me — one day it will be the last time for that too. As far as I know no one’s seriously ill in the family but death is the one thing that is guaranteed to all. I’m far from young, far from fit, and on the inside I often find myself consumed by anxiety, depression, anger and frustration. I don’t have any illusions that I’m going to live a very long life. That’s not my current trajectory, anyway.

So, goodbye Judi. You were loved, and you’re missed more than you could imagine.

Then and now

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” – Henry David Thoreau

You may recognize this rather famous quote. It’s from Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. I read that book as a young man, as part of a philosophy class. I remember how smug I felt at the time about that statement. I was never going to be one of those people. I was young, very well-read, and I was going to do great things in life…

I trust you can see where I’m going with this.

I don’t even know exactly how I came to think of that quote, but think of it I did. And I came to realize that, at 50, it sums up the life I lead now.

OK, “swore to destroy” is an extreme way to look at it, but back then I really felt like I didn’t want to end up like, say, my boss at the accounting firm where I worked one summer. That seemed like the worst thing. Yet when I look at the situation objectively, his situation was not exactly bad… his house was probably paid off, his minivan actually worked. It’s always hard to know these things in retrospect but as a partner in his firm he was probably quite wealthy. Partners at large accounting firms are well paid

Well, the joke’s on me. Career wise things haven’t so far gotten me where I would want to be. My car has been sitting still in my driveway for over a year now. And while my old boss probably flew down to the DR a couple of times a year for a week of R&R, it’s just not the kind of vacation schedule I can think of as realistic. Not for a while.

So, as I thought about that, I must admit that my pride took a hit.

Literature

I’ve been looking for a book on parenting and this one stood out from the others.

Bye bye NS Liberals…

So the ruling Liberal party took a big shellacking in yesterday’s election, which yielded a majority for the Progressive Conservative party in Province House. And of course liberal backers are now wandering in a daze wondering what went wrong. Well, wonder no more.

Rankin’s Liberals gave us nothing to vote for this year. I’d even say that they reminded me of that federal election that ushered in Stephen Harper in 2005 — apparently they just never even remotely considered the idea that people would not just blindly vote for them. But they made no substantive promises and ran on a record which was frankly pretty bad.

But, you will say, how about the province’s handling of the pandemic? Yes, the numbers have always been good. However, the government was never really the reason for that. Nova Scotia weathered the COVID storm mostly because it only shares a border with one other province, and because the economy is permanently depressed in this area of the country. Given that air travel is regulated by the federal government, there was only so much the provincial government could screw up. They did do a decent job, but there wasn’t that much to it.

On the other hand there was a lot to dislike about the Nova Scotia liberal party. They are kinda defined by their enduring fight against unions of all types. They waged very public wars on the nurses’ and teachers’ unions which lost them a lot of votes. They basically used arbitration and bad-faith negotiations to strip unions of real power and to limit workers’ rights in the province. This has gone on throughout the McNeil years, and Rankin had no plan to change that. So if anyone is afraid of the PC being right-wing on union issues, well, they can’t do much worse on this score than the government they replace.

Two more political decisions also took put the government in a pretty awful light. One of them was to eliminate the Graduate Retention Rebate, which was a tax rebate intended to keep people who had graduated in NS staying here to work. One of the big issues in the Atlantic provinces is that young people tend to leave the province as soon as they can find work elsewhere. To be honest I wish I had been more aware of this before moving here. The cost of living is ridiculous given the low level of economic activity compared to pretty much everywhere outside the Maritimes, and getting rid of the rebate pretty much ensured that the exodus of youth from the province was set to continue indefinitely. And then the government tried to eliminate the Nova Scotia Film Tax Credit, which was a pretty successful way of attracting film production to the province. Neither program really cost much in the bigger scheme of things but the government was surprisingly insistent on killing both. Eventually they had to back down on the film production tax credit issue, but it left the liberals looking like they were championing austerity politics over people, especially considering the province’s frankly poor economic position.

That being said, the two bigger issues that sank the Libs this year were education and health care.

In 2018 the government decided to unilaterally dissolve the province’s school boards (with the exception of the French-language Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial) and instead put all decision-making into the hands of the Education Minister. A provision existed for the creation of an advisory board but that board was to be entirely peopled by… the Education Minister. Also the government decided to break up the provincial teachers’ union by declaring that executive employees would no longer be part of the union, which is a pretty classic bout of union busting. Again there were big protests at Province House but since the government had a majority they bulldozed things through.

However the bigger failure of the Liberal government was in the area of health care. Ever since I’ve come to this province it’s been bleeding doctors. The government’s authoritarian tendencies has been leading doctors and nurses to leave the province in high numbers, resulting in 70,000 Nova Scotians being unable to find a family doctor. This doesn’t sound like much until you consider that the entire province has less than a million people in it. In a way it’s more symptomatic of the province’s more enduring problems — the cost of living is absurd, and to top it off we have the costliest electricity and taxes in the whole country. As a result it’s pretty hard to attract medical personnel. With each budget more money is allocated to cash incentives for doctors to come over, but inevitably they leave once the conditions of these incentives expires. This has serious repercussions for NS residents. Seeing a specialist can take a very long time, depending on the specialty. For women a gynaecological appointment is a 9-12 month wait. Seeing a dermatologist involved a 6 month wait. Thankfully I’ve not had to see many more doctors but it makes it very difficult to get things like my tinnitus taken care of.

Ultimately all the Progressive Conservatives had to do was promise investment into the health sector to tip the government. And that they did.

Ultimately the Liberal government’s downfall was due to themselves. They arrogantly began to adopt the “who else are people going to vote for” attitude and it’s bitten them solidly on the rear end. It’s not a shift to the right, just a changes of faces at the top.

Overthinking much?

I admit I’m guilty of overthinking things as much as the next guy, but it’s never been “is PAW Patrol authoritarian propaganda in disguise” bad.

Jonathan Pie

Here’s a prime example of why you should be following Jonathan Pie’s account on Youtube…

%d bloggers like this: