Gun Control in Maryland – Part I

So, the 4th circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled in favour of a Maryland law banning military style automatic rifles.

As you may have noticed from my previous posts here, here, and here, I am 100% in favour of intelligent reasonable gun control laws.  So, in my worldview, this is …. good?

I have yet to read the actual decision … its 100+ pages long…. but I promise I will and will comment back later.


A call to (moral) arms

This is for those of you fighting the good fight against the forces of hatred, ignorance, authoritarianism and fascism… what we now call Trumpism.
First off, thank you… this war won’t be won over night. It will be a long brutal slog through ignorance and stupidity, hatred and just plain nastiness. There will be days when we all ask ‘why do we bother’ because the forces arrayed against us are fortified in their ignorance. The answer, of course, is because it is right, because it is just, and because, damn it, we want to see a better world than we have now. We may disagree on certain points but, at the end of the day, we all believe that a human is a human is a human, and should all be treated equally. We also all believe that scientific evidence is fact, not opinion and that those who believe things that are contrary to scientific fact are a danger to us all.
Now, to my point. Many Trumpskyites/Trumpeteers/alt-right jerks have begun to argue that Trump was elected and that he is doing exactly what he promised to do…. as if that was a good and virtuous thing. I’ve been thinking about that and I’m thinking that this argument is full of holes. Here’s my thoughts. Feel free to use them in your arguments if you need to. I’m sure you’ve probably already realized them anyhow:
THE WALL: Trumpskyites love to point out that Trump promised that he was going to Build a wall between the US and Mexico AND THAT MEXICO WAS GOING TO PAY FOR IT. Trump still continues to promise that. However, lets look at some facts:
(1) Mexico has vowed to oppose the wall and refuses to even consider paying for it.
(2) Upon being elected, Trump signed an executive order for building the wall, but the American taxpayer is paying for it.
(3) A planned sit-down between the two presidents was cancelled after Trump tweeted that if Mexico wasn’t prepared to talk about paying the wall, the president of Mexico should cancel. He did.
(4) Shortly after, Trump surrogate proposed a 20% tariff on Mexican goods if Mexico won’t pay for the wall. Who would pay this tariff? Oh yeah, American Tax Payers.
THE MUSLIM BAN: Trumpskyites will point out that (a) Trump promised the Muslim ban, and (b) that it isn’t a Muslim ban. Ignoring the obvious contradiction, here are some other points:
(1) The ban is only on those countries that are in the worst shape (and Iran). It isn’t on those countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where Trump or others have investments… THIS DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE ONLY NON-HOMEGROWN TERRORIST ATTACK ON US SOIL INVOLVED CITIZENS OF THOSE COUNTRIES.
(2) No-one from any of the Countries listed in the ban has been involved in a terrorist attack on US soil.
(3) If you keep telling someone they are your enemy, eventually they get the message. In other words, ISIS is thrilled by Trump because he will help with their recruitment efforts.
(4) Iran is one of two major Muslim powers in the Middle East (the other is Saudi Arabia (see above)) and is a potential economic powerhouse in the region. Even if Trump reinstates US sanctions on Iran, there is no reason that the rest of the world will follow. All that will happen is that the US will be prevented from trading with Iran (and that worked sooooo well in Cuba).

Trudeau and Star Wars

That Justin Trudeau is a fanboy is common knowledge – he is one of the multitude that grew up with Star Wars. It was as much an important part of his life as it was for any of the rest of us.

Some facts
– he has previously dressed up as a Star Wars character for Halloween (who hasn’t);

– for the last two Star Wars movies, he has taken kids from a sick-kids hospital in Eastern Ontario to see the movies (little fanfare/no blowing his own horn about it… he just did it)

So, when Carrie Fisher, our Princess Leia, passed away, he naturally tweeted his sadness about it.

That’s nice you say… why are you ranting about it you ask… so what does this have to do with politics… well, here goes…

Whenever Trudeau does anything, the haters come out. As I’ve said before, if he cured cancer, they’d accuse him of some nefarious scheme. Well this time, they’re using the opportunity to bash him – claiming that he’s doing it purely for political points – or merely just using the opportunity to spout hate towards him….

Well, I have this to say to the haters – go stick your head in the Dagobah swamp – Trudeau is entitled to have feelings about Star Wars, he’s never shied away from demonstrating those feelings. Trudeau may not be the best PM ever – or he might (although I doubt it) – but the instinctive hating him for the sake of hating him is just pathetic and I don’t have time for your Sith-like anger.

