Monday, February 08, 2016

Trudeau and ISIL: some guesses and thoughts

Just watching the press conference about Canada withdrawing CF-18s from Iraq and increasing the number of special forces and logistical support...some quick thoughts.

- Half a dozen CF-18s bombing the odd truck or position every few days is not massive air campaign. I'd venture to guess that there is an oversupply of strike aircraft in the region relative to available targets. Unless a significant ground battle is joined by forces the West supports, news reports suggest allied strike aircraft are largely hitting targets of opportunity. Removing our more charismatic weapons (CF-18s) from the fight will not impact anything other than domestic public opinion. Bombing sounds exciting and less boring than a long slow enabling of local forces, which in turn is more politically palatable that admitting there's no real strategy at work and whatever we do is probably pointless.

- Local forces are whatever they are and are the key to keeping ISIL at bay if not deating them. Supporting key actors there to - for now, to some extent - is probably the only real way to be involved if Canada insists it wants to be involved militarily, let alone any other way.

- Local forces are diverse, often oppositional, and shift in the winds. Some constants are the Kurdish forces who have a territorial base and a coherent mission. Turkey plays an ambiguous role. Russia is present and will largely do as it pleases and backs Assad. Mix in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and so on and whatever Canada does or doesn't do, it won't be in any way decisive.

- We're there for show, because all our big showy friends (who made the most recent mess, re invading Iraq 2003) are there. No one knows or has known what their doing because everything is complex, non-linear, and superpositioned where allies and enemies can be one and the same.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Brave "Albertans" cowardly lost an election

The stuff being posted about Notley and other women in her government is appalling. Death threats, threats of violence are criminal because they have no place in a civilised society. This much should be obvious to the lawnorder conservative crowd.

But again, not really. So much is so lost on them.

Instead, we get yet another flavour of the cheetoh-crumb basement misogyny currently in vogue. 

Grown men threatening violence against the women with whom they disagree. 

Imagine that. 

Men with sisters, mothers, girlfriends, wives, colleagues and friends bashing out stuff on their facebooks and chatrooms. 

Tough guys, these "cowboys"


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fascist aesthetics in North America

Between the gaudy American and O'Leary, North American fascism has a distinct and tacky aesthetic compared to the martial notes of its European and Latin American ancestors. Instead, our wazzocks are fond of expensive ties and a Vegas aesthetic from about 1975.


Friday, January 08, 2016

IlLiberal advice

So the Grit briefing book suggests "deepening" ties with Saudi Arabia, hence the deal for the little tanks.

Seriously, who gives this advice? And why in good heavens would a Liberal listen to it? (Dion, you're a sociologist and should get this.)

LOOK at the trend, the violence across the region is worsening, spilling over borders along Sunni and Shia lines.  Well armed regional powers, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, the actors in the strange civil war in Syria, are the defining actors. Powers like Russia and the US are playing supporting roles, largely reacting to events, trying leverage one favourite or another. The are not really dictating to or controlling anyone or anything.

Supplying arms to any side simply lubricates the downward slide. If (WHEN!) things slide further, there is not guarantee whatsoever that the 'side' anyone backs now will continue to look in any way favourable.

Canada has no dog in this fight beyond the role of peacemaker. We are not arsonists.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Strait of Hormuz 2017

[Speculative news, 2017] The internal disintegration of Saudi Arabia continues apace, with the monarchy attempting to hold on to power amid violence between radical Islamist movements spilling over from Iraq, Syria and moderate Saudis pushing for democratic reform.

Troops with newly supplied Canadian-made armoured vehicles were filmed yesterday firing on unarmed protesters in what Twitter has rapidly coined the Riyadh Massacre. This follows intensifying exchanges between the air and naval forces of Iran and Saudi Arabia resulting military casualties and the loss of a number of ships and aircraft. These include the three Saudi Typhoons shotdown this week to what are thought to be Russian-supplied Iranian S-400 surface to air missiles.

In Canada, the Liberal government has come under sustained criticism for its failure to cancel the armoured vehicle deal made under the previous Conservative government. The Canadian foreign minister, St├ęphane Dion announced his sudden resignation in a brief press release, and the prime minister's office has not yet responded to Dion's announcement or events in middle-east, although an announcement is scheduled for tomorrow.

