Wilson with wings.jpgNothing, repeat, nothing, has been resolved in Ferguson—or in the America for which Ferguson iconically stands. A grand jury, of three Blacks and nine whites, is presently deciding whether the cop who gunned down unarmed teenager Michael Brown should be charged with anything. Eyewitnesses there are aplenty, most of whom agree that the officer, Darren Wilson, pursued the kid and fired a fusillade of shots into Brown. His body was then left on the street for hours, like lynched Black bodies in previous times left hanging from trees and bridges.

But all that makes no never-mind. Jubilant racists have now collected serious money for the cop, exceeding by half what has been collected for the family of the victim. To the slogan “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!” they respond: “Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!

Brown was large and Black—according to Republican flak Ben Stein, “armed with his incredibly strong, scary self.” For white America, that suffices: being shot on sight was the only safe option.

In fact, the Black population of Ferguson is no different from the Black populations of other American towns and cities: oppressed, poor, their boundaries (social and geographical) heavily policed. In Randy Newman’s words, they’re “free to live in a cage.”

Where but in the US are young Black boys given a facts-of-life lecture by their parents, not about the birds and the bees, but on how to survive encounters with the police? This is so commonplace that it even has a name—“the talk.” Racism enfilades American society, informing actions, instincts and social relations, infesting unconscious impulses, ensuring that Blacks are kept in their place and that the uppity ones are punished. It’s Jim Crow at a higher level, and the on-going carnage of Black kids at the hands of white cops is nothing more or less than a new form of lynching.

Yes, there are mixed marriages, and successful, rich Blacks, conservative Blacks, Black police officers (some of whom have got the goods on what’s going on), and even a Black President. But these are not representative of the stubborn American reality. The chasm persists: the racial profiling, the unfettered violence of the police, a grossly discriminatory justice system, and, in general, a complex of power relations that racializes a group and ensures their subaltern status, with everything from microaggressions to all-pervasive social and economic discrimination, to disproportionate rates of incarceration, to the guns and tanks of Ferguson, Missouri.

Ferguson, that microcosm of America, is not only the scene of open, casual racism and racist brutality. It’s the site of a massive shakedown racket as well. Nothing is so effective at immiserating a population than robbing them blind. A system of tribute to the masters may be arranged differently than in the past, but it’s still in full swing, and has the same effect: to establish and maintain dominance.

Children learn early in Ferguson that the police are dangerous, cowardly and cruel. They can illegally arrest journalists, toss tear gas grenades into people’s backyards for the hell of it, brutalize peaceful bystanders, ponce about in camo, and generally act like the savages they clearly are. And of course they can mow down unarmed Black teenagers and expect to be rewarded for it.

But let’s not pick solely on Ferguson. In New Iberia, Louisiana, a Black kid, his hands cuffed behind his back, was shot in a police cruiser. “He shot himself in the back,” said the cops. “No,” said the coroner, “he had to have shot himself in the front, because that’s where the gunshot residue is.” The deadly surrealism of life as a young Black male in America: not only are you weaponized simply by being born, but you’re apparently made of rubber as well.

In Beavercreek, Ohio, an open-carry state, a Black man wanting to buy a toy gun was executed without warning by police, called to the Walmart where he was shopping. (The idiot who made that call would likely be unhappy with this. But I’m a great believer in self-defence.)

You don’t get at racism in America by delegating the overseer work to various Ron Johnsons in the white folks’ yard. The truth? I’m not sure how the problem gets seriously addressed without dealing with class as well (see this excellent article, addressing race/class intersections in St. Louis). But of one thing I’m certain: we progressives will continue to talk about it.

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“[A] man cannot search either for what he knows or for what he does not know[.] He cannot search for what he knows—since he knows it, there is no need to search—nor for what he does not know, for he does not know what to look for.” ~Socrates, Meno

Echoing Socrates’ paraphrase of Meno, Andrew Coyne wonders out loud what the point of a public inquiry would be into 1,182—at last count—missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. What could we learn that we don’t already know?

I won’t join in the chorus of antipathy which, not surprisingly, has erupted in reaction to his column. But I will suggest that he demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of what, precisely, is being demanded in this case.

