Whose values does this Pope really represent?

I don’t know whether to call it “Pope Power” or “Francis Frenzy,” but whatever it was, I wasn’t impressed.

You’d think that I would be. After all, I like what the guy has to say about capitalism, global warming, and international conflict. Hey, anybody who channels his namesake, Francis of Assisi, and calls money “dung” has at least a few points coming.

But what I can’t get past is that, for all his quasi-neo-liberation theology, His Holiness Francis I is also the latest supreme earthly embodiment of an institution that has at its heart a sacralized, hierarchical, and authoritarian doctrine that spins in a direct line from the Council of Nicea in 325 CE.

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Shameless is as shameless does

Good news, Canadians! Our federal government, better known as “The Harper Government,” has sent you some of your own money!

We know that it’s “The Harper Government” (THG) because the federal Employment Minister made the announcement in a snappy, blue Conservative Party of Canada tee shirt. I hear that this shirt will replace the Maple Leaf as Canada’s official symbol if the Conservatives win again in October.


And by the most unexplainable of coincidences, the bonus cheques for a program first announced eight months ago come just weeks before the anticipated start of the federal election campaign. The credit was announced back then, but it wasn’t implemented until now, for some vague reason, so that the redistribution of taxpayer money could come not as an annual credit starting then, but as a “retroactive” cash outlay now. In other words, families are getting next year’s tax break now, as an electoral — I mean “economic” –incentive.

Since I anticipate getting a modest tax refund next April, will THG please send the “retroactive” portion of it to me now? I’d like to make a political contribution, and I could use the money.

Critics are lining up to point out the parts of the cash distribution that THG doesn’t emphasize. Among other things, the new tax rule replaces an existing tax benefit, making its net benefit hundreds of dollars a year less than it appears at first glance. It does little to help the poorest families afford child care so that both parents can keep working to feed the kids. Every family with children gets the same benefit, no matter how little or how much income the parents have. And it’s taxable, so that a good chunk of it will be clawed back next spring.

Just how stupid does THG think we are, anyway?

More Notes from Aboveground

pierre-poilievreGood news, Canadians! Our federal government, better known as “The Harper Government,” has sent you some of your own money!

We know that it’s “The Harper Government” (THG) because the federal Employment Minister made the announcement in a snappy, blue Conservative Party of Canada tee shirt. I hear that this shirt will replace the Maple Leaf as Canada’s official symbol if the Conservatives win again in October.

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“Your poverty is hurting my profits!”

Apparently, Jeb Bush now is urging Americans to work longer hours to help the economy. It seems that working Americans aren’t spending enough, which means that corporations aren’t making enough money. Financial disaster looms!

Talk about blaming the victims! First you gut the earning power of the working classes, then you scold them for not having the full-time, living wage jobs that fuel spending across the economy.

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No flags for me this patriotic week

Confederate battle flags unfurled at state capitals. Ten Commandments monuments in courthouses. Swastika tattoos on the forearms of skinheads.

It’s pretty easy to dislike and descry totems like these, isn’t it?

The first is a sad remnant of not just a lost war but a morally bankrupt way of life, one based on the false presumption of the inherent inequality of different iterations of our single species. The second enforces the desire to impose the majority mythology on the personal, social, and political lives of everyone, believer or not. And the last is nothing else than a declaration of ignorance, hatred, and violence.

This week, with Canada Day on the Tuesday and U. S. Independence Day on Saturday, one question begs to be asked: How about adding the Maple Leaf and the Star Spangled Banner? Do they belong on the same list of evil influences as the others?

Most people will say no, and many will find the very question offensive, if not nonsensical.

Not me.

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Canada’s PM: a warrior wannabe

On his way to European ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a surprise visit to (almost) the front lines of this year’s “War on Terror” headliner, the Kurdish zone of Iraq. While there, he had a great photo op with the leader of the Kurds and peering through binoculars at distant ISIL positions.

(Harper also visited Baghdad, but there he refused to participate in a joint appearance with the unacceptably Iran-friendly president of the whole country.)

What a pile of self-serving political crap.

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They had them at the dollar sign

Republican presidential wannabes parade before billionaire Sheldon Adelson to shout out mandatory uncritical solidarity with Israel. Then it’s back to Iowa to begin the crucial fight to win, not the nomination itself, but the endorsement of the Koch brothers.

Meanwhile, the current Democratic president fights off the progressive wing that nominated and then worked zealously to elect him, fighting to ensure that the secret Asian trade deal stays secret until it is blasted through a sympathetic Republican congress on a no-amendments-allowed, “fast track” vote.

Jeb Bush plans to “outsource” most of his campaign to a “private” PAC, in what looks at first to be a strange move to distance himself from control of his own push for the White House.

Hillary Clinton keeps as low a profile as a presumptive nominee can, hoping to ride out both the trade deal debate (“take no position, lose no supporters” seems to be her tactic here) and the Clinton Foundation contributions-for-favours stink (maybe now we know why those “private” e-mails had to go away).

What’s going on here? Is there some sort of connecting theme? Of course there is.

Money. Lots of money. Continue reading

Which view of the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015” is really “immoral”?

Need more proof that the Republicans in the U. S. Congress are really, really, out of touch with the lives of most Americans?

The Huffington Post reports that the House of Representative has voted to repeal the 100-year old estate tax — best viewed as a retro-payment for the government protections, infrastructure, and (in some cases) subsidies that have helped the 0.2% of the population who would ever have to pay the tax to acquire (and in the case of inherited riches, retain) so much wealth in the first place.

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