aardvarkcola

Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

I never voted for Jack Layton, but did, when I was young, vote NDP. I was a union organizer, and in that capacity met many hard-wired NDP members. The NDP is unique to Canada, its loyal membership recognizing that party gave us socialized medicine, stood up for worker’s rights, and consistently and solidly stood by their beliefs come hell or high water.

Layton impressed, even so recently, as so healthy and so strong, even with that cane in the last election, as he recovered from hip surgery, which may have weakened him enough that his prostrate cancer was given enough chance to spread. In a shocking television appearance in which he appeared gaunt, defeated, and sickly, his eyes had the death look of late-stage cancer patients. His great confident voice was gone. It was a shadow voice as he announced he had to take time from work to get better. I seemed to be one of the few who had the dread that he would never return to work at all.

Jack Layton impressed with passion and dedication. How cruel to have won the keys to Stornaway, taking the New Democratic Party to become Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition for the first time in its history, and just three short months later to lose his life to cruel cancer. Our thoughts are with his family. Jack Layton impressed as the one man in Canadian federal politics that was on your side, come hell or high water.

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Anti-democracy mobs burned Canada's parliament on the 25th of April, 1849.

Canada had its own Tahrir Square, its own rebellion that won democracy. It happened, not on January 25 (#Jan25) but but on April 25. The year was 1849.

A hotly debated bill was passed in the Canadian legislature, then in Montreal. A rebellion a dozen years before, in 1837, had damaged property of residents of Lower Canada, now Quebec, like today, largely French-speaking. The bill promised money to repair damages from that rebellion. The bill passed, infuriating the English of Upper Canada. It was democracy, but those against the bill would have none of it. Their last hope was that the Governor-General would not sign the bill into law. He did, and rioting began.

Those who were against the bill believed those who rebelled in 1837 were traitors to Queen Victoria and should never be compensated. They were loyal to the Crown, and not to democracy. They were the elite of Canada, wealthy, many owing their positions to their pedigree. True democracy, responsible government, was not supported by them, and here was an example of what democracy could do. Furious, they burned parliament to the ground.

It happened quickly. A large mob gathered, further fueled their anger with speeches, and marched to the parliament where government members were debating. The mob angrily broke the windows of parliament, used a ladder as a battering ram and entered, overpowering those inside. After they burned parliament five days of rioting followed, damaging other property. There was looting. A coup was feared, local militia were armed. Trust was gone. A leading government minister, Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine, was attacked by mobs and rescued by soldiers. Both the government and the head of the Canadian armed forces, Lieutenant-General Sir Benjamin d’Urban, said they would not fire on the rioters.

It took great restraint. Lord Elgin, the governor-general, the highest ranking government official, the representative of Queen Victoria, was attacked  by a mob in his carriage. The mob stoned it. Elgin, surrounded, was rescued by soldiers as well.

The members of parliament bravely walked through the streets for a meeting at a hotel, a temporary parliament. The mob blocked them, stoned them, threw anything they could. Soldiers separated the two sides. The government met, and there Elgin said, “A free people…can discover…the best security..for their rights and liberties.”

The mob was not through. When Governor-General Elgin left the meeting, the mob attacked him again, and nearly destroyed his carriage. For four months he was under guard while tempers cooled. Elgin would continue to use the same near-destroyed carriage to open parliaments for the rest of his term of office, as a reminder of how dear democracy is, and how near it came to being lost in Canada, just at its birth.

Eighteen years later, July 1, 1967, Canada was born, with the asserted stance that  parliament, and therefore the people, were supreme.

Every free people faces a moment that determines how much they want democracy. Ours began on the 25th day on a month long ago.

Ironic that of all publications, Rolling Stone magazine can bring down a general. The killer quote can indeed kill.

The article, written by a features writer, not a news reporter, and one obviously unfamiliar but fascinated with the testosterone-laden, disdainful, and by necessity over-confident world of senior military staff, was also as obviously deeply embedded somehow among the general’s staff. The trust given him seems unprecedented. The result is considerable damage.

