Sunday, April 21, 2019

No Impeachment

Donald Trump has been repeating the same lie for almost two years -- "No Collusion, No Obstruction." The Mueller Report proves that both claims are lies. But, Robert Reich writes, the truth is that there will be No Impeachment:

Let’s be real. Trump will not be removed by impeachment. No president has been. With a Republican Senate controlled by the most irresponsible political hack ever to be majority leader, the chances are nil.
Which means Trump will have to be removed the old-fashioned way – by voters in an election 19 months away.
The practical question is whether the Mueller report and all that surrounds it will affect that election.

Removing Trump by election won't be easy:

Mueller’s report probably won’t move any of the 40% who have held tight to Trump regardless.
So how to reach the 11% or 12% who may decide the outcome?

The way to accomplish that, Reich writes, is to keep underscoring how morally loathsome Trump is:

Democrats and progressives tend to shy away from morality, given how rightwing evangelicals have used it against abortion, contraceptives and equal marriage rights.
But that’s to ignore Americans’ deep sense of right and wrong. Character counts, and presidential character counts most of all.
Even though Mueller apparently doesn’t believe a sitting president can be indicted, he provides a devastating indictment of Trump’s character.
Even though Mueller apparently doesn’t believe a sitting president can be indicted, he provides a devastating indictment of Trump’s character.
Trump is revealed as a chronic liar. He claimed he never asked for loyalty from FBI director James Comey. Mueller finds he did. Trump claimed he never asked Comey to let the “Michael Flynn matter go”. Mueller finds he did. Trump claimed he never pushed the White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller. Mueller finds he did. Trump even lied about inviting Comey to dinner, claiming falsely, in public, that Comey requested it. Trump enlists others to lie. He lies to his staff.
Trump treats his subordinates horribly. He hides things from them. He yells at them. He orders them to carry out illegal acts.
He acts like a thug. He regrets his lawyers are not as good at protecting him as was his early mentor Roy Cohn – a mob lawyer. When reports surface about the now infamous Trump Tower meeting of June 2016, Trump directs the cover-up.
Trump is unprincipled. The few people in the White House and the cabinet who stand up to him, according to Mueller – threatening to resign rather than carry out his illegal orders – are now gone. They resigned or were fired.
This is a portrait of a morally bankrupt man.

The evidence -- which Mueller has marshaled  -- is unambiguous. If Americans refuse to acknowledge it, they're doomed.

Happy Easter or Passover -- or whatever you may celebrate this weekend.

Image: Kagro In The Morning

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Libraries? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Libraries!

Doug Ford is slashing funding wherever he can find it. He just announced that he is cutting funding for the Ontario Library Service Budget by 50%. Edward Keenan writes:

While this cut was unexpected and unheralded — I cannot recall any campaign promises pledging to fight Big Book or stick it to those fat-cat librarians — it’s hard to say it’s exactly surprising, coming from this premier. Doug Ford, when his brother was mayor of Toronto, made his pathological disregard for public repositories of knowledge well known.
Asked if he would close library branches then, he said, “Absolutely I would, in a heartbeat.” He said anyone who reacted negatively to that suggestion was simply taking their cues from self-interested “library groups.” The city was lousy with libraries, he suggested, complaining that there were more branches in his area than Tim Hortons franchises — which there were not — and suggesting that was a bad thing.

He felt the same way eight years ago when Ford and his brother Rob took an axe to the funding of Toronto's libraries. That decision brought on the wrath of Margaret Atwood, who complained loudly.

Ford was not impressed:

Councillor Doug Ford has fired back at world-renowned author Margaret Atwood for her criticism of suggested library cuts, telling reporters: “I don’t even know her. If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is.”
Ford also said that the literary icon and activist — who took him to task on Twitter for saying, erroneously, that his Etobicoke ward has more libraries than Tim Hortons — should get herself elected to office or pipe down.
“Well good luck to Margaret Atwood. I don’t even know her. If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is,” said the councillor and advisor to his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, after a committee meeting on proposed cuts.
“She’s not down here, she’s not dealing with the problem. Tell her to go run in the next election and get democratically elected. And we’d be more than happy to sit down and listen to Margaret Atwood.”

Sound familiar? But more than that, Ford's ignorance is gobsmaking.

Image: Toronto Public Library Workers Union

Friday, April 19, 2019

He'll Live in Infamy

For weeks, Donald Trump has been claiming that Robert Mueller totally exonerated him. We should have known by now that was a lie. Mueller did nothing like that. E. J. Dionne writes:

The Mueller report paints a broad picture of an administration that systematically lied to just about everybody, including the public and the media. It describes a president prepared to do whatever was necessary to close down inquiries into his behavior and Russian ties. And it noted that “some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated — including some associated with the Trump Campaign — deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption.”