Many experts interviewed by the media have stated that yesterday's events were entirely predictable given the steady disintegration of region since the post-9/11 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq by US-led forces.

"Why the Trudeau government continued such awful Tory policies in the region is a bloody mystery. I warned them!" complained one source, an early advisor to the Trudeau government who said he  resigned after he felt his advice was ignored. Others have suggested that pressure from international allies and domestic pressure around manufacturing jobs contributed to the Liberal decision not to cancel the vehicles deal.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015

Line up, you lying, cheating Harperistas ... here comes the bus

Remember this?

How about this or this?

So, from the mouth of a Harper conservative we get this:
“Basically what happened was that they used robocalls to misdirect NDP voters, to split the vote and allow Gary Lunn to win,” Duffy said.
“He knew nothing about it, except that they phoned him afterward and said ‘You’re welcome Gary.’ He said ‘What?’ (They said) ‘We got you in’.”
Lunn told The Canadian Press on Thursday that he has no recollection of the June 2009 lunch, never knew who made the misleading phone calls and never told Duffy that it was Conservative headquarters.
Somebody is lying. 

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Accounting hangovers from the last government

Well, last week we discovered the last government's projections on the budget were off by over $5 billion, moving from surplus to deficit.

Today we discover the shipbuilding programme for the Navy was using cost estimates from nearly a decade ago(?!) and the cost of sorting out the senior service is likely to be much much higher. (Good-bye F-35 & Eurofighter; hello cheapest(?) we can get.)

There's more to come, I'm sure.

I figured a while back that the last government probably had some shifty ledgers...



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Problem kids on NATO's flanks

I'm not talking about Syrians or Russians. Hungary and Turkey are both NATO member states. Unlike most other NATO members, which are liberal democracies of some form or another,  these two entities are now ruled by hardline nationalists. Perhaps in international realism, this would be OK for the alliance as there's not real requirement that your country's politics look like the UK, France, or the USA.

The problem is with IS and Syrian refugees and how Turkish and Hungarian domestic policy is making European security more difficult.

Hungary has taken a hard stance against masses of refugees escaping Syria (and a few other places). This as seen closed borders, which have directed masses of refugees to overwhelm other state borders and in the short-term, the civil infrastructure necessary to effectively process and resettle refugees. This isn't a military security problem so much as a civil one, as ineffectively controlled borders apparently means that it possible for one of the Paris terrorists to transit from Syria to Paris without notice. Note, this is not to say the European born terrorist was refugee, but he may have have been able to use an over-stressed system compounded by things like Hungarian policy to hide his movements.

Which brings us to Turkey, and its leaky border with Syria, campaign against various Kurdish groups, support for the ethnic Turks in Syria, and disruptive influence on the campaign against IS and other Islamist militant groups in Syria, and so on. This is not a country acting in line with the general policy of most NATO countries against IS. It is a country that may put NATO in direct conflict with Russia, given the recent downing of a Russian aircraft by Turkish F-16s and the likely Russian response.

Something to think about.

What is it about Conservative politicians and airplanes?

Remember when Harper ordered (and the commander of the RCAF submitted to) the repainting of one of the RCAF CC-150 to better represent the "Harper Government"?
Here ... this will remind you.

Well, British prime minister, David Cameron, (often referred to as a spoiled brat from a better home), while announcing billions of pounds sterling in spending and program cuts, did this.
The PM has ordered a £10m refit of an ex-RAF plane just a week before the Tories announce billion-pound cuts in the Autumn Statement
Pampered David Cameron's new jet will only start saving money after 13 years, Downing Street has revealed.
And ... this.
Tory Cabinet ministers are to get a fleet of new executive jets - on top of the special plane for David Cameron
Oh yes, the Royal Navy gets this. 
The Government is to axe the Navy’s flagship to save costs despite spending £65million on upgrading the vessel a year ago.
Just sayin'.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Turkey, NATO, and Russian Fencers

Quickly, in light of the Turkish downing of the Russian Su-24, consider:

Turkey has been a lukewarm NATO "ally" against the Islamic State. It has spent more of its efforts attacking and checking the Kurds and its border remains porous. Turkey is still the entry route for foreigners intent on joining IS and the exit route for many refugees and defectors from IS.