The article was a weapon of general destruction. It should not have been. An experienced president with more confidence than Mr. Obama will ignore the article, speak to the general, have a public meeting in the White House rose garden complete with its array of microphones and eager press, and announce confidence in the general. The war could then go on uninterrupted. This is, after all about war.

But President Obama may have fired the general. As of this moment, the Stars and Stripes published this photo, above left , and the general concerned, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, fit, professional and every inch the commander he should be, looks stricken. His eyes tell the tale, looking into forever, at a unknown black future before him.

When I noticed one other picture, in a news story, the photo taken some time ago, the one at left, I was struck by the body language. There was something odd about it, something uncomfortable, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Ever been in a meeting where someone has their turn speaking and you know what they are going to say, but you have to keep silent and listen politely? That’s the impression I had of McChrystal from this photo. Both men are leaning forward, there are things to discuss, but Obama looks down, guesturing with his hands, looking at his talking points. The photo was taken at a moment when there is no eye-to-eye dialogue, no let’s-do-this, no eye-to-eye contact, but one has the impression that even if there were, the general would still give the impression he was listening patiently but not taking in anything vital. He is there for an appointment. Imagine the general getting up and leaving this meeting from his chair. It is easier from the position he is sitting in to leave in a dismissive huff than with polite deference.

One does not take in new information from such a position. There is no openness. I gather from that he has not asked a question of the president who is going through his talking points, but that Obama is lecturing, providing general information, getting a message out and the general is politely taking it in because he has to.

Obviously the photo was taken aboard Air Force One, the general a top commander or he wouldn’t be there. The commander, even at rest, looks like a man of action. He is not there to relax.

Isolating McChrystal in the photo, without his wide stance and without Obama, we have a different impression. We focus on his face more. Gen, McChrystal is listening intently. His body language says, tell me what do do and I’ll do it. It is a look of deference and respect, in contast to the impression when both men are in the image.

Another president, Lincoln, had his trouble with generals, several of them. I remember once reading that he wrote and angry letter to one general and put it away and sent him another.  General Ulysses S. “Unconditional Surrender” Grant, who might have been a forgotten loser without the civil war, was the last in a long line of his top commanders. Grant drank. When someone complained, Lincoln said, more eloquently than I can put it, if whiskey was what it took, he should send some to all his generals.

Truman, too, had his general problems and met with a the corn-cob smoking, open shirted egomaniac Douglas McArthur on Wake Island after sitting on the tarmac in the ancient rendition of Air Force One before there was such a thing. Truman, aware of his position, was damned if he was going to go outside the plane and wait for the general. The general had to wait for him and greet him. Truman stubbornly sat in the plane until McArthur showed up.

Obama should be well above Rolling Stone magazine. This is war. He should not give a flying fig about the contents of the article. Both men recognize the landmine for what it is and avoid such in the future.

A feature writer for Rolling Stone magazine should not decide the fate of a general or the outcome of a war.

Dear Aardvark Cola,

This being president of Afghanistan sucks.

President of Afghanistan is not a job most people would take. The pay is lousy, unless there’s opium money in it, the elected representatives don’t approve my cabinet picks automatically, and those irritating United Nations people are all over, always trying to make elections fair. One person, one vote. I mean, we can count here. We don’t need them around. I want to count the votes myself. After all, I’m the president.

It’s enough to make you want to join the Taliban.

I mean they get outdoors more, get exercise, they don’t have to worry about voting on this, voting on that, if they want something they take it. It’s appealing to me right now.

I just want to count the votes, that’s all. After all, you Canadians and the Americans and the British and  whoever else there are here, I’m sure there are more, all all good people, you Western infidel bastard dogs, you. But I have a country to run. I can count. After all, I’m the president. So next election, tell the soldiers to use their guns and bring all those ballot boxes to me. I’ll count them. Don’t worry. I’ll do it.

Have a nice weekend, don’t work too late .

Cheers, Aardvark.

Love, Hamid.

