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We have too much oil in Alberta.

“The province’s landlocked oil is selling for a massive discount. The world price is hovering around $55 US per barrel. The price Alberta gets is called the Western Canada Select price — and that’s worth about $12 per barrel. The gap is called the price differential.

It’s just one bit of bad news after another for Alberta’s NDP government.

As if inheriting an economy heading into a recession in 2015 wasn’t bad enough, the NDP has watched the world price of oil stabilize while the price our landlocked energy industry receives has dwindled to a record low.”

We just can’t sell enough of the damn stuff to make it profitable, and the current status quo is making other people rich so it appears we’re kinda stuck at the moment.

What an incentive to actually put the dollars into diversifying our economy and weaning the oil industry off of the huge public subsides it receives.  I would also like to see our domestic gas prices reflect the current glut of oil in Alberta.

Of course, to even question the primacy of Oil and Gas in our province is akin to heresy, but it doesn’t mean questioning the priorities of our government should not be done.

Source: Edmonton Journal

We will soon be having a provincial election and I for one, do not want to return to the dark conservative backwater Alberta languished in for some 40 odd years.  We have a New Democratic Party Government that, when situated on the political spectrum, comes up centrist or slightly left of centre.  In Alberta this is pretty heady stuff.  The UCP (United Conservative Party) is the cobbled up zombie corpse of the old Progressive Conservative party and the rural wack-a-loon Wild Rose Party (*shudder*).  It has been stitched together by a greasy re-baked federal conservative pol named Jason Kenny.

The defining feature of the zombie UCP party platform is that it’s *NOT* the NDP and its debt inflating, male emasculating, poor people centring democratic socialism (not the “s” word…*faints*).   In other words, these gormless fucks have sweet FA with regards to policy and what they would actually do if (’til now) they were elected to govern Alberta.  Not much other than “not what the NDP is doing”.   Sorry folks, the lame restatement of an antithesis is political weaksauce at best – but it might be enough to sway our lemming centric conservative voting populace, considering the rightward political leanings in this province.  Apparently many Albertans have been longing for a return to the 40 year the conservative seppuku our province has recently emerged from.  Social programs?  Protections for workers?  Government for the people?  Climate responsibility?

Fuck that pinko communist noise.

I digress.  The platform of the UCP is oozing out into the public’s knowledge and it isn’t pretty (see Ontario’s false populist doppelganger, Doug Ford for Kenney’s inspiration) .  Most of the platform portends a merry jaunt to back to lining the pockets of the rich while proclaiming austerity for the lucky ones and a relentless shitcanning for everyone else.

“Kenney said the UCP will hire people to draft orders in council for cabinet to adopt the week it’s sworn in if the UCP wins. One of the key elements of structural reform, Kenney said, “is to move quickly.”

“Speed creates its own momentum. It also makes it harder for the opponents of reform to obstruct it,” he said.

Kenney said he doesn’t want to get “bogged down” with public consultation, so his party is doing as much as it can now “on the big issues.”

You know all that legislation to protect the working class and benefit the poor.  It has to go.  Stat.  But more importantly we have to fuck the NDP’s social progress up with no debate, no consultation, and none of that fucking filthy democracy we fucking harp on when it comes to protecting business class interests and the rich.

“Kenney said the UCP would freeze minimum wage increases (the NDP recently increased it to $15 per hour). He would also consider restructuring the minimum wage to something that resembles the age-graduated system used in Australia, in which youth get paid less than adults.”

Because why pay young people reasonably?  Who thought up that shit?  Was it Stalin?  Because the young most certainly don’t need money to live or save toward pursing post-secondary education (which will most certainly be gutted during a UCP regime – we need more beer guzzling dullards not egg-heads for christ’s sake).  Screw the young people they vote for commies anyways, plus we can ratchet up poor peoples class antagonism so while they scrabble for the shiny pebbles we deem to throw their way, then we can continue the plunder-party for the corporate and business interests, as it rightfully should be.  Added benefit:  the poor will need to focus on mere survival instead of organizing for a just and equitable society…  so much winning for everyone.

“The UCP would appoint a minister tasked solely with decreasing regulations by one-third as part of an “aggressive process of … lightening the regulatory burden on the Alberta economy,” Kenney said. That minister’s work would be guided by a similar setup under former B.C. Liberal premier Gordon Campbell.