His starting-point is a recently released document prepared by the RCMP, which contains much useful information, but does not attempt to go much beyond that. We shouldn’t be surprised, for example, that neither the report nor Coyne deploys the term or the concept of settler colonialism, the root cause of First Nations anomie on reserves and in our cities. Nor does it confront the concomitant problem of systemic bias in our police forces, identified as a serious problem in the Picton inquiry. Police violence against FN women and girls isn’t addressed either, again unsurprisingly.

But the report does provide a field of statistics that could prove very useful in that public inquiry that Coyne doesn’t want. And some of the findings appear counter-intuitive, at least to the bien-pensants who have First Nations all figured out—the fact that domestic assault leading to death is significantly less common among Aboriginal populations, for example. There are many forces involved, and a public inquiry with open terms of reference could shed more light on how they interact, combine and clash.

But the main point in all this is what a public inquiry would signify.

We need to go beyond the gut-level, liberal response: that, given the disproportionate numbers of the dead and missing, if the First Nations want an inquiry, they should get one. Certainly it could be a form of catharsis, somewhat more substantial in that respect than Harper’s hollow apology to the victims of residential schools, and that in itself wouldn’t be a bad thing. The hard heads, for their part, will talk about costs, time and resources, but in the light of what has been taken from First Nations after contact—like, most of the country—it’s a drop in the proverbial bucket.

There will be those, then, who support the inquiry, not because they see merit in it, but out of white liberal guilt. There’s much more to all this, however, than a sop to the First Nations to calm uneasy settler consciences. “What is it about this crime in particular that singles it out…for the kind of urgent, crisis-level attention signalled by a public inquiry?” asks Coyne. That’s a fair question, even if he would not stay for an answer. There are two main reasons for the singling-out.

The first is that it a public inquiry would be another important step in a process of nation-to-nation reconciliation—itself urgent and crisis-level—that was initiated by the formal, official recognition of the gross abuses of the residential schools. Facing up to the staggering ethnocidal, even genocidal crimes of the Canadian state against First Nations and Inuit is essential if that process of healing is ever to occur.

The second is that the whole issue is cross-cut by gender, and, in recognizing this, we hold up a mirror to our wider Canadian society. Coyne pooh-poohs this aspect with a “what about the menz” response. In fact he performs spectacular acrobatics in dismissing the figures:

[W]hen compared with non-aboriginal women…aboriginal women now make up more than 20% of all female murder victims, twice the proportion of 30 years ago, and five times their share of the female population. But that’s not because more aboriginal women are being murdered. It’s because fewer non-aboriginal women are.

That one self-destructs in five seconds. But Coyne also note that the homicide rate among FN men is much higher than it is for FN women and girls. “It is not clear why the murders of aboriginal women should merit our special attention and concern, and not the murders of aboriginal men, even if the latter, like men generally, are also disproportionately the perpetrators,” he says.

Obviously we should be concerned about both. But I, for one, am more than a little tired of those who wave away crimes against individual groups on the grounds that other groups are hurting too. There are unique dimensions to violence against women, just as there are against minorities: lynching, for example, has a specific context, and so does sexual assault, in general. It’s not helpful in the least to dissolve these systemic forms of violence into larger, more intractable categories, and to ignore the intersections of gender and “race” that are so clearly at work in the matter at hand.

Coyne concludes: “The broad project of repairing that social destruction should absolutely be among the first of our concerns as a country, with aboriginal people themselves very much taking the lead. It is not evident what contribution another public inquiry would make to that end.”

And yet it is precisely those “aboriginal people” who are taking the lead in demanding an inquiry. They realize, as Coyne fails to, that the very fact of having one constitutes a form of recognition; and that this part of a much wider problem needs to be addressed on its own merits. The inquiry may or may not yield a trove of additional facts, but it would focus our attention, once again placing reconciliation, in all of its undoubted complexity, on the national agenda. Is that not worth doing?

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Fearguson, USA

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Borders in ferguson.jpg

“[A] space of exception….Whoever entered [it] moved in a zone of indistinction between outside and inside, exception and rule, licit and illicit, in which the very concepts of subjective right and juridical protection no longer made sense.” ~Giorgio Agamben

Captain Ron Johnson gave a brilliant speech to members of the embattled Ferguson community yesterday. It simply rang with sincerity. Give it a listen.

