Happy Hallowe’en

Have a blessed Samhain.

From my inbox:

2012: A Political Odyssey?

Will this be the GOP ticket in 2012?

Republicans in 2012

Palin and Suffering

The full piece, Palin and Suffering, as published in the Oct 23 issue of the prairie dog.

Palin And Suffering

Scary Sarah leads the way to a nastier, stupider America

by Bernadette L. Wagner

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Sarah Palin wouldn’t be my first pick for Vice President of the United States. The Alaskan Governor is unfit for the job.

For starters, forget that she’s female. Palin is no friend of women’s rights. She rose to the top not because she’s cream, but because she’s female, a token woman — a strategic play by Republicans to lure Hillary Clinton supporters to their ticket — and because neoconservative types like her. A lot.

Still, her spot on the Republican ticket shocked the world. Mitt Romney or Joe Lieberman were the favourites to run as Senator John McCain’s running-mate. How, exactly, Palin floated to the top remains a mystery.

Palin hails from Wasilla, Alaska, a town in a state with an incidence of sexual assault that’s twice the national average. During her two-term reign as mayor in the 1990s, Wasilla was one of a number of Alaskan municipalities that began billing victims of sexual assault for the forensic testing they underwent after filing a report with the police. (This ‘blame the victim’ policy stood until 2000, when the state legislature squashed it so Alaska would be eligible to receive funding for (from?) the federal Violence Against Women Act.)

The “rape-kit” story has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media during the U.S. Campaign. That’s surprising given the sheer viciousness of this policy that was in place under Palin’s tenure. Can you hang the whole mess on Sarah? Well, no, but she’s far from blameless. — After all, she hand-picked a police chief who championed the policy and Palin signed off on the budget that turned the rape-kit expenses into revenues.

None of this should be really surprising, given that Palin belongs to a book-banning, gun-toting brand of hard right, Christian fundamentalism. Officially blessed by Wasilla’s Church of God, Palin opposes same sex marriage and holds strident views on reproductive choice (women don’t get any). As a member of Feminists for Life she believes all pregnancies should be carried to term, even those that are the result of sexual assault.

It’s enough to make a cynic wonder whether Palin believes that a rapist should be able to freely choose the mother of his children.

But hey! She’s a feminist.

And gosh-golly, she believes in equal rights. Or so she told Katie Couric in the fated CBS interviews. And in one of those interviews she proudly proclaimed herself the harbinger of new energy for old politics. However, the only energy she’s creating is old: fear and hatred. And she feeds on it.

In Alaska, it’s fairly well known that Palin and State Senate President, Lyda Green, don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. When Palin appeared on a KWHL radio show early this year, the DJ called the senator “a jealous woman and a cancer.” The senator is a cancer survivor. Palin knew that and said nothing. The host escalated his attacks, joking about Green’s body size. Palin laughed. He called the senator a bitch and Palin laughed harder. So, when the DJ invited himself over for dinner, what did Palin do? She agreed!

Palin’s attacks on Obama run in a similar vein. Her constant aspersions on Obama’s character, attempts to connect him with voter fraud, insistence on painting him as a radical, and repetition of the question, “Who is Barack Hussein Obama?” feed a frenzy unlike anything the U.S. has seen since the McCarthy era. Palin is not for equality. She is doing nothing to promote equality and egalitarianism among Americans. She’s inciting hatred. When her supporters call out “Terrorist!” or “Kill him!” or “Bomb Obama” she doesn’t stop them and insist on civility. She doesn’t explain that William Ayers was a civil rights and anti-war activist when Obama was eight years old, that Ayers is currently a university professor, or that he and Obama served on the board of an anti-poverty organization together with several of Republicans.

No, Palin can’t mention that. Doing so would stop the energy rising around her.

Instead, she smiles and winks, and feeds off the frenzy.

Is anyone surprised, then, that a Palin supporter assaulted independent journalist, Joe Killian, as he interviewed a protester at a Palin campaign rally on October 17? That the offices of ACORN, the community organization whose workers find and register new voters, have been vandalized? That a member ACORNs senior staff has received a death threat?

The neocons in the Republican party like anger and conflict. They’re all about war. And they like Sarah Palin.

William Kristol introduced Palin to the Republican inner circle in June 2007. A very influential and diehard neoconservative, he was Chief of Staff for former VP Dan Quayle. Kristol’s magazine, The Weekly Standard, is hand-delivered to every member of Congress every Monday morning. His father, Irving, sired the neocon movement and is a Senior Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The AEI is a far right think tank that’s all about unlimited free enterprise capitalism — the brand of capitalism that just sucked $700 billion out of the U.S. Treasury. And, SourceWatch.org says that AEI “succeeds in placing its people in influential governmental positions.”

