Saturday, June 25, 2022

Some Animals

The United States Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. The decision is an earthquake to the American legal system. Ruth Marcus writes:

The Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion is an unfolding tragedy for American women and an indelible stain on the court itself. The harm to women is immense but can be ameliorated with efforts in the public and private spheres to safeguard access to abortion. The damage to the court cannot be undone.

This radical conservative majority — unheeding in this case even of the conservative chief justice — has proven itself unmoored from the rule of law, and therefore unworthy of the public esteem that can be its only source of enduring authority.

With the vote of five justices to overrule Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, American women have lost a right that was guaranteed them for a half-century, an unprecedented elimination of an individual freedom.

The three dissenting justices laid out what lies ahead:

 “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens,” they wrote. “Yesterday, the Constitution guaranteed that a woman confronted with an unplanned pregnancy could (within reasonable limits) make her own decision about whether to bear a child, with all the life-transforming consequences that act involves. … But no longer. As of today, this Court holds, a State can always force a woman to give birth, prohibiting even the earliest abortions.”

With its decision yesterday, the Court established a new precedent. it's the same precedent that was at the heart of George Orwell's Animal Farm:  All Animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Image: word histories

Friday, June 24, 2022

Trump's Screwballs

Another day of hearings in Washington and the story keeps getting darker. Dana Milbank writes:

Two weeks of hearings by the select committee have made clear that the insurrection itself was but a manifestation of a much larger plot by Trump to overturn the election by any means necessary: violence, martial law, seizing voting machines, fake electors, intimidating state officials, harassing election workers, drafting meritless lawsuits — and a contemplated putsch at the Justice Department.

It's quite clear now that Trump himself is certifiable. And he surrounded himself with people who were as crazy as he is:

Though many in the Trump administration admirably (if not quite heroically) resisted his illegality, Trump was aided in his depredations by a seemingly limitless supply of crackpots willing to do his bidding. There were Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani (‘nuff said), Sidney (“The Kracken”) Powell (Trump wanted her to be appointed as an independent counsel investigating election fraud) and John Eastman, who knew his cockamamie scheme to overturn the election was illegal.

The hearing yesterday focused on one of the crazies -- Jeff Clark -- whose house was raided yesterday by the FBI, while he stood outside in his pajamas. But there were all kinds of other crazies:

Screwballs enabled Trump in Congress, as well. There was Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), whose chief of staff tried to deliver a slate of fake electors to Vice President Mike Pence. And there was Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who championed Clark for the attorney general job. According to testimony released by the committee Thursday, Perry was among those seeking presidential pardons for their actions, along with Reps. Mo Brooks (Ala.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Louie Gohmert (R-Tex), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and possibly Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). Trump apparently considered blanket pardons for lawmakers and staff involved in the insurrection. At one point, Trump, frustrated that DOJ officials weren’t backing up his lies, urged them: “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”

However, the loonie who directed it all was Trump:

At the center of it all was the crackpot-in-chief, whom Attorney General Bill Barr belatedly realized was “detached from reality.” He manipulated the government to back his election lies in ways that had been unimaginable. Donoghue testified Thursday about how Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows repeatedly insisted that DOJ investigate a YouTube-driven conspiracy theory claiming the CIA and MI6 worked with an Italian satellite company to erase Trump votes. Donoghue called it was “pure insanity,” “patently absurd” and “debunked.” Not satisfied with that answer, Trump’s White House secured the help of Pentagon official Kash Patel and acting defense secretary Christopher Miller, who reached out to an official in Italy to probe the bogus claim.

With so many screwballs running around, it's amazing the whole place didn't blow up. In truth, it almost did.

Image: Rolling Stone

Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Crazies Have Found A Home There

Think the United States is the only place with a large loud population of crazies? Think again. We've got them, too. Alex Boutilier reports that:

Key figures of the convoy protests and related organizations were welcomed to Parliament Hill on Wednesday by a group of Conservative MPs that assured them they have ‘allies’ in Ottawa.

And while the group professed peaceful intentions for future demonstrations, they also warned they believe Canada was on a “dark path,” deeply “divided,” even showing similarities to countries about to descend into “civil war.”

The Ottawa press conference was scheduled to coincide with a conference of the “Canada Citizens Coalition,” or C3, an umbrella group for various protesters connected to February’s convoy demonstrations that paralyzed downtown Ottawa and blocked several Canada-U.S. border crossings.

The protests were purportedly sparked by an opposition to federal vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers, but quickly morphed into a festival of grievances with federal and provincial authorities.