Trump is the President of the United States of America

That is the last time I will ever say his name.  From this point forward, he is ‘the Orange Menace’.  I had hopes for our neighbours to the south, but they let me down.

From this point forward, my mission is to protect Canada from the insanity down south. Things we can do to stop it from happening here:

1. Make our politicians aware that we DO NOT WANT TO RENEGOTIATE NAFTA. This is a key platform of the Orange Menace and we must do everything we can to protect our Country’s interests against him;

2. Make sure Kellie Leitch does not become leader of the Conservatives, or, failing that, that the Conservatives are knocked down to third party status or less;

3. Increase trade with Cuba and Mexico; embrace wholeheartedly our free trade with Europe; do everything we can to lessen our trade ties with the US;

4. Re-establish diplomatic relations with Iran;

5. Support and defend Ukraine against the Orange Menace’s buddy, Putin.

6. Strengthen NATO and the UN with the UK and US falling into isolationism.

7. Take (keep) leadership on the World stage for the rights of the oppressed and against climate change.

8. Promote civil education and have an informed population… the only real defence of democracy.

Ignorance & Democracy

A reader (apparently I have one… who knew) asked me to write on my opinion on the whole Brexit mess.  I have been avoiding the topic until today but at the end of the day, I genuinely believe that the world is in a very similar headspace as it was in the inter-war period between WWI and WWII.  This scares me for many reasons… the most obvious being that we have a number of potential Hitler-in-the-Making out there and a target that is just as vulnerable as the Jews of Europe in the 1930s, the Muslims of today (how are the anti-Immigrant campaigners of today in England any different from Mosley, the Mitfords, and their cronies who idealized Hitler?).  The real cause of this change is the end of an empire… in the 1930s it was depending on where you looked, the British Empire, or the German Empire… now, we’re watching the end of the US Empire (see my previous article on Change) and we’re all justifiably nervous.  This Fear, combined with ignorance and the inherent weaknesses that exist in Democracy, results in people taking actions that rationally just don’t make sense.

I have a love-hate relationship with democracy – on the one hand, I believe whole-heartedly in the concept of democracy – we deserve the right to rule ourselves.  However, Democracy requires work, it requires research into issues, it requires keeping oneself informed… and most people just don’t want to bother.  It’s easier to listen to slick patter or criticize politicians for not listening to us… but why should they listen to people who don’t know what the hell they’re talking to… and a quick perusal of the comments sections of various news websites will demonstrate that there are a hell of a lot of people who fall into that category (some may say I fall into that category – they may be right… but, at least I think about the issues, listen to people I respect, and come to my own conclusions… far too many are sheep for whatever pundit du jeur, political wonk, or asshole politician scheaches on their Talk Radio).  Democracy is a good thing BUT it does permit ignorance, stupidity, crowd-mentality, and just plain bullying by the masses to threaten it.

Someone once said that “Democracy is like a raft; it won’t sink but will always have your feet wet.”  Well, I disagree – like a raft, a Democracy can sink, but only under the weight of the ignorance of its own people.  Both Trump and Brexit exist because people are refusing to embrace change and will do anything to stop it… including destroying their own countries.  Does ANYONE (other than extreme right-wing looney toons) think that the UK economy is going to improve in the short-term as a result of Brexit?  Hell no, at least some businesses will leave the UK for countries that are part of the EU (that’s basic economics children…. something that nativists and nationalists the world over tend to ignore) because thats where their markets are.  Yet, in the world-view of these Brexiteers, leaving the EU will improve the UK economy.  The Scottish first minister has gone on the record for saying that Brexit will revive the Scottish independence movement (and I recall membership in the EU as being a major reason for the Scottish voting no to separatism) yet the former mayor of London (a supporter of Brexit) believes that Scotland won’t go… we saw this kind of wishful thinking back in the 90’s when the Quebec Separatists argued that Quebec could separate from Canada but that native lands in Quebec couldn’t separate from Quebec… its pipe dreaming of the most asinine form.

A philosopher, I forget who, once said that “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.”  I tend to agree with that…  but add, democracy will ultimately die from ignorance.



This is something that I have been thinking on for some time, and am still working through, but it seems to me that, in many ways, the rise of Trump is very much a symptom of a greater societal change – namely the decline of the Pax Americana.

In the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s Hollywood produced a number of (usually very bad) sword and sandal movies – a basic premise of many of these movies is the whole Nero fiddled while Rome burned plot – namely, that the debauchery and decadence of Roman society was in part a means to hide from themselves the decline of their empire (this is based on a more complex academic theory but the Hollywood version is good enough for the time being).  Many of these movies also suggested that Rome’s failure to embrace Christianity was a cause of this decline (historically incorrect but amusing anyhow).