Would that be people like Sarah Palin? The kind of people who tell us that we “shouldn’t worry about government not having enough money. Government’s got plenty of money.”

And the US is $10.3 trillion in debt. Don’t worry, be happy.

Earlier in the campaign an AEI official, quoted in the UK Telegraph, said of Palin, “She’s bright and she’s a blank page. She’s going places and it’s worth going there with her.”

Ahem.

Well, bright is relative. But the Couric interviews and the VP debate certainly highlighted Palin’s blankness.

Let’s hope that on Nov. 4, Americans won’t enter the dark places Palin wants to take them.

Who will write the United States’ next great poem?

rabble.ca has published my piece about the Obama phenomenon. Here are the first few paragraphs.

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Who will write the United States’ next great poem?

>by Bernadette L. Wagner
October 24, 2008

I watched a couple of YouTube videos the other night. One featured angry Palin supporters on their way into a Palin rally. The other was an interview with McCarthyesque Michelle Bachmann, a Republican senator calling for “liberals” to be investigated for anti-Americanism. Ugly. I quickly clicked on to a photo of the 100,000 supporters at an Obama rally in Missouri.

And then I cried. The juxtaposition was too much.

Some say Obama’s followers are cult-like, cheerleaders for a good sales pitch. I don’t think so. One hundred thousand people do not show up to a political rally for a sales pitch or cheerleading duty. Obama touches something deeper within than any salesperson could ever hope to reach. He reflects to the American people a sense of their own power and they respond with a willingness to write a new narrative, a new poem, for their country.

In declaring his support for Obama, Republican Colin Powell called him “transformative.” Obama is definitely transforming the face of American politics, the poem for which much of America has dug deeply into its psyche to uncover. Sadly, Hillary Clinton would not have accomplished this. Misogyny lies still deeper within.

Racism is bubbling up, however. Many fear for Obama’s life. Will there be a fair election in the U.S.?

Read the full piece.

Palin And Sufferin’

What follows are the first few paragraphs of an article I wrote for the Thursday, October 23 issue of the Regina bi-weekly, the prairie dog and which, I believe, will also appear in its sister publication, Saskatoon’s Planet S.  I’ll post the full piece some time next week.

Palin And Sufferin’

Scary Sarah leads the way to a nastier, stupider America
by Bernadette L. Wagner

.

Sarah Palin wouldn’t be my first pick for Vice President of the United States. The Alaskan Governor is unfit for the job.

For starters, forget that she’s female. Palin is no friend of women’s rights. She rose to the top not because she’s cream, but because she’s female, a token woman — a strategic play by Republicans to lure Hillary Clinton supporters to their ticket — and because neoconservative types like her. A lot.

Still, her spot on the Republican ticket shocked the world. Mitt Romney or Joe Lieberman were the favourites to run as Senator John McCain’s running-mate. How, exactly, Palin floated to the top remains a mystery.

Palin hails from Wasilla, Alaska, a town in a state with an incidence of sexual assault that’s twice the national average. During her two-term reign as mayor in the 1990s, Wasilla was one of a number of Alaskan municipalities that began billing victims of sexual assault for the forensic testing they underwent after filing a report with the police. (This ‘blame the victim’ policy stood until 2000, when the state legislature squashed it so Alaska would be eligible to receive funding for (from?) the federal Violence Against Women Act.)

The “rape-kit story has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media during the U.S. Campaign. That’s surprising given the sheer viciousness of this policy that was in place under Palin’s tenure. Can you hang the whole mess on Sarah? Well, no, but she’s far from blameless. — After all, she hand-picked a police chief who championed the policy and Palin signed off on the budget that turned the rape-kit expenses into revenues.

None of this should be really surprising, given that Palin belongs to a book-banning, gun-toting brand of hard right, Christian fundamentalism. Officially blessed by Wasilla’s Church of God, Palin opposes same sex marriage and holds strident views on reproductive choice (women don’t get any). As a member of Feminists for Life she believes all pregnancies should be carried to term, even those that are the result of sexual assault.

Thanks to the good women (& men) at BnR for the great accumulation of Palin links!

The Ticket for America?

Thanks to skdadl (who blogs @ pogge.ca & posts at BreadnRoses.ca) for the idea!

The GOP Ticket

The GOP Ticket

Canadian Conference of the Arts Regional Forums

From the Inbox, information about opportunities to deepen connections within the arts community at regional meetings throughout the country.
Dear Friends,
Everyone is welcome to attend the upcoming Canadian Conference of the Arts Regional Forums (see below). The CCA has posted papers as background to the discussion on their website at www.ccarts.ca and a blog has been set up to begin the conversation: French: http://forumscca.blogspot.com/; English: http://ccaforums.blogspot.com/



cca logo

The National Director of the CCA Regional Forums

Regina: Globe Theatre, 1801 Scarth St.

