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   The upcoming election in the US, at least from a Canadian perspective, a bit lost in the deluge of media coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic.  The American Left business party has a chance to regain the White House, but Webb asks the question in his essay on Unherd, “What if the new American Left is — as the philosopher Richard Rorty put it, exhausted?”

 

“And, he argued, national pride in America is just what the American left had lost — and if that was true in 1998 it is true with knobs on in 2020: to quote the great philosopher, “a spectatorial, disgusted, mocking Left” understands the nation in a way that “leads them to step back from their country and, as they say, ‘theorize’ it. It leads them to … give cultural politics preference over real politics, and to mock the very idea that democratic institutions might once again be made to serve social justice.”
Suggested reading

Rorty, who died in 2007, was not an complete enemy of the new Left’s keenness on race and gender — he thought they had a point — but he knew that it would end in tears. He knew that identity politics would ditch the uncomfortable, sweaty-smelling folks in the unions, the welders and electricians and carpenters and that those (mainly white) men would in turn ditch the Democrats. And so it came to pass, and now we might be post-Rorty with no road back.

Does the American Left have what it takes to knit together the nation when its modern iteration so clearly dislikes so much about it? After the statues ,what else must fall? What other horrors must be uncovered? The jury is out, to put it mildly, on whether American atonement might be over soon or just beginning. If the question is between social solidarity or continued struggle, plenty of modern Democrats have had it with the former and are willing to embrace the latter.

They may or may not be right, or justified, but if America finds no comfort and no direction we will all suffer the consequences. There’s a lot riding on the Biden presidency, if it comes. For them, and, as ever, for us.”

The other problem I see is that Biden may want to return to the status quo which if one recalls – the permanent war economy, gilded age level of economic inequality, and predatory capitalism – isn’t exactly a noble cause.

Is anyone else getting the feeling that a  possible attempt to assassinate Justin Trudeau, our Prime Minister, is being portrayed as sort of “meh” in the media? The front pages from the Globe and Mail, Global News, and the National Post.  Only Global has a story on it on the front page, and of course CBC is still with the story as I’m quoting their article for this post.

 

 

“Hurren allegedly drove his truck through the pedestrian gate at 1 Sussex Drive at around 6:30 a.m. ET Thursday morning, which stopped working on impact.
He then headed toward the ground’s greenhouse on foot with what appeared to be a firearm, stopping to hide in a rose garden for three minutes around 6:35 a.m., said Duheme.
Duheme said officers spotted Hurren at 6:43 a.m. and began talking with him two minutes later.
“It was only at 6:53 where the suspect responded and a dialogue ensued,” Duheme said.”

Good heavens, only in Canada do we talk down a possible assassin and ask him to please release himself into police custody.  I think if this incident happened a coupe of parallels of latitude to the south, a different more fatal outcome would have ensued.

 

“The RCMP did not answer questions about the note at this morning’s briefing, citing the ongoing investigation.When asked if police know Hurren’s motivation, Duheme said “yes” but would not go into details. The RCMP did say Hurren wasn’t known previously to police and was not on any watch lists.Hurren ran a business called GrindHouse Fine Foods, which makes meat products. In a Facebook post he reported that the novel coronavirus pandemic had taken a toll on his business.”I’m not sure what will be left of our economy, industries and businesses when this all ends,” he wrote May 26.CBC News Manitoba also reported that roughly an hour before Hurren entered the Rideau Hall grounds, a Facebook page associated with his business posted a meme of a big outdoor party that supposedly would occur after the lockdown.

The post also directs people to look up “Event 201″ — a worldwide pandemic preparedness exercise run last year that conspiracy theorists now use to suggest Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is behind COVID-19.”

Yep, armed and seemingly enthrall to conspiracy theories aaaaaand traipsing around Sussex Drive.  I hope our police are not handling the situation like the brother’s Andy from Hott Fuzz, but the media seems to be.

 

 

Or maybe dystopia…

This excerpt is from James Lindsey writing on his blog New Discourses.

Lindsey is very critical of one of the methods used to analyze our culture.  Apparently correctly identifying systemic racism, and how it flows through society is a bad thing.  Rather, we just need to do better and try harder with the current system and hope that one day we can reach a better place – cue unicorns and gleeful music – where society is just better.  (???)

Some of the criticisms Lindsey has can be directly applied to his own prescriptions which are vague and lacking in detail as to how to proceed to the state of having a better society:

“We need to listen; we need to investigate; and we need to use the best methods available to understand and fix the problem.” 

Yeah.  Okay.  So using the best methods available we can probably ascertain that having a police officer kneel on a person’s neck for several minutes isn’t conducive to that person continuing to live.  It would seem that this sort of treatment is disproportionately handed out to people that are not white.

So, using the best investigative tools at hand and all of our listening skills we should be able to parse out a reasonable solution to the problem in our liberal society? No?

Is telling minority populations, who are still being incarcerated and extra-judicially murdered at an alarming rate “just be patient, we’re working on it” a viable solution?  How many incidents of police discriminate police violence and the corresponding race riots do we need to get a ‘good data set’  to start fixing the disadvantages of being a colour other than white in society?