Besides the rampant corruption, the report verifies that Trump is a terrible executive. Things could have been worse:

Oddly, Trump may have been protected from even more damaging conclusions about obstruction by staff members who refused to do what he asked. “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful,” the report found, “but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” Whatever this is, it is not exoneration of Trump.

This was, indeed, no exoneration. The Mueller report tells a story. And the story underscores the fact that Trump is -- perhaps -- the worst president in American history. Worse than Richard Nixon.

Trump's name will live in infamy.

Image: Facebook

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Far Reaching Consequences

Doug Ford has railed against "unelected judges." But this week he has been trying to convince those judges that the federal carbon tax should be quashed. Martin Regg Cohn writes:

In a Toronto courtroom this week, the Ontario government launched Doug Ford’s quixotic legal battle against the federal carbon tax — at a cost of $30 million coming out of Ontario taxpayers’ pockets.
Ontario’s lawyers argued in court that the province has already done enough, thanks to the previous Liberal government’s decision to shutter coal-fired power plants. While Ontario is unlikely to meet future emission reduction targets, the Ford government insists that Ottawa has no right to meddle. Except that, implicit in Ford’s argument is the contradictory suggestion that other provinces should be compelled to do more so that Ontario can do less in the future.
Unsurprisingly, Ford’s lawyers downplay the reality that the federal government granted the provinces flexibility to design their own programs. In fact, Ontario’s pre-existing cap-and-trade program (inspired by a similar carbon pricing program in neighbouring Quebec) complied fully with the federal requirements — until he cancelled it. And until Ford took over the Tories a year ago, the official PC platform called for full co-operation and implementation of the federal carbon tax — so is it truly intrusive?

While the fight was going on in court, Fordian acolytes began a media blitz that conveniently avoided key facts:

While his lawyers argue a weak case before the judges, Ford is flexing his legal muscle outside the courtroom: New legislation would impose $10,000 fines against any gas station that doesn’t affix to its pumps government-dictated propaganda stickers opposing Ottawa’s policy.
Drafted to demonize and distort the federal carbon tax, the stickers inexplicably fail to explain that the 4.4 cents a litre cost at the pump will be largely rebated to Ontario families. The stickers also ignore the reality that Ford is quietly pocketing a far bigger share of gas taxes (14.7 cents a litre, plus 8 per cent provincial sales tax under the HST).
The costs of sticking it to Ottawa with stickers are indeterminate. But there is a price to be paid by a pro-business party that casts itself as a guardian against the big hand of government while converting gas pumps into partisan messengers.
While threatening heavy fines, the government is spending big bucks to get its message onto the airwaves this week with the launch of its controversial anti-tax ad blitz that boasts, “Ontario has a better way.” The provincial advertising campaign is more accusatory than explanatory, unprecedented in its puerile targeting of a federal government that Ontario voters elected four years ago.

Ford has always been a bottom feeder. He has an ally in the newly elected premier of Alberta. Both practise the politics of resentment and victimization.

The upcoming election will have far reaching consequences.

Image: Macleans

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Unadulterated Ignorance

Yesterday, Albertans voted in the Regressive Conservative Party -- otherwise known as the UCP. Geoff Dembicki writes in The Tyee:

Albertans elected one of the most socially conservative and environmentally hostile governments in its history Tuesday night, handing a majority of seats to the United Conservative Party and electing its leader Jason Kenney as premier.
In the end it seemed voters acted the way pollsters and other observers had predicted all along: by voting in a government that promised to do whatever it takes to get Alberta’s bitumen to the Pacific coast and scrap climate change policies brought in by Notley’s NDP and Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals.

But the election was about more than oil:

Kristopher Wells, an international expert on sexual and gender minority youth issues based at MacEwan University in Edmonton, told The Tyee that Alberta currently has some of the best legislation in the world for gay-straight alliances in public schools, which create spaces for LGBTQ students and their allies to be safe and open in their sexuality. The UCP has promised to change the rules so that teachers have the option of informing a student’s parents when they join a GSA.
“Why would we go backwards on that?” Wells said. “It’s sound legislation that was developed out of concern and need by students and teachers on the ground in schools. To roll that back as many have suggested would be to place vulnerable LGBTQ youth at increased risk in their schools.”

Like Ontario, Alberta is now ruled by a collection of ignorant thugs, dedicated to accomplishing the impossible. Climate change is proceeding apace and Jason Kenny is the Sergeant Schultz of Canada:

Tzeporah Berman, a Canadian environmental activist who is international program director for the group, said Kenney’s confrontational rhetoric won’t bring the benefits many Albertans are expecting — a swift return of jobs and investment in the oil patch — during an era when the world is rapidly shifting to cleaner sources of energy.
“Attacking those that are concerned about the cumulative impacts on our water, on our air, and on our climate as a result of the growth of the oilsands is not going to solve this,” Berman said. “It’s a dramatic overblown shoot-the-messenger moment. No matter how much Kenney attacks civil society groups and environmental groups, it’s not going to make the issue go away.”
She predicted that a UCP government would govern “by anger and fear and not reason or logic or science” and that “this will set us back on climate policy.” Berman, a one-time advisor to the Alberta government on climate policy who frequently critiqued Notley’s stance on pipelines, went on, “While the NDP strategy was far from perfect, at least it was moving in the right direction, albeit slowly.”