November 6th

1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Saskatoon: Mendel Art Gallery, 950 Spadina Cres. E.

November 27th

1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

With the arrival of a new federal government in power, this is an opportune time for the arts and cultural stakeholders to gather and consult on the short term and long term strategies, so that the interests of the arts and cultural communities figure within the public discourse and on the political agenda.

During this fall, the CCA will be on tour to meet with artists and cultural workers across Canada. We invite you to meet the CCA Director General, and to express your perspective on the three following questions:

- Within the arts and culture milieu: how can we improve collaboration in the pursuit of common objectives?

- What should our 3 to 5 priorities be for the next coming two years?

- What are the best strategies to promote these priorities?

We look forward to hearing your opinions!

The regional forums are free and open to all; however we are requesting that you confirm your attendance at least one week before the forum with Annie Caporicci annie.caporicci@ccarts.ca 613-238-3561 extension 10.

www.ccarts.ca/

Hey, Steve! Thanks for this!

It’s weird.  Harper doesn’t make these kinds of boo-boos. He makes strategic mistakes but he is not the kind of guy who gets the dates of elections wrong by four months, especially when he’s reading right off the hard copy.  So I figure that either he’s drunk in that clip or this is a dog whistle.

The date, February 14th rung a bell for me, not because of Valentine’s day, but  because February 14, 2008 saw Canada very quietly sign a Bilateral Civil Assistance Plan with the USA.

The plan recognizes the role of each nation’s lead federal agency for emergency preparedness, which in the US is the Department of Homeland Security and in Canada is Public Safety Canada. The plan facilitates the military-to-military support of civil authorities once government authorities have agreed on an appropriate response.

In other words, Dubya can call Steve or Steve can call Dubya and ask for military help.  Really, it’s that easy!  Harper need only give the word and the USA’s Northern Command is here, on Canadian soil, ready, willing and able.  And they’re all raring to go, having just ended a joint conference with Canadian Forces personnel at CFB Halifax where they shared loads of good stuff!

One conference briefing concerned the Civil Assistance Plan, the bilateral Canada-United States plan that facilitates military-to-military cooperation in support of a civil emergency in either country, once agreement for assistance is reached between the two governments. The CAP was signed in February 2008 and, in early September 2008, Canada sent several aircraft to assist with the response to Hurricane Gustav.

“It was the first time we had done this with the CAP,” Christensen said, “and it was important for our senior non-commissioned officer leadership and the Americans to understand what the CAP is all about.”

Of course, we peons don’t get the details.  We’re talking top security stuff, the kind that will take care of terrorism and all those things that our Strong LeaderTM will handle on our behalf.

“[I]n a time of global economic instability,” Harper said with a smirk as he carried on after giving the incorrect E-Day date in his speech.  Yep.  It’s economic instability for the rich right now, that’s for sure.  Destitution and despair for others.  Some have called this economic terrorism.  Others say it’s economic warfare.

But hey, we’ve got PM Steve.  And I think that this Thanksgiving we must be ever so grateful that our Steve the Sweater Guy has taken care of every little thing!

And, y’know, maybe we should each email him and suggest he lay off the booze.  I mean, rilly!  What if there’s a crisis?

Oh! Wait a hold it! I just figured it all out.  PM Steve is just trying to demonstrate that he is not heartless!

Silly me.

Crossposted at rabble.ca/election

North American Union, Listeriosis, TILMA & the Stephen Harper Party

A trip through some blog posts has my neural pathways click-click-clicking! Be forewarned, this is a click-heavy post!

It all started with Alison@Creekside, talking about Stock Day and the hook-up with the Conference Board of Canada, Bell Canada, Microsoft and the RCMP for discussions on the server in the sky, that whacked-out plan for a surveillance society.  It’s a plan which flows from the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), that nasty piece of work cobbled together by the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE – those poor, poor millionaires) and the Mexican Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales (Comex, a group sponsored by Exxon Mobil, and boasting affiliation with none other than Milton Friedman’s Chicago School of Economics).

After civil society defeated the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), a piece on the path to North American Union, the CCCE worked with the CFR and Comex on another way of making change.  They proposed, in 2003, the North American Security and Prosperity Initiative (NASPI) which identifed five key areas of work:

Wholehearted action on these began when the SPP agreement was signed by former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, US President George W. Bush and former Mexican President, Vincente Fox, in 2005.  It has been lovingly tended by PM Harper, President Bush and Mexico’s President Calderon.