I mention these movies in part because the decades in which they were produced are really the Golden Age of the Pax Americana which the Trump-eteers and other Right WIngers long for.  I also mention them because in many ways, we are living through events which in many ways parallel the decline of the Roman Empire.  What we are seeing is the decline of the Pax Americana – a period in which American (white Christian) culture, might, and political dominance were preeminent throughout the world.  Now America, like the rest of the world is becoming less white, less Christian, and less dominant, and these people don’t like it.  They want a world like their parents (or grandparents) lived in.

In a nutshell, they fear change.  There is nothing wrong with fearing change.  Change is scary and there is never any guarantee that the change will be for the better.  However, fearing change, hating change, railing against change all have the same common denominator – change is going to happen whether you want it or not

Now, a lot of commentators argue that the Trump-eteers are actually a force for change… they want a change from the political elites, yadda, yadda, yadda….  Unfortunately, that is completely wrong in my opinion; the Trump-eteers are merely echoing a common refrain – the Elites haven’t prevented this change from happening so we need a Strong Man to lead us and to prevent the change.  Trump has read the movement well and is surfing forward on it.

At the end of the day, there are two ways to respond to change -struggle against it (it didn’t work for Rome or for post-World War I Germany but who knows, maybe the US will be the exception (I doubt it though)), or move with it… either way change is going to occur; the only question is whether the change will result in Barbarianism or Greater Civilization.

Election Day

Today we in Canada vote. We do this every few years. This year seems special to me however. This vote, it seems to me, is really about how we see ourselves and how we want to see Canada.

Think of it this way, today is Groundhog Day for Canada…. if we as a country are scared of our shadows and just want to put our heads in the ground, then we will vote one way, and will have at least 4 more years of winter. On the other hand, if we look forward to a bright future and want to get there fast, we will vote another way and the sunny days will come sooner. 

Obviously, I have my preference…. I look forward to the future; I love our country; I want to see the future; I think our Constitution is perhaps one of the most perfect documents ever drafted…. and all that influences my decision.

However, at the end of the day, the question for each and every Canadian is this: What do you want Canada to be? Only you can answer that question for yourself…. either way, JUST VOTE!!!

Conservatism and Fear – Part I

I want to posit a thought. You don’t have to agree with it. In fact, I encourage you to challenge it or comment on it. My knowledge of American politics and American culture is spotty at best and while my knowledge of Canadian is stronger I can always learn more.  As such I am positing this as much as a question as I am a theory.

Conservatism, it seems to me, has two distinct strands: (1) move slowly and do as little as possible, other than ensuring that the people are safe, and (2) lets keep things the way they used to be. It seems to me that the old school tory’s tended to be of the first strand and that the modern conservative tends, whether by ideology or politics, beholden to the second strand.

Now, ignoring the fact that the past that this second strand looks to never really existed (looking to the past with rose coloured glasses is a common and INCREDIBLY dangerous misuse of history), the question becomes: what is so scary about the future that the past becomes so attractive? For some, it might be what they view as the disintegration of the Ozzie & Harriet family – they view everything up to and including same sex marriage as a threat to the ‘traditional’ family (despite the fact that the ‘traditional’ nuclear family is not all that traditional in the first place). For others, its the destruction of the white male patriarchy or the decline of the wild-west mentality (ignoring the fact that the wild-west mentality involved the genocidal slaughter of another people). For more others, it involves a concern about the nation’s (any nation) place in the world. So for example, Americans who complain that they are no longer the economic superpower they were in the 50s (notice a theme?), or, and I’m guilty of this, Canadians complaining about how the current government has turned its back on 50 years of foreign policy in its actions. What is common in all of these is a fear of the future. I would also suggest that it involves a instinctive fear of decline.

The Prime Minister vs the Chief Justice

The past couple months have seen the Supreme Court of Canada spank down a number of the current government’s actions – most notably here and here.

Harper’s response… an attempt to throw mud at the reputation of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court … is beneath him.

He has been justifiably criticized for this…. both by the Canadian Bar Association and the lawyer who challenged Harper’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

Sigh……  I give up.  There is no hope for this current government.


UPDATE: Peter MacKay (an individual who I loath for many reasons but mostly due to what I view as his betrayal of the old Progressive Conservative Party) keeps on proving my point.  For a fascinating discussion about our Chief Justice and her role in our system of government, read this article.