Send In The Clowns

Un Clown peut en cacher un autre!

Un Clown pet en cacher un autre!

Had a chat with a friend about how Berlusconi can send the whole Italian government down the crapper when he, and probably a good number of his colleagues ought to be locked up and forgotten. Yet somehow, he retains office and influence al out of proportion to his contribution to society: some folks there seem to identify with him even though they are most likely among his victims.

Loose lips, and all that.

Loose lips, and all that.

Of course the Italians have no corner on the idiocy in politics market, and a swing through Washington these days is likely to be good for a few guffaws before the spate of tears that must inevitably follow, given the consequences of the lack of substantive action in the face of impending disaster. It’s not just Ted Cruz reading Dr. Seuss (you can almost hear the Seussian spirits gagging in the next dimension), but the whole notion that the peoples’ business can be stopped dead in its tracks by the collection of louts that sits in those august chambers is beyond ridicule and goes a long way toward explaining why nothing has been done about climate change, about oil spills and the devastation of water resources through tracking, the sacking and pillage of the economy by the sponsors of said louts, who mostly hail from Wall Street, the crisis, not only of health care, but of health itself, brought on by our inability to tell ourselves the truth about diet, medication, exercise and the spare parts philosophy of care.

Innocent-looking fellow, don't you think?

Innocent-looking fellow, don’t you think?


Caped Cruzader? Cruz Missile? Here is another man whose message is hidden behind the rhetoric of individual freedom. The unstated and sinister part of the message is that he protects his own freedom to plunder at the expense of the freedom of millions of fellow citizens, and he has a lot of company.

It’s everywhere: the Olympic torch has left Greece headed for Sochi, for a winter pageant to be held in a place with a sub-tropical climate, and where the vultures have moved in to boost the cost of hosting the event to something in the $50 billion range, according to recent reports on CBC news.

The government in Ottawa is removing the culture of medicinal marijuana from small operations run by individuals and is putting it in the hands of large corporate concerns. It will be interesting to see if the Bronfman clan gets in on the action. This looks from the outside as an invitation to graft and corruption where the current group in Ottawa are running like hell to catch up to the crew in Washington.

Go find a copy of Stephen Bruton’s song “The Clock”: it’s ticking, you can hear it every time you contemplate the direction set by leaders in all levels of political and corporate governance. What did Frank Zappa say about stupidity? That there’s more of it in the universe than hydrogen, and that it has a longer shelf life….



More Misdirection



This pic is from:


Small town newspapers can be charming, a little quaint, terribly parochial and downright ridiculous when they try to be something other than a small town paper. Our local paper is right in line with most of this: they’re essentially a mouthpiece for the local chamber of commerce types, heavy on gossip and filler from sources from farther away, including most of the editorials, pretty much all of which parrot the editorial stance of the parent company, that being, don’t risk annoying anyone who might buy advertising, and besides, we want to be on the side of the economic winners.  I’m saying this for a couple of reasons: 1) it’s very difficult for dissenting opinions to get published, even in the letters section of the editorial page, and, once labeled a dissenter, nothing gets into the paper, even completely non-controversial material relating to community cultural activities, and 2) anything is an excuse to sling more advertising, in whatever guise it may appear.

As to the first reason, I was a little taken aback to hear my wife mutter something about having the wrong last name in response to some item she thought ought to be highlighted in the letters column, and that she was going to write. I guess some of the bitter tone might have been directed at me for pissing off the powers that be, but she was also certainly lamenting the difficulty of getting anything with our last name past the gatekeepers at the editorial desk. I guess that might have something to do with my writing here occasionally, and in full knowledge that it’s about as likely to be read as it would be in the local paper, with the one consolation that it isn’t likely to be a bed for budgie droppings or a wrap for dead fish.