Go read the entire article – For me, the overall feeling came down to this – Okay, so critical race theory is pessimistic… buuuuut what do you offer to replace the way it exposes the very real and very deep fractures in our society?  Like we had Rodney King in 1992 and yet, here we be in 2020 with George Floyd; I’m not seeing anything close to the epoch changing liberal progress Lindsey so tepidly puts forward.   Rather, the status quo has been maintained and the system continues as it did before – systemic racism intact and going strong.

 

“We can do better than Critical Race Theory. We can do better than a sloppy “theoretical” approach that’s really about pushing divisive grievance politics into our society, one that treats people as props for the narrow politics that primarily, if not solely, benefit the elite grifters who know the Theory. Critical Race Theory advances them at everyone else’s expense. And we already know a lot of how to tackle these problems better than Critical Race Theory can. We already know how to be liberals, apply liberalism, judge by the content of character rather than anything to do with identity or color of skin. And we already know that liberal approaches are open to reform and improvement of the societies that employ them.

Sure, we need to listen better. When a black man, or anyone else, says “I can’t breathe,” people need to listen. When people say there are problems, we need to listen. We need to listen; we need to investigate; and we need to use the best methods available to understand and fix the problem. But we also need to see past race, not focus on it. We need to work together, talk together, adopt shared goals, hold shared vision, find shared identities. For those of us in a hurting America, we are all American. We all have a stake in this system and what it can provide, and we’ll all lose if we let these Critical Race Theory wannabe dictators tear it down or take over.

These approaches work. Working together, talking together, sharing goals together, sharing a common vision, finding common ground and common identities. We know they work. So, we should throw out the little tyrants who, with their academic theories, educational influence, and journalistic and political bully-pulpits, are going to tell our country that white people are the cause of everything bad and that black people they have to stay on script if they want to be black. We’re going to reject these race-baiting jerks and reject them just like they reject any honest attempt to help or understand. They are the problem, and their Theory is the problem. We can and will do better.”

Not convinced Mr.Lindsay.

How not to run an academic institution. My Alma mater is demonstrating some worrisome (read batshit fucking stupid) decisions regarding firing female staff for having the absolute gall of teaching the ‘unorthodox’ view that biological sex is important to women and their struggle against patriarchy.

Her feminist views are apparently causing a small segment of students to feel unsafe and thus because if we are not walking on eggshells around entitled gender deluded males one must be doing the whole academic thing wrong.

Something very wrong has happened at the University of Alberta. A professor has been fired from part of her academic job for views on sex and gender that break with current orthodoxy.

In late March, Kathleen Lowrey, an associate professor at the University of Alberta, was asked to resign from her role as the Department of Anthropology’s associate chair, undergraduate programs, on the basis that one or more students had gone to the University’s Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights and the Dean of Students, André Costopolous, to complain about her without filing formal complaints. All Professor Lowrey has been told is that she is somehow making the learning environment “unsafe” for these students because she is a feminist who holds “gender critical” views. 

Apparently, Lowrey’s very openness about her views is a problem. Should a course have gender or sex as a central theme, on day 1 she offers a summary of her views along with the declaration that no student need agree with her about any of it, as she did this year with her course “Anthropology of Women.” As she cleaves to a feminism that asserts the continuing importance of biological sex and feminist projects of resisting patriarchal oppression, her views put her out of step with much current thinking about the nature of gender, which from the seminal work of Judith Butler forward takes sex to be a social construct. Lowrey also posts statements related to her views on her office door — something she is entitled to do. She contends that in asking her to resign from her service role the University is endorsing ideological conformity. 

Lowrey refused to resign from her service role and insisted that if the University wished to dismiss her from it, it would need to put its reasons for doing so in writing. She subsequently received a letter from the Dean of Arts Lesley Cormack dismissing her from her service role without offering any specifics as to why. The letter simply declares that the Dean believes that “it is not in the best interests of the students or the University” for Lowrey to continue in it.”

This is unbelievable.  Exactly what part of a healthy part of academic debate does this help?

 

“The University of Alberta takes the position that Lowrey had to be dismissed from her service role “for the good of the department” because at least one student claims that for the University to let her continue in the role would be for it to run the risk of the department losing students to another field of study. The argument, in effect, is that Lowrey could not be allowed to let the Department suffer a financial penalty for her views. (In the University of Alberta’s budget model, government funding “follows” students to the departments in which they take their courses.) With its worry that Lowrey’s views will have financial consequences for the Department of Anthropology, the University of Alberta lets an unfortunate development of the academy over the last few decades, in which students have become tuition-paying “customers” upon whom universities rely for more and more of their revenues, come into direct conflict with academic freedom principles. This is a very serious problem. No department at any university in Canada should be taking the position that it has to concern itself with how a professor’s intellectual views may affect a department’s bottom-line. 

Finally, the University of Alberta takes the position that it had to dismiss Lowrey from her service role because if it did not do so students would feel that the University “cared more” about “supporting” the professor than it did about them. This is a terrible line of reasoning, which pits students against a professor when what ought to be of paramount concern to all is the commitment to intellectual engagement and critical scrutiny of ideas as fundamental to the University’s flourishing. Quite simply, at a university, unorthodox or controversial views must be actively debated, and never suppressed, if the university is to meet its societal obligations. 

