Showing posts from March, 2021

Is It Too Much to Ask of the Incompetents Who Run this Country and Our Provinces?

  Remember this time last year when we were shocked at the plight of nursing home patients dying from Covid-19?  Oh boy, that was just the worst. Things were going to change for sure, you betcha. Among our peer nations, Canada clings stubbornly to the worst record for nursing home deaths . Yes, we are the worst, the bottom of the lot. We were last year. We still are today. The worst. Now, as the country seems poised to plunge into a third wave with far more lethal variants of the coronavirus, we learn that we did as poorly in the second wave as we did in the first.  The study [by the Canadian Institute for Health Information] found that the proportion of deaths in nursing homes represented 69 per cent of Canada's overall COVID-19 deaths, which is significantly higher than the international average of 41 per cent. In Canada, between March 2020 and February 2021, more than 80,000 residents and staff members of long-term care homes were infected with the coronavirus. Outbreaks occurre

A World Gone Mad? The Rise of Antiscience Across the Right Wing.

What does it mean when your political philosophy depends on self-serving opinion at odds with fact?  An article in Scientific American warns of the rise of "antiscience" birthed among America's radical right and now going global, a movement that's already claiming thousands of lives.  Antiscience is the rejection of mainstream scientific views and methods or their replacement with unproven or deliberately misleading theories, often for nefarious and political gains. It targets prominent scientists and attempts to discredit them. Now antiscience is causing mass deaths once again in this COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in the spring of 2020, the Trump White House launched a coordinated disinformation campaign that dismissed the severity of the epidemic in the United States, attributed COVID deaths to other causes , claimed hospital admissions were due to a catch-up in elective surgeries , and asserted that ultimately that the epidemic would spontaneously evaporate . It a

"Peace with Honour" or "The Will Is Gone."

  What is America? What will America be in 10 or 20 years?  The United States is a country undergoing rapid change and, to some extent, dragging the West along with it. Its government is deeply dysfunctional, presided over by a "bought and paid for" Congress. The vaunted democratic republic has become a transactional democracy, another term for oligarchy. In some ways the US seems to be following a form of governance that plagued Rome in the final two centuries before its fall. Dwight Eisenhower, before leaving the White House, warned the American people to be wary of the emerging "military-industrial complex." In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing

Photo Op

  Georgia governor Brian Kemp, surrounded by a gaggle of mainly old white guys, signs his state's new "Jim Crow" voting bill into law beneath a backdrop of the U.S. and Georgia flags and a lovely painting - of the Callaway plantation in Wilkes County where 100 slaves were once held in bondage. White Power, Brian. White Power.

When Science Needs Time to Grieve

  One of the back stories to the climate crisis is the rate of burnout experienced by climate scientists. Some have migrated into other fields. Some have found teaching jobs in colleges, even high schools.  Imagine if you had been in that field for 20 years, the journey you would have been put through. There was certainly more hope 20 or 30 years ago than there is today. The science has hardened. It is much less ambiguous and, in the result, more troubling, in some cases dire. The climate science community seems to have gotten past the old taboo that demanded they treat climate change as a standalone issue, never to be mentioned in the same breath with overpopulation, over-consumption of finite resources, and the extinction-grade loss of biodiversity. The problem with this "mind your own business" attitude is that it obscured the underlying problem that runs through them all - mankind's unwillingness or inability to live in harmony with our planet, our very finite biosphe

New Name - the "Circular Economy"

  Yesterday I received an invitation to register for a seminar course being hosted by the Judge School of Business, Cambridge. With a registration fee of 2,000 pounds I'll give it a pass but it does sound intriguing if somewhat familiar. The circular economy is about replacing neoclassical economics with a more sustainable, more regulated economy in which growth is modulated in favour of renewal. Instead of building products such as household appliances or smart phones to be consumed and discarded, design them to be remanufactured, upgraded and returned to service. The focus is on curbing quantitative growth and, instead, putting our energies and resources into qualitative growth. Engineer for future upgrading. Engineer for extended utility and enjoyment. In this process diminish mankind's burden on the planet, our biosphere. If that sounds familiar, it is. It is one of the core tenets of "steady state" economics or "low growth" economics in which growth is

Michael Harris Sees America Headed for Civil War. He's Almost Certainly Wrong.