And then weep: the man had turned hypocrisy and betrayal into an art-form. He had us all fooled for a time. Move over, Hollywood.

Well before the mass house arrest euphemistically called a “curfew” was set to begin last evening, Johnson ordered his troops into battle, in full riot dress, and the worst night in Ferguson since the killing of Michael Brown unfolded from there. Police gassed peaceful protesters again, including children and elderly people, and threatened to shoot at least one journalist, many of whose colleagues were arrested again for reporting what the cops were up to.

Now Ferguson has been occupied by the Missouri National Guard, a motley assortment of weekend warrior yokels and good old boys who will play their appointed role in confining uppity Blacks to their houses and smashing their peaceful assemblies.

What we are seeing before our eyes (thanks to livestreaming) is a microcosm in space and time of the sorry history of racist oppression in America. And we see here more than two sides, although the latter are much in evidence—Aryans rallying to support the killer of Michael Brown, who has gone to ground, versus Black protesters demanding simple justice for a dead kid gunned down by one of Ferguson’s finest. But you will find whites among the protesters, some of them from the town in a show of solidarity, some genuine supporters from outside, some riot tourists and a few Black Bloc types who showed up to gratify their testosterone-fuelled desire for violence. And one Black joined the Aryan supremacists—a former Republican candidate, Uncle Tom on steroids.

Meanwhile, a third autopsy on Michael Brown will be conducted at the request of Attorney General Eric Holder. A preliminary report shows that Darren Wilson shot the unarmed youth at least six times. All of the bullets entered from the front, confirming the view of a lawyer for the Brown family that Michael’s death was a summary execution.

But there is another autopsy that perhaps should take precedence. For the people of Ferguson, justice is dead, mowed down in their streets by bullets, tanks, gas and false arrests. Whether it’s their own police chief running the show, or an African American glad-hander, the terror on the streets has been the same. The officer who killed Brown is still not under arrest. His victim has been smeared as a badass who got what was coming to him.

Due process, a crucial element of justice, has been amputated with a hacksaw. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, the fellow leading the “investigation” of the Brown killing, is hopelessly biased. The St. Louis County prosecutor is hopelessly biased. And the best the US government can do is investigate whether an unarmed Black kid’s civil rights were violated by a cop who emptied a gun into him.

What would that autopsy reveal? Multiple causes of death. A police force that is racist and brutal, sometimes to a Grand Guignol degree, but which has been granted virtual immunity from the strictures of the US Constitution and the law. Endless, grinding poverty and hopelessness, detailed by anthropologist Sarah Kendzior. Imprisonment without trial in ghettos of misery, whose borders are enforced by weaponry and armoured vehicles any time the establishment or its hired guns feel threatened. The suspension of human and constitutional rights on whim.

There can be no recourse, no redress. There is no justice for the Browns. There is none for the Black citizens of Ferguson or wherever else they are contained—or, more generally, for the poor and the marginalized in America the Beautiful. This is precisely how they are expected to carry on, in fact, reminded every day of their existential defeat, on occasion breaking the tedium with hopeless, quickly suppressed spasms of community rage. These spaces of exception, where they are permitted to be if not to live, are what they call home. Yet they dare to appeal to justice still, when the odour of her decay is all around them.

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Ferguson terrorism.jpg

The Chief of Police in Ferguson, Missouri, held a press conference Thursday morning, and spent most of his time talking about a petty robbery allegedly committed by Michael Brown, shot dead later that night by Officer Darren Wilson, who was then given a running start of a few days and is now nowhere to be found. In the afternoon, the Chief talked to the press again, and he admitted that the shooting of Brown had nothing to do with the robbery. Officer Wilson, he said, was unaware that the robbery had even occurred.

Brown was rousted for jaywalking, as it happened, and then summarily gunned down by Officer Wilson. Two eyewitnesses say so, including Brown’s alleged accomplice in the theft of a pack of cigars earlier. The other eyewitness says she took video, although it’s not known at this point what is on it, where it is or who has seen it. In any case, their stories jibe. Brown was unarmed. He had his hands in the air. And Wilson shot him, again and again, until he was dead. Brown’s body was allowed to lie in the road for hours.