The University of Alberta needs to restore Professor Lowrey to her role as associate chair, undergraduate programs, in the Department of Anthropology, and university administrators elsewhere need to make sure that they do not fall into the University of Alberta’s mistake. It is essential that our universities never become homes for orthodoxy of any kind. “Dogma is bad for people,” writes UBC professor emeritus William Bruneau elsewhere on this blog. But for universities dogma is much, much worse. It is anathema to the academic mission.”

 

Kathleen Lowrey needs to reinstated yesterday.  This sort of totalitarian anti-academic thinking has to stop.

 

Oh and email the Dean about this travesty – artsdean@ualberta.ca

 

 

Our dear government’s stalwart obsession with fossil fuel is again jeopardizing the economic well-being of the Province of Alberta.  Kenny is investing heavily in a project that may evaporate with the stroke of the Presidential pen.

The company said Alberta has agreed to invest approximately $1.1 billion US as equity in the project, which substantially covers planned construction costs through the end of 2020.

The remaining $6.9 billion US is expected to be funded through a combination of a $4.2-billion project-level credit facility to be fully guaranteed by the Alberta government and a $2.7-billion investment by TC Energy.

“TC Energy is essentially saying, ‘We don’t want to take that risk’ … Alberta is essentially saying, ‘OK, we’ll take that risk, we’ll put in $1.5 billion Canadian, and if it ends up that no one pulls the presidential permit, then we’re all going to work on getting the rest built over 2021 and ’22.”‘

We need jobs, we need economic advancement, but most importantly, we need to stop running hail-Mary plays based on the fossil fuel industry with public money.  The government of Alberta should represent all of its constituents and refocus on diversifying our economic contribution instead of playing this dreadfully expensive and foolish shell game with Alberta’s future.

Our tarsands oil just isn’t environmentally or economically sound anymore.

“He said what’s also worrisome for the industry is the political signal this sends internationally — especially on the heels of a major Norwegian investment fund blacklisting four Canadian oilsands producers.

“In terms of the bellwether of the political appetite for support for the oilsands south of the border, I think it’s obviously problematic,” Johnston said.”

I sincerely hope that we can elect the NDP as our government again in Alberta, as their dirty oil plan focused much more on economic diversification and benefits for the people of Alberta.  The Federal government of Canada is standing lukewarmly with Alberta for the moment, but with a Democratic win down south it looks like the Keystone pipeline will go back into limbo once again.

“Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room [of the White House] again as president and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit.”

A spokesperson for Canada’s deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland, responded by saying the Canadian government supports Keystone XL: “It is a good project that will create jobs for Canadians and it fits within our climate plan.”

Fossil fuels need to pave the way to Alberta’s new economic future, maintaining them and the industries that sway our government, cannot be the way.

Quoted news stores from cbc.ca.

  Very happy to be in Canada for this particular emergency.  The US administration was all over the map has the pandemic started and is paying the price now for having a doofus as head of state.

 

Long-Simmering Realities

In many ways, the current crisis has, of course, just exposed conditions that should have been attended to long ago. Much that suddenly seems broken was already on the brink when the coronavirus appeared. If anything, the pandemic has simply accelerated already existing trends. As a December 2019 Century Foundation report on “racism, inequality, and health care for African Americans” concluded, “The American health care system is beset with inequalities that have a disproportionate impact on people of color and other marginalized groups.” In fact, in 2019, the London-based Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index had already ranked the American healthcare system 59th in the world for its standard of services.

As bad as Donald Trump and his administration have been, the growing American coronavirus disaster can’t simply be blamed on them. Covid-19 has brought home to the rest of us how over here over there really was. And now, the pathetic White House leadership in this crisis has raised another possibility: autocracy.

The Trump administration’s failure to handle the crisis competently stems in part from the president’s perception that whatever he says, in autocratic fashion, goes — or, as he has often put it, “I can do whatever I want.” From his early assertion that the virus was destined to go from 15 cases to one or disappear in the warmth of April to his fantasy numbers when it came to virus testing or obtaining crucial medical equipment to his recent advocacy of ingesting disinfectants as an antidote for Covid-19, the leader of the United States has come to resemble a run-of-the-mill autocrat spreading disinformation in his own interests. It’s one thing to point to the power-grabbing of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the underhanded machinations of the dictator of North Korea, or the ruthlessness of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. It’s quite another to have a power-hungry leader as our own head of state. Once again, we are not immune. There is here.

With Covid-19, the very idea of American exceptionalism may have seen its last days. The virus has put the realities of wealth inequality, health insecurity, and poor work conditions under a high-powered microscope. Fading from sight are the days when this country’s engagement with the world could be touted as a triumph of leadership when it came to health, economic sustenance, democratic governance, and stability. Now, we are inside the community of nations in a grim new way — as fellow patients, grievers, and supplicants in search of food and shelter, in search, along with so much of humanity, of a more secure existence.

The world, in other words, has turned upside down.

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