“We’ll be constrained in how far we can go in terms of fiscal stimulus because of the $8-billion deficit and pending $60-billion debt, so we will need to over-compensate on the regulatory side,” he said.”

You know that idea about the government representing the best interests of the people of Alberta?  That is about as red as Lenin’s underpants.  Oversight and regulations are for weak kneed socialist chumps who don’t know the true power of the dark side reckless capitalist exploitation.

Climate change?  Unions?  Checks on corporate power?  That malarkey needs to go, so much so that we’ll set up a supercharged “Fuck You I’ve got Mine” government ministry to expedite the whole fucking process.

Awesome!

“Kenney doubled down on his commitment to a well-resourced government “war room” to defend Alberta’s energy industry here and abroad, setting up satellite offices if need be.

He also pledged to “stop the statutory shutdown of coal.” Federal regulations passed under Kenney’s former government in 2012 would shutter most of Alberta’s 18 coal-fired plants. The remaining six have to close by 2030 under a deadline set by Alberta’s NDP government.”

You know that economic diversification program the NDP has been going on about?  Trying to (after 40 years of conservative dithering) wean Alberta off fossil fuel extraction dependence?  Let’s tear that initiative down.  No..  let’s burn it to the ground with…*thinking*…  COAL!  Because no UCP government policy says ‘we understand the implications of climate science‘ more than’ lets ROLL COAL ALL DAY EVERY FUCKING DAY.

Awesome!

“Kenney said he would consider appointing a fiscal commission to make recommendations on how to get back to balance without raising taxes. A UCP platform would include a “positive vision” for artists and the cultural industries, he said, but “there will have to be a period of fiscal restraint.”

Arts?  Culture?  If its not drinking buck-a-beer while watching the idiot box then you’ve come to the wrong place effete liberal beatniks.  Your highfalutin cultural activities have no place in at UCP province.   We have no need to talk critically about our culture and converse about our place in the world, that kind of thinking promotes democratic ideals and free thought and that shit is bad for business.

Seriously folks, the UCP is ahead in fundraising and in the polls.  It feels like Alberta is about to head back into the insipid MAGA zone.  I don’t want that to happen.  We’ve had a taste of what governing for the people is like, and should continue to support a government that isn’t solely on exploiting everything for the sake of the rich and business classes.

So how about it Alberta, can we not head back into the political dark ages, just this once?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Columbia is currently in a province-wide state of emergency due to the over 560 wildfires throughout the province. Over 3,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and BC currently has the worst air quality in North America.

Taken on Highway 1, in British Columbia.

Yes, how dare our Federal Government enact a Carbon Tax, as clearly, there is no need to deal with the effects of climate change…

 

*sigh* – Well I hope this proud anti-Trudeau-ite is enjoying his hickory-flavoured air.

 

Given how the world works, I find it hard to believe that Canada is taking a principled stand on human rights in Saudi Arabia. Western democracies certainly try to own the rhetoric when it comes to democracy, peace, and freedom – but their realpolitik is quite similar to the nations they routinely criticize for being autocratic dictatorships that are terrible to their people.

My skepticism aside, this is the tweet that started the diplomatic furor between Saudi Arabia and Canada:

Well, the powers that be in Saudi Arabia didn’t like that one bit:

“We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

“Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada’s internal affairs,” it said.

“Saudi state television later reported that the Education Ministry was coming up with an “urgent plan” to move thousands of Saudi scholarship students out of Canadian schools to take classes in other countries.”

“Saudi Arabia said it is also freezing all new trade and investment transactions with Canada and “reserves its right to take further action.” Saudi Arabia is one of Canada’s largest export markets in the region, and some 10 per cent of Canadian crude oil imports come from Saudi Arabia.”

“Of course the major worry for Canada will now be the fate of a $15-billion contract for almost 1,000 light armoured vehicles between the Saudi government and London, Ont.’s General Dynamics. The controversial deal, struck in 2014 and approved in 2016, called for the vehicles to be delivered starting in 2017, but it’s not clear how many have already been sent as Ottawa refuses to release the “commercially confidential” information.”

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is reportedly selling off its assets in Canada and will stop buying Canadian wheat and barley, in the latest escalation in the sudden diplomatic dispute between the two countries.”

“The national Saudi Arabian airline, Saudia, said this week that it would suspend all flights between the country and Canada, starting next week.”