Think this was some sort of one-off? Take a read of this, and be sure to remind yourself that you aren’t reading The Onion. An out-of-town Black man, Henry Davis, mistaken for another Black man, is arrested. His story checks out, but the Ferguson cops jail and beat him to a bloody pulp anyway, and then they hunt around for something to charge him with. “Ah,” says one inbred, “let’s charge him with getting blood on our uniforms!” And so he was. They held him for days.

Think that tops any satire you’ve ever seen? Well, read on. There are more chapters.

Davis started a civil action against the cops. The prosecutor wasn’t having that nonsense, and had him charged with felonious assault on top of the alleged uniform damage. The cops duly showed up in civil court to answer to Davis’ lawsuit—and admitted, under oath, that there had been no blood on their uniforms after all.

All criminal charges were dropped.

The end? Nope. The officers’ blatant perjury was winked at by a federal judge, who invoked the de minimus rule, claiming that the perjury was too minor to have affected due process, and that the victim’s injuries (a concussion) were too inconsequential to be considered excessive force.

An appeal will be heard this December. The smart money says that the Brown killing may have improved Davis’ chances.

Ferguson, Missouri. Mayor: white. City Council: all but one white. School Board: white, with one Latino. A 53-member police force, 50 of whom are white. The town: two-thirds Black.

God knows how many other American hellholes are operating like this, below the radar, beneath the media’s notice. #EverydayRacism in the United States of America, a carceral nation that holds 25% of the entire world’s prison population. You can guess at the demographics, too. Nearly 40% of that prison population is Black, and another 20% or so are Hispanics. And too many of the ones remaining outside the prison walls are confined to ghettos, socioeconomically shunted aside, and casually brutalized by cops, slapped around good or even murdered if they get too uppity.

Two investigations of the Brown slaying are now under way. One by the US Attorney-General’s department will determine if Brown’s civil rights were violated—about the only way you could get at the nests of Dixie peckerwoods enforcing Jim Crow with rope and gun back in the day. The other is being carried out by the St. Louis County Police. Yup, that self-same army of yokels playing dress-up who terrorized Ferguson for days until they were stood down by the Governor of the state.

The latter “investigation” is a completely pointless exercise, as we might already have surmised. The coming whitewash has effectively been announced in advance:

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, who’s leading the investigation, has made favorable comments about the Ferguson police department, telling reporters, “I would not think anybody would [ask for an investigation] if they had anything to hide.”

But back to the robbery stuff. This was manna from heaven for the racist Right, as you might imagine. Aha! Just another Black thug who asked for it and got it. Like young Trayvon Martin. Remember the stories dredged up about Trayvon’s past, to suggest he was a gangsta who got what was coming to him, to portray him as something other than he was, to make his killer the victim? And the media is always glad to play its part, running photos carefully selected to make the real victims look like violent, lawless ni—, er, African Americans. (One brilliant response to these media shenanigans was the volley of Tweets under the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag on Twitter. Go check it out.)

The aim here, as always, is to take the heat off the racist institutions that govern America—in fact, to legitimize them. And as we’ve seen again and again, it’s ridiculously easy to do. Too many folks like their victims pure as the driven snow, and I use that hackneyed simile advisedly. Brown may—or may not—have stolen a package of cigars. If so, he probably got what he deserved—even if stealing a handful of smokes is not, officially at least, a capital offence.

All just too predictable. Will Brown see posthumous justice? Not if the good burghers of St. Louis County and their hired guns can help it. And they have their share of supporters, so they do, in the Land of the Free.

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There’s going to be an interesting gathering in Ottawa later this month—a Peoples’ Social Forum, a convergence of many socially progressive organizations and individuals meeting in one place (the University of Ottawa) to learn from each other and plot some kind of common course against the Harper government and, more generally, the Right.

Good luck. I mean it. Because it’s going to take luck—a truckload of it—to allow us all to break bad old habits. We aren’t going to argue our way out of them this time any more than we have in the past, because the very way we tend to argue is part of the problem.