  The Tyee's Michael Harris sees a second civil war on the horizon for the United States. Unresolved issues from the Civil War, the civil rights battles of the 1960s, and the Black Lives Matter movement have found their way back into mainstream political life south of the border. Racist politicking in America is no longer travelling incognito. And the Republican is its political arm, failing to censure outright racist statements by its politicians while methodically working to return Jim Crow vote suppression to states where Black voters might deliver defeat to its candidates. Canadians must keep a sharp eye on developments to our south both as a warning to root out any such impulses at home, and to steer clear of the social calamity brewing in the U.S. Yes, America is plainly a mess. Tribalism infects the society. Racial tensions - black, Hispanic and, now, Asian, are on the front burner. Could it boil over into a civil war? Highly unlikely. Social and political unrest comes in a

No Surprises. Supreme Court Upholds the Carbon Tax.

  In a 6-3 split decision the Supreme Court of Canada, as expected, has upheld the Trudeau government's carbon tax. Some will use the 3 justices dissent to attack the judgment and the government but that's to be expected of anything short of a unanimous verdict. Now we'll see if the prime minister gets a case of 'winner's remorse.' This doesn't seem an auspicious time to be levying additional taxes at the pump. In a faux democracy where four per cent of the vote can mean the difference between majority and minority or, worse, between minority and a change of government, riling up the public can be perilous.

Big Banks' Betrayal

  There's a term for them, "fossil banks." These are the big banks that routinely talk a good game about moving out of fossil fuel investments into green energy instead. But, when the big money flows, talk is cheap. The world’s biggest 60 banks have provided $3.8tn of financing for fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal in 2015, according to a report by a coalition of NGOs. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic cutting energy use, overall funding remains on an upward trend and the finance provided in 2020 was higher than in 2016 or 2017, a fact the report ’s authors and others described as “shocking”. Oil, gas and coal will need to be burned for some years to come. But it has been known since at least 2015 that a significant proportion of existing reserves must remain in the ground if global heating is to remain below 2C, the main Paris target. Financing for new reserves is therefore the “exact opposite” of what is required to tackle the climate crisis, the report’s

Our "Ghastly" Future

 No one, as yet, has come up with a solution to the great challenge facing those who want to settle Mars - terra forming. Mars can't be settled until it has an ecology - an atmosphere, weather, precipitation, all the things that sustain life on Earth.  Some estimates claim that would take millennia, possibly hundreds of thousands of years. We haven't got that kind of time. Before we tackle establishing a suitable environment on Mars, we should direct our efforts at restoring our endangered ecosystems right here on Earth.  Around the world our existing ecosystem that has nurtured mankind for tens of thousands of years is on the verge of collapse. You might have thought that the most powerful among us, those we elect to high office and entrust with the reins of power, would have rallied to respond. If you believe that, you are wrong. A call to arms was sounded in January. It took the form of a paper published in the journal, Frontiers in Conservation Science, " Underestimati

Common Ground

  Two lessons we should have learned from the recent Tory policy convention. One, is that politics in Canada has been liberated from fact. Two, is that no nation, Canada included, can afford belief-based politics divorced from reality. I'm not saying the Tories are the only party that has slipped its mooring lines but it is the party that most shamelessly rejects facts and knowledge. Perhaps it's time for an independent arbiter, akin to the Parliamentary Budget Office, only one to audit fact. It's the old Daniel Moynihan line that you're entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts. You can't argue policy if one or more of you can't stand the facts. As Moynihan stressed, useful and productive argument is only possible within a framework of accepted fact. It might not be reality at the bleeding edge but it would be enough reality to, by debate, narrow the argument and illuminate solutions that all Canadians can understand. If we keep squab

The Stammering Man

  You don't have to be a critic of Justin Trudeau to know he stammers. The disjointed cadence, the constant search for words. He does it, a lot. He does it when he's lying, again, a lot. He also does it, sometimes, when he's gilding the truth or when he doesn't want to answer questions or when he wants to justify something unpopular or just plain wrong. This is not stuttering and I doubt it's some form of early onset Tourette syndrome.  You might think a fellow born into a political family, raised by the most revered prime minister of the postwar era, in the Liberal front bench since entering politics in 2009 and prime minister of Canada since 2015 would be more adept at speaking in the House or in interviews or on the hustings. But no, he remains a reticent president, our hesitant prime minister. Does this have anything to do with his lack of vision, his inability to do the bold thing when it's the right thing? I won't revisit his scandals here, the low-han

Is This the Event We Were Warned Of?