[Sources cbc.ca 1, 2, 3, 4]

I think I speak for many Canadian when I say. “WTF just happened here?”.  The Saudi record on human rights isn’t a particularly deep dark secret and to call for a what seems to be a bit of leniency in one specific case doesn’t seem as beyond the pale as the Saudi’s seem to think it is.

Would Canada recall its ambassadors and impose sanctions if Norway made light of our decidedly horrible treatment of our First Nations people?  I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t.  Most likely some diplomatic hand-waves and some impassioned statements about how we’re working hard (we’re not) to improve the lives of all Canadians and then the issues would pass.

What is more intriguing is that despite the Saudi backlash, Canada’s government isn’t backing down:

     Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada isn’t backing down from its position that led to diplomatic sanction from Saudi Arabia.

Freeland made the comments Monday afternoon in Vancouver a day after Saudi Arabia announced it would cease new trade deals with Canada and expel the Canadian ambassador.

“I will say Canada is very comfortable with our position. We are always going to speak up for human rights; we’re always going to speak up for women’s rights; and that is not going to change,” she told a news conference.

“Canadians expect our foreign policy to be driven by and to embody Canadian values, and that is how we intend to continue our foreign policy.”

On Friday, Global Affairs Canada had tweeted, “Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists.”

This is post is just full of WTF’s.   Freeland seems to be articulating a values based position on a foreign policy issue.  It makes little sense has Saudi Arabia is clearly demonstrating their willingness to go full-trump and punish Canada economically for having the ‘bombast’ to ask them to release a blogger they have detained and are torturing (sorry folks, flogging is torture any way you want to slice it.)

It’s sad that I’m feeling so cynical about this particular story, and continue to look for the angle that the Canadian government is not sharing with the press.  Like, since when do nations actually take ethical stands on any issue these days?  It just isn’t good for business.

I’m going to continue to follow this story folks, because something just isn’t adding up.

 

Around 250 organ works by Bach have been handed down, the most intriguing of which are works thought to have originated early on, but of which there is no surviving autograph. The speculations of Bach researchers all boil down to a single question: how early on can we determine signs of genius in his work?

In the Passacaglia in C minor, in any case, his genius is as clear as day. As a variation work, it surpasses anything Bach could have heard in his younger years. The ostinato, the repetitive bass line that forms the foundation of a passacaglia, is made up of eight bars, rather than the usual four. The work consists of twenty variations, rather than the usual five or six. And on top of its initial function, the bass line is then split up and treated as two separate themes that, accompanied by a third theme, form the material for an ingenious fugue.

The earliest copy of the Passacaglia was made between 1706 and 1713 by Bach’s elder brother Johann Christoph. In 1705, Bach paid an extended visit to Buxtehude, the man who undoubtedly had the greatest influence on his variation work, so it would be logical to conclude that Bach composed the Passacaglia shortly after returning from his journey.

Canadian Luc Beausejour’s rendition of BWV 582

Facts do not necessarily win political arguments. The sooner the progressive left realizes this, the better. As a progressive lefty I’m consistently amazed by the voting patterns of the common people i.e. the people the political left is supposed to represent. Recently in Canada our most populace province decided to elect an business sense challenged, no political platform, boorish individual who spoke not in terms of political policy, but in catchy, folksy, accessible language:

His populist message resonated with voters who were unhappy with the provincial Liberals. Ford promised “buck a beer,” ten cents off a litre of gas and major tax cuts. He also promised to cut government spending by $6 billion but didn’t say how.”

Like, jesus christ in a fuckbasket, what kind of platform is that?  Anyone with more than two neurons to rub together can see the bread and circuses messaging and the usual conservative trojan-horsery going on here.  I’m not sure people get it, so let me state it here.  Conservative party policy focuses on maintaining the good times for people who most likely are not YOU.  The business elite, the wealthy, the current power structure are all beneficiaries of conservative rule – the hoi polloi – is not.

Not ever.

But hey, my fellow Canadians, enjoy your cheap beer while the newly minted government savages and merrily defenestrates the social safety net and related infrastructure that makes your life bearable.  Your vote indicates that you are good with that.

Why I shake my head (more) is that these paradoxical voting patters are nothing new.  Sharun Mukand and Dani Ridrik expound on how world view memes (in the Dawkins sense) can influence people to vote against their self interests.

