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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Note: If you don’t know who John Yoo is I suggest starting with his Wikipedia page. Then listen to The Torture Memos by my band, the Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra. As you ought to know, this is a piece of creative writing that in no way reflects on the life or experience of the real John Yoo. I’m sure he has absolutely no trouble looking at himself in the mirror these days.

 

 

JOHN YOO STARES INTO THE ABYSS
A dialogue

YOO

I am not an evil man.
In fact I am rather a good one,
kind to animals, generous to beggars,
a good son, a timely taxpayer, a good neighbour.
I always pay more than my share of the dinner cheque,
I never leave my bins out after garbage day,
and my house is well-kept, neat, painted,
in accordance with the bylaws
of my Home Owner’s Association.
So tell me, Abyss, why I see your face
in this perfectly clean mirror
on this perfectly ordinary day. (more…)

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*Note: If your comment on this contains any kind of victim-blaming, cop-fluffing, or the word “hippie” combined with any derogatory adjective, I will ban your ass faster than you can imagine. I am not in the mood to be Little Miss Constructive Dialogue today.*

The NYPD raided Zucotti Park last night. They beat people with batons, intimidated the press, destroyed personal property, and even threw out the 5000 or so books from the People’s Library.

And now they are refusing to let the occupiers return in spite of a court order ordering them to do so. (There is another hearing at 11:30. Maybe another court order will be clear enough for the NYPD!)

…I don’t have a response to this. I mean, what do you say? I’m disgusted but not surprised? So I’m going to try to be positive.

If you haven’t already, I urge you to read Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland – it’s a brick-sized tome examining the divisions in American politics and culture through the lens of Richard Nixon. (It’s very expensive to buy as a book, but you can get the audiobook from Audible for about $15.) A good deal of it is about protests, urban rioting, and the police response. And a pattern emerges:

– Some fringe people with nothing to lose protest something
– Most of the population ignores it
– Those in authority overreact
– The situation escalates, leading to police action, generally of a brutal and oppressive kind; there may be deaths
– The mainstream press either straight-up supports the police or waffles 
– Repeat;
– Eventually enough real information trickles through – enough pictures of men with batons beating up women, enough iterations of a rich man in a suit decrying poor people as lawbreaking scum, enough impassioned slogans making their way into the popular consciousness – to tip the balance in the public mind
– The most mainstream, watered-down goals of the movement are accepted and even enacted, though the truly radical ones are pushed aside as impractical.

You’ll never change the minds of the 20-30% of hard-core authoritarians among us – those for whom the powerful are always right, no matter what – but you will change the minds of the wafflers and the don’t-make-a-scene types, as long as it isn’t too far.

I don’t have any religious beliefs anymore; I don’t have faith that any god will come in and save us, or magically change everything for the better, or that we can pray/meditate/Secret ourselves into freedom. But I do have faith in people. That if we work together and listen to each other and try really hard we can make the world a little bit better for each other.

So when the cops are beating you and destroying your stuff, remember – it’s not much, I know – remember that what you are doing cannot fail to change the world, even if it’s only a little ground gained with the maximum of amount of pain. And even if I can’t be there to take the blows with you, I and millions of others are behind you.

And I will totally bake you some vegan cupcakes and bring them to you in jail.

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Being a (more or less) middle-class white person my interactions with the police have been minimal, and mainly positive. I live four doors down from a police station; I see officers jaywalking across the street to the convenience store, and sometimes they’ll say hi or interact with Madeline and Gus if they’re outside while I walk past with the station. Once we called 911 because an old guy was antagonizing our neighbours’ Shih Tzus (long story). The officers who showed up were polite and helpful, and got the Shih Tzu disturber home without incident.

But you know, I don’t live in a goddamn bubble.

Tomorrow Occupy Toronto is starting. And as much as I would like to be there, I will not.

Because I don’t want to be kettled, pepper-sprayed, unjustly arrested, or held for fifteen hours without food or water. Not just for myself, though obviously I don’t want that for myself – who would? – but because I’m pregnant. Those nice boys in blue who pat Madeline’s head might be beating people with truncheons tomorrow, and I just can’t run the risk that I’m one of them.

So congratulations, Toronto Police Force! You have successfully deterred me from protesting. That’s what you wanted, right?

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My fellow Ontarians, for the love of god please go vote. I don’t care if you vote Conservative – well, I do, but let’s pretend I don’t – but I do care if you exercise your franchise. Just do it. Just go and check a name at random if there’s nothing else you can do.

This campaign has been marked by a series of new lows in provincial politics, from the wildly trans- and homophobic ads and flyers distributed by a party that shall not be named to that same unnamed party misrepresenting an eminently sensible program to help immigrants get jobs as a “handout” to someone stealing the “lawn” sign out of the planter in front of our house. (To be fair, it was really windy the night before, so it’s barely possible it just blew away.)

Anyway, I don’t have a cute video involving Daleks telling you to vote this time. Just me.

Just vote.

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So after the mammoth joke of a public consultation we had last week, the Powers That Be have spoken.