Score another one for unadulterated ignorance.

Image: Redbubble

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

It's A Con

Now that the dust has settlled, analysts are taking a hard look at the Ford government's first budget. Martin Regg Cohn writes:

It gets tough on some (mostly poor people and students).
It lavishes love on others (tax breaks sprinkled here and there).
Call it tough love — not to be confused with “tough luck” — from a premier who loves to be loved. By the right people.

And that's really the point: Ford's populism is for the right people:

Ford’s first budget deceptively heralds his munificence while it downplays the take-aways. He is spending more than any previous Liberal government, piling on bigger deficits than his immediate predecessor and projecting record debt levels.
But his budget also confirms that high school students will be squeezed into more crowded classrooms (27 per cent bigger) as teachers’ positions are reduced and online teaching is increased. Scheduled welfare increases are being scaled back, promised transit funding is being cut back, and legal aid that underpins our justice system is being undermined.

Ford's munificence is supposedly on display in his plan to upgrade Toronto's transit system:

On the eve of Thursday’s budget unveiling, the premier convened a photo-op where he mischievously proclaimed a $28.5 billion transit plan to redraw Toronto’s subway map. A perfectly populist pitch.
Except that the fine print showed him funding just 39 per cent of the price tag, allocating a mere $11.2 billion of the total — while demanding other governments fill in the built-in gap. An unpopular footnote that went largely unnoticed.
The transit postscript is especially peculiar, for this government giveth with one hand and taketh with the other: Despite a solemn campaign commitment to maintain annual transit funding via the agreed municipal share of gas tax revenues, Ford went back on his word by redirecting hundreds of millions of dollars from Toronto transit operations and diverting them back to provincial coffers.
The timing is especially awkward, given that Ford’s “Government for the People” is in court this week arguing against a federal carbon tax at the pumps. While Ottawa is rebating the money directly to Ontario taxpayers, our tax-fighting premier is quietly pocketing the people’s gas taxes for his own provincial purposes.

It's a con, of course. But, so far, Ford has gotten away with it.

Image: The Toronto Star

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Pathology Of Oil

The Albertan mind, Andrew Nikiforuk writes, has been warped by the politics of oil:

Oil, a commodity that nurtures dependency, has so coddled the Alberta mind that it has fostered a provincial culture of victimization as poisonous as the identity politics unsettling university campuses.
Every day the province’s oil-obsessed politicos warn Albertans that Canada is a dangerous place full of self-righteous climate activists (and some are indeed self-righteous), anti-pipeline protestors, dumb courts, stubborn First Nations, and nasty liberals.
Moreover the province’s potential for offence-taking has become as grand as Justin Trudeau’s vindictive Liberal Party of Canada. It can’t tolerate any truth-telling either. 

That pathology has been on full display during the election campaign:

The province’s allergy to criticism has grown so formidable that United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney proposes to set up a Saudi-like war room in the energy ministry to respond to any micro-aggressions and offensive material. Should it be called Snowflake Central?
Albertans have become such a fragile, oil-reliant people, reasons Kenney, that the province now needs the equivalent of university Bias Response Teams, in this case to foster “a safe and inclusive environment” for its petroleum exporters who have now claimed Alberta’s identity as their own.
(The rulers of Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Russia, we should remember, don’t much like oil critics, either. The political records show that oil relishes conflict and breeds political aggression like no other commodity, except cocaine.) 
 Kenney, a belligerent proponent of oil-safetyism, would much rather play the blame game than accept the truth that the rapid development of bitumen mining in Fort McMurray violated two fundamental principles of risk mitigation: go slow and save the money.

Peter Lougheed understood that going all in on oil was a path to disaster. But, after he retired, his successors bet the farm on what they thought was black gold. And that tunnel vision caused a collapse in the price of oil:

Over many years, Alberta’s Tories repeatedly gambled that the price of bitumen, a garbage crude that requires upgrading and complex refining, could only go higher, and they bet wrong. 
[Art Berman] recently documented how combined Canadian and U.S. unconventional oil production from the tar sands and Permian Basin “surged in 2014 and caused oil prices to collapse.” As prices fell, producers — including OPEC — rejected any production cuts.

Unfortunately, that tale has not been made public during the Alberta election.

Image: Vervantis