 “Importantly, identity and worldview memes do not prevail equally across all subgroups of the population. Political entrepreneurs target these memes toward the electorally critical subgroup. Our model predicts that identity polarisation and support for policy memes will both see their greatest rise within the lower- and middle-income group of the majority-identity group. These are the potential switchers to whom the memes will be targeted. We should not expect those memes to operate as strongly among the wealthy who belong to the majority group or the minority-identity group of all incomes.

Increased inequality raises the reward to the rich from successful ideational politics. The returns from discovering a policy meme that persuades the median voter, for example, that lower taxes are in the interests of not only the rich, but also the low-income median voter are much higher when inequality is high. Similarly, an effective identity meme that catalyses identity around issues such as gay marriage, women’s rights and immigration can also serve as a ‘wedge’ giving low-income voters a reason to vote for the high-income party. As one team of economists concluded in 2015: ‘Despite the large increases in economic inequality since 1970, American survey respondents exhibit no increase in support for redistribution … demand for income redistribution in the US has remained flat by some measures and decreased for others.’ This is remarkable. And it happened, as our research framework suggests, thanks to the role of ideas as a catalyst for policy change. The elite, along with an allied ‘political-ideational complex’ (including academics, think tanks and talk-radio), successfully disseminated the worldview that rising inequality was an inevitable byproduct of structural changes in the global economy, which in turn necessitated the adoption of financial deregulation, low capital-income taxes and the embrace of globalisation.

Ideas and interests both matter for political change, and the two feed into one another. On the one hand, economic interests drive the kind of ideas that politicians put forward. As Kenneth Shepsle, professor of government at Harvard University, put it in 1985, ideas can be regarded as ‘hooks on which politicians hang their objectives and further their interests’. However, ideas also shape interests. This happens because they alter voter preferences and/or shift their worldviews ex-post, in both cases shifting rankings over policy.”

Fuck.  I wish the notion of concise writing would make a comeback in academia.  There are the makings of a great article in this piece, but it is severely hampered by clunky, inaccessible writing.

The gist is that you make people focus on an bullshit issue(s) that has little relation to the actual levers of power in society.  Once elected, on said mountain of bullshit, its like “Oh, by the way, along with your buck-a-beers, we’ll be needing to privatize healthcare (and other policies that screw the Average Joe and Jane sideways).

This isn’t magic, folks.   Honest.

“For those who view politics in terms of a narrow and static notion of interests, the electoral support for Trump, Brexit and other populist movements seems to pose a puzzle. It seems as if many poor people are voting against their self-interest. But the puzzle is more apparent than real. It is rooted in a habit of thinking of interests only in economic terms, and also as fixed. Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon understood well that interests are malleable. With the right message and framing, Bannon noted in 2013, you could change the political calculus by shaping popular perception of self-interest: ‘Trade is No 100 on the [Republican] Party’s list. You can make it No 1. Immigration is No 10. We can make it No 2.’

What appears to be culture might be economics – the consequence of identity or worldview memes marketed by economic elites for their own self-interest. For example, Reagan used the imagery of a ‘welfare queen’ to attack unemployment benefits and the welfare state. So identity politics was being deployed by him to ensure that voters supported the Republican low-tax economic agenda. Similarly, what might look like economics might be shaped by cultural predispositions that provide voters with their interpretive frameworks – such as Merkel’s celebration of the ‘Swabian housewife’ when making the case for austerity.

Defeating autocratic and nativist political movements will likely require strategies based on both ideas and interests. As we have seen in recent elections, proposing policies that are better suited to the economic needs of middle- and lower-income voters will likely not be enough. Successful challengers will also need to come up with narratives that help to reshape peoples’ worldviews and identities”

What a long way of saying is that left needs to up its bullshit game, so we can baffle the brains of the populace and then introduce policy that will actually benefit them.

Interesting conclusion though, is that the right consistently wins through the bait and switch that treats people as if they were feckless, greedy, morons.   Yet, the left politic seems hesitant to do so, as if somehow the patronizing authoritarian method is somehow disdainful and wrong.  I’m at the point of ‘fuck it’ and do what works already, because I’m tired of the Right being the sole benefactors of this proven, winning political strategy.

(The best part is that the Right always accuses us lefty types of elitist authoritarian tendencies, all the while exemplifying the best practices of the former.   Like, okay, then let’s do this then, and beat them at their own shitty game.)