They didn’t raise TTC fares or cut daycare, but this is what they did do (via Now Magazine):

– No more free garbage tags. This actually makes sense – it’s not like they cost a lot or anything, and hardly anyone seems to use them. I didn’t use mine last year and can’t find the ones we got this year even though we could totally use them now. (Tags are only for extra bags that don’t fit in your city-provided garbage can.)
– Turning over the running of city zoos and farms (we have farms?), excluding Riverdale Farm, to private companies. Um, why? What’s the rationale here? Will the companies be paying for the concession, or are we talking groups of amateur enthusiasts here?
– Something about not trying as hard as we were to plant trees. Apparently Toronto had a goal to “improve our tree canopy”, increasing the tree cover in the city by 30-40% over the next 50 years. Now there’s no deadline, just like there’s no deadline on building bike lanes. Because fuck trees!
– Maybe cooling it with the planters on major streets. Because fuck flowers!
– In a Scrooge-esque note, turning The Christmas Bureau into a private charity, then cutting off city funds. Jesus, what’s next, taking crutches and wheelchairs away from poor people?
– Yep! No more Hardship Fund. Because a $60/year car tax is too much for drivers to afford, but a $2000 wheelchair is entirely within the means of someone struggling to get by on disability because they have MS. WTF, Toronto? What kind of assholes are we?
– Selling off the Toronto Centre for the Arts, the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts (the Sony Centre), and the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. This seems really short-sighted to me, because these theatres cost an arm and a leg to rent and are booked year-round, so they must be turning a profit. You keep them, you get the revenue indefinitely. You sell them, you get the cash once and then it’s gone. (If the theatres ARE unprofitable, that’s probably fixable by raising the rental rates. It’s not like non-profit community groups are using them anyway.)
– Selling the Toronto Zoo. WHY? WHY ARE YOU SELLING THE ZOO? THIS IS EVEN MORE STUPID. Aside from the fact that, as I pointed out above, turning a long-term source of income into a one-time windfall is short-sighted, I don’t like the idea of a private company having control of, say, tigers. I don’t like the idea of Rob Ford having control of tigers either, but at least there are checks and balances in place to keep him from bringing one to council meetings and threatening Adam Vaughan with mauling. If the zoo is privatized ANYTHING could happen. It just takes one eccentric billionaire CEO and an unfortunate incident with the orangutans to lead to a Rise of the Planet of the Apes situation, people.
– Transferring the operation Black Creek urban farm to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Again, I didn’t know we had farms. No opinion on this one.
– No more police officers at construction site. This I am totally in favour of. We do not need to pay cops $65/hour to guard holes in the ground. This was a sheer waste of money and I’m glad they cut this.
– Turning Heritage Toronto into a private charity. I don’t really know anything about Heritage Toronto, but they seem to be all about promoting and preserving Toronto’s, um, heritage. Don’t really have an opinion on this one either.

So overall, a couple of good ideas, a couple of meh/probably dumb ideas, some REALLY dumb ideas, and some egregious assholiness.

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If you’re still up and have insomnia tonight, go to/watch the live stream of tonight’s Executive Committee Meeting at Toronto City Hall. (If you live in Toronto and/or care, that is.)

This is the average citizen’s chance to talk to a smirking Giorgio Mammoliti and an alarmingly red-faced Rob Ford (seriously, Rob Ford? Go to the doctor. You do not look well. I don’t think you should be so ruddy and sweaty. It’s not normal. I may think you’re a terrible mayor and everything, but I don’t want you to drop dead in the middle of a hearing) for exactly 2 minutes about why they should not cut daycare or horticultural services or paramedics or the Hardship Fund, which buys medical devices for poor seniors. (Honestly, they’re going to cut it! What, is there also a Motion in Favour of Kicking Puppies?)

Anyway, I was there tonight for about an hour and a half, and I will write about it in more detail tomorrow, but I wanted to make a brief observation: as much as I love to go on about politics and as much as I think the world would be a better place if everyone would just do what I think is right, I could never be a politician. Because if you are a politician and you manage to get elected, you will have to sit in a room and listen while peolpe you don’t agree with berate you for hours on end. I have a hard time reading blog comments I disagree with. I can’t imagine doing it in person.

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In this episode:

– Update on dental stuff
– I had a brainwave: TELETHON!
– I’m planning on getting a ukulele because they’re really cheap.
– Call of Cthulhu: The Puppet Opera!
– If space/time are truly infinite, then there is a universe exactly like ours with only one thing different
– apologies to RW relatives: i love you but GWB was a terrible, terrible president
– if it had gone the other way it would be a different world
– I remember at the time thinking: well, everything will probably be OK
because everything usually is, and I was young, stupid, and optimistic
– and of course everything has not been OK
– but the thing is, the next morning, everything was the same
– it was a slow catastrophe
– kind of like my teeth: nothing bad happened all at once, but gradually things added up and I need to fix it
– not as bad as it could be; things aren’t so bad they can’t be fixed – yet
– so let’s fix them, OK?

Positivity:
Clean your house in 20 minutes a day/30 days!

LINK

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