Several Conservative MPs showed up to pledge their support:

They were greeted by multiple Conservative MPs, including leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis, Jeremy Patzer, Ryan Williams, Arnold Viersen and Dean Allison – among others.

“The reality is there’s one political party that has been represented around this table here today, there’s one political party that has stood up in the House of Commons … and spoke on the position that you guys are here with today,” said Saskatchewan MP Jeremy Patzer.

“You do have allies. You’ve had allies all along, and so I just wanted to encourage you guys going forward.”

Conservative leader Candice Bergen claimed her party had no hand in organizing the event. But Canadians should beware of her party. The crazies have found a home there.

Image: Global News

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

It Keeps Getting Worse

Yesterday's hearings in Washington continued to lay bare the depravity of Trump and Associates. Jennifer Rubin writes that Rusty Bowers was the most compelling witness so far:

Most informed Americans already know about Trump’s effort to cajole Georgia state election officials to “find” just enough votes to flip the state. The shocker on Tuesday was that Trump, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Meadows were also directly involved in the efforts to overturn Arizona’s results as well.

No doubt anticipating the damage this revelation would do to his case, Trump attacked Arizona House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers (R) before Tuesday’s hearing, claiming that Bowers had previously told him that the election was “rigged.” Bowers, perhaps the most compelling and effective witness the committee has questioned to date, stated clearly that Trump’s claim was false. He had not made such a statement, Bowers said, and Trump’s claim that Bowers said Trump won the state was “also false.”

Bowers, who supported Trump in the 2020 election, testified in unequivocal terms about the former president’s pressure campaign. He recalled asking Trump and Giuliani at least twice during a call after the election for proof of noncitizens or dead people voting. Bowers said he “never” received such information.

Trump and Company believe that saying -- and doing -- make it so:

In another call, Trump lawyer John Eastman called Bowers and asked him to vote to “decertify” Arizona’s electors. Bowers again refused. “I took an oath,” Bowers said he told Eastman. “For me to take that [course] would be counter to my oath.” Bowers asked, “What would you have me do?” Eastman responded that Bowers should just do it and let the courts sort it out. Bowers asked incredulously if he was supposed to “do something that’s never been done in history — the history of the United States” with no proof. “No, sir,” he said.

Saddest of all was the tale of two poll workers -- a woman and her mother -- who were accused of inputting phony votes from a thumb drive into a computer. The "thumb drive" was a package of mints.

There are lots of people who should go to jail and be disbarred. But premier among them is Donald J. Trump.

Image: The Hill

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Caveat Emptor

While the House Select Committee is laying bare Donald Trump's attempted coup, some Republicans are openly advocating violence. Consider what is happening in Missouri. Eric Greitens is a Republican who is running for the Senate there. He's running a controversial ad. You can see the reaction to it in the YouTube clip at the top of this post. Paul Waldman writes:

With a shotgun in his hand and a pistol on his belt, Greitens accompanies soldiers busting into what appears to be a suburban home. Then he says to the camera: “Join the MAGA crew. Get a RINO hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”

For the uninitiated, “RINO” is short for “Republican In Name Only,” a term that originally referred to Republicans who were too ideologically moderate for someone’s taste. Now it is used to refer to those who, no matter how ideologically conservative, are insufficiently worshipful of Donald Trump or question the more radical beliefs and tactics of the extreme wing of the party.

Greitens is not deploying some subtle metaphor here. You can even order a “RINO Hunting Permit” sticker from his website. If asked, I’m sure he would say he’s not literally advocating the hunting and killing of human beings. But he kind of is.

Given what happened in the American capital on January 6th, Americans -- and Canadians -- have to be clear-eyed about this. For years, the Conservative Party has been taking its cues from American Republicans.

Caveat Emptor.

Image: You Tube

Monday, June 20, 2022

Mad As Hell

When Lyndon Johnson was asked why he didn't fire J. Edgar Hoover, he famously replied that he wanted Hoover  "inside the tent pissing out and not outside the tent pissing in." Michael Harris writes that the Conservatives are masters of pissing inside the tent:

One wonders if the Conservative Party of Canada will ever hold a leadership race without turning it into a master class of mud-wrestling, hanky-panky, and mutual denunciation.

They are usually so busy slagging each other, any notion of policy is at best an after-thought. Sorry guys, but squealing “freedom” at the top of your lungs while tying up a city is not a policy.

Pierre Poilievre, the slur-king of the current leadership, now says that the Patrick Brown campaign is cheating.