Did you want to see the effects of toxic masculinity?  Most women do, but men don’t.  The reason for this glaring difference cuts to the quick of issue.  Most men would want to see the evidence behind the claim – the statistics, the causal connections, et cetera.  Seems reasonable right?  So why wouldn’t (generally) a female also want to see the ‘proof in the pudding’ so to speak or have the evidence ready to when making a claim?  What’s going here?  Is the female lady-brain just not made for making arguments and defending their claims?

No.  It isn’t a female problem at all.

The root of the problem  is this…

Men <em>assume</em> that how they experience society is how women experience society.  And when men vocalize that assumption they end up sounding like mansplaining asshats; just like Alex from this thread on facebook.

We shan’t plumb the depths of Alex’s heavy mantle of skull deadening ignorance (at least not today) .  The take-away here is don’t be like Alex, because full frontal ignorance isn’t a look good on anyone.  As illustrated countless times here on DWR, the female experience in society is radically different than the male experience, so any notions of “equality” espoused by men need to be quietly tucked away, and saved for the day when they actually concur with reality.

So now we know how not to think (my dudes), let’s look at example n-millionth+1 of how the class of men is absolute shite.  This is what happened in Toronto.

  “The man accused of plowing into pedestrians along a strip of one of Toronto’s busiest streets on Monday is expected to be charged with a 14th count of attempted murder in addition to the 10 counts of first-degree murder he already faces.

Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, Ont., was arrested after a white van left a trail of death and injury down a busy stretch of Yonge Street in north Toronto.
At a news conference Tuesday, police said little about any possible motive the suspect may have had, but did refer to a “cryptic” message posted on Minassian’s Facebook account moments before he allegedly drove south down a nearly kilometre-long stretch causing what paramedics described as “pure carnage.”

Make no mistake, we are dealing with a rage filled male individual who is quite willing to place his fucked up narrative ahead of innocent lives and the suffering of others.  Here is what he said on facebook:

“Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys. All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” reads the post.

Facebook confirmed the authenticity of the public post, created under a profile on the social networking site belonging to an Alek Minassian that has since been deleted by the company.

“It’s something that we’ll take into account in this investigation,” Toronto Police Det.-Sgt. Graham Gibson said of the post, before declining to speculate on a motive. Police said the victims in Monday’s attack were “predominantly women.”

Yeah.  Look what happens when men can’t impose their delusions on reality – they resort to violence to ‘fix’ the problem (see parallels in the ripe misogyny known as transactivism).

Yes, well lets look at what being an incel is what its about (transcript from CBC Radio 1 – The Current).

“AMT: Rebecca Solnit what did you think then when you first heard there could be a link between the Toronto attack and Incels?

REBECCA SOLNIT: I wish I could say I was surprised. And I wish we talked about misogyny as a kind of terrorism or hate group or something like that, but it wasn’t surprising at all because misogynist violence is so pervasive now. You know as Kim Walls killers just sentenced, as we wait to hear the jury verdict on Bill Cosby, as we deal with so many other stories like this one you know in one or another stories of hatred and violence against women.

AMT: So what do you think is behind the attitudes of these young men?

REBECCA SOLNIT: You know I think that there are some very peculiar Internet culture specific things about it, but I think the general hatred of women and the idea that sex is a commodity that men are out there to get, and more is better and this sense of entitlement of having a right to women’s bodies which the Incel murderer in Isla Vista four years ago strongly believed in is really pervasive. And you know this is kind of an intensification of misogynist culture, patriarchal culture with its entitlement and its rage.”

 

So there we have it folks the problem – a sexist, misogynistic cultural soup that feeds feelings of male delusion, entitlement, and rage.  Feminists, particularly those of the radical stripe, have seen these currents in society (patriarchy) and have been naming the problem, writing about it, and constructing theories for decades.  Systemic problems of society require systemic solutions – the emancipation from patriarchal norms (the goal of effective feminism) falls squarely into this category.

We cannot let ‘mental illness’ or ‘lone wolves’ become the narrative for this tragedy.  It is the fucking system we live in that creates these horror shows and they will not stop till we deal with the root of the problem – the patriarchal ‘norms’ that hurt both women and men.

So what can you do as dudes to stop another Toronto Toxic Masculinity Massacre?  Stop feeding the beast.  Do not normalize rape jokes and rape culture, view women as fully human and not just objects to stick your dick into, and for goodness sake try to have a couple scraps of empathy and try to understand that your experience in society is not the same as everyone else.

 

 

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