  Two themes are emerging in reports on Covid-19. One is that the Western economies are being hard hit, plunging deep in debt to prop up/avert the collapse of their societies until the pandemic passes. The other is that China is poised to emerge from the pandemic as a very dominant superpower. While we're struggling to tread water, 2021 is predicted to see China's economy grow by six per cent or more. Could the virus, first detected in Wuhan, put China firmly in the global driver's seat? 15 years ago, in the now distant era of Bush-Cheney, an "old school" Republican insider, Kevin Phillips, wrote a book, "American Theocracy," that explored how radical religion, radical politics, the transformation of America's economy in the age of globalism and "peak oil" might leave the United States and the global economy almost unrecognizable. Phillips obviously got the peak oil part wrong but the rest of his analysis still resonates. For this discussio

What's Next?

  Humans crave certainty. We want reliable. We want predictable. We pay a premium for that, if we can afford it, and it's going to become increasingly costly. Like it or not, we're in the grip of uncertainty that brings change that is neither reliable nor predictable. Covid-19 not only caught us by surprise. It caught us completely unprepared. Most governments, Canada's included, hesitated to respond and then, when they did, the response was bungled. It wasn't like we weren't warned that this sort of thing would be coming. We were warned. Avian flu, H1N1, Ebola, SARS, MERS and yet we were caught unprepared, stymied. For months Ottawa has been peddling empty assurances. Yes, we had ordered  massive stocks of vaccine, enough to deliver nine doses for every person in Canada. Then there was a disruption in supply and we were told that would be made up in a matter of weeks. We'd be up to our arses in vaccines before we knew it.  Now the provinces have decided that, i

Bill Kristol - Democrats and the Fight to Salvage American Democracy

  Bill Kristol, the arch-neoconservative who, with Robert Kagan, co-founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Politics, it's said, makes strange bedfellows and it doesn't get much stranger than Kristol and the Biden-wing Democrats . Now editor of the online conservative news magazine, Bulwark, Kristol defends his support for Biden over the the Treason Caucus republicans. A call to defend America from what had been Kristol's Republican Party. You want to save the Republican party? I’m all for it. In fact, the Republican Accountability Project, of which I’m a part, is doing its best to help do so. You’re interested in exploring whether a new, centrist party is possible, as Joe Walsh urged last week? I’m game to take a look. I am, however, not convinced that either of those alternatives presents a viable short-term path forward—at a moment when the short term is deeply important, because our democracy faces an internal crisis. After all, we did just fail to hav

The Evangelical Environmentalist

Canadian born, Katherine Hayhoe, doesn't fit the standard stereotypes. She's a Christian evangelical and she's a climate scientist, a Texan to boot. A climate scientist and an evangelical. Those sound mutually exclusive. She disagrees. So too does her pastor, the man she married. When I run into people who are very adamant about rejecting climate change — they’re not that many; only 7 percent of people are dismissive, but they’re very loud about it. I look at those people, whether it’s on social media or if they wrote me a letter — rarely do I run into them in person; most prefer to be behind the safety of a keyboard before they attack you — but I look at who they are because I’m curious. And easily 90 percent of the time — probably more than that — climate change is just one of a package of issues: extreme nationalism, anti-immigration, right-wing politics. You know, whatever the current issue of the day is — covid, school shooting — you can guarantee that whoever rejects

Jeebus, Only In America

  How many people can you squeeze into a Ford SUV? How about 27?  Now, 15 of the 27 are dead after their eight seater SUV ran headlong into a loaded gravel truck near El Centro, California. It's believed the SUV was transporting undocumented immigrants.

CPAC - Cynical Calculation or Mass Psychosis

  Grifters and lunatics. Is that what today comprises the Republican Party faithful? Monkeys in shoes. Some trained, some not. All of them gathered in Florida to breathe life into the lie that the Liar in Chief did not lose the House, did not lose the Senate and did not lose the executive, his own office last November. They gathered not to consider their past and future leader's bungling of the pandemic that has been assessed as responsible for 40 per cent of the Covid death toll, 200,000 needlessly lost lives. No one took the podium to say their party must never again fail  the American people this way. One by one they spun their party's Trump era mantra, the Big Lie. They won the election. Democrats with their subterfuge stole the win to form today's illegitimate government. They would get theirs, just wait and see. Every political party has its narrative and they're all bullshit to some degree. Most, however, retain some connection to reality, stretched as that may b