Turkey's internal politics have recently seen Erdogan consolidate power.

The US, Iran, Russia, Assad's Syria, and others have just taken great strides toward a unified front against IS.

The question is whether Turkey sees this arrangement as being in its interest.

If it doesn't, would it attempt a plausibly deniable attempt to scuttle it?

Because I think that's what we have just seen.



Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pissing on the fear monkeys' BS

No one is so confident in their opinion as an ignorant person.

The screams coming out of the right-wing about the horrors of resettling 25,000 refugees from the bloody Syrian-Iraqi corridor controlled by Daesh, (you may know the group as ISIS or ISIL), is an illuminating example.

They even have their own petition to stop the rescue of refugees. (No, I'm not linking to it).

Their greatest fear, (and they are certainly demonstrating huge amounts of that), is that in a single intake of 25, 000 refugees, terrorists will come in with them. And then they demonstrate their profound ignorance by pointing at the Paris attacks while they wet their pants.

1. To date, none of the Paris attackers, so far identified, were refugees. They were native-born French or Belgian. Whatever their ethnicity, religious beliefs (if they actually had any), or training, they were home-grown radicalized thugs, many of whom had criminal records in Europe.

2. The refugees being brought to Canada are currently already identified. Most are living hand-to-mouth existences in refugee camps where conditions are the closest thing to a living hell anyone can imagine. Your typical terrorist isn't drawn to that type of lifestyle. Some of the Paris attackers were described by their own families and acquaintances as hard drinkers, smokers and party animals. The refugees being brought to Canada are unique in that on this occasion we actually get to pick them. These are not people showing up on a sinking boat or putting their lives in the hands of human smugglers.

3. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Tell me WHY any idiot inclined to come to Canada to blow up the doorstep of some semi-informed redneck westerner would be so stupid as to come in via the refugee system?!
Go on ... tell me.
There are too many security, criminal and health checks and WAY too much control and supervision. It is considerably easier to show up in Canada as a TOURIST. Much less hassle and nowhere near the detailed examination of one's past to which every refugee must submit.

So, the right-wing fear monkeys cannot present the refugee-terrorist-infiltrator as an argument. They'll have to come up with something else. And with every uninformed position that gets cut away from their argument, we come closer to the real reason. And it's ugly.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Gift for your Conservative friends and family

The holiday season is fast approaching.

It's a time for sharing, for rebuilding bridges between friends and family that ruptured by a decade of Conservative misrule.

Show your angry/depressed/embittered Conservative loved one that you care, by giving them the magic of Justin Trudeauimmortalised on your choice of T-shirt, tanks, and jumpers.

If you're a non-Conservative living in a riding with a Tory MP, why not extend the hand of friendship and magnanimity espoused by the new PM and send one to your elected Member.

[Seriously though, look at that shirt! The country is really in a rebound relationship.]

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Good(ale) karma

Mound of Sound picks up on something
Recall Guiliano Zaccardelli? Canada's newly minted Minister of Public Safety sure does.  Zaccardelli was the infamous RCMP commissioner who made up spurious allegations about Goodale that were divulged to the NDP who used it to sabotage the Liberals in the 2006 election, helping Harper come to power and plunging Canada into the decade of darkness...Zac was replaced by the first civilian commissioner, Tory backroom operative Bill Elliott and then the current office holder, Bob Paulson, who stands to go down in history for inventing the 'immaculate bribe' charge whereby senator Mike Duffy was charged with receiving a bribe from a guy that Paulson cleared of giving a bribe, Nigel Wright.
Now Paulson is going to have to answer to Ralphie. Wonder how that's going to work out?
Awkward.

I wonder if we'll see some sudden retirements and other departures throughout government and the civil service?


A book of photo-ops?

Ok, so Defence Watch is reporting that DND staff at public expense has put together a book of photos of ex-DefMin Jason Kenney doing troop-y things as gift to him. It's just a bit weird and oddly fitting that his going away gift is a book of staged pictures.