On my blogging journey, when I got to Larry Hubich‘s post discussing the Stephen Harper defence strategy that’s absent from the Conservative platform, I thought SPP.  He sent me over to Owls and Roosters, for more on the $490,000,000,000 defence plan.

In the sidebar at OnR, I noted a piece about TILMA, the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement that puts investment ahead of people.  Get this!  A re-elected Stephen Harper government would force TILMA on the provinces.  From page 16 of Stephen Harper’s de-sweatered platform:

A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will work to eliminate barriers that restrict or impair trade, investment or labour mobility between provinces and territories by 2010… We hope to see further progress, but are prepared to intervene by exercising federal authority if barriers to trade, investment and mobility remain by 2010.

And guess where talk of labour mobility barriers first appeared.

Yup!  The CCCE! It’s in the section on regulatory efficiencies:

  • As part of this effort, three issues of significant sensitivity must be addressed: the use of trade remedies within a de facto integrated market; regulatory restrictions on access and ownership in major industries; and impediments to the mobility of skilled labour.

Given what’s happening on Wall Street right now, it would make more sense for Canada to race away from markets more integrated with the USA!  But Steve, like Noah of the Old Testament, is staying the course.  In fact, Canada should have run away from the North American integration a long while ago.  That might have prevented 20 recent deaths.  From the same regulatory/economic efficiencies section:

  • With respect to standards, inspection and certification procedures, our two countries should be able to apply a principle of “tested once” for purposes of the Canada-United States market. Examples of such areas are the consumer and industrial goods sector, food safety and pharmaceuticals.

Food safety, huh?

But wait! There’s more.

I had to travel back to Alison@Creekside, in 2006, where she quoted a Maclean’s article (note the changed URL),

This is how the future of North America now promises to be written: not in a sweeping trade agreement on which elections will turn, but by the accretion of hundreds of incremental changes implemented by executive agencies, bureaucracies and regulators.

Incremental changes, huh?

One more bit from that Maclean’s article.  Ron Covais, president of the Americas for the arms manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, and a former adviser to US Vice President, Dick Cheney, said of the 2006 SPP meeting, “We’ve decided not to recommend any things that would require legislative changes because we won’t get anywhere.

Democratic process is such a pain, isn’t it?

Government by stealth; the Stephen Harper Party’s strength.

Can you stand more, dear reader?

Go ahead, watch this without me; I’ve had enough for one day!

Crossposted at rabble.ca/election

More on Cons refusing to participate

For as many federal and provincial elections as I can remember, the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance has distributed surveys on the arts to politicians and their political parties.  This election is no exception. Five questions of fundamental importance to artists and writers in this province were posed:

Questions for Saskatchewan Candidates

  1. How will you support sustainable and stable funding for arts and culture? Critical to this question is funding of central federal agencies such as the Canada Council, CBC, Canadian TV Fund, and others. Recent cuts to federal arts and culture programs amount to $60.6 million crippling or stripping to bare bones New Media Funding, cultural diplomacy and international trade, museums funding, to name only a few.
  2. As the Conference Board makes clear, the creative economy is of central importance to innovation, productivity, wealth creation and new jobs. The arts are an investment not a give away! How will you support and actively work for investment of federal funds in the creative economy as governments presently do for other sectors of the economy?
  3. Cultural diplomacy and international trade markets are important to sustaining and building Canada’s international image and markets. How will you work to restore the principal foundations of diplomacy and trade programs now cut?
  4. Canada’s artists are world class. But their economic circumstances are well below that of other workers. Their work conditions are unique, often self-employed, relying on seasonal work with incomes that fluctuate enormously year to year. Taxation and social policies need to be reformed to reflect the economic realities of artists’ work. Would you support the sector’s call for Canada Revenue Agency to adopt a fair tax policy for artists including income averaging? And would you provide access for self-employed to social benefits, including Employment Insurance?
  5. Arms length funding has long been a principle for funding in this sector. Do you support this principle as the guiding factor for arts funding, i.e. taking political involvement out of the process?

The response from the NDP is here and from the Liberal Party, here.  Kelly Block, the Stephen Harper Party candidate replacing Carol Skelton in the key battleground of Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, appears to be holding to the Harper strategy of silencing artists. Via her Communications Co-ordinator, she refused to respond and implied that she receives too many surveys and questionnaires to answer during the course of an election campaign.  But she does offer a telephone number, 306-652-6080, if you have an urgent need to discuss these issues before October 14th.

Ring those phones!!! 306-652-6080

Cross-posted at ActUp in Sask and rabble.ca.

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