Poilievre lodged a formal complaint, accusing his rival of reimbursing membership fees paid by people who agreed to join the party. Brown has made public that he sold 150,000 memberships—a number Poilievre claims is bogus. How, one wonders, would he know, one way or the other?

In addition to the reimbursement charge, it is alleged by the Poilievre camp that the Brown campaign offered “additional financial inducements.” What does that mean? Cash, a bit of bitcoin, free beer? What?

But this kind of cat fight isn't new:

It is interesting that Poilievre has already smeared Brown before, repeatedly calling him a liar. He accused the mayor of Brampton of lying about his position on sex education in Ontario, his position on the carbon tax, and in his critique of the Harper government, of which Poilievre was a key member.

Poilievre seems to have forgotten all about his own attempt in government to de-tune democracy with the risibly named Fair Elections Act, and that other legislative stinker from Harper-times, the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Practices Act. Strange way to support immigrants.

Poilievre is dissing Brown because Brown could hold the key to who wins the party leadership in September. If Brown’s membership numbers are correct, and the leadership should go to a second or third ballot, Brown could very easily deliver a victory to Jean Charest. So far, the Charest camp has been coy on its membership numbers, saying only that it has a path to victory in the fall.

That is precisely why Poilievre tried to paint an unflattering picture of Charest as a philosophical liberal who was in the pocket of the Chinese as a private consultant. He’s worried.

If Poilievre can get people talking about the moral poverty of his rivals, they may forget about his own blunders on this campaign. He extolled the virtues of bitcoin to Canadians as a hedge against inflation, without telling them he had investments in it. He later claimed that he checked with the ethics commissioner, who gave him the green light.

Poilievre also did his Donald Trump imitation in a childish outburst about firing the governor of the Bank of Canada.

Even Conservative MP Ed Fast came out against Poilievre for his comments about Tiff Macklem. And Poilievre is still missing in action on some big files—from climate change, to the rising tide of authoritarianism around the world. That hole in his resumé earned criticism of the party from former Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell. It isn’t hard to figure out who she is talking about.

The Conservatives don't win elections because they're mad as hell. Most of all, they're mad at themselves.

Image: CBC

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Poilievre's Future

At the moment,  if Pierre Polievre becomes the leader of the Conservative Party his future looks clouded. Robin Sears writes:

Poilievre will likely fall victim to the torment faced by the last two leaders. There’s managing a political base whose views are in sharp contradiction to those of a vast majority of Canadians, with an inability to pivot to positions that are not repulsive to that majority. He’ll also be inheriting a party and caucus irretrievably divided on core issues.

There are three obvious flashpoints: guns, climate and COVID. Most Canadians want our epidemic of handgun violence brought under control. Poilievre will not say how he will do so, as his base is vehemently opposed to any limits on their freedom to own a dozen assault-style weapons if they so choose.

Conservatives around the world have fallen into the trap of framing the fight against climate change as a left-wing conspiracy, none more hysterically than peculiar Pierre. There is no pivot for him here, either. As fires rage this summer and floods drown dozens of communities this fall, he will be left high and dry politically.

Nor will he be able to slough off his COVID baggage, as the public health challenges continue. From his vaccine blarney, to his flirtation with insurrectionary truckers, to his sneers at the public health measures that saved thousands of Canadians from death, Poilievre will drag behind him a very heavy COVID ball and chain, one that his opponents — inside the party and out — will be sure to keep a spotlight on.

His most serious weakness in securing the confidence of Canadians, perhaps, is that he will not have the support of at least a third of his own party on day one. Whether it is Brian Mulroney, Patrick Brown, Michael Chong, Rona Ambrose or Lisa Raitt, the list is long of party elders who will express their sorrow — and anger — at the political dead end that Poilievre seems to be dragging their party into.

So Poilievre may, indeed, meet the same fate as Andrew Scheer and Erin O'Toole. But there is another possibility:

This week, polling firm Abacus found that seven out of 10 Poilievre supporters are at least open to the idea Davos elites may have a “secretive strategy to impose their vision on the world.” And more than a third are open to the statement “Bill Gates has been using microchips to track people and affect their behaviour.” Sadly, the numbers for all of Canada aren’t that much lower on these conspiracies.

So it may be easier to ride a Trumpian tidal wave of anger to political success in Canada than most of us thought. One may hope that Poilievre’s leadership opponents do a better job of exposing this would-be emperor’s nakedness, and that the Liberals and New Democrats pound him with their biggest guns relentlessly.

Poilievre may yet become the Trump of the North.

Image: Quora