Last evening I plunged in on Twitter, as is my wont, when someone piously explained to someone else that the racism encountered by Blacks in the US is essentially, and I use that word advisedly, different from the racism experienced by First Nations in Canada. Ferguson, Missouri, is of course on everyone’s mind at the moment: it’s a reprise of Birmingham, Alabama half a century ago, complete with murder, mass police mobilization against an entire community, barking dogs, high-powered rifles, truncheons and tear gas. Yet there are undeniable parallels with what happened to First Nations people in Elsipogtog and Sechelt and Gustafsen Lake and Burnt Church and Ipperwash and Oka and Seton Portage, not to mention various Ontario locales where mining interests and the courts have been stuck together with Krazy Glue. In all of these cases, it’s been state power exercised with violence against minorities of Others who refuse to accept their ordained “place.”

But some insist on concentrating on the differences, creating rights silos and (at least implicitly) establishing hierarchies of struggle. As was earnestly explained to me, Blacks have a history of slavery, which is different from First Nations with its history of land-theft, forced assimilation, and on-going plundering of what lands and resources remain. Gosh, I had no idea.

If we conflate these struggles, I was told, we will obscure “anti-Blackness.” Anti-Black and anti-First Nations power structures, institutionalized racism, police power to keep the subalterns in their place—these are real, present, and are or should be the targets of any progressive movement. But instead we have all these new “-nesses”—whiteness, Blackness, anti-Blackness, and so on, rising like miasmas from the deep and clinging to the very clothes we wear. These metaphysical substances infect, obscure, oppress, exploit. Blacks aren’t racialized by whites: their essential Blackness is counterposed to an essential anti-Blackness. Whites don’t oppress and kill people; “whiteness” does.

Of course I was asked if I were Black or indigenous, and had to ‘fess up.

Identity politics and its corrosive essentialism, then, still rule in 2014. On what conceivable basis can we build solidarity if this kind of thinking prevails? If our differences are unchangingly fundamental, bounded wholes, if Blacks have only one history, First Nations another and Whites yet another, none of which can conceivably converge, how can alliances be built?

The buzzwords these days are “decolonization” and “intersectionality.” Chandra Mohanty’s “Under Western Eyes” is an early must-read on both subjects, and there has been a considerable literature since that has fleshed out both concepts. They are simply pregnant with practical meaning, and need to be deeply mined. Each requires considerable thinking and reflection on the part of those who would be allies but who share, however unwittingly, in the power and privilege that colonization and racism have bestowed. These things run deep. Our societies are imbued with them, as they are with sexism. Overcoming them is impossibly complex, especially when they are an integral part of who we are, that is, an inseparable aspect of our socially-constructed selves.

So they’re difficult to talk about at the best of times. But when they are simply waved about, when they are used as forms of devastating, silencing critique instead of a pathway to mutual understanding, they become part of the problem, not the solution. Last night’s conversation ended miserably, as they tend to do on Twitter. “Why are you arguing with me?” asked my interlocutor imperiously. Quite right. Silence is a far wiser course when faced with essentialist arrogance of that kind. This morning I woke up to many “mentioned in” reTweets where folks I respect were wagging their fingers. First Nations aren’t Blacks, I was informed. Their experiences are different. We don’t want to obscure those differences. Some thick Tweep even threw “mansplaining” into the mix, that magic word used to shut down all discussion of anything, anywhere.

There’s just no point in raising the obvious in defence: that cops bent on oppressing the Other aren’t terribly interested in the etiology of the racism they are engaged in maintaining under the guise of “order.” That structural racism is enforced in similar ways upon subalterns in many societies, and for the same reasons—to confine them to their assigned spaces. That a nightstick to the head, or pepper in the eyes, or a bullet in the back feel the same, whether one is Black or First Nations.

Instead we are told to focus on the differences. Woe betide anyone who “conflates,” even if we’re doing no such thing. We aren’t universalist liberals, after all, builders of a paper-thin “solidarity” achieved by wishing those differences away and pretending that unequal power relations don’t exist. All of us need to be aware of them. We need, in other words, to get to know each other. Struggles against oppression are not all one thing. There are wide areas of convergence, however, that should allow us to build common fronts, to turn our faces toward our common enemies. Yet convergence is the last thing on some people’s minds: instead, we are angrily told that their own struggle is unique in all respects, and never to be confused with yours or mine.