PS. I said hi to you on Facebook and you didn’t answer. What’s up with that?

The whistle blowers friend, Wikileaks.

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A cartoon featured a dutiful secretary advising her boss, “Rahim Jaffer on line one.” She continued: “And on line two.” I believe it was a National Post Cartoon, back when Rahim Jaffer was an Member of Parliament representing an Alberta riding.  He’s out now. His wife will be soon. No idea why the Prime Minister is holding back.

The use of office staff to impersonate the boss, is not what Jaffer’s wife, Helena Guergis, the Minister of for the Status of Women, was doing. Let’s be very clear. When confronted, she pleaded innocence, said the staff were doing their own thing, and said it was all inappropriate. So there.

Uh-huh. Would you fall over yourself writing letters praising your boss in a newspaper if you were yelled at to fetch her shoes? She had a tantrum and wanted to sue Air Canada because people found out she had a tantrum? She lords it over staff like that and we are expected to believe the praise of Miss Is-My-Crown-On-Straight is voluntary among staff and, what this- her mother wrote one of the letters? Uh-huh.

I’d list who wrote what, but the Star has done that. Here’s the article.

Some news items become household conversation, then at work,  fodder for water cooler grazing. These issues are bigger than themselves. They are elephants released from envelopes and cannot be stuffed back in.

Helena (not just Helen) Geurgis, the former beauty pageant contestant and mall soap peddler sued her pageant way back when. Now she’s a federal cabinet minister. Reportedly she aimed legal sights at Air Canada somehow thinking she was victim after she yelled at airport workers and called the PEI community she was trying to fly out of a “shithole”. She was “working her ass off” for us, she said, apparently. Must have been hard work indeed as she yelled at a staffer to fetch her shoes. Must have been so tired. I wonder if she still wears that beauty pageant crown or just abstractly feels its on her head still. It must be tight.

There’s more written about and said about Miss Simcoe-Grey, sorry, it’s Mrs. but more about that in a minute. I mention all this only because one must. Otherwise, those who scan these things would think it’s not an issue at all if I didn’t write about it.

While we’re at it, let’s quickly pen in her husband, too, Rahim Jaffer, former MP, again Conservative, somehow walking out of court with a cocaine possession charge tossed out. Again, it’s been written about, in is it really-us-and-them fashion. But, that’s what good lawyers are for, I suppose.

Again, apologies all round, I only mention it all because if I didn’t, someone perusing this blog might think, well if I didnt mention it there’s no issue.

And actually there is. This blog is written in Alberta, the bastion of Conservatism.

Here’s a prediction for you. If Guegis isn’t tossed overboard with the garbage, crown and all, Rahim Jaffer will only be the first Alberta Conserative MP to lose his or her seat. This issue is that big. Actually, I take that back. It’s bigger.

The pair really are beyond words, but so soon after her husband should have laid low, Miss Simcoe-in-grey really illustrated to us peons who’s important around here. One would think we couldn’t vote.

That and I haven’t mentioned the letter writing. My goodness. There is something rather gallling about that. But skipping nearly to the end, it was a newspaper response of sorts to it all that could only come from a Conservative source. The gist of it was, the Liberals have done it, too.

Really, now. Not being a Liberal, I’d still venture to say at no time in Canadian history has there ever, ever ever, I mean, ever, been anything quite like this.

And with all that ugly mess mentioned, I’ll wash my hands. The anonymous staff-praises-Helena (not just Helen) Guergis through coordinated letters to newspapers after being ordered to fetch her shoes must come later.



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  • wordbeeps: No, he doesn't deserve an apology. Who tweets during a funeral? If you do, expect feedback. I didn't say the mourners were faking it. I think they we
  • Holly Stick: Look you fuckwit, are you too stupid to realise that Ghomeshi was an actual friend of Layton's, when you tweeted to him that the mourners were faking
  • aardvarkcola: Thank you. I see the rest of your message now. i'm honoured to to have your words on my blog. That alone is a delight. Lawrence

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