But here’s the killer: yesterday was deemed Raise-A-Reader Day to promote literacy, and the town notables were on the street soliciting donations for local literacy initiatives but, strangely, handing out copies of a rag from the bigger town 80 kilometers to the South and East (said paper being in some foo-doo for a second incidence of publishing material deemed by local First Nations to be blatantly racist). As well, the local had an insert devoted entirely to supporters of literacy, with a few nice pictures, a little bit of text and captioning, but you’ll have intuited that most of the space was taken up by advertising for those staunch business supporters of literacy who, coincidentally, would like us to drop by and leave behind some cash, while we’re at it. My literacy training tells me that there’s a lot less interest in literacy than in business, and I keep wondering why I deem it my civic duty to subscribe to the local paper, because, frankly, I only get from it the gloss that tells me what the parent company wants me to think is news. Newspapers are becoming irrelevant because they are patently not what people want them to be, or at least need them to be, that is to say, distributors of information and forums for real debate. Perhaps time to let the subscription lapse and redirect the funds to real journalists. Just as an example, have a look at Bob Mackin’s piece about the same event under discussion here:


Friday Chimes



I first Saw Andy McKee in a video from TrueFire, I think, and he was one of those people like Pete Huttlinger, Vicki Genfan, or Tommy Emmanuel whose apparent talent would be overwhelming to a budding old guitarist unless he had a really thick skin and a firm sense of his place in the musical universe. This is not my absolutely favourite musical genre, but it can be great listening, and especially getting to watch the magic of the hands and fingers working with the wood and steel can cause bouts of rêverie.


Have a lovely Friday evening. I’m off to commune with the Bandudes.

Tilting at Windmills?

Art by:

Art by:


It could be said of the NDP:

The future, like everything else, is not what it used to be.
—Paul Valéry
Particular since the advent of Thomas Mulcair as Leader of the Opposition, the party seems to have staked out territory firmly in what might be deemed the middle of the political spectrum, just slightly to the left of the Liberals, who seem to want to plant a foot in the centre left and the other firmly on the right (from which they would govern, if past experience teaches us anything), leaving no one to defend the interests of the majority of Canadians.  Into this quagmire steps Linda McQuaig, who won the NDP nomination in  the upcoming Toronto-Centre by-election, a presence that could inject some interesting sparks into the debate leading up to the by-election, as well as in any parliament in which Ms. McQuaig would sit, as long as she doesn’t run into too much of that ol’ party discipline.
Linda McQuaig
The problem lies in her background of tireless and well-documented opposition to the trade agreements of whatever initials that have essentially turned the world into a sandbox for the playing out of corporate misdeeds, games in which the government referees only get to rule in favour of one business interest or another, and where the welfare of the broader constituency is of no account.  If the NDP can’t embrace McQuaig’s distaste for corporate shenanigans, she will be hung out to dry, or might have to join Elizabeth May in a coalition of the disdained, the lonely Cassandra party, trumpeting wisdom and truth that will be utterly ignored by both the press and the general electorate. What happens when you have good people butting their heads against a nonsensical and intransigent system? I suspect we will get a good look at it if Ms. McQuaig gets elected, giving her the chance to tilt at the Mulcair/Trudeau/Harper windmills.

The Country That Cried Wolf


A long-time associate told me last Tuesday that he had written Barack Obama to tell him that the US had no business being involved in Syria and that the “intelligence” on which the possible intervention was based was sounding a lot like Colin Powell at the UN a decade ago, or the Gulf Of Tonkin stuff of 1964 or whatever other BS the American military has cooked up over the years. It now seems that several sources, including the Wall Street Journal, are pointing out the there have been admissions by Syrian rebels that it was they who deployed, perhaps by accident, chemical weapons that originated in Saudi Arabia. This leaves the US with no credibility at all, renews the idea that the Nobel folks erred seriously in awarding Obama a Peace Prize, and reframes the Syrian conflict very much as part of the Wahabist endgame of establishing the primacy of the house of Saud and the Sunni sect, as though it was worth hitting Dublin because of the Troubles in the Six Counties. Another sad aspect is that the Globe, The Star, The Vancouver Sun and other press organs seem to be missing the shift here, not surprising as they seem to be consistent cheerleaders for war and not all that keen on providing full coverage, particularly when that coverage might short-circuit the reasons that the powers that be might have for sending people off to die so that Lockheed, Boeing, Halliburton et al can cash in yet again on misery inflicted on people all over the world.



Allison at Creekside reports…

Wanda Ballantyne over at POCLAD linked to this:

…and several other articles that suggest pretty strongly that Obama, Cameron and Hollande need to step back. We’ve come to expect this from Obama, and Cameron has never been, nor has expressed any inclination to be, anything other than a cheerleader for the empire of Capital, but the Socialist-In-Name-Only Hollande has been a disappointment on pretty much everything: foreign policy and economic policy that might follow on Sarkozy in the same way that Obama seems to out-Bush good ol’ GWB, despite and conrtary to the glowing rhetoric.