Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Whose Democracy Is It, Anyway?

While the Mound has been giving comprehensive coverage of the Cambridge Analytica assault on democracy, I am taking this opportunity to supplement his work with the following. I hope it sheds further light on the ongoing subversion of politics and citizens' rights, all for the sake of facilitating victory for those who have no goal other than to attain power for its own sake.

Fittingly, for Facebook's pivotal role in this monstrous scheme, its shares lost 7% of their value for a whopping market value loss of $40 billion.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Simpsons Have His Number

Those whose memories extend beyond last night's hockey scores may recall that in 2011, while he was a Toronto city councillor, Doug Ford proposed an 'exciting' vision for that city's waterfront: a monorail, a megamall, and a giant Ferris wheel,:
“What we’d like to do is have a monorail system that’s running right from the Pan Am Games (site) right along the lakefront and stops at Union Station and Ontario Place and right across the front of the lake,” Ford said.
To complement this 'vision,' the megamall
“... would be 1.6 million square feet of one of the most prestigious malls in Canada. We’d try to attract Nordstrom and Bloomingdales and Macy’s".
The above 'magnificence' would be topped off by this 'gem':
The councillor said he hopes to have looming over all of it the world’s biggest Ferris wheel, similar to England’s London Eye, but that would be “just a cash cow.”
If you see nothing wrong with this scheme, please read no further, as you will only be offended.

Several years ago, The Simpsons tapped into this curious zeitgeist:

Notice how the huckster even bears a more-than-passing resemblance to the conman who now leads the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and will, according to the latest poll, be Ontario's next Premier.

Fortunately, some are able to see through the facade and understand that all of Ford's faux populism is something that needs to be soundly rejected if one cares anything about an inclusive and progressive society. The lead letter in yesterday's Star amply reflects the need, not to embrace empty rhetoric, but rather to engage in one of responsible citizenship's harder duties: critical thinking:
Doug Ford purports to denounce the “elites” and stand up for the “little guy.” I’m not sure who these groups are.

Are these elites the Liberals who have introduced progressive initiatives such as labour reform and increased minimum wages? And does the little guy refer to those who have been subsisting on precarious employment and low wages? As premier, Ford would cancel the next minimum-wage increase, surely a blow to the working poor.

Are these elites the Liberals who brought in the beginnings of a pharmacare program for those under 25 and is the little guy all of those who previously couldn’t afford necessary medicines but now have access?

Are the elites the Liberals (and the PCs under Patrick Brown) who have embraced carbon taxes for assuming some responsibility for our planet? The federally mandated carbon tax is not something Ford can ignore. Is he not being disingenuous in suggesting otherwise?

As a wealthy business owner, is Ford not an elite whose pro-business and anti-tax policies meet his needs and not necessarily those of the little guy?

It is truly disheartening to see polls predict a PC win in June’s election when there is no platform — only promises to scrap the sex-ed curriculum, revisit abortion policies, cancel a much-needed minimum-wage increase and cut taxes.

We can’t go back to the 20th century. Times have changed and continue to change rapidly. We desperately need a truly progressive government.

Norah Downey, Midland, Ont.
So will it be the monorail or responsible government? You will literally have to decide which future best reflects the quality of your character.

Friday, March 16, 2018

America's Answer To The Homeless Problem

Call it thinking outside the box, but a U.S. candidate for the Senate has a novel idea about the homeless problem: arm them with shotguns.

Here is Libertarian Brian Ellison's plan, borne, no doubt, out of deep compassion:
... homeless people are “constantly victims of violent crime” and providing them with firearms would provide a deterrent.

[He] said he had settled on pump-action shotguns for practicality purposes.

“Frankly I think the ideal weapon would be a pistol,” he told the Guardian, “but due to the licensing requirements in the state we’re going to have a hard enough time getting homeless people shotguns as it is.

“Getting them pistols is probably next to impossible. The pistols need to be registered, people have to have addresses.”

Carrying a concealed pistol is illegal without a permit, Ellison said, “whereas open-carrying a long gun is completely legal”.
I can't help but wonder if it also occurs to Ellison that he may also have hit upon a cost effective plan to reduce the number of homeless people in America's midst.

Kind of a reversion to Hobbes' state of nature, eh?

And The United States Considers Itself A Civilized Country?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Enough To Warm A Cynic's Heart

No matter how bleak and pessimistic I may sometimes feel about my species, something always comes along to lighten my heart:

May they thrive, and may their momentum be unstoppable.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Seeking Sanctuary

Sometimes, living in Canada's most populous province is embarrassing. Anyone know a remote mountain top I can retreat to?

These letter-writers define my problem:
In light of the recent PC leadership convention that saw the resurrection of the anti-abortion faction, the denial of climate change, the renewal of the “no tax is good tax” fallacy, an anti-gay bias and the assertion that only parents undertake sex education of their children, I would propose that the party change its name from Progressive Conservative to Regressive Conservative — taking a giant step backward for all Ontarians.

Peter Lower, Scarborough

A mere two days after we observed International Women’s Day, the Ontario PC party membership decided to bypass a strong, highly qualified, intelligent woman in favour of a dense, inexperienced, impudent man who rode the populist wave to victory much like another well-known politician did south of the border over a year ago. For a man who doesn’t have an original idea in his head, Doug Ford certainly has a lot of people betting on his ability to beat Premier Kathleen Wynne in the upcoming election. Let’s hope this time the electorate chooses the strong, highly qualified, intelligent candidate.

John Fraser, Toronto

Columnist Martin Regg Cohn tells us that we should not rule out the possibility of Doug Ford being elected Ontario premier, and he may well be right. It is possible that Ford’s populist appeal will be sufficient to propel the PC party into government. However, it is also possible that Ford’s election will revitalize Liberal party fortunes and give Premier Kathleen Wynne a fighting chance of clinging to power. In electing Ford, PC party members chose to roll the dice with the future of both their party and the province, and they apparently did this with their eyes wide open. On June 7, we will know whether those who voted for Ford allowed Wynne to once again beat the odds.

Jonathan Household, Niagara on the Lake