The deepest and most malevolent ad hominem, in fact, is this type of essentialism. Certainly we on the “whiteness” side of things need to listen deeply when people are moved to share the experiences of their own lives with us. These experiences are different from ours, and from each other’s. On mutual understanding a powerful solidarity can be built, one based upon respect, making the effort to hear what is being said, and privilege-checking. But this is not to be confused with silencing on the basis of mere disagreement, be it ideological, tactical or strategic. Nor are what differences exist necessarily articulated by angry individuals who suggest they are speaking for collectives and communities to whom they aren’t remotely accountable.

In any case, that deeper solidarity continues to elude us on the Left. Instead, we get bogged down in process and rules, endless speeches, much handwringing, and those old stand-bys, criticism and self-criticism—not on behalf of an effective outcome, but as ends in themselves. Movements quickly wither away once the effervescence subsides. Back to square one? The truth is, we’ve never left square one.

Meanwhile the Right seems to be able to overcome any such differences. Conservatives are of many stripes, but they tend to stick together almost instinctively. Harper leads a party that arose from a sneaky merger engineered by Peter MacKay, but few fell by the wayside when it was a fait accompli. The new Conservative Party headed off for victory, ending up with a majority government. Members didn’t spend a lot of time fussing about ideological differences, of which there are some, nor did they attack each other on the social media.

What does this all come down to? The Right are lumpers. The Left are splitters. To repeat: it’s not the differences that divide us. It’s the fetishizing of those differences. It’s also the creation of new ones—a DSM-5-like proliferation of categories to which we become passionately attached. On the Right, it’s a collective will to power. On the Left, it’s intellectual free enterprise, with competing constituencies, deep schisms and irreconcilable differences. No wonder we never seem to get out of the starting gate—don’t look now, but we’re missing a horse.

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Consequence upon consequence

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We are often encouraged not to play the blame game, not look too far into the Abyss/history/whatever, etc, but the plight of the Yazidi minority in Iraq, besieged with genocidal intent by ISIS, is a situation where we should not agree to that. It is one of the many bitter and more and less direct fruits of the knocking off of Saddam Hussein’s regime on totally spurious grounds, instigated by people who were either terrible cynics or subscribers to bad and irresponsible Grand Theories of history or most likely both. The credibility of anyone who supported the Iraq war should be exactly in proportion to the quantity of pro-war predictions that have come true since then, divided by the suffering it has caused. That’s putting it mildly, by the way!

And there’s practically nothing that can be done that won’t make the whole situation worse. Just like the first time around.

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Some happy news for once

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A founding member and president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an Argentinian group for the search and identification of children stolen by the Argentinian dictatorship, has finally been personally rewarded for her efforts via the discovery of her own lost grandson. I thought that I would put up some cheerful news for once, that occasionally some form of restitution is achievable, since we’re normally a little Doom-y around here. Estela Carlotto and her group have, over the decades, found well over a hundred children that were robbed from their families by the military junta. The irreparable tragedy that lies behind it is that the child’s mother, Mrs. Carlotto’s daughter Laura was brutally murdered in prison after her child was stolen (as per the Wikipedia article, her body was returned with her face and “abdominal area” mutilated—-always with the sexual torture, dictatorships).

Mrs. Carlotto’s husband Guido was also tortured, and Laura, a Peronist activist, named her child after his grandfather. The child is now an adult man with a different name, from his adoptive family, and he is apparently quite successful. He actually decided on his own to seek out his heritage and have a DNA test done, leading to this happy discovery.

The forcible removal of children is alas a common tactic in violent situations to use against one’s political opponents. In the case of the Argentinian dictatorship, they justified themselves by defining the possibility of raising your children with left-wing values to be child abuse and socially irresponsible to boot. But now I’ve gone well into the negative. The dictator eventually died in prison, convicted among other things of stealing babies. And now Mrs. Carlotto has tied up one of the loose ends in her own life as she has helped many others.

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Apologies, dear readers

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I have obviously not been blogging for a few days. After so many years, you might expect to deserve more. But I’m engaged upon an Enormous Task, punctuated now and then by increasingly bitter Tweets about the slaughter in Gaza.

Briefly, I’m cleaning my basement from top to bottom. And I’m beginning to think that Hercules (above) had the right idea.

It’s like penetrating layers of limestone and tracing the evolutionary path. Ancient poems (not good) and political effusions from literally a half-century ago. My first literary publication, in the McGill Daily. Yellowed newspaper clippings by the score. (Did you know the US and its pet ARVN used waterboard-type torture in Vietnam? In those days they simply stuck you headfirst into a bucket.) A pamphlet called “Local control is fascism,” co-authored by one L. Marcus, who went on to gain notoriety as Lyndon LaRouche. A copy of Fact magazine, wherein hundreds of psychiatrists claimed Barry Goldwater was unfit to be President of the US. Many copies of the legendary I.F. Stone’s Weekly.

Photos by the score. My beautiful late partner. The kids. Our wonderful dog.

Hundreds of books now destined for shelters and the second-hand shops.

The contents of four filing cabinets, most of it in my driveway in garbage bags now, along with two of the aforesaid cabinets.

Much grime and madness. And the struggle continues.

Give me another week or so and I’ll be back. Hoping maybe my co-bloggers will fill in a little, but no pressure. :)

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I would just briefly like to point out, as I did once in comments already I think, that the great and glorious MaxSpeak (Max Sawicky) has returned to bloggery after a VERY long hiatus caused by subjugating himself to employers who didn’t want him to have such a public profile.

Of all the econ bloggers out there who are actual professional economists, Max was always my favorite, willing to challenge shibboleths that other “serious” econ bloggers took as self-evident. So it was really disappointing when he left. He returns to a blogosphere spread a little more thinly now and is looking for some linkitude, so here it is.

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A few days ago, an article of mine on the targeting of progressive charities by the Canada Revenue Agency was published in a number of venues, including here and at Rabble.ca under my real name.

The National Post’s elderly crank Terence Corcoran had a go at me this past Monday:

An anonymous post on the Environmental Defence blog last week, bylined “Dr. Dawg,” seemed to protest a little too much about the audits underway at Environmental Defence and other green groups. In the past, ED officials have been active policy lobbyists and players in election campaigns. During a 2011 Ontario election campaign, the group used an 8-year-old girl named Penelope to campaign in favour of the ruling Liberal party.

Dr. Dawg appears to lack research skills. He said “It appears, and by no coincidence, that the Knights of Columbus and the Fraser Institute, both of which wade frequently into politics, have been spared a visit from the Grand Inquisitor.” In fact, Niels Veldhuis, president of the Fraser Institute, has in the past said that his group has been audited three times in the last 40 years.

I had been unaware that my piece had been picked up by Environmental Defence, but Corcoran suggests that I had written it for that organization. An honest mistake? Or just poor in-house research? And certainly there’s nothing “anonymous” about me—a nom-de-plume is not a disguise. (To be fair, however, Corcoran is neither a researcher nor a journalist, but a professional polemicist who customarily deals in assertions rather than facts.)

In any case, you don’t have to parse Corcoran’s screed all that finely to note his disingenuous approach. Claiming that I appear to “lack research skills,” he says the Fraser Institute has been audited three times in forty years. That, of course, doesn’t address my point at all, although it pretends to. I was clearly referring to the present round of political audits. And Corcoran doesn’t bother to mention that the last Fraser Institute audit was in 1999.

How do I know that? Because the current Fraser Institute president says that his organization has been audited three times. And in 1999, then-Executive Director Michael Walker stated that the Fraser Institute had been audited “on many occasions.” It’s reasonable to assume that three is the lower limit for “many.”

The icing on the cake? A perfectly civil comment of mine containing an actual link to my piece (unaccountably not provided by Corcoran) was “held for moderation” for several hours—and then apparently deep-sixed by a National Post moderator.

That’s how the National Post rolls. And it’s one of many reasons for not subscribing.

UPDATE: Corcoran Tweeted that he checked, and no one knows what happened to my second comment—the one “held for moderation.” He invited me to send him a letter (he is the editor of the Financial Post), and I have done so. We’ll see what eventuates.

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