There's a larger point.  CF/DND and all the other public services haven't had the experience of a different government in a decade. Turnover and the like means that there will be very little to zero continuity between the staff of 2006 and now, and probably quite a few politically partisan hires scattered about. Any rapid Tory partisans in there may soon find themselves sweating a bit.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Well, actually, it's about the Duffy Trial

You may have been as confused as I was.

Why, given Harper's known inability to take orders or suffer any form of supervision, would he opt to remain a sitting Member of Parliament, now relegated to the opposition benches.

This is a guy, who during his concession speech, (which was a hastily re-written victory speech), didn't have the conventional decency to state his intentions to his audience before he scampered off the stage. His intention to resign as leader of the Conservative Party came via a statement released by the party president, John Walsh and even it was a rather muddled sounding bit of poli-speak with all the clarity of a cold latte. Conservative MPs have no idea if Harper is their leader.

What did come out was that Harper would continue to sit as an MP. And one doesn't have to dig too deeply to understand why.

The Duffy Trial.

Parliamentary Privilege.

As long as Harper is a Member of Parliament he cannot be compelled to testify as a witness in any civil, criminal or military proceeding. You can bet he'll be hanging onto that seat until the Duffy trial is concluded.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Power in a state visit

The Chinese president goes on a state visit to the UK, and quite literally brings the Chinese state with him.

...the Chinese embassy filled the Mall with thousands of supporters kitted out with T-shirts and flags, drowning out human rights protesters in a sea of red. 
Awkward. Really, really awkward.
In his 11-minute speech, Xi acknowledged that he was addressing the “mother of parliaments”, dating back to the 13th century, but added: “In China, the concept of putting people first and following the rule of law emerged in ancient times.” He noted that one Chinese legal charter went back 2,000 years. 
I imagine Cameron and the rest of his gang of public school boys running the government now are wincing and fuming at the humiliation. Perhaps not as much as the Chinese were humiliated by British (and other) imperial interferences in earlier times, likewise driven by Cameron and Osborne's ancestral class interests.

Xi knows this, and I imagine the show of Chinese power is a symbolic demonstration of the reversal of circumstances. The Chinese state can colonise the UK economy and put thousands of its citizens on UK streets, while the most the UK can do is provide the Chinese leader with a fancy dinner and a guided tour.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

More thoughts. Voter turnout vs. voter suppression

Well, the ex-Harper-cons succeeded in pissing off enough Canadians to actually find a polling station and vote them out in record numbers. More than 68% voter turn-out. Well over 70% in some ridings and regions.  Even with the Fair Elections Act, the cheating and the lying, all their fascist jackboot bullshit, bought newsmedia editorials, the rest of it, they still failed in catastrophic form. Wow. 

It's interesting to think that an entire generation of the civil service (including no doubt a number of now ex-PMO staffers) have entered adulthood and parliamentarians, the Commons knowing only Harper and his brand of governing. Even Rosemary Barton has mentioned she's only covered federal politics under a hostile Harper government. How government finds its way from here will be interesting to watch. 

Will they keep the Harper changes, fall-back on institutional memory, or evolve into something else? 

Election results: first thoughts

1. Ding dong the witch is gone.

2. The immediate legacy of Harper, sworn enemy of all things Liberal (esp. Trudeaus), is to facilitate a majority Liberal government led by the Son of the Father. Ouch. That's Shakespearian political drama Canadian-style if there ever was.

3. The same problem that allowed Harper his 2011 majority also allowed Trudeau's win. FPTP permitted both parties to win majorities with a minority of the popular vote. Not-Harpercons still does not make the Grit-victory fair. We need to get on that.

4. Let's see how they do. I'm afraid the confused and disillusioned shortpantsers will have trashed vacated Tory offices and that incoming Liberal ministers will discover other more sophisticated messes that require clean-up before they get started. I hope I'm wrong.

5. When they do get started, it'll be interesting to find out just what were truth, lies, and unmentionables in campaign, and how these translate into policy and legislation.

6. Future elections could be even more interesting. The NDP is now a major federal player and has demonstrated it can appeal to enough Canadians to come within winning distance. The Tories, although Oppositon, have been relegated to, well, mostly Alberta and no-doubt have some post-Harper reinvention to do. What foul beast emerges from that vile and demonic process, we can't yet say.

7. Ding dong the witch is gone. [with apologies to witches]