Sunday, July 9, 2017

You can defend rights of those you oppose

..and not seem hypocritical.
Omar Khadr and the federal government concluded their legal battle last week with a $10.5 million payment and an official apology from the Liberal government for his treatment and the failure of said government to uphold his rights as a citizen.
Short version of the story..
Omar was taken by his father at age 12 to fight against 'foreign' invaders to Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11. At age 15, Omar Khadr was part of a close combat where an American soldier was killed. This soldier was killed by a hand grenade that at first was allegedly thrown by a middle aged looking 'insurgent'. For some reason, that account got changed to match the 15 year old youth we know as Omar Khadr. He was the only survivor of the insurgent side.
He was quickly shipped off to Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.
From there, it gets murkey. The teenage soldier was tried under a military court without adequate representation by legal counsel. It's alleged that his 'confession' was coerced by torture. 
All the while, there was an attempt to repatriate Khadr back to Canada where his fate would be subject to domestic rules. 
In the intervening time, our own supreme court weighed in and said things. Three times, they declared that Khadr's Constitutional rights were violated. 
At this point, I have to remind folks that no one is asking you to support the actual causes that triggered Khadr's father to take him as a boy to fight in a war. No one is asking you to side with Khadr over the American soldier who was killed. This isn't a popularity contest. 
But you cannot be a liberal on human rights or a constitutional conservative if you qualify that position based on the viewpoint of a legitimate plaintiff. 
Politics are a funny thing sometimes. What is popular today was demonized only a few short years ago. This is the generation of Pride Parades attended by world leaders and Alt-right luminaries being normalized into mainstream opinion making. But absolute things like due-process-of-law and the notion of equal protection under the law should never be seen as a passing fad; they're a bedrock of a democratic society. 
You can be as upset as you want about Khadr and his settlement, but he's entitled to the same rights and obligations that every other citizen has. And for our government to guage his treatment against what is popular at the time vs what is right is what lead to this fiasco. 
I'm not at all a federal liberal supporter and I'm no fan of Trudeau, but in this case, they're correct. 
Case closed.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Clark had little choice

Say what you wish about Christy Clark's "integrity", but her desperate moves to either retain power or trigger an election were motivated by larger concerns.
Hear me out.
Since 2005, the BC Liberals have enjoyed a fractured vote on the left. 2001 was their only election win where their support exceeded 50% of the popular vote. Since then, both Campbell and later Clark learned the dark arts of playing one progressive party against the other.
In 2017, it failed.
Yes, the BC Liberals got just over 40% of the vote and 43 seats (one short of a technical 'majority'), but the combined NDP/Green vote was over 57%.
Its true that not all Greens would vote NDP if pushed. But a far larger would go orange than BC Liberal.
And this exposes a problem for the BC Liberals.
The lesson of which takes us back to 1952 where the established right-of-centre parties were trying to keep the growing CCF from winning an election.
As you see, the CCF in fact won the first round votes in the electoral system used at the time. Under first-past-the-post, BC would have elected its first CCF government in 1952. But BC used alternative voting, or ranked ballots. The thought was that Liberals and Conservatives would preference each other and keep the CCF from office. But what did happen was that the previously small Social Credit party became the alternative choice for supporters of the more established Liberal and Tories. From zero, the Social Credit party became a compromise coalition party that would govern BC for the next 20 years.

Why is this relevant today? Because the game of playing NDP vs Green off against each other failed to produce the results the BC Liberals (modern incarnation of the old Social Credit party) had wanted. Worse, if the electoral system changes to a kind of proportional system, that 57% would render the right-of-centre the minority voice in BC that they are.

The world has changed, and when every vote matters, and every vote counts, the powers of regression and backwards are a minority voice. Progress and forward is the future.

This is not to say that in the future that the Green Party *will* form governing coalitions with the NDP. Or that the NDP will always lead the ballot in such an arrangement. Green and NDP votes are not interchangeable, they're different parties for a reason. But a change in the electoral system also changes the game. Parties will be forced to campaign on issues, not fear. Parties will be forced to work with others and stop being so overtly partisan and divisive as they have in the past.

Christy Clark is arguably one of the most polarising, divisive, partisan politician BC has ever seen. Folks either love her or hate her. But whatever you think of her, she had no choice but to try to thwart the NDP from taking office by any trick available to her. She knows, and high powered BC Liberal thinkers know what happens if the voting system changes. The BC Liberals are already a self contained coalition party, while the NDP or Greens are not.  But in a proportional system that gives representation to parties based on actual voting percentages, the coalitions needed to move BC forward will be forced to come out into the open instead of what goes on in the backrooms and boardrooms of the mighty BC Liberal Party. The full electoral strength of parties that share some common ground but aren't the same would be a sight to behold. Deal making and compromise would take over from bait-and-switch. BC would benefit.

The voter would become more powerful than the politician.

There's no telling what the 2021 campaign will look like under a new system. But that's a campaign that would be far more fun than the fear and loathing campaigns of the past.

That's my viewpoint.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Hoodwinked again

Once again, the federal liberals run on certain progressive platform ideas, scoop those ordinarily voting for other progressive parties under the pretence that this time it will be different, this time its for #realchange.

This is your answer.

So now, you'll have to vote Liberal again with the false promise that THIS TIME WILL BE DIFFERENT.

Thanks for your vote. Suckers.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

So I attended the Womens' March in Nanaimo..

To be clear, I hadn't heard of the pending event until only last week. I consider myself at least an ally of women's rights and affiliated movements, so attending the march would have been an easy decision. Of course I would go.
I could have though, relaxed at home, basking in the white male privilege that I enjoy by default. Its not that I haven't worked for the place and status I am at, its just that I am measured by a different yardstick than women and others.
I am a single father who has care and control of his child well over half the time. I work full time, I'm a union activist and a partisan political activist as well. I manage, but its not easy to balance everything. I don't do it alone, I have friends and family that assist. Single parenthood is a struggle. Yet, because of my white-male-ness doing what millions of women do every day, I get accolades and 'atta-boy's' from folks who think the world of how I "get'er done". While the recognition is welcomed and appreciated, its another day in the office for many other women in the same boat as me that do so with far less help and support than me.
I salute you.

But back to the Women's march. I could have mouthed off like others and said: "where were you on election day?" Truth, protesters at these marches likely voted. Not only did Hillary win the popular vote, she got more votes in this election than Obama did in his 2012 re-election. Which makes this a perfect metaphor for what many women face. An over qualified woman not being exactly perfect in all ways losing in an unfair system to a dude who's unqualified in every way but just managed to fill out the application form.

What did I say about being measured by a different yard stick?

Yes, Donald Trump is now the President. Yes he won the electoral vote and yes, Constitutionally, that allows him to take the oath of office and govern accordingly. But the moral victory isn't his, its hers. Now this isn't a ringing endorsement of Hillary Clinton, I was never an fan of hers; she was a flawed candidate too. But even her flaws are better qualified than the best things of Donald Trump (whatever positives he may have).

Sure, women have it better in North America than most other places in the world, but that didn't come from the generosity and charity of powerful men. That came from protests, arrests and collective actions by folks that were rightly upset and the unfairness of the then status quo. Now, given that the base of support of Trump and like-minded Canadian conservatives appeal to a more traditional (dare I used that word) view of the old world, protests like yesterday's Women's March will happen regularly. And I, with my son, will attend as much as we can.

Trump may have won a legal mandate, but not a moral one. So let it be known that his opposition, and those who would support him or import his hate filled ideology as their own, you're on the wrong side of history. So long as I draw breath on this realm, I will stand also opposed to such backward philosophy and welcome its predestined defeat.

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice" - Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Notes on #Trump's win

Running as the inevitable nominee, then inevitable President because it was your turn didn't work for Hillary in '08. Until some dirty tricks within the DNC, it might not have worked in '16 either. Team HRC would have been smart to let the nomination race conclude organically (without institutional interference). The folks who Bernie Sanders brought in from the outside, returned to the outside after he was ousted from the contest. Who's to say, but if he lost to her in a fair and transparent way, those folks could have been the extra 4-5pts that would see her with a 370+ electoral vote win instead of losing to Donald Trump.

Economic voters are still economic voters. Obama campaigned on the economy in '08 and won. Again in '12 as the economy was finally growing again.
Well pocket book issues still matter, and Trump, for all of his flaws, had an economic message. It doesn't mean it will work; pledging massive tax cuts that typically benefits the 1% are still a politically sexy thing to offer. And when you're dealing with a voter base that traditionally doesn't trust government, offering to out some more coins in their pockets gets their attention.

Trump is a womanizing dirtbag. So was Bill Clinton. The two are not comparable, and Bill wasn't on the ballot, but there was a little political genius in attacking him. The very folks that supported and kept Bill Clinton in office didn't care about his personal flaws, and both Hillary and Bill counted on that. But now, she was counting on those same folks to judge as unfit, Donald Trump, after proving that voters don't give a crap about that. Trump figured this out and used Bill as his own defense. It worked.

The open support of white supremacists (or, if you prefer the more sanitized "Alt-right" crowd) failed to dissuade folks from voting Trump because his campaign latched on to a popular (but wrong) myth that immigrants were taking American jobs. More accurately, Republican attacks on education were making Americans fall further behind and less competitive in the global economy while the country simultaneously needing to hire for a growing high tech sector. That argument wasn't being made though; it seemed as though by simply only condemning the KKK links to the Trump campaign the Democrats ignored a false theory on immigrants/jobs. End result, "immigrants taking our jobs" argument was left to stand as 'fact', and worse, went a great distance to partly rehabilitate the Klan as a legitimate political influence in American politics.

Gender had little to do with this. Several states have voted for strong conservative women as Republican Senators, Governors, state level representatives and such. Having said that, clearly there will be some who'd never vote for a woman for President. Those people exist. But remember this: the folks who some on the left would dismiss as anti-woman voters forget that conservative Republican Sarah Palin was on the Presidential ticket in '08 and received almost the same 60 million votes as Trump did in '16.
It wasn't gender. It was Hillary Clinton that some had issues with.

Thus concludes an absolute disaster of American politics for another cycle. Donald Trump will be the 45th President as he won the election and now has the right to serve as such. I have little doubt that he will be a disaster for America. And that will be the Democrats opportunity if they're smart. Give voters something to vote for, not another contest of who's less bad than the other.
I haven't even addressed the many other policy flaws that Hillary has, and there are many. Her support of Bush's war in Iraq, her support of the Patriot Act, her uncomfortably close links to big banks, big oil to name a couple; and put her strangely close to some Republicans that she'd pretend to oppose.

Bottom line.
You can't campaign as something different while offering little difference in policy. Obama did, and he captured the imagination of a generation. That wave in '08 swept away Republicans at all levels. Democrats kept the house, expanded their hold in the Senate. Obama offered folks something different and delivered. Hillary didn't..but Trump did. That's why she lost.

That's my take.

Monday, October 31, 2016

I'm #withher but barely

I hope Hillary Clinton wins on November 8. I hope she clobbers Donald Trump in the popular vote, and the electoral votes. I hope Democrats win a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, and retake the majority in the house. I hope Democrats win state houses up for grabs, gubernatorial contests so that gerrymandering can be rolled back.
I hope Hillary wins, not because I'm particularly won over by her, but that it proves that America isn't insane.
To be clear, Hillary is a flawed candidate. She's proven more adept at the game and not the results. That's why she lost to Obama in '08 but why she'll win against Trump.
I would have preferred Bernie Sanders as the Democratic candidate, but that's just not the way it goes.
Mostly, if Hillary Clinton wins, she will force the Republican party to burn itself to the ground in order to start again.
Republicans weren't always like this. They're the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower. When organized and moderate, they produced great things too.
This is the natural cycle of the Tea Party infection that was drawn into the spotlight after Obama won in '08.
Democrats expunged the far right racists from their party in the 1960's when LBJ signed the voting rights act. It's high time that Republicans do the same. A defeat with Trump at the top of the Presidential ticket would be the right opportunity to start that process.
Losing to Hillary Clinton would light that fuse. That's what America needs.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Winning #potus won't mean much for Hillary with an obstructionist GOP Congress

As Obama was taking the oath of office in January '09, GOP leaders were plotting their way back to power. Their plan was to simply say "no" to everything that Obama was in favor of. If that meant gridlock in Congress, then so be it; they'd prefer government shut down than to compromise with the President. In fact, they've done that twice since Obama's first election win, and are making noise as if to deploy the same strategy against Hillary Clinton should she (likely) win in November.
Hillary Clinton may win by a landslide, but her win will be pointless without flipping control of Congress away from the GOP as well. Until the backwards thinking Tea Party movement is beaten out of the Republican party, they cannot be trusted to govern effectively or governm for the whole nation instead of their narrow minded agenda.
Hillary Clinton is not a perfect candidate, Democrats are not without their flaws as well. But unless the gridlock is